The UpStream (Page 188)

Black Friday Sales Numbers Show Xbox One Doubles PlayStation 4

posted Wednesday Dec 4, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

I've always said that in the gaming industry, nothing matters until we see the sales numbers. This held especially true this past week, as Black Friday had customers shopping in stores across the country, from dusk to dawn, purchasing their favorite gadgets and other items. On their lists were video game consoles and, regardless of the initial Internet onslaught of negativity, you might be surprised at the console that came out on top.

Courtesy of Infoscout, we have sales totals for the current and next-gen consoles for Black Friday. The Xbox 360 and the Xbox One made up 61% of the entire post-Thanksgiving sales day market, with the Microsoft's latest console squeaking out a one percent edge over their former 360. The PS3 and PS4 both tied at 15% a piece and the Wii U made up six percent, leaving Nintendo's Wii to own the remaining, single percent of sales.

Of the customers polled, 80% of them said that they'd purchased a console as a gift, and 10% of those gift-givers said the console would be opened before Christmas. 85% of game system buyers said they'd also purchase two or more video games along with the system, with Call of Duty: Ghosts sadly being the top choice, by almost double of the #2 spot, Disney Infinity. Rounding out the top five choices for video games on Black Friday were Skylanders: Swap Force, GTA V and Madden 25.

Probably the most pressing question though is why did the Xbox One come out on top? There are several reasons that initially drive this number home. First, Sony chose to release their console a week earlier than Microsoft, with pre-orders and week one sales already being delivered to customers before Black Friday, to the tune of one million total PS4s. Secondly, Sony did mention that the company was having a tough time keeping up with demand, causing a shortage of next-gen PlayStations for customers on Black Friday. To be fair, Microsoft did announce one million consoles sold before Black Friday, too, and although Microsoft's gaming system was available in more markets, that still equates to a substantial amount of units moved.

There's a little more to the story, too. When asked about different consoles, here's what the majority of customers had to say about each one.

PlayStation 4

"Too much hype when Sony doesn't produce enough"

"Expensive. Games are expensive."

"It's too high tech. None if the older PS games will work with it and everything is way too expensive; I think it's more for the adults."

"My oldest child wanted a PlayStation, I have no opinion."

Xbox One

"It's the only system that has the game my kids want. I'm not happy about it."

"Waiting to see the first 'Must have game'"

Xbox 360

"I think its a great system. With the Kinect, the family can get up and move around"

Nintendo Wii

"Fun for kids and families. Love the old school games that you can download"

"Older technology, so less expensive"

To me, it's interesting to see the masses respond to the marketing campaigns, hype and overall message from both Sony and Microsoft. Even though the PS4 is $100 cheaper, Sony might have missed portraying the PS4 as something everyone could use, since they geared a lot of messaging towards the hardcore gamer who has strayed from Sony over the past eight years. Instead, Microsoft has realized for years now that customers want more than just gaming systems underneath their TV and by incorporating entertainment and media into the Xbox One marketing, the amount of sales speak for how well-received the message was. In the end, the "hardcore gaming" market is a very small percentage of the total number of people who game in today's age, and a lot of people have proven they're willing to spend money on a console that fits all of their needs in one device.

However, we still don't have the official total console sales numbers from NPD and we'll probably have to wait until after Christmas for them. Then and only then can we see the true magnitude of success of failure for either of the companies' respective launches. Did you pick up any next-gen gaming system for Black Friday? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments section.

PS4 Still Having Network Problems, Shuts Down Redemption of Promo Codes

posted Sunday Dec 1, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

PS4 Still Having Network Problems, Shuts Down Redemption of Promo Codes

After more than two weeks on the market and over a dozen issues being reported even before launch, the PlayStation 4 is still going through some serious growing pains. The biggest issue that still remains is the uncertainty and instability of the PlayStation Network, Sony's online gaming platform. Without mentioning any new server upgrades to handle the heavy influx of gamers coming on to the network after the E3 presentation battle, Sony's has now shut down part of the system in order to handle server loads.

If you want to redeem any PlayStation promotional codes or PSN Card codes, you won't be able to for the foreseeable future. Aside from the PS4 just sitting there at the Redeem Code screen after number entry, a blog post appeared on the PlayStation Blog about the service interruption. Social Media Manager Sid Shuman wrote,

We are aware that users are experiencing some disruption to the PSN service. To minimize the inconvenience we have suspended the "redeem voucher" functionality while we investigate further. Unfortunately this means that money cards, product vouchers, PlayStation Plus vouchers, PS3-PS4 upgrade vouchers and any other vouchers for digital content are not redeemable at this time. Other PSN features such as log in, online multiplayer gaming, PlayStation Plus trials, PlayStation Store (excluding voucher redemption), Trophies, messages, friends, etc. are all available.

We apologize for the inconvenience and will provide an update soon.

There's also a thread that has been updated a few times since the announcement, with no real answer in sight as to when the service will be brought back up. Sony says that it still does "not have an estimate on when the system will be available at this time" and to "please try again later this evening or tomorrow."

In trying since the post, I've still not seen any successful redemption of a promo code. Now, I know this may not seem like a big deal to most people, however, it speaks a lot to the stability of the network as a whole. Gamers are still reporting complete meltdowns of the PSN service, including dropped lobbies, lagging out of games in-match and trophies not saving or being lost. So while the Redeem Code screen might not be something you use, it's the place Sony is working on a stop-gap to try and fix other problems at the same time. For now, PS4 users will still have network latency issues and will have to deal with it until Sony fixes the problems.

