Huge, unexpected news out of the videogame industry today: Sony has officially revealed the PS5–or, not the PS5, not officially, just Sony’s “next-generation console”, which is how Mark Cerny is referring to it in this exclusive Wired story outlining the first details that the company is willing to share about the new machine. And they’re some juicy, interesting details, things like an SSD, ray-tracing, backwards compatibility and a disc drive. This is all great, particularly the SSD. But there’s one number that I’m not seeing, likely because it isn’t finalized yet. And it’s by far the most important number of the bunch: the price.
A curiously-timed, wholly unconfirmed leak the other day appeared to drop a ton of information about Sony’s upcoming console. At the time, there was so much information that it seemed incredulous based on that alone: the leaker claimed to be a dev working on a PS5 title, giving us specs, details and even the launch lineup. Now that the console has been partially revealed, however, we can see that the leaker got some things right, such as backwards compatibility, 8K graphics, AMD Navi GPU and support for physical media. Even with that, we should remember, the leak should be taken with a heaping of salt. A lot of the details that the leaker got right are the sort of thing that wouldn’t be too hard to guess or the sort of thing that basically were going to go one way or the other. The leaker was wrong on the SSD count, which is a big thing.
Still, this leak now goes one notch up on the credibility scale, which means its time to examine some other parts of the leak. And one of them concerns that all-important number, predicting that the price will land at $499, the same price as the Xbox One at launch and $100 more expensive than the PS4. This might be the price necessary to get all that hardware in there, but it’s a dangerous price indeed, particularly if the competition figures out how to get in underneath.
The PS4 won the last generation for a ton of reasons, not the least of which was Microsoft’s utter flubbing of its messaging throughout the entire of the runup to the Xbox One launch. But at the end of the day, I can’t imagine that the biggest factor wasn’t price: the PS4 and Xbox One were ultimately similar machines, but the PS4 was $100 cheaper. In that situation, the cheaper option is just bound to win. Again, $499 is 100% unconfirmed, and the price is likely not finalized. But Sony doesn’t have massive sources of revenue to subsidize a larger loss–like Microsoft does–and SSDs are expensive.
I expect price competition to be even fiercer this generation as streaming services begin to lower the barrier for a certain kind of console experience and as Xbox seems ready to release a lower-priced entry-level console along with whatever will be considered the genuine competition for the PS5. Microsoft is also moving hard on its subscription services in order to produce more ongoing revenue from Xbox users, which means that the company might be willing to take a slightly steeper loss and hope to make up for it with Game Pass and Gold subscriptions.
US braces for future 5G world largely built with mobile network gear from China’s Huawei
US national security officials are planning for a future in which the Chinese firm Huawei Technologies will have a major share of the advanced global telecommunications market, and have begun to think about how to thwart potential espionage and disruptive cyberattacks enabled by interconnected networks.
“We are going to have to figure out a way in a 5G world that we’re able to manage the risks in a diverse network that includes technology that we can’t trust,” said Sue Gordon, the deputy to the director of the US intelligence community. “We’re just going to have to figure that out.”
Officials have not let up on their campaign to urge other countries to block Huawei – a company that the US claims to have close ties to the Chinese government – from their burgeoning 5G mobile networks, which will power everything from self-driving cars to military operations.
But they are cognisant that many countries already use low-cost Huawei equipment and will probably continue to rely on it, as they transition to the next generation of mobile communications, which will be up to 100 times faster than current 4G platforms.
“You have to presume a dirty network,” said Gordon, at an intelligence conference at the University of Texas, Austin last week. “That’s what we’re going to have to presume about the world.”
Already, officials have begun discussing ways to use encryption, segmented network components and stronger standards to protect key systems. The major US telecoms providers began several years ago to design into their 5G network plans certain features aimed at keeping domestic systems safe from spying and cyberattacks by adversaries and criminals.
US officials, frustrated by persistent demands that they reveal a “smoking gun” to back up their warnings that Huawei represents a security risk, have pushed the argument that Chinese laws compel firms such as Huawei to cooperate with intelligence agencies, without the judicial and legal safeguards that exist in the United States.
Gordon’s remarks – striking for their candour about the need to prepare for a future with Huawei in the networks – reflect the twin pressures officials face, as they to try to persuade allies that long-term national security interests should take precedence over short-term economic benefits.
Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, insists his company has never shared information with the Chinese government and it does not plan to. “For the past 30 years we have never done that, and the next 30 years to come, we will never do that,” he told CBS News in February.
German security officials have also urged their ministers to block Huawei from the country’s 5G networks. But there, as in other European countries, appeals to heed the security risks are competing with Huawei’s aggressive price-slashing that especially targets firms under economic duress.
“I can’t understand how German telecoms providers are so naive about Huawei,” said one senior German security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. “If the Chinese authorities want access [to the networks], Huawei will have to grant it and that’s a problem.”
Already, Huawei controls the 4G market in Africa, much of the Middle East, southern Europe and parts of Southeast Asia. “Huawei has a desire to dominate the 5G market,” said James Lewis, a technology and cybersecurity policy expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. “There’s no way we’re going to keep them out everywhere.”
The fear that major US telecoms network operators have is that if Huawei corners the market, shutting out the handful of European competitors that exist, there will be no option for other countries in the future but to use Huawei.
The four major US telecoms carriers – AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile – have pledged to the US government that they will bar Huawei and another Chinese firm, ZTE Corp, from their 5G networks. But they must still connect with foreign networks, and if they are running Huawei, American traffic will traverse boxes that Huawei controls.
That has prompted warnings from officials, such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who in Budapest, Hungary, in February told allies that using Huawei could make it difficult for the US to “partner alongside them” if their equipment ties into “important American systems”.
The US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, in March sent a letter to German officials saying the United States would limit intelligence-sharing with Berlin if Huawei is allowed to provide its 5G network.
US intelligence sharing “is a matter of life and death for us”, said the German security official. Last year, for instance, the US passed intelligence to the Germans that helped them track an alleged terrorist plot involving the deadly biotoxin ricin developed by a Tunisian extremist living in Cologne who was suspected of being inspired by the Islamic State.
Though the German government has ruled out a ban on Huawei, Jürgen Hardt, a member of the German parliament, said he believes officials in Berlin are taking the potential threat seriously.
“We are aware of the challenge and we are handling that challenge well,” he said.
Hardt said authorities have set a high barrier for participation in construction of the country’s 5G mobile network, insisting on strict security protocols he said would be difficult for Huawei to meet.
The German security official said he believed Huawei equipment would not be in any systems that underpin military or critical infrastructure such as water and electricity.
Britain already bars Huawei from government and all critical networks. And its presence in the commercial 4G system is limited to one-third of the components that are separate from the network core. The other two-thirds are split between the Finnish company Nokia and the Swedish firm Ericsson.
Some US officials said the greater threat is not espionage, but disruption of critical systems in a crisis.
Telecoms network operators like AT&T and Verizon have engineered features, such as gateways through which all untrusted international traffic must pass to be scrubbed for malware or other forms of attack.
“The 5G standard is being built with security from its inception, building on lessons learned from previous generations of wireless [systems],” said one telecoms industry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly on the issue. “And it is an iterative process, so that as problems arise, they can be addressed.”
Experts said that while 5G services will emerge over the next few years, a full buildout will take 10 to 20 years. It takes time to install network antennas on street corners across the nation, to produce fleets of cars that can drive themselves and deploy sensors that will power smart cities and factories.
That gives the US government time, if it starts now, to execute a strategy to seed innovation in 5G technologies so that more players can enter the market for integrating the hardware and software to compete with Huawei, said Thomas Donahue, a retired CIA analyst and former White House official who devoted 30 years to technology and national security issues.
Donahue, however, said “we will not succeed unless government and industry come together”.
“This requires leadership from the US government – from the top. In this regard, we may have something to learn from China.”
Konami Renames New York Office as It Refocuses on ‘Frogger,’ ‘Contra,’ More
Konami renamed its New York City outpost, 4K Media, in order to reflect its new approach to intellectual property rights management, the company announced via press release Monday.
Konami Cross Media NY Inc., the new name of 4K Media Inc., is effective Monday. It is a subsidiary of Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc., which specializes in brand management and production for multiple platforms, according to the press release.
