TIME Video Games

‘Obama Plays Titanfall’ Is a Thing and It’s Pretty Incredible

For the record, I want to live in a world where the president -- regardless of who's in office -- plays multiplayer first-person shooters in order to raise awareness for some sort of cause, push some sort of agenda or curry favor for votes.

If you saw President Obama’s appearance on Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis, you might be forgiven for thinking the leader of the free world has also been playing Titanfall with the username “HealthcareGov” in order to remind the uninsured Titanfall-playing demographic (probably similar to the demographic that watches Beyond Two Ferns) to sign up for health care by March 31.

Once the pseudo-president drops a few F-bombs and talking about aliens emerging from his anus, however, all bets are off. Unless it’s really Obama, in which case he’s taking campaigning to an entirely new level.

Here are the first three videos in the “Obama Plays Titanfall” series by Game Society Pimps. As mentioned, there’s some salty language.

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Someone’s Pretending To Be Obama While Playing Titanfall [Kotaku]

TIME Video Games

Assassin’s Creed Unity Has Guillotines, Ramparts and One Gorgeous Cathedral

Ubisoft

The Assassin's Creed series is heading home at last.

If Ubisoft keeps up this pace, it’ll be vying with Call of Duty for the “most flogged franchise” cup. The next Assassin’s Creed exists, it’s called Assassin’s Creed: Unity and it’ll be here later this year. That’s right, 2014: a year on from Black Flag, which arrived last October.

Not that I have a problem with flogging a good franchise, which, on balance, the Assassin’s Creed games remain. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was arguably the most satisfying launch title for either the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.

Where the last two games were staged in the Americas, Unity (if I’m counting right, it’ll be the 7th main series installment and 16th overall) will transpire in revolutionary France. That has additional resonance because France is Ubisoft HQ — Montreuil-sous-Bois, just east of Paris, to be precise.

The company says the game will be for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows only, and that it’s been working on it for “more than three years.” That’s roughly the amount of time Black Flag had been in the hopper when we first learned of it in early 2013. The company’s said it’s been able to keep these games rolling annually (without design sacrifices — they’re sprawling) because it has multiple studios working on different Assassin’s Creed titles simultaneously.

The video below doesn’t tell us much: The game’s obviously going to focus on the French Revolution, so late 18th century, perhaps early 19th, though who knows the total span. Prior installments, namely Assassin’s Creed III, have covered dozens of years and involved multiple generations of assassins. There’s certainly enough material in this period and geopolitical sphere (imagine all the potential in Napoleonic France and the Corsican’s eponymous wars) to sustain a franchise unto itself. I assume “unity” relates to the contemporaneous motto “liberté, égalité, fraternité,” and with any luck, we’ll see Ubisoft exploring the many, many socio-economic and political paradoxes of the period, too.

The teaser sequence shown below is all rendered in-game, says Ubisoft — it’s certainly gorgeous, despite claims that it’s “alpha” footage. Full, somewhat embarrassing disclosure: as the camera rounds on a certain flying-buttressed cathedral along a certain illustrious river, I couldn’t help but hear Paul Kandel singing what he sings in a certain 1996 Disney movie. (Thanks for that, Alan Menken.)

TIME Television

Sony and Microsoft Are in New Kind of Break-Neck Race

Customers buy Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.'s PlayStation 4 video game console box during the launch event in Seoul, South Korea, Dec. 17, 2013.
SeongJoon Cho—Bloomberg/Getty Images

It’s been a while since video game consoles were just about video games. Sony’s PlayStation 2 was initially a hot seller partially because it came equipped with a DVD player in the early days of that technology. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 offered a wide range of distractions besides games thanks to digital stores for movies and native apps for services such as Netflix and HBO Go. The next step in the transformation of the game console into an entertainment center? Original TV shows made exclusively for your Xbox or PlayStation.

Both Sony and Microsoft are prepping original programming for their newly launched PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles. On Wednesday Sony revealed that it is developing an hour-long supernatural drama series called “Powers” that will air on the PlayStation Network, the service that PS3 and PS4 owners use to play games online and stream video content. That’s in addition to the Internet-based TV service Sony has planned that will feature live programming from cable networks. The company didn’t disclose whether the new show would be bundled with the pay-TV service but cast them as independent initiatives.

