Fu­ture Tech Trends

Ben­nett Ring looks into his crys­tal ball...

Hyper - - EDITORIAL -

VR

Af­ter re­cently re­turn­ing from the world’s big­gest PC hard­ware show, it was im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore the big­gest trend sweep­ing PC mak­ers – Vir­tual Re­al­ity. It makes per­fect sense re­ally. Only 14% of gamers have PCs pow­er­ful enough to run to­day’s HMDs at the re­quired 90Hz for a smooth ex­pe­ri­ence, so it’s no won­der that ev­ery moth­er­board and graph­ics card maker wants a piece of the VR ac­tion.

Nearly ev­ery prod­uct at the show had VR-Ready printed in large lo­gos over it, even though many of these prod­ucts have not been cer­ti­fied by Ocu­lus nor HTC. The fact that each of these VR kits cost over $1100, plus need a $1000+ PC will be a huge de­ter­rent to many who want to en­joy the VR craze, which is where the Plays­ta­tion VR hopes to cap­ture a huge niche.

Slated for a re­lease price of US$399 in Oc­to­ber, it’s ob­vi­ously not go­ing to have the same specs as the high-end PC kits. It’ll use a 5.7 inch 1080p OLED dis­play with a 100 de­gree field of view. Sony claims the screen will re­fresh at 120Hz, but it’s ac­tu­ally us­ing some soft­ware trick­ery to dou­ble the na­tive 60Hz re­fresh rate. Ac­cord­ing to those who’ve worn one, it’s ac­tu­ally far more com­fort­able than the Vive or Rift, and there’s no risk of fog­ging as there’s a large amount of open space around the lens.

Sadly it won’t come with mo­tion con­trollers – you’re go­ing to need to fork out for the Plays­ta­tion Move Wands and Cam­era for that fea­ture. Sony is plan­ning on hav­ing 50 ti­tles ready by launch, in­clud­ing the new Res­i­dent Evil. It’ll come with a break­out box to de­liver the ex­tra horse­power nec­es­sary to run the twin screens at such high res­o­lu­tion, though there are ru­mours that the new PS4.5 will have the nec­es­sary grunt to do away with such a box.

Whether you be­lieve it or not, the in­dus­try is get­ting be­hind VR in a big way. It’s no sur­prise re­ally – we’re at day one of the VR revo­lu­tion and the ex­pe­ri­ences are al­ready mind-blow­ing. Give it a cou­ple more years of de­vel­op­ment and we think it’ll be­come the pre­ferred way to play.

ONLY 14% OF GAMERS HAVE PCS POW­ER­FUL ENOUGH TO RUN TO­DAY’S HMDS AT THE RE­QUIRED 90HZ FOR A SMOOTH EX­PE­RI­ENCE

UP­DATED CON­SOLES

The con­sole cy­cle as we know it is now over. Both Sony and Mi­crosoft are re­leas­ing mid-cy­cle sys­tems, re­freshes that aren’t just smaller ver­sions as we’ve seen in the past, but with new GPUs and CPUs to de­liver bet­ter gam­ing per­for­mance. Let’s look at Sony’s ver­sion first.

The PS4.5 is claimed to be able to de­liver 4K gam­ing, but again it does so via soft­ware trick­ery. Rather than na­tively ren­der the game at 4K, which would re­quire $2000 worth of GPUs, it sim­ply up­scales to­day’s games to the new res­o­lu­tion. How­ever, it should hope­fully in­clude the new Ul­tra HD Blu-ray stan­dard, which will run movies in true 4K res­o­lu­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to leaked specs, the PS4.5 (aka Neo) will have a faster CPU, run­ning at 2.1GHz vs the 1.6GHz of the ex­ist­ing model. More im­por­tantly, it’ll dou­ble the GPU horse­power. To­day’s PS4 has an in­te­grated AMD GPU with 18 Com­pute Units – Neo will dou­ble this to 36. Even bet­ter, they’ll run at 911MHz com­pared to the 800MHz of to­day’s PS4s. The dif­fer­ence this will make in per­for­mance sim­ply can­not be un­der­stated. The mem­ory will also be faster, up 24% from 176GB/sec to 218GB/sec.

These are some se­ri­ous hard­ware up­grades, but ex­ist­ing PS4 own­ers need not fret. Ev­ery game made mov­ing for­ward must sup­port both ver­sions of the PS4, with the newer ver­sion ob­vi­ously hav­ing en­hanced vi­su­als.

On the other hand, Mi­crosoft an­nounced two new con­soles at this year’s E3. First is the Xbox One S, which should bring 4K up­scal­ing and 4K Blu-ray sup­port to the ta­ble. It also has HDMI 2.0, which sup­ports HDR. Mi­crosoft were mum on the im­proved in­ter­nals, but it is 40% smaller than to­day’s Xbox One.

More ex­cit­ing is Mi­crosoft’s new “Scorpio” Xbox. At this year’s E3, Phil Spencer promised it would be the fastest con­sole ever made, and it’s due for re­lease in 2017. Many be­lieve this may ac­tu­ally be the Xbox Two, and not just a sim­ple up­grade to to­day’s Xbox One. Again, MS re­mained very quiet about what’s inside, but they did claim it has six Ter­aflops of per­for­mance, five times that of to­day’s Xbox One. It’ll also run Win­dows, and is go­ing to be pow­ered by an AMD APU.

Fi­nally we have Nin­tendo’s NX con­sole, which it re­fused to re­veal at E3. Due in March 2017, it’s ru­moured to be as pow­er­ful as to­day’s PS4… which means it will be thor­oughly out­classed by both Sony and Mi­crosoft’s new ma­chines. Yet Nin­tendo has rarely ever been about brute strength, so we can ex­pect a far more com­pet­i­tive price point than its com­peti­tors. As for the con­troller, patents sug­gest Nin­tendo is stick­ing with a de­sign very sim­i­lar to the Nin­tendo Wii U con­troller, which we’re not so sure is a good idea. It’s just a ru­mour though – don’t be sur­prised if Nin­tendo blows us out of the wa­ter with some new form of con­troller.

MO­BILE GAM­ING

Fi­nally, wrap­ping up our look into the fu­ture of games is the con­tin­ued dom­i­nance of mo­bile gam­ing. Deloitte Global pre­dicts that in 2016 mo­bile games will be the lead­ing game plat­form in terms of game sales, gen­er­at­ing US$35 bil­lion. That’s a huge 20% in­crease over 2015. There are cur­rently over 800,000 mo­bile games on the mar­ket com­pared to 17,000 for PC and con­soles, and it’s all thanks to the low bar­rier to de­vel­op­ment. How­ever, now that the mar­ket is ab­so­lutely jam packed with ti­tles, most fore­cast­ers ex­pect growth to slow. Hope­fully that doesn’t mean yet an­other ver­sion of Candy Crush in the near fu­ture.

Not Pic­tured: The vir­tual porn he's cur­rently watch­ing

Candy Crush of the fu­ture!

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