“On the heels of a year filled with both change and growth,” the press release stated. “Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd. has announced that its New York City outpost, 4K Media Inc. has been renamed Konami Cross Media NY Inc. to reflect the company’s evolving, 360-degree approach to managing intellectual property (IP) for some of the world’s most iconic gaming brands, such as ‘Yu-Gi-Oh! Bomberman,’ ‘Contra’ and ‘Frogger.’”
Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd is the core company of Konami Group, and the developer behind popular game franchises like “Metal Gear Solid” and “Castlevania.”
Konami reported its most successful fiscal year yet last May, securing over $2 billion in revenue. The company credited this partly to the success of “Pro Evolution Soccer: 2018” and “Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links.”
The Konami report also mentioned an increasing interest in esports.
“In the game industry, efforts are accelerating to offer new experiences through game content in various ways, including esports, which are regarded as a form of sports competition and are attracting more and more attention,” the financial report stated.
Konami is also currently working on development of The Konami Creative Center, which will be a 12-story high esports-dedicated building in Tokyo.
Spielberg, Aniston, Witherspoon help unveil Apple’s original streaming content, Apple TV+
At the start of Monday’s Apple event in Cupertino, Tim Cook hit the stage to say that “today is going to be a very different kind of event.”
And he was right. Apple unveiled its first push into original content as part of a broad presentation shifting focus from products to the tech giant’s services, with the help of Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and a cadre of other Hollywood talent.
Aniston, Witherspoon and Steve Carell helped to introduce The Morning Show, the name of the previously untitled morning TV show drama that will explore the world of morning TV news. Witherspoon said it’ll be a “high-velocity thrill ride in which we pose questions without easy answers and shine a light on the fault lines in our society at this very complicated cultural moment.”
Later, Oprah Winfrey brought her star power to announce more details of her multi-year partnership with Apple, including two new documentary series: Toxic Labor will focus on the impact of harassment in the workplace, while an untitled series on mental health will spotlight issues such as depression, anxiety and trauma and hopes to “replace stigma with wisdom, compassion and honesty.”
Winfrey said that in “daunting challenges of our time…we all crave connection, we search for common ground… We also need to listen, be open and harness our hopes, dreams and heal our divisions. That’s why I’ve joined forces with Apple.”
Apple TV+ will be a streaming service launching in fall this year, with subscription pricing details to be revealed down the line.
Here are the other new shows teased at Apple’s Monday event:
Amazing Stories – Apple brought out none other that Spielberg to introduce the first of its original slate, a reboot of his 1985 series Amazing Stories. Spielberg, who emerged to a raucous applause, said “we want to transport the audience with every episode” and called the first season “a single thematic experience.” The first episode features Edward Burns as a World War II pilot.
See – Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard revealed some details of the futuristic world of See, a new fantasy epic series that will explore an environment without sight. “Try to think about the world this way: heard, touched, smelled, sensed. Imagine every human experience available to you — love, joy, discovery, despair and home — imagine it was all experienced this way… without seeing,” Momoa teased. See takes place centuries after a virus wiped out most of Earth’s inhabitants and left the only survivors blind. As new generations are born blind, they construct a new world on Earth that is “designed and built to be experienced without sight.” Momoa plays a warrior leader named Baba Voss, while Woodard will play the character of Paris, a priestess and advisor to Voss. The series is penned by Steven Knight and directed by Francis Lawrence.
“In this world, we have our evil queens, brave heroes and thrilling adventure, but beyond the adventure, See will ask questions you may have already started asking yourselves…how much of my experience of the world is visual? Without sight, will it change who I am?” Woodard said.
Little America – Kumail Nanjiani had the audience laughing as he talked about his experience of moving to the United States from Karachi, Pakistan: “I learned from Hollywood movies and American TV shows, so when I was moving to America at the age of 18, I was excited about the idea of being dwarfed by skyscrapers… then I landed in Iowa, and I thought this is very different from the America in the movies,” he quipped.
Little Voice – J.J. Abrams and Sara Bareilles shared details of their new series Little Voice, centered on the life of a “promising, flawed young woman, a musician living in New York, in and around a vibrant community of young, hopeful artists, family and friends, soulmates and bandmates, trying to find herself and her own true voice,” according to the singer.
Abrams said the series would “talk about that terrifying, thrilling, absurdly wonderful, awful and embarrassing time when as a young person, you venture out in the world for the first time,” adding that the series was for “anyone who has ever given everything they have to go after a dream.”