Sony is actually playing catch-up to Microsoft, though. The software giant launched Xbox Entertainment Studios in 2012, a production outfit helmed by former CBS executive Nancy Tellem that will make television-like programming for the console. The marquee project is a live-action series based on the popular Halo video game franchise that will be produced by Steven Spielberg. Other shows in the works include a documentary about the video game industry crash of 1983, a reality series about urban soccer leagues and a show based on the life of rapper Nas, according to Deadline.

For these tech giants, expanding consoles’ functionality beyond video games is a necessity in a world of multi-purpose devices. Gadgets that serve a single purpose (like Nintendo’s poorly performing Wii U console, for instance) no longer appeal as much to consumers, says Brian Blau, research director in consumer technologies at Gartner. “They have to show value in many different arenas,” he says.

Even without original shows, consoles have already proven formidable entertainment hubs. Microsoft revealed years ago that gamers spend more time streaming video content like Netflix and ESPN than playing Xbox games online. Ten percent of all digital movie rentals and purchases were made through Xbox consoles in 2013, according to research firm IHS Screen Digest. The PS3 has also been successful beyond gaming, with its users spending 17 million hours per week using entertainment apps on the console. It’s the most popular device for streaming Netflix to the TV, at times even eclipsing Netflix usage on the PC. “The game consoles have both been significant players in the rise of [Internet-based] video consumption,” says Dan Cryan, the research director for digital media at IHS Screen Digest.

Strong original content will only heighten the appeal of the consoles to casual gamers seeking a versatile entertainment device. Though the shows announced so far skew heavily toward the young male demographic typically associated with PlayStation and Xbox, Blau predicts the companies will craft content with a wider appeal as their consoles hit cheaper price points. “They really want to bring in a wider portion of the family in front of the television and even get some of the non-gamers in the family to pick up the controller,” he says.

Still, it’s not clear whether Microsoft and Sony will be able to craft shows that can compete with the glut of online video content coming from the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Google. Sony already has huge production studios that have made hit TV shows like Breaking Bad. But analysts say the company has had trouble creating synergy between its Hollywood studios and its consumer electronics divisions in the past. Microsoft has little background in television, but neither did Netflix before it spent hundreds of millions of dollars to commission critical hits like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. Microsoft strong-armed its way into the gaming industry by buying up talent and racking up huge monetary losses—it could do the same to establish itself as a player in television content.

Even as the giants of gaming are expanding to video, though, other tech companies are eyeing their video game turf. Amazon acquired the game developer Double Helix in February, perhaps to provide content for the company’s upcoming set-top box. Rumors persist that Apple is prepping a new Apple TV device that will include an app store for video games, and last year the Wall Street Journal reported that Google was developing a video game console running on its Android operating system.

The basic functionality of living room gadgets from all tech companies is likely to look increasingly similar in the coming years. That will heighten the importance of exclusive content—be it a hit video game or a popular television show—to stand out from the crowd. “These devices are now acting as effectively entry points for a smorgasbord of entertainment,” Cryan says. “The more value you add to that, the more people will use them and the more appealing they become.”

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

TIME Video Games

Sony’s Project Morpheus Virtual Reality Headset: 10 Things to Know

Sony

Let’s get the most important point out of the way: I am, as of this morning, officially an Oculus Rift v2.0 owner. Or I suppose you’d have to say pre-owner: though I’ve put money down, the revised version of Oculus VR’s $350 virtual reality headset won’t arrive until mid-summer.

My more intrepid colleague Jared Newman took the plunge yesterday afternoon, just after Oculus VR revealed it was putting version 2.0 of its Oculus Rift development kit up for pre-order (in tandem with demonstrations at the Game Developer’s Conference transpiring in San Francisco this week). We’re not developers, mind you, just virtual reality enthusiasts, and I think I speak for both of us when I say Oculus’ headset is in our top handful of tech-related things to experience this year.

But the image up top isn’t of Oculus’ headset, it’s of Sony’s — unveiled at GDC and codenamed Project Morpheus. Slick as it looks in that shot, Sony says it’s just a prototype without a release timeframe. But as Oculus Rift’s creator Palmer Luckey admits, if a company as powerful as Sony can pair compelling enough experiences with a headset like this, it could be just the shot in the arm the esoteric VR industry needs.

Let’s run through what we know about Project Morpheus, as well as what we’ve learned since Sony’s announcement Tuesday night.

It sounds impressive on paper.