German Court Rules Wikipedia is Responsible for Content

posted Saturday Nov 30, 2013 by Scott Ertz

German Court Rules Wikipedia is Responsible for Content

Here in the US we have a law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. One of the many things this law brings about is a protection for a website against content provided by its users, so long as the site complies with takedown notices in a timely manner. This law is what makes it possible for sites like YouTube to allow users to upload content without checking it before publishing it.

Unfortunately, this law and its effects do not extend beyond our borders; a fact that Wikimedia, the organization that owns Wikipedia, found out the hard way. In October, Wikimedia lost a libel case against a person identified as "H," who is the owner of a German television station. On his Wikipedia page, it was listed that he used a Nazi salute on television, downplayed the effects of having sex with children, as well as a slew of employment issues, including producing a "cult-like" environment.

This week, the court posted the full verdict on its website, which states that Wikimedia has responsibilities to its users and the content targets. The court does not claim that Wikimedia needs to fact check before publishing, but does need to look into content when a claim is received.

Now, this sounds a lot like the DMCA clause, with one important caveat: DMCA covers copyright infringement, this covers objective and subjective content written by the site's contributors. So long as the content is not ripped off from another source, Wikipedia is not required to interact with its content within the US, but will need to censor its content if it is not popular or is contested.

We know that Rick Santorum would have liked the ability to have Internet content censored in the US, but what about you? Do you think it is positive or negative for the German government to force Wikipedia to control content on their website? Let us know in the comments.

Twitch Disables PS4 Playroom Streaming

posted Saturday Nov 30, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Twitch Disables PS4 Playroom Streaming

While the premise of The Playroom on the PlayStation 4 seems innocuous, it is officially the first title in the next generation console world to be banned from Twitch. The ban comes from a series of incidents that somehow Sony and Twitch were not prepared for, but anyone who has ever spent more than 5 minutes on the Internet knew was coming: porn.

All you need to do is give people access to the Internet, a camera and the ability to broadcast their living room and the end result is always porn. Unfortunately, those are the ingredients that came together through the PlayStation 4 and The Playroom. Within moments of launch, the game was used exactly for this purpose, followed almost immediately by a reminder from Twitch what the purpose of the streaming service was.

Now, you know as well as I do that the type of people who would get naked on PlayStation on launch day are not exactly the type of people to read legal notices. As such, the problem persisted and Twitch felt the need to remove access to the game.

We removed Playroom content from the directory because a majority of it was non-gaming related. We will look into adding it back as PS4 owners become more familiar with the games-only focus of Twitch content. In the meantime, you can view all of the amazing gameplay from PS4 broadcasters in this directory page on Twitch.

The good news is that, if you are interested in viewing The Playroom streams, you will still have that ability through Ustream, though we all know you won't be able to tell what is happening and when things get good it will cut to a commercial.

Twitch has left the door open for the return of The Playroom streaming on their service. My guess is, however, with such a strict code of content for the site, we will not see this title return.

Xbox Video Web Launches, Still Waiting for Windows Phone

posted Saturday Nov 30, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Xbox Video Web Launches, Still Waiting for Windows Phone

Currently available through Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows Store, Microsoft has added Web to the places you can access their Xbox Video service. For those who have not used the service, it is similar in concept to iTunes Video, but with a significantly more customized content discovery system.

The new web version of Xbox Video looks very much like the Windows 8.1 version of Xbox Music, Microsoft's companion product in the entertainment space. Ironically, it looks very little like the Windows 8.1 version of Xbox Video, which is not necessarily a negative, as Xbox Music is designed significantly better than Xbox Video on the PC.

While the full content catalog is supported, along with personal collection availability, there are some issues. First and foremost,

Quality playback is not currently supported on the Web and Windows Phone. Your purchase will play in SD quality. Xbox Video on Windows 8.1 and Xbox One supports HD quality playback.

With Nokia recently launching a Full-HD Windows Phone, it is definitely a surprise that Microsoft would not enable HD streaming to the device. Users can hopefully take solace in the word currently, indicating that Microsoft is working to bring this feature in the near future.

We will only know in time, as Xbox Video is still not available on Windows Phone, and the web version is still incredibly new.

Flash On Nexus Causes Denial of Service

posted Saturday Nov 30, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Flash On Nexus Causes Denial of Service

This is a nice change of pace - for once, I get to write about a Flash exploit that is not related to Adobe screwing something up. Instead, this Flash vulnerability doesn't even have anything to do with Adobe's product, but instead a version of SMS called Flash SMS.

For those who are unaware, Flash SMS, or Class 0 SMS, is a standard that allows for displaying a message directly on a device's screen without being stored in the device's permanent memory. The message is then dismissible or savable. What the original intent for this type of messaging might have been is unclear, but its current usage is far from.

As it turns out, on the Nexus series of devices, a fairly small collection of these messages, 30 or so, can cause the phone to act erratically. This behavior is probably caused by the way the OS handles displaying them: semi-transparent black background with the text in the middle. When many of these semi-transparent boxes stack up, the phone could get overwhelmed in calculating display depth.

So, what do these devices do when they panic? In general, they reboot without warning. If the phone has a SIM card lock, then these phones will sit idle, waiting for user input on a screen that they do not know is waiting for them. This, of course, prevents the phone from receiving phone calls, texts or emails while waiting for the input, making the device fairly useless.

If you are completely unlucky, though, you might experience a different issue. On some occasions, instead of rebooting, the phone will just disconnect from the network. Of course this has the same effect as the previous, not receiving phone calls, texts or emails, but with the added bonus of not requiring a SIM lock.

This exploit exists on all versions of Android 4.x residing on Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 devices. Hopefully Google will figure out how to fix this as it could pose a fairly big issue considering it only requires a few special texts to sink the device. Not what I would want advertised as part of the "pure Google experience."

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