Phil Spencer: Sony is Blocking Minecraft Cross Platform Play

This week, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer complained openly that Sony will not allow Minecraft cross-platform play to include the PlayStation 4. Nintendo, another competitor, has no problem with this capability, however.

“We talk to Sony all the time,” Mr. Spencer told Gamespot. “With Minecraft on PlayStation, we have to be one of the biggest games on their platform in terms of sales and gameplay. Same with Nintendo. The relationship with Nintendo on this front has been strong. They’ve been great supporters and we continue to collaborate with them. But I think Sony’s view is different. They should talk about what their view is…”

Indeed.

As you may recall, Microsoft this past summer announced that it would consolidate the many different versions of its hit game Minecraft across (almost) all of the platforms it supports. It was arguably the singular blockbuster announcements of this year’s E3 conference. Since then, Microsoft has updated Minecraft with the Better Together update, enabling that cross-platform play.

Except on PlayStation 4.

We’ve known since E3 that Microsoft’s inability to bring cross-platform Minecraft play to PS4 was Sony’s fault. But Spencer and other Microsoft executives had, to date, expressed hope that the firm would do the right thing.

Today, it appears that hope has died.

“I have a real struggle making comments about their motivation or timelines,” he says. “I know there is a certain view that says if my friends have this console, they can’t play with people who buy another console. That’s a reason they go buy my console. That reason is not going to go away. So we’re putting Minecraft out there as one of the biggest games on any platform and allowing people to play together regardless of what device they bought. I don’t think everybody is taking that same approach to the ecosystem. So I’m never going to call anything a lost cause but I think some of the fundamental reasons and certain scenarios, they’re not really going away. So I don’t know what would change.”

Sony, come on. Seriously.

Phil Spencer: Sony is Blocking Minecraft Cross Platform Play

Minecraft’s ongoing Halloween event features boss battles and haunted houses

Minecraft has a strong tradition of celebrating Halloween and this year is no different. According to a Microsoft, Minecraft’s Halloween Server Spooktacular is coming to “haunt your pixelated dreams” starting until October 31.

For the next 20 days, Minecraft players on the Bedrock Engine can trick-or-treat across servers hosted by various companies.

Each server is filled to the brim with activities but here are some of the main ones you’ll find:

  • Lifeboat Servers: Hostile zombie invasions will take over the Lifeboat lobby throughout the course of Spooktacular. There, players can enter a thrilling haunted house parkour course.
  • InPVP Servers: InPVP has players hopping from gravestone to gravestone with the Haunted Mansion SkyWars map or exploring creepy houses to find surprises.
  • Mineplex Servers: In Mineplex, players come face-to-face with The Pumpkin King for random quests and boxes filled with goodies. There are also random events which grant you even better rewards.

Now, you might be wondering if you have to pay to access the event? The answer is no. It’s free. Personal Minecraft Realms are the servers you have to pay for. The Halloween Server Spooktacular is open to everyone on the Bedrock versions of the game, which excludes PlayStation 4 and the PC’s Java Edition. Just log into a modern version of Minecraft and join the servers for lots of thrills!

Minecraft’s ongoing Halloween event features boss battles and haunted houses

Why Microsoft is finally pushing for cross-platform online gaming

With this year’s Game Developer’s Conference barely started, Microsoft has already rolled out a major announcement that has the potential to significantly change the console gaming landscape. By allowing for cross-network play on Xbox Live, Microsoft has signaled it’s willing to open the doors to one of gaming’s most frustrating walled gardens and help restore the platform-agnostic promise of the early Internet.

The question is, why now? Microsoft has been running Xbox Live since 2002, and it’s been nearly a decade since the similar PlayStation Network launched on Sony’s PlayStation 3 (not to mention PC-based networks like Steam). Why hasn’t Microsoft made public overtures to connect these disparate networks before now?

