Posts with «game consoles» label

The EA Play subscription service is getting more expensive

Electronic Arts just raised the price of its EA Play subscription service. The standard EA Play tier increased from $5 per month to $6 per month, while the annual fee rose to $40 from $30. These updated prices also impact premium EA Play Pro subscriptions, which allows access to the publisher’s games as soon as they launch. This tier now costs $17 per month, an increase from $15, and $120 each year, an increase from $100. 

EA confirmed the changes to Engadget via email and noted that the prices are increasing in every country the company does business in. According to a report by, the new cost structure was decided on to “bring fees in line with market value.” The price increase is live for new members but pre-existing subscribers won't get dinged until May 10. 

For the uninitiated, EA Play is a subscription service that gives players access to a select number of games from the company, along with additional incentives like discounts and DLC. It’s available on Xbox consoles, PlayStation consoles and PC. The service is in line with Microsoft Game Pass, PlayStation Plus and Ubisoft+, among others. As previously mentioned, EA Play Pro takes things a step further by letting subscribers play newly-released games. It's worth noting that Game Pass Ultimate members still have access to the standard EA Play tier as part of their subscription.

It’s always a bummer when these subscriptions go up in price, and EA is hardly alone here. Sony raised the price of PS Plus last year and Microsoft did the same for Game Pass subscriptions. Ubisoft+ Premium is likely the closest analog to Play Pro and it costs $18 per month, which is right in line with EA’s updated pricing model.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The bootleg Nintendo Network replacement no longer requires jailbreaking

The Pretendo Network, an open-source Nintendo Network alternative, no longer requires a hacked Wii U console. With Nintendo’s servers for the obsolete console shutting down on Monday, the Pretendo Network shared a new workaround that provides (limited) access to its homebrew servers without jailbreaking your dusty old console.

An SSL (secure sockets layer) is a protocol that encrypts the connection between a device and its servers. The Wii U’s SSL exploit (branded as “SSSL”), discovered by the Pretendo Network’s shutterbug, lets you connect to the network with only a simple DNS change, which you can do on the stock firmware. “We’ve been holding on to this exploit for this day for quite some time, in case Nintendo decided to issue patches for it,” the network’s creators wrote in a blog post announcing the new workaround.

Not everything will work, though. The Pretendo Network team says third-party titles that use their own SSL libraries aren’t compatible. That includes Watch Dogs, the YouTube app and anything running an embedded browser (like TVii, the eShop and the Miiverse applet). However, the network creators stress that in-game Miiverse functionality still works.

The workaround requires a Wii U running at least firmware version 5.5.5. If yours has software lower than that, you should still be able to go online and install the latest update. Nintendo last pushed a Wii U firmware update in August 2022, when the current version (5.5.6) arrived.

Shutting down the Wii U and 3DS online servers doesn’t prevent Nintendo from providing new firmware updates to the consoles. Given Nintendo’s aversion to hacking its devices, the Mario maker could, at least in theory, update the 12-year-old Wii U to patch the DNS workaround.

To take SSSL for a spin in the meantime, you can follow the Pretendo Network’s instructions.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Nintendo's online servers for Wii U and 3DS shut down today

We knew it was coming, but that doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye. Nintendo shut down the online servers for both the Wii U and 3DS today. This means the end of online multiplayer gaming for both consoles, turning Mario Kart 7 for 3DS and the original Splatoon for the Wii U into single player or couch co-op experiences. The first Super Mario Maker is also effectively dead, as there’s no way to browse for and download player-created levels.

Both consoles are relatively controversial. The 3DS was originally considered a lukewarm follow-up to the barn-busting DS, though it eventually became a success in its own right. This was thanks to a glut of incredible titles, from Super Mario 3D Land and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds to more niche fare like Kid Icarus: Uprising and Fire Emblem Awakening. The portable console also had a robust lineup of online exclusive titles, like Pushmo and BoxBoy!.