Sesame Workshops – Big Bird turned up to help announce a new pre-school show called Helpsters, centered on getting kids into coding.
A new trailer gave the first look at a slew of Apple’s new shows, including first footage of a brunette Witherspoon alongside Aniston in The Morning Show; Momoa and Woodard in warrior outfits in See; Joel Kinnaman in Ron Moore’s 1960s space-race drama For All Mankind; Brooklynn Prince in Hilde Lysiak’s Home Before Dark; Octavia Spencer and Aaron Paul in Truth be Told; Spielberg’s Amazing Stories; Sundance hit Hala; and Rob McEhlenney and Charlie Day’s Mythic Quest, which is set in the world of video game development.
Apple’s content chiefs Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg introduced the new service as Apple TV+, touting that “great stories can change the world” and “connect us.”
“We love TV,” Cook said excitedly, as they announced updates to the Apple TV app that curates most of your favorite shows and movies in one place. The new Apple TV Channels service will allow users to just pay for what they watch, and includes access to streaming platforms such as HBO, Showtime, CBS and Amazon Video. The new Apple TV app will be newly available on the Mac and on smart TVs such as Sony, Samsung and Amazon’s Fire TV.
Apple announced a slew of new services, such as Apple News+, a new subscription plan for its news service that will include more than 300 magazines, including EW, for a monthly subscription of $9.99. The tech giant also announced a new credit card service called Apple Card, designed to be used with ApplePay and available worldwide, with daily cash back from usage. Apple Arcade will be new to the app store, focusing on new video games exclusive to Apple and accessible with a monthly subscription.
EARLIER: Two years after announcing it was entering the saturated original content market, Apple Inc. is finally expected to lift the veil on its tightly guarded plans to release original series and movies at its live event on Monday. Ahead of the announcement — beginning at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET — here’s what is expected to be revealed and what EW has learned about the talent and content in development.
The Content: Apple has more than 30 series and films in development for its originals slate, including the anticipated Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon reunion in the untitled morning TV show drama that’ll also star Steve Carell and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Talent such as Oprah Winfrey, Chris Evans, Brie Larson, J.J. Abrams, M. Night Shyamalan, Damien Chazelle and Jason Momoa have also come on board to create or star in buzzy new projects for the tech giant. (You can see the full list here.)
The Platform: Apple has 1.4 billion active installed devices as of January 2019, and it is highly likely that the tech giant will release its original content on a streaming platform that would be accessible on multiple Apple devices, from iPhones to Apple TV.
Subscription Model: Given the lucrative market for video streaming services, it’s expected that the original series and movies will be accessible via a monthly subscription plan, a la Netflix and Hulu. In order to entice people, Apple could offer up the first episode of its anticipated programming for free. It is not known yet if the movies that Apple has acquired or is making as part of its A24 partnership will have a theatrical release component, like Amazon does with its three-month theatrical window before movies come to Amazon Prime Video, or if it’ll debut the movies exclusively on its own platform.
The New York Times reportedthis link opens in a new tab that Apple will be offering an expansive news and entertainment subscription services that could include access to newspapers, magazines, music, and original video content. And Apple has its Apple Music subscription service that has 50 million subscribers.
Launch Date: The best indication for a launch date of Apple’s original content is from Mimi Leder, who told EW that it’ll be “sometime in the summer of 2019.” Leder is directing a few episodes of the Aniston-Witherspoon morning show drama. This will mean that Apple shows won’t be eligible for this year’s Emmy Awards (for which shows must have aired by May 31), but it does make them eligible for the 2020 Golden Globes, for which the airdate cut-off is Dec. 31.
The Impact: When Apple enters any space, the world watches. With viewership habits changing significantly in the age of Peak TV and on-demand content, every major network has had to get on board with the growing audience in the streaming market and Apple’s entry into the market is buzzy, given its in-built consumer base and more than a billion devices in the world. But it’s also yet another new platform attempting to lure subscribers. Already, Netflix’s relationship with Apple is fraying — as reported by the Timesthis link opens in a new tab — and Netflix will not be part of a bundle that Apple will offer with its subscription plan that’ll include up-selling access to HBO Go and CBS All Access.
Stay tuned here as EW covers live updates from Apple’s Cupertino event. You can livestream the event at Apple’s websitethis link opens in a new tab.
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