Part of it might be technical, on all sides. After all, it’s easier to develop a new, private gaming network with tens of millions of users if you are in total control of all the hardware that will be connecting together. The Xbox 360 and PS3’s vastly different system architectures may have made true online agnosticism difficult on console developers in the last generation as well.

But a large part of it was surely business-related, at least for Microsoft. The lock-in effects of closed gaming networks means console gamers have long had to effectively coordinate their system purchases to line up with those of their online gaming friends.

Ten years ago, when the Xbox 360 was launching, this was a key advantage for Microsoft’s new system. Back then, Microsoft had years of experience running Xbox Live (compared to Sony’s standing start with the PlayStation Network), a one-year head start in reaching market with the Xbox 360, and online-centric exclusives like Halo and Gears of War in the pipe to drive multiplayer-focused gamers to its console ecosystem.

The momentum driven by that Xbox Live lock-in among console gaming’s online early adopters was no doubt a large part of why the Xbox 360 was able to find relative market success—especially in the West—following Sony’s market-dominating PlayStation 2 (though it surely wasn’t the only reason).

That means, all things being equal, this console generation is much more likely to see a critical mass of your friends playing on Sony’s PlayStation Network rather than on Microsoft’s Xbox Live. If both online ecosystems are closed off from each other, more new console buyers are going to follow those friends to Sony’s console if they want to play online. But in the world of cross-platform play Microsoft is proposing, the Xbox One might suddenly get a second look—especially since the system will give you access to a new Halo in addition to letting you play Call of Duty and Madden with all your PS4-owning friends.

And it’s a flag that Sony doesn’t have to accept. By offering “an open invitation for other networks [read: Sony] to participate as well,” though, Microsoft is very publicly pressuring Sony to follow the same course. Otherwise, Sony will likely take a significant PR hit for trying to hold on to its own relative walled-garden advantage at the expense of player convenience. (Developers will also have to play along, but the notion of having a single, unified base of players across two major consoles will probably win out over any technical growing pains in connecting the two similar consoles).

Sony hasn’t given much indication how it will respond to Microsoft’s very open invitation/dare, but it would be in everyone’s best interests if they could bury the hatchet. Business concerns aside, there’s no longer much reason to force developers and players to a limited base of competitors with the exact same hardware if they don’t want to. Hopefully, Sony won’t let its current market dominance prevent a chance to finally unify a hopelessly divided online gaming landscape.

Why Microsoft is finally pushing for cross-platform online gaming

Fortnite devs inadvertently prove cross-console play is possible [Updated]

Update: As if to reconfirm Microsoft’s interest in cross-console play, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer said on Twitter that he “would have liked to see [Epic] leave it on.”

Original story

People playing Epic’s Fortnite on consoles recently were surprised to discover a new feature had been quietly added to the game: the ability to play with gamers on other consoles.

Over the weekend, a number of Reddit users posted evidence of players from other consoles showing up in their Fortnite games, including a father/son combo playing on two different consoles in the same room.

The cross-console connection became apparent because of a little-known naming convention between the two consoles: Microsoft’s Xbox Live allows players to use spaces in their online handle, while Sony’s PlayStation Network does not. Thus, when PS4 players noticed random opponents in their matches with handles that included spaces, they knew something odd was going on.

An Epic spokesperson confirmed to Ars Technica that cross-console play had been turned on for the game recently, adding in the same breath that the addition had been a mistake. “We had a configuration issue, and it has now been corrected,” the spokesperson said by way of official comment.

While further on-the-record information isn’t forthcoming (Sony has yet to respond to a request for comment from Ars Technica), it’s not hard to guess what happened here. Since Microsoft started publicly pushing for cross-console play last year, a number of developers have gone on record complaining that Sony is the only remaining bottleneck to letting PS4 and Xbox One players join together for online play. “All we have to do is check that box and it would be up and running in less than an hour all over the world,” Psyonix VP of Publishing Jeremy Dunham memorably told Polygon about cross-platform play on the PS4.

