i3 - March/April 2017 - 18



Nintendo's Big Switch
Nintendo dominated the videogame
landscape two generations ago with
Wii, which sold more than 110 million
consoles and more than 872 million
games. That hasn't been the case with
Wii U, which has sold more than 14 million consoles and more than 93 million
games. Nintendo hopes to return to the
success it's enjoyed for many decades
in the videogame business with its new
Switch, which launched this March.
The Switch is a hybrid home console
and portable device, expanding upon
the Wii U Gamepad tablet concept.
Every game developed for the Switch,
including new Mario and Legend of
Zelda titles, will work on the big screen
TV as well as on its HD screen. The concept bridges the gap between Nintendo's
two long-standing businesses with the
Nintendo 3DS and the console.
The Switch has been designed for
single and multiplayer gaming both at
home and on-the-go. The device slides
in and out of a charging dock that connects to the TV. And when in portable
mode, Joy-Con or Nintendo Switch Pro
Controllers can be used for single or
multiplayer experiences.
"Nintendo Switch allows gamers
the freedom to play however they
like," says Reggie Fils-Aime, president
and COO, Nintendo of America. "It
gives game developers new abilities
to bring their creative visions to life
by opening up the concept of gaming
without boundaries."
Switch is powered by NVIDIA technology, which also powers the NVIDIA
Shield Android TV. While the Shield
boasts 4K games, Nintendo is focusing
on HD gaming with its newest platform.

100 Xbox 360 games across Xbox One,
Xbox One S and the upcoming Project
Scorpio, allowing gamers to play previously purchased games on the new
console. Sony decided not to make PS4
backwards compatible to PS3 games,
although that decision hasn't hurt its
place in the current console landscape.
According to Michael Pachter, analyst
for Wedbush Securities, Sony already
has won the current console battle with
more than 57 million PS4s, compared
to 24 million Xbox Ones and 14 million
Nintendo Wii Us in homes around the
globe in 2016. Nintendo and Microsoft
have all but conceded by announcing
new devices for 2017 with the Nintendo
Switch launching this spring and Project
Scorpio readying for a holiday 2017 debut.

A New High Dynamic Range
Sony provided a free update to its original
PS4 and the PS4 Slim to include high
dynamic range (HDR) support. This technology is also featured in both the PS4K
and the Xbox One S, and will be part of
Project Scorpio's feature set. HDR makes
everything from live action to videogames
more realistic and lifelike by adding more
contrast, brightness and color to the
picture. This technology applies to both
HD and 4K, but the visual difference is
much more dynamic on a 4K screen.
Mark Cerny, Sony's architect of
PlayStation 4, says HDR is the most
exciting advance in TV technology in
the last decade because current HDTVs
only offer a fraction of the colors the
human eye can see.
"HDR is a new technology and the
standards are still in flux, so game creators are still figuring out how to take
advantage of it," Cerny says.
But the early games show off more
immersive environments, more lifelike
characters and amazing visual effects.
When coupled with 4K, the difference is
night and day. And it's something that can
easily be displayed at retail on 4K TVs.
John Koller, vice president of marketing at Sony Interactive Entertainment,
says the PlayStation division (Sony


"Users are watching YouTube, Netflix,
Hulu, our own PlayStation Vue service
here in America, via streaming," Layden
says. "We decided that we're looking at
a streaming generation and we made our
choices about design to optimize for the
best 4K streaming experience."
PS4 Pro supports 4K streaming,
including special 4K channels featuring
Netflix and YouTube. And the console
automatically upgrades the visuals of
select PS4 games on a 4K TV via its "Pro
Mode". But Sony is also working with both
internal development teams and thirdparty publishers to enhance older titles.
More than a dozen titles are available
now with enhanced visuals including big
titles like Activision's Call of Duty: Infinite
Warfare, Square Enix's Rise of the Tomb
Raider, Guerrilla Games' Horizon: Zero
Dawn, Bend Studios' Days Gone and
Electronic Arts' Mass Effect: Andromeda.
Microsoft is not currently offering
a lineup of games in 4K. They're waiting
until 2017's holiday season when they
launch their next console, dubbed Project
Scorpio. That refresh of the Xbox One
will feature an eight-core AMD APU
with six teraflops of graphical computing
power, which is four times better than
the current Xbox One. It's designed to
play 4K games and will offer high fidelity
virtual reality experiences. (See sidebar on
Microsoft's new virtual reality business.)
"If you want an indication of what's
going on in the true 4K space, Windows
10 Gears of War Ultimate Edition is
a great example. We're learning a lot in
that space. We're listening to our developers. We're hearing that the six teraflops
bar is critical to deliver what gamers
are enjoying in the PC space right now.
We anticipate offering that to our
customers and unlocking those great
experiences that you can only enjoy in
the PC space right now."
Microsoft has been promoting crossplatform play across Windows 10 and
Xbox One (and Xbox One S) with key
releases like Gears of War 4 and Forza
Horizon 3. The company is also providing
backwards compatibility for more than


i3 - March/April 2017

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