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Pre3: Sony comes clean on Neo as FB inks a deal with Blizzard

Weekly Roundup: A collective holding of breath as the industry prepares for the LA circus

'Tis the week before E3, and aside from the House, not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.

The week before E3, or Pre3, as I'm now christening it, can go one of two ways. It's either a deathly calm, as fearful executives everywhere clutch their slide decks to their chests and desperately make warding signs against prying journalists; or it's a non-stop colander of free-flowing leaks as our old friends Rumour and Speculation play fast and loose with the secrets of major corporations.

This week has largely been the former, with the major leaks having been run comfortably to ground some weeks ago. Luckily, PlayStation boss Andrew House was on hand to spice things up at the last moment by confirming the long-rumoured, never-quite-denied PS4 Neo to the Financial Times.

The Neo, as was expected, will be a more expensive, more capable machine, with a 4K output and better specs all round. Still, says House, it's not a replacement for the original model.

"All games will support the standard PS4 and we anticipate all or a very large majority of games will also support the high-end PS4"

Andrew House

"It is intended to sit alongside and complement the standard PS4," House told the FT. "We will be selling both through the life cycle...All games will support the standard PS4 and we anticipate all or a very large majority of games will also support the high-end PS4."

Disappointingly, Sony seemed to only want to confirm the existence of the machine so it could also put rumours of its appearance at E3 to bed. House has categorically denied that it will be revealed to the public next week, citing the need for a worthwhile catalogue of enhanced games to make the most of the launch.

Elsewhere, however, traditional Pre3 quiet has reigned. Nonetheless, Facebook and Blizzard penned a partnership deal which will see the developer's games given a "stream to Facebook" button, as well as Facebook login to Battle.net. Announced without a great deal of fanfare, the deal is part of a larger partnership which has included an extensive ad campaign for Overwatch and looks like it could well be something of a litmus test for closer integration in the future.

"Blizzard games are best when played with friends, so it's important to us to provide our players with features and services that make it easy and fun to share their experiences with each other," said Blizzard's Gio Hunt in a press release. "We're working closely with Facebook on this integration for Overwatch, as well as our other games, and we look forward to sharing further details on our plans as development progresses."

"Apple has received confirmation that three incidents linked to smelters reported in Apple's supply chain have occurred in which individuals identified as members or potential members of organizations within the meaning of 'armed groups"

In the UK, mainstream headlines have been dominated with the discussion of the EU referendum, which will see British citizens deciding whether they want the country to remain as a member state of Europe's attempts at unifying policy and trade negotiation. Many polls have the yays and nays as neck and neck, with around 20% of the country remaining undecided. But what will it mean for the UK's game makers? George Osborn (not that one) spoke to them to find out, finding the trade to be fairly firmly in favour of the vote to remain.

Sticking with the politically contentious, Brendan Sinclair investigated the murky world of conflict minerals, discovering a disappointing backslide from some of the gaming companies who'd previously been leading the way in sourcing elements from ethical sources. Activision, which was previously able to claim a completely clean supply chain, was forced to admit that it may have some...grey areas, whilst both Facebook and Time Warner have dragged their feet about publishing their supply chain details to the SEC. Still, it's not all bad news, many companies, including giants like Apple and Microsoft, have made significant steps towards a conflict-free sourcing policy.

Other news in brief:

Mohawk co-founder Soren Johnson stirred up debate among devs this week, stating that user reviews, sales, and refunds should be removed from Early Access

Amazon's Lumberyard engine now supports VR.

Games social platform Forge raised $5.4 million in funding.

Chinese firm Huace has bought a $300 million stake in mysterious AR tech Magic Leap

Spanish soccer club Valencia has entered the world of eSports.

The team behind VR game The Brookhaven Experiment has formed a new studio.

Japanese messaging service Line is shaping up for a $6 billion IPO

Latest comments (8)

Drew Dewsall Editor, Game4AnythingA year ago
Sony should offer a part exchange deal for consumers who want to upgrade from PS4 to NEO.
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Jens Mogensen Game Reviewer, Geek CultureA year ago
Why should they when Gamestop will do it automatically?
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Robert Bantin Principal Programmer, CodemastersA year ago
I keep trying to see this positively, but it's hard when the stable nature of a console platform is perverted like this. We (the industry) are not even rocking full steam on the current gen yet and already the data we have on the PS4 is old or incomplete. Add peripherals, ports, whatever, but not this. It's bad for the consumer. It's bad for the developer.

I don't think games consoles are like smart phones at all. Smart phones are often subsidized by service contracts, which by their very nature are renewed ever 18-24 months. And having done games for mobile, I can tell you it's normal to aim for the median-powered SKUs in circulation, not the top-powered SKU. I reckon most Neo games that get made won't max-out the hardware like they could on the standard PS4.
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Show all comments (8)
Daniel Trezub QA Analyst, GameLoftA year ago
"Sony should offer a part exchange deal for consumers who want to upgrade from PS4 to NEO."
May I ask you why? No other industry does that, why the consoles would do it?
You don't get an exchange if Honda puts a new Civic in the market, you don't get an exchange if someone builds a better house around the corner.
Besides, what are they supposed to do with the old consoles they would get?
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Carl Hudson Studying Computer Science, University of AdelaideA year ago
If the PS4 can run everything that the PS4k can, I don't see the reason it exists.

Perhaps, when costs come done in a year or three, it will be the only model.

By which time, there will be enough games (fully designed/modified) to warrant it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Carl Hudson on 11th June 2016 10:02am

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Rafa Ferrer Localisation Manager, Red Comet MediaA year ago
@Robert - Just for the record, the ISP/mobile carrier Orange does subsidize the PS4, at least here in Spain. Not that it makes this any better for current PS4 owners...
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Andreia Quinta Photographer, Studio52 LondonA year ago
I wonder what do they mean by "enhanced games" on the PS4K. Will they run better or look better? The later still capped at 60fps I suppose, but with cosmetic enhancements like increased field of view, better antialias, higher rez textures, more folliage, sliding all the settings to ultra?
Or the former, with actual better performance?
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Andy Samson QA Supervisor, Digital Media ExchangeA year ago
I do not see the practicality of purchasing a PS4 Neo if the original system is already performing so much better than the competing platform. Otherwise, Sony thinks most of their fanbase is a bunch of elitists who buys a console purely for the aesthetics they can show off to their peasant friends. From a developer standpoint, this is just a pain in the ass since optimization will still be focused on the older system. Developing for the Neo will just be an afterthought.
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