The Wii U, on the other hand, never quite found a significant audience and is largely considered one of Nintendo’s biggest missteps. It was the next home console after the culture-defining Wii, so it had large shoes to fill. However, the company went with a name that was an absolute nightmare for the Wii’s core audience of casual gamers. Was it an accessory to the original Wii? A new console? A crappy iPad? Those of us glued to gaming media knew the answer, but the casuals never stood a chance.

There was also the console itself. The company never delivered a compelling use case for the “asymmetric gameplay” offered by the device. Simply put, the Wii U gave you two screens. There was the TV, of course, but also a touchscreen tablet. This was supposed to lead to unique gameplay mechanics that gave the person holding the tablet a different task than those holding traditional controllers, but only a few titles truly explored this concept.

Just like the 3DS, however, the Wii U was buoyed by a robust selection of first-party classics. I found the first-party offerings of the Wii era to be mostly underwhelming, with desperate attempts to shoehorn in finicky and gimmicky waggle. I still get panicked when remembering just how horrible it felt to fly Link around in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. The Wii U, on the other hand, brought Nintendo back to a novel concept called “just make good games.”

The console brought us Mario Kart 8, which is still the gold standard for digital kart racing, and the underrated Super Mario 3D World. There was also Super Mario Maker, a great Super Smash Bros. title, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Pikmin 3 and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, among many others.

Even if you never owned a Wii U, you’ve probably played some of these games. Nintendo knew the console itself was a flop, but the games were good. This led to numerous re-releases on the Switch. It’s worth noting that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was originally developed for the Wii U. Also, it had Miiverse! Nintendo, for the love of Bowser, bring back Miiverse. It was the only pure social network.

Of course, there’s a strong case to be made that both the design of the Wii U and its failure led to the Switch. Both devices allow for portable play, but the Wii U required people to be tethered to a bulky console. The Switch, on the other hand, is the (not bulky) console. Nintendo’s smash hybrid has sold 140 million units, as of December. The Wii U sold under 14 million devices throughout its lifespan.

Nintendo already shut down the online stores for the 3DS and Wii U last year, so this is the final goodbye. Luckily, speedrunners managed to actually beat a Super Mario Maker level that was long thought to be impossible just a few days ago. Life always finds a way. Sleep well, my two old friends.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Microsoft may be working on a cheaper, disc-free Xbox Series X

Microsoft may be working on a white version of its current all-digital Xbox Series X console, according to leaked images reported by Exputer and documents seen by The Verge. The design appears to be identical to the current black disc version (sans the disc slot) and has the same "robot white" finish as the white Xbox Series S. If accurate, the news may mean delays to a rumored Xbox Series X refresh that carriesas a different design. 

It's not the first time rumors of a white all-digital Xbox Series X have leaked out. Last month, Exputer also reported that Microsoft planned to release a white, all-digital Xbox Series X sometime between June and July 2024, with a retail price $50 to $100 lower than the current Xbox Series X. 

Last year, a large leak indicated that Microsoft would launch an all-digital Xbox Series X with a new cylindrical design, arriving in November of 2024 for $500. The device, code-named Brooklin, was tipped to come with Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, USB-C front port, an all-new southbridge and a 6-nanometer die shrink. That would allow for a reduced (15 percent) power draw, a new low-power standby mode and increased use of recycled plastic. 

Much of the news around Brooklin was effectively refuted by Xbox boss Phil Spencer shortly after the leak, though. He implied that it was based on early planning and no longer accurate. "It's hard to see our team's work shared in this way because so much has changed and there's so much to be excited about right now and in the future," he stated in an X post. "We will share the real plans when we are ready." 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Cyberpunk 2077 will have a free trial on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S this weekend

Night City is looking for new residents — even if they’re only temporary ones who happen to be in the neighborhood for a few hours. CD Projekt Red is offering PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S players the chance to check out Cyberpunk 2077 for free over the Easter weekend.