The reality of Fortnite‘s brief “configuration error” allowing Xbox One and PS4 players to connect only goes to further prove that there are no remaining technical issues to be overcome here. While developers do have to deal with complications surrounding friends lists, invitations, and voice chat when tying the two networks together, no intractable compatibility issues prevent the servers from talking to each other. As Fortnite has inadvertently proven, the only problems keeping PlayStation and Xbox gamers apart are now political.

Fortnite devs inadvertently prove cross-console play is possible [Updated]

Xbox chief says Sony won’t allow cross-platform Minecraft, probably never will

The release last month of the Better Together update for Minecraft brought together Minecraft players on most of the game’s many platforms: the Xbox One, Windows 10, mobile, and VR versions of the game now all use the same engine and can all play together without borders. Servers and content will be accessible from any Better Together platform. Microsoft has also announced that this version of the game will be coming to the Nintendo Switch, and it, too, will be able to join in the cross-platform play.

But one major platform is being left behind: PlayStation 4. Minecraft players on the PlayStation 4 will only be able to play with other PlayStation 4 users. Not because of any technical constraint, but because Sony won’t allow it.

Speaking to Gamespot, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said Sony regards platform lock-in as a way of driving sales and “that reason [for blocking cross-platform play] is not going away.” Spencer doesn’t hold out much hope for things changing, either: “I’m never going to call anything a lost cause, but I think some of the fundamental reasons and certain scenarios—they’re not really going away.”

In June, Sony execs insisted that the company has no “profound philosophical stance” against cross-platform play, and it has permitted play between the PC and PlayStation 4. But cross-console play is clearly a sticking point. While Microsoft isn’t the first developer to cite Sony’s refusal to allow cross-platform play—Rocket League developer Psyonix and Gwent developer CD Projekt have both blamed Sony for the limitation—this is the first time the company has itself fallen foul of Sony’s restrictions. Moreover, Spencer’s comments make clear that Sony’s desire to create lock-in appears to be its overwhelming concern.

Xbox chief says Sony won’t allow cross-platform Minecraft, probably never will

Years Later, The Laputa: Castle In The Sky’s Minecraft Recreation Is Done

For the past several years, Mocchi Hajikura has been working on recreating the classic Studio Ghibli film Laputa: Castle In The Sky in Minecraft. His work is now finished.

Hajikura started uploading his Laputa recreations to YouTube in 2013.

In 2015, he created this clip to correspond with Laputa: Castle In The Sky’s Japanese television rebroadcast. You can see how his work had improved.

As Net Lab notes, he uploaded his most recent (and final efforts) for the film’s 2017 TV rebroadcast.

Previously, Kotaku posted a Laputa recreation, but Hajikura’s effort has to be the best one yet.

Years Later, The Laputa: Castle In The Sky’s Minecraft Recreation Is Done

Our robot future: New Detroit trailer out of TGS 2017

The fifth game and first PlayStation 4 exclusive from Paris-based studio Quantic Dream lays out a world where humans and robots are almost indistinguishable.

Previously announced in 2015, Detroit: Become Human continues several traditions laid down by Quantic Dream predecessors like Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls.

Live actors’ performances have been recorded and digitised in pursuit of increasingly photorealistic portrayals, while storylines written by studio founder David Cage aim for parity with cinema or television.

Those have become prominent trends in video gaming; 2016’s action-oriented Xbox One and PC release Quantum Break alternated between interactive sections and short, pre-recorded episodes; August debut Hellbalde: Senua’s Sacrifice took advantage of not only motion capture techniques but also binaural sound mixing techniques that had players reaching for their headphones to feel like they were inside the main character’s mind.

As for Detroit: Become Human, it takes questions about the nature and value of life and holds them up to the mirror of artificial intelligence, casting us into a world where androids are near indistinguishable from biological humans.