According to Sony Japan honcho Shuhei Yoshida, the visor-style prototype includes a 5-inch LCD capable of delivering 1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p) to each eye (Sony calls it “1920×RGB×1080″). It has a 90 degree field of view; an accelerometer and gyroscopic sensors; USB and HDMI ports; and it works with the PlayStation Camera alongside Sony’s DualShock 4 or PlayStation Move controllers. The headset also features Sony’s new 3D audio tech, capable of generating omnidirectional sound that triggers based on your head’s orientation.

“Morpheus” is a Greek thing.

Morpheus is the god of dreams in Greek mythology (from the transliterated Greek word morphe, meaning “shape”). If you’ve read Ovid’s Metamorphoses, you know what I’m talking about, and if you’ve read Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, you also know what I’m talking about.

The headset has Sony waxing existential.

The phrase “virtual reality” is apparently passé, so Sony’s hyping another word to describe the sense of being somewhere else when wearing its headset: “Presence is like a window into another world that heightens the emotions gamers experience as they play,” writes the company, as if describing a Buddhist mindfulness seminar.

It needs the PlayStation Camera (and thus the PlayStation 4) to work at this point.

Sony says Project Morpheus is designed to work with its PlayStation Camera, released last fall in tandem with the PlayStation 4: “Inertial sensors built into the head mount unit and PlayStation Camera accurately track head orientation and movement so as the player’s head rotates, the image of the virtual world rotates naturally and intuitively in real-time.”

I’ve noticed a few claiming the headset works with Sony’s PlayStation Eye, the older camera designed exclusively for PlayStation 3, but I’ve seen nothing official from Sony on this (many still conflate the PS Eye with the PS Camera, when they’re totally different things). At this point, Sony’s confirmed support for the PS Camera only, and since that peripheral uses a proprietary interface (not USB) to link up with the PS4, that means Project Morpheus is probably going to be PS4-exclusive for the time being.

It may be motion control’s missing link.

For all the Wii’s success (and initial Kinect and PlayStation Move enthusiasm), motion control hasn’t progressed much in recent years, relegated to gaming gimmicks or supplemental mechanics in traditional games that feel forced. Project Morpheus could change this by giving you exactly the sort of interface you’d need, say swinging a virtual sword around without constraints (or a lightsaber, because hello inevitability).

It’s not wireless — yet.

At this point, Project Morpheus requires a USB or HDMI tether, but Sony’s said it hopes to make the device wireless before launch.

It’s almost as good as the Oculus Rift, but not quite.

That’s according to Engadget, anyway, who were fortunate enough to give both headsets a go at GDC. According to Ben Gilbert:

It’s not all virtual reality rainbows and dreams, of course. There are still some pretty major issues to overcome in Project Morpheus. Vision blur, for instance, is a much bigger problem on Morpheus than on Crystal Cove/Rift DK2. The screen resolution is also clearly not as high as DK2, making everything a bit muddier, visually speaking. Right now, well ahead of launch … Project Morpheus is both extremely promising and clearly not ready for prime time. But it’s close!

It won’t be out in 2014.

Sony’s confirmed Project Morpheus won’t ship this year, so short of giving it a spin at future trade shows or press events, we’re talking 2015 at the earliest to see if all the fuss pays off.

It won’t cost $1,000.

Because of course it won’t: Sony’s said as much, and after all, the new Oculus Rift devkits only run $350.

You still have to slap a giant clumsy-looking visor/helmet-thingy on your face.

VR headsets are stopgap technology on the road — okay, well down the road — to direct neural interfaces and full-on cerebral manipulation. They’re not new, they’re just getting better at the particular trick they’ve been performing for decades. They’re also arguably as limiting as they are liberating, forcing us to throw general ergonomics out the window in trade for a relatively crude (by movie standards) wraparound experience.

Dr. Richard Marks, inventor of Sony’s EyeToy motion control camera, once told me that any interface you had to wear, say a headset or full bodysuit, would have niche appeal because it involves sacrificing one sort of freedom for another. Virtual reality is getting better, but I don’t see it going mainstream until we’ve conquered the “You mean I have to wear this funky-looking thing on my head?” problem.

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

TIME Video Games

Flappy Bird Will Definitely Be Back, Says Creator, but Not Until It’s Done

Flappy Bird is definitely coming back, but not until its creator is finished working on it.

Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen has an impressive 170,000 followers on Twitter, so when he speaks, scads of people are listening, and when he responds to simple, declarative questions with simple, declarative answers about his game of games — talking not if, but when we’ll see Flappy Bird again — he might as well be dousing the Internet in lighter fluid and tossing the match.

Twitter user @painfullpacman asked him the very question yesterday afternoon:

As you can see, Nguyen, who’d recently indicated he was considering bringing the game back, now says it’s a sure thing, and just a matter of when. “Not soon,” he says, but then that’s probably just marketing savvy: Nguyen’s noted he has other games in the offing, thus he probably wants to give them a turn before re-releasing Flappy Bird and probably melting down the Internet in the process.

Flappy Bird emerged last May, but no one paid attention until January 2014, when it inexplicably became the most downloaded app in Apple’s App Store. No one knows why, still, but if Nguyen was gaming the system somehow to make money (he claimed the game was generating $50,000 a day from in-app ads at one point), he capsized conspiracy theorists by yanking the game from the App Store and Google Play in early February — because, he said, he felt guilty about its addictiveness.

Fun fact: If you have an iPhone and you already downloaded Flappy Bird, this is all academic, because you still have Flappy Bird — even if you zapped if off your phone (as I did, because I didn’t think much of it as a game). If you go to the App Store and view all your purchases, voila, there it is. None of its info comes up, because it’s both there and not there, but if you click the download icon, it can be yours again.

Read a bit further in Nguyen’s Twitter stream, and you’ll discover that part of the reason for the delay is that Nguyen’s apparently still “working” on the game.

But what else is there to do? Put a play timer in that mandatorily kicks gamers out after 20 or 30 minutes? A Nintendo-like notice that pops up periodically reminding players to take breaks? Or maybe — just maybe — Nguyen’s plotting to crack this Flappy Bird thing wide open and transform his little fetish into something that’ll be remembered more for its creativity than mob spectacle. We can hope.

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

TIME

Titanfall XP Guide: Level Up Faster with These 6 Tips

Electronic Arts

But don't forget to have fun, too.

Like any modern shooter, Titanfall isn’t just about killing opponents and winning matches. The meta-game of earning experience points, unlocking more items and leveling up is just as important; it’s the slow drip of progress that keeps us coming back.

But unless you pay attention to how you play, ranking up in Titanfall can be a long slog. Here are some pointers for quickly reaching level 50 and beyond:

Pick a Weapon and Stick With It…

One of the best ways to earn experience in Titanfall is to complete Challenges. These Challenges give you bonus points for completing personal goals, such as getting a set number of kills with a particular weapon or wall-running a certain distance.

With the way Titanfall distributes Challenge points, it’s better to stick with one weapon than it is to cycle through a bunch of different ones. If you get 10 pilot kills with five different weapons, you’ll only earn 500 points per weapon as you complete each one’s “Tier 1″ challenge, for 2,500 points total. But if you get 50 pilot kills with a single weapon, you’ll get 500 points for Tier 1, 1,000 points for Tier 2 and 2,500 points for Tier 3, for a total of 4,000 points.

Each weapon has several challenges tied to it, for things like usage time, pilot kills and total enemy kills, so there are plenty of opportunities to earn bonus points. Plus, you’ll unlock scopes, sights and extended magazines to make that weapon even deadlier, and you’ll naturally become more proficient by getting used to how that weapon works.

…but Not Forever

Each weapon has it own set of challenges, and each of those challenges has five “Tiers” that give out progressively higher rewards. But after you’ve reached the fifth tier, the bonuses stop flowing. Keep an eye on your Challenges list from the main menu, particularly the “Anti-Pilot Ordinance” and “Anti-Titan Ordinance” sections. Once you’ve finished the major challenges for a weapon (pilot kills, total kills, usage time), move on to another weapon. If you reach level 50 and regenerate, all your challenges will reset, so you shouldn’t waste time on hard-to-get challenges when lower-hanging fruit is available. You can always circle back for harder challenges later if you need to.

Use Grunts and Spectres as Challenge Fodder

Grunts and Spectres are the game’s computer-controlled opponents, filling out the battlefield even when player-controlled Pilots aren’t in the area. They’re easy to kill and don’t fight back too aggressively, but they don’t reward much experience.

Still, you can extract more value from Grunts and Spectres by killing them with grenades, melee kicks and headshots. Each attack method has its own Challenges attached, so this is a