You’ll be able to play up to five hours of the sprawling first-person RPG at no extra cost between 11AM ET on March 28 and 2:59AM ET on April 1. PlayStation Plus Premium members also have access to a five-hour trial of the base game, but CDPR notes that no subscription is necessary to hop in this weekend.

Try out #Cyberpunk2077 for free!

Get a taste of Night City in a free trial coming soon to @PlayStation 5 and @Xbox Series X|S. Deets below 👇

— Cyberpunk 2077 (@CyberpunkGame) March 25, 2024

If you’re an efficient player, five hours of game time might just be enough to see you through the pivotal heist mission toward the end of the first act. It’s there that the story really opens up and perhaps might entice you to buy the full game to keep playing.

Cyberpunk 2077 had a disastrous debut in 2020 and was in such rough shape that Sony pulled it from the PlayStation Store and offered refunds. The game’s in much better condition these days. I dropped off of Cyberpunk 2077 after playing for a few hours at launch. The arrival of the current-gen console versions in early 2022 pulled me back in and I ended up enjoying the base game. I've yet to check out the highly regarded Phantom Liberty expansion or the 2.0 update that overhauled some of the key systems, but newcomers will be able to get a taste of the latter for free this weekend.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The PS5 Pro is reportedly coming this holiday season

Confession time: I already have a copy of Final Fantasy XVI and Final Fantasy VII Rebirth for the PS5 even though I still don't have a PlayStation 5 console. I never get consoles the moment they come out and usually wait a few years for their next version. In the PlayStation 5's case, I thought it was going to be the PS5 Slim, but it looks like I could have another option by the end of the year: The PlayStation 5 Pro. Tom Henderson of Insider Gaming says the PS5 Pro details leaked by the Moore’s Law is Dead YouTube channel came from documentation Sony itself recently sent to third-party developers. 

Take the website's confirmation with a grain of salt, of course, but Henderson has a pretty good track record when it comes to leaks. In 2022, he reported that Sony was working a "genuine professional controller" for the PS5, two months before the DualSense Edge was officially announced. He also revealed that the company was set to release a version of the console with a detachable disc drive a full year before Sony introduced the smaller and lighter PS5 model. 

Based on leaked information on the PS5 Pro so far, it will offer improved and consistent frame rate (FPS) at 4K, as well as a "performance mode" for 8K resolution. It's also expected to be able to render games up to 45 percent quicker and to have ray tracing capabilities that are two to three times faster than its non-pro counterpart. Plus, the documentation Moore’s Law is Dead featured in its video shows that it will have a GPU with 67 Teraflops FP16 (33.5 Teraflops FP32) performance, which indicates faster speeds and better graphics overall.

Henderson says Sony is targeting a holiday release for the PS5 Pro, most likely to take advantage of heightened sales for the season. However, that could still change, depending on whether the company feels there haven't been enough first-party title releases this year. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

You can get a PS5 with Spider-Man 2 for $400 right now

Now might be a good time to snap up a PlayStation 5 if you've been on the fence and are particularly interested in playing Marvel's Spider-Man 2. A bundle of the console and the game is currently $50 off. The savings apply to both versions of the console, so you can snag an all-digital version of the PS5 with Spider-Man 2 for $400. If you'd prefer to have a standard edition of the console with a disc drive to perhaps watch Blu-ray movies on, the bundle will run you $450.

If you're a newcomer to the PlayStation ecosystem, Spider-Man 2 is an excellent way to get your collection of PS5 games started. It's one of our favorite games of last year and we felt it was both bigger and better than the first game in the series. If you'd prefer to play Marvel's Spider-Man and Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales before diving into the latest entry (both are great games too), you can check them out through the PlayStation Plus subscription service on the Extra and Premium tiers. However, some folks may now be joining the PlayStation club after already playing those two games on PC — I wouldn't want to wait too long for Spider-Man 2 to arrive on PC after first playing the previous entries there either.

