The weeks in the run-up to E3 – or what remains of it – are always something of a dry spell, which perhaps may explain some of the more outlandish nature of the topics for discussion this week. After a presentation from TV manufacturer, TCL, rumors are starting to gather pace that Pro / enhanced consoles will come from Microsoft and Sony in 2024. Meanwhile, Microsoft is planning an xCloud streaming stick – something that actually seems to be happening – and news emerges from Sony about its long term strategy, covering PC, mobile and a ‘longest ever tail’ for PlayStation 4. All this and more is discussed in the new DF Direct Weekly, embedded below for your viewing pleasure.
The TCL story probably has no real basis beyond conjecture from the company – after all, a non-affiliated organization is unlikely to have visibility into the console plans of any platform holder. There are multiple reasons why we may not see mid-gen Pro / enhanced consoles – which we’ll be covering in a separate article later this week – but first and foremost amongst them is Sony’s own prediction that the semiconductor shortage won’t be fully resolved until 2024. Why limit the sales of the existing model just as they’re really taking off by introducing a more expensive version that Sony is likely to lose a lot of money on? And do we really need more power in a world where Nintendo Switch and Series S have been so successful?
The topic of cross-gen also cropped up in Sony’s recent investor disclosures, the most fascinating statistic being that 80 percent of PlayStation 4 online revenue now comes from the digital domain, with just 20 percent from physical discs. Also intriguing is how Sony foresees PS4’s longer term prospects as the home of free-to-play games. Perhaps this is part of the reason it’s so interested in games-as-a-service and why it acquired Bungie? More interesting from a Digital Foundry perspective are Sony’s plans to fuel ‘exponential growth’ from doubling down on PC and, um, mobile titles. With Sony selling around 2.4m copies of Horizon Zero Dawn years after its PS4 release, clearly there’s a big market for its titles.
- 00:00:00 Introductions
- 00:00:46 News 01: TCL anticipates new consoles by 2024
- 00:13:07 News 02: Sony doubling down on PC
- 00:21:55 News 03: PS4 Cross-Gen here to stay for a while
- 00:25:42 News 04: Next Xbox is a cloud streaming stick?
- 00:29:34 Supporter Q: What’s your take on whether the big obstacle for making game streaming more attractive being the problem with Internet infrastructures, or something the streaming software can solve by itself?
- 00:35:42 News 05: PS Classics on PS + isn’t great
- 00:36:39 Supporter Questions: PS Classics Emulation
- 00:50:42 Supporter Q01: If FSR 2.0 is providing comparable quality to DLSS, don’t you think Nvidia is wasting precious silicon area that could be used on more shaders on tensor cores?
- 00:53:16 Supporter Q02: Any thoughts on DLSS, FSR, or XeSS being used to upscale streaming services like Netflix?
- 00:59:52 Supporter Q03: Do publishers update the versions of their games on physical discs for later print runs?
- 01:02:48 Supporter Q04: Can you see yourselves potentially using Steam OS on your non-work PCs once it’s seen a proper release of version 3?
- 01:07:34 Supporter Q05: Do you think we could see cross-gen games that ditch the base last-gen consoles but work on the enhanced consoles?
- 01:09:11 Supporter Q06: Will Knack 3’s inevitable announcement (or release) coincide with a PS5 firmware update to enable its promised 8K output?
Another big discussion point this week concerns Microsoft’s plans for a new device previously codenamed ‘Keystone’ – essentially a streaming stick for TVs allowing users to access xCloud streaming services without the need for a console or computer, revealed in depth initially by Windows Central. We talk about why Microsoft would release such a product as opposed to TV-specific apps, and the state of streaming in general. At what point will the infrastructure be there to deliver a streaming experience that ‘just works’? Nvidia’s GeForce Now is the current standard bearer, with xCloud falling some way short – but even the best streaming service still has profound issues unless you have a bottomless pit of internet bandwidth.
We’ve already laid out our issues with Sony’s PS1, PS2 and PSP emulators but in this episode of DF Direct, we spend time fielding questions from backers of the DF Supporter Program on the topic, before moving on to another supporter staple – smart upscaling technologies. Yes, every week there are new questions to answer about FSR 2.0, DLSS etc and this week is no exception! Admittedly though, the concept of AI upscaling for video streaming is quite an interesting topic!
Finally, Knack 3. It has to happen. Yes, good ol ‘Knack is the butt of many jokes, not least the idea of a new 8K sequel as mooted in this week’s show. But you know what? The original Knack’s PS4 Pro version running essentially locked at 60fps on PS5 isn’t bad! And we contend that Knack 2 is a great game, especially for parents with kids. Knack 3? 8K or not, let’s see it!