Three main characters have been introduced over the course of the game’s pre-release period: police negotiator Connor, escaped servant and revolutionary leader Markus, and advanced model Kara who can pass for human in a way that other machines can’t.

All three feature in a new trailer released for PlayStation’s showcase at the 2017 Tokyo Game Show, ahead of a planned 2018 launch on the PlayStation 4. — AFP Relaxnews

Our robot future: New Detroit trailer out of TGS 2017

PC gaming is back in focus at Tokyo Game Show

After taking a back seat to consoles for the past few years, personal computers are enjoying a resurgence in gaming, thanks to the popularity of e-sports, customisable machines and faster software releases.

This week’s Tokyo Game Show will feature a main-stage tournament for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a hit online survival PC game that’s been downloaded more than 10 million times since March.

Sony Corp’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Corp’s Xbox One consoles are heading into their fifth years, while Nintendo Co’s Switch is in a bit of a lull before new titles are released for the year-end holiday shopping season.

Spending on gaming-ready PC rigs are on track to climb an average of 6.6% per year through 2020, while the market as a whole is projected to decline 3.8% annually, according to Gartner Inc. Revenue from PC titles will grow by 3% to 4% over the coming years, while console-game sales are seen flat, according to DFC Intelligence.

Written off years ago for being too expensive, complex and bulky for mass appeal, gaming PCs are seeing a resurgence that could even threaten consoles, according to Kazunori Takahashi, Japan gaming head at Nvidia Corp.

“The abundance of titles and the popularity of e-sports is bringing a lot of excitement to PC gaming,” said Takahashi, whose employer supplies graphic chips to PC and console makers. Even in Japan, “it’s not unreasonable to think that PCs can eventually become a presence that threatens console gaming.”

Although consoles have traditionally dominated in Japan, their long development cycles and lead times for new game releases have started to frustrate consumers who want to get their hands on new titles. Consoles also can’t offer superior graphics and cheaper online networks for multiplayer gaming. Valve Corp’s Steam, a popular game downloading site, lets developers release titles for PCs months or years before they’re available on consoles.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, known within the gaming community as PUBG, was released through early-access six months ago. Since then, it has sold more than 10 million copies and achieved a record for the most concurrent players on Steam, beating out well-known titles such as Minecraft, League of Legends or Counter-Strike. That’s even driving gamers to buy PCs just to play PUBG, according to NVIDIA’s Takahashi, a phenomenon that’s more common in the console market.

Sony and Microsoft haven’t ignored the threat, and last year began releasing upgraded versions of their consoles to prevent gamers from migrating to PCs. Consoles are also priced lower than PCs, and have a rich library of exclusive titles that keep customers hooked on their platforms for years. The console market is also much bigger; Sony forecasts that it will ship 18 million PlayStation units in the year through March, and Nintendo is predicting 10 million units for the Switch. By comparison, PC gaming-rig sales will be about 7 million units this year, according to Gartner.

In June, Microsoft announced a deal to release PUBG on Xbox by the end of the year. Sony hasn’t said when a version might be available for the PlayStation 4. Meanwhile, the game’s graphics demands make it unlikely it will appear on Nintendo’s Switch.

Laptops are another reason for the renewed popularity of PC games. With graphics chips getting smaller, along with better cooling systems and battery technology, some laptops now offer performance that can rival desktops, letting PC gamers play outside their home offices and living rooms. Gaming notebook builder Micro-Star International Co has seen revenue from gaming notebooks in Japan doubling every year since 2014, according to Ricky Chang, head of sales and marketing in the country. Shares of the Taipei-based company have more than doubled since 2013.

At the Tokyo Game Show, Japanese publishers, which built their businesses through consoles, are also showing signs of change. Square Enix Holdings Co will unveil new title Left Alive, which it plans to release on PC and PS4 around the same time in 2018. Similarly, Konami Holdings Corp’s Metal Gear Survive will see a PC release at the same time as the PS4 version next year.