When it comes to a modern gaming system, you can't go far wrong with the PS5. It's our pick for the best high-end gaming console, alongside the Xbox Series X/S.

It has a terrific library of exclusive games at this point and it can run pretty much any PS4 game too. Along with strong performance and excellent visuals, the PS5 has one killer feature that helps it stand out from the Xbox Series X/S: the DualSense controller. The haptic feedback and adaptive triggers (i.e. varying tension levels in the L2 and R2 buttons as you pull the string on a virtual bow or drag an object) help create a feeling of immersion Xbox consoles can't quite match yet.

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Ghost of Tsushima is coming to PC on May 16

Another tentpole PlayStation game is coming to PC. This time around, it's Ghost of Tsushima, the PlayStation 4's brilliant swansong. The director's cut of the open-world adventure will hit Steam and the Epic Games Store on May 16.

Nixxes, a Sony studio that's highly regarded for its PC ports, spent the last year working to bring Sucker Punch's game to another platform. Along with the Iki Island expansion and Legends co-op multiplayer mode, Ghost of Tsushima has all the bells and whistles fans have come to expect from PC ports of PlayStation games, such as unlocked framerates, expansive graphics settings and customizable mouse and keyboard controls. Plug in a DualSense controller and you'll get the same haptic feedback and adaptive trigger support that you would on PlayStation 5.

There's support for ultrawide monitors and Nixxes has fully optimized the game for 21:9 and 32:9 formats. You'll even be able to play at a ratio of 48:9 if you have a triple-monitor setup. You can use NVIDIA DLSS 3, AMD FSR 3 and Intel XeSS upscaling tech to boost the performance and visuals. NVIDIA's Reflex and AI-based DLAA anti-aliasing tool are supported too.

One other interesting thing to note is that Sony is promising more authentic lip sync if you choose to play with Japanese audio enabled, as your PC will render the cinematics in real time. Along with the black-and-white Kurosawa mode, that could help make the game feel even more cinematic.

Ghost of Tsushima is already a stunning game on PS5 and it's likely to look even more remarkable on a high-end PC (Sony notes it'll run on portable PC gaming devices too). More details, including system specifications, will be revealed ahead in the coming weeks.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

PlayStation is laying off 900 staff across Naughty Dog, Insomniac and other studios

It’s another bleak day for the gaming industry as there’s more news of mass layoffs. This time around, its PlayStation that’s gutting its studios. Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) says it’s laying off around 900 staff from its PlayStation division, roughly 8 percent of that department’s headcount.

Insomniac (Spider-Man and Ratchet and Clank), Naughty Dog (The Last of Us) and Guerrilla (Horizon) are all affected by the cuts. Those studios are behind some of PlayStation's most important franchises. For instance, within three and a half months, Marvel's Spider-Man 2 had sold 10 million units.

Sony's London Studio, which had been working on a co-op multiplayer game for PlayStation 5, is shutting down entirely, while Firesprite will also lose some staff. In addition, PlayStation will lay off workers from its Technology, Creative, and Support teams.

PlayStation employees in the US who are losing their jobs will be informed today. Sony will adhere to local laws and regulations for carrying out layoffs in other territories — the company says people in all of its global regions will be affected.

"After careful consideration and many leadership discussions over several months, it has become clear changes need to be made to continue to grow the business and develop the company," outgoing SIE president and CEO Jim Ryan told staff in an email. "We had to step back, look at our business holistically, and move forward focusing on the long-term sustainability of the company and delivering the best experiences possible for our community. The goal is to streamline our resources to ensure our continued success and ability to deliver experiences gamers and creators have come to expect from us."

Meanwhile, Hermen Hulst, the head of PlayStation Studios, said that SIE leadership evaluated its studios and portfolio and looked at projects that are in various stages of development. Some of those projects have now been canceled. Hulst didn't provide more details, but the projects that have been canned surely include the one that London Studio was working on.

"I want to be clear that the decision to stop work on these projects is not a reflection on the talent or passion of team members," Hulst wrote in a memo. "Our philosophy has always been to allow creative experimentation. Sometimes, great ideas don’t become great games. Sometimes, a project is started with the best intentions before shifts within the market or industry result in a change of plan."

Hulst also noted that SIE is re-assessing its approach to delivering the kinds of expensive blockbuster single-player games that PlayStation has become known for over the last decade or so, and balancing that out with its desire to create long-tail multiplayer games. "Delivering the immersive, narrative-driven stories that PlayStation Studios is known for, at the quality bar that we aspire to, requires a re-evaluation of how we operate," Hulst wrote. "Delivering and sustaining social, online experiences — allowing PlayStation gamers to explore our worlds in different ways — as well as launching games on additional devices such as PC and mobile, requires a different approach and different resources."

Sony is working on multiple live-service games and had planned to release 10 of them by 2026. At least one of those — The Last of Us Online — was shelved. However, the company has seen some success on the live-service front, with Helldivers 2 becoming one of the biggest hits of the year so far.

However, it emerged this month that Sony doesn't plan to release any sequels for its major first-party franchises until at least April next year. It's relying on third-party titles such as Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth and the Elden Ring expansion to help cover the gaps in its own pipeline. The company also lowered its PS5 sales forecast for the current fiscal year, which ends on March 31. It expects to sell 21 million consoles in fiscal 2023, down from the previous estimate of 25 million.

This slate of layoffs brings the total number of job losses in the games industry so far this year to more than 7,000 (we haven't even reached March yet). That's on top of the more than 9,000 people who were laid off from the industry in 2023.

Microsoft conducted sweeping cuts in its gaming division in January, laying off around 1,900 people. Riot Games, Unity, Twitch (which is games-adjacent instead of a gaming company), Supermassive Games, Dead by Daylight developer Behaviour Interactive and Sega of America are also among those who have carried out layoffs.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Let's talk about Xbox | This week's gaming news

No one is suggesting that Microsoft should stop making video game hardware. What we've been considering, here in the dark and twisted Engadget Slack channels, is whether Microsoft should keep making generationally distinct consoles in the traditional hardware cycle. Basically, does Xbox need a box? Microsoft has been busy building the foundation of a platform-agnostic, cloud-first future for video games, and it consistently falls behind both Sony and Nintendo in the console race. So why are executives trying to get us excited about a superpowered 10th-gen Xbox?

Maybe Microsoft is hesitant to reveal a drastic ecosystem change after the chaos around the Xbox One and its always-on DRM features in 2013. After an outpouring of negative feedback at the idea of a persistently online console, Xbox had to rapidly reverse its launch plans, while Sony took the PlayStation 4 on an early victory lap. This fumble set the stage for the next decade of console sales, and it's a lesson that would stick with any studio — especially one that's trying to make streaming and cloud gaming the norm.

That's understandable, but it doesn't change the fact that accessible, affordable (and probably handheld) hardware makes a lot of sense for Microsoft's current vision and investments. More than an expensive console, at least.

This week's stories

A delicious Elden Ring entrée

Elden Ring’s Shadow of the Erdtree expansion will come to PlayStation, Xbox and PC on June 21. This one has been a long time coming: FromSoftware announced the DLC in February 2023, leaving plenty of time for players to get super psyched for more masochism. A new, three-minute trailer for Shadow of the Erdtree shows off sprawling locations and epic bosses inspired by chaotic combinations of animals, insects and elements. The expansion costs $40 and pre-orders are live now.

Borderlands by Cate Blanchett

I’m just gonna come out and say it: I think Cate Blanchett makes a great Lilith. The first trailer for this summer’s Borderlands movie is out and it looks like Mad Max meets Guardians of the Galaxy — which is Borderlands in a nutshell anyway. The film stars Blanchett, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Ariana Greenblatt, it’s directed by Eli Roth, and it’s due to hit theaters on August 9.