The Tokyo Game Show started on Sept 21, and is open to the public Saturday (Sept 23) and Sunday (Sept 24).

“PUBG isn’t even available on consoles, so being able to play it on PC is hugely appealing,” said Satoshi Fujiwara, a 25-year-old Tokyo gamer who grew up playing consoles but recently spent US$2,000 (RM8,395) on a PC gaming rig.

“All the YouTubers and streamers and pro-gamers are using PCs. For those who really want to play competitively, they all end up going to PC.” — Bloomberg

PC gaming is back in focus at Tokyo Game Show

Minecraft cross-platform console play goes live

Players of generation-defining creation, construction and exploration game Minecraft can now play with each other regardless of the console, computer or phone they’re dialing in from – with a few but notable exceptions.

First emerging in 2009, the explosion of enthusiasm surrounding Minecraft saw it become a phenomenon, at first confined to computers but in 2011 spreading to mobile through iOS and Android editions.

From there, games consoles got in on the act with a 2012 release for Xbox 360 and subsequently for PlayStation and Nintendo platforms.

Since midway through 2016, Microsoft – which bought Minecraft studio Mojang in 2014 for US$2.5bil (RM10.49bil) – has been working on ways to unify the various home and portable editions of the game.

A Windows 10 Edition, released in 2015, encouraged computer users to upgrade from previous versions of Microsoft’s operating system and enjoy local multiplayer with iOS, Android and Windows Phone players.

That feature’s now been expanded to consoles – specifically, the Xbox One – thanks to the arrival of a Sept 20 update called Better Together.

Using Mojang’s proprietary Bedrock Engine, editions of the game capable of cross-platform multiplayer will be known as Minecraft while legacy versions will have relevant suffixes attached: the original Java-based computer game is now Minecraft: Java Edition, while the Wii U edition, which is not getting the update, is still Minecraft: Wii U Edition.

One other bonus of the transition is that progress can be logged on one machine and continued from another.

The update’s major caveat is that owners of the Xbox One disc edition have to play five or more hours, or purchase a digital add-on, by Jan 30 2018, in order to receive the digital update.

The whole thing is co-ordinated through Microsoft’s online network Xbox Live, and while Nintendo is happy to play ball when it comes to the Switch console’s upcoming Better Together update, Sony hasn’t been so keen with regards to potential PlayStation 4 action.

While Sony’s lack of participation appeared to be to do with legal responsibility for minors – “exposing what in many cases are children to external influences we have no ability to manage or look after” an executive said in June – a more profound level of objection is thought to rest on the PlayStation 4’s popularity relative to other modern home consoles.

Though Microsoft stopped reporting unit sales of its Xbox One in late 2014, the PlayStation 4 is thought to have outsold its nearest competitor by a ratio of at least 2 to 1.

It’s in Sony’s interest that players migrate to PlayStation in order to play with friends that are already there, rather than plump for another platform and link up with their Minecraft mates on PlayStation all the same. Why would Sony erode its advantage and encourage existing users to sign up for Xbox Live accounts in one fell swoop?

Evidently the appeal remains for Mojang. “We would love to work with Sony to bring players on PlayStation 4 into this ecosystem as well,” explains the Better Together FAQ. — AFP Relaxnews

Minecraft cross-platform console play goes live

‘Minecraft’ update allows player to connect across multiple devices

Minecraft fans now, in theory, never have to stop playing their favourite game thanks to an update that brings it to a variety of platforms, including Xbox One, Android and Windows 10 computers.

The Better Together Update from developer Mojang not only connects more gamers, allowing them to play together, but it also facilitates new usage scenarios, for example the option to start a game on a console and then move onto a smartphone when you leave the house.

The update also brings new features such as playing time on community servers and automatic synchronisation of updates and content across all devices when you’re logged in with an Xbox Live account. — dpa

‘Minecraft’ update allows player to connect across multiple devices