Xbox should exit the console business

Last Thursday, Xbox executives made it clear that they weren’t about to abandon the traditional hardware market, and they teased a next-generation console that will represent “the largest technical leap you will have ever seen.” That’s cool, but considering Microsoft’s position in the industry, it doesn’t feel like Xbox needs to be making consoles any more.

After acquiring half of the industry, Microsoft is now a mega-publisher of games, with over 30 in-house studios. Many of these development teams are world-renowned, with rich, multi-platform histories. It’s also the operator of one of the largest game subscription services in the world, Game Pass.

Game Pass grew wildly during the pandemic, but subscriptions have stagnated. In court documents from April 2022, Microsoft revealed it had 21.9 million Game Pass subscribers and 11.7 million Xbox Live Gold members across its consoles, for a total user base of 33.6 million. Last week, Microsoft revealed Game Pass has 34 million subscribers, which includes PC Game Pass and Game Pass Core, the new name for Xbox Live Gold. Even assuming PC Game Pass had zero subscribers in 2022, this means Game Pass subscriptions grew just 1 percent over the past 22 months. The more likely scenario is that the total number of subscriptions actually shrank over this period — though it’s at least possible that more people are paying for the full-price service than before.

Microsoft’s plan for this console generation was clear for all to see: Sell hardware and upsell a subscription service populated by its own games. Turns out, it’s tough to sell Game Pass to someone without an Xbox, and not enough people are buying Xboxes. Microsoft stopped reporting hardware numbers during the Xbox One era, but analysts peg the combined sales of the Xbox Series consoles at around 25 million. Meanwhile, Sony has sold more than 50 million PS5s, and Nintendo has sold around 140 million Switches. This gap appears to be growing every day, and it’s far more pronounced in Japan and Europe than in the United States. If Microsoft wants to grow Game Pass, it seems like it’ll have to be on platforms outside of Xbox.

This week, Xbox confirmed plans to bring four formerly exclusive games to PlayStation and Nintendo consoles, and for years executives have been pitching an ecosystem where Xbox — and Game Pass — is playable on anything with a screen. Microsoft has a powerful cloud network that even Sony uses for game streaming, plus it owns more than 30 studios. Long-term, Microsoft is positioning Xbox to be a platform-agnostic, software-publishing powerhouse with the industry’s most stable streaming network at its back.

In this landscape, it’s surprising to hear Xbox talk about building a hyper-powered console for the next generation. I’m not advocating for Microsoft to ditch the hardware market — it makes sense for the company to focus on handheld devices and affordable streaming boxes that support Game Pass and cloud play. Xbox is working toward a future where its games and Game Pass are available everywhere, which raises a clear question about its current plans: Why bring an expensive next-gen console to a war that is actually about software, subscriptions and streaming?

Bonus Content

  • Sony president Hiroki Totoki told investors last week that the company would be more aggressive in bringing its PlayStation titles to PC.

  • Xbox has confirmed which of its games are coming to other consoles: Grounded and Pentiment will come to PlayStation and Switch, while Sea of Thieves and Hi-Fi Rush will only arrive on PS5. Both Sea of Thieves and Grounded will support crossplay across all platforms.

  • Now for a totally different port: The Pokémon Company has scheduled an anniversary stream for next Tuesday at 9AM ET. It might be a bit early for a gen-10 reveal, but a Switch remake of Black & White seems like a safe bet.

Now Playing

If you’re a Switch or PlayStation player curious about all of these Xbox games coming to your consoles, I have one easy and clear recommendation: play Pentiment. Obsidian’s narrative-driven, tapestry-looking game is a surprise and a delight, and I’ve had a lot of fun playing it on Game Pass recently. It's out now on PS4, PS5 and Switch, and I’m sure it’s just as great on those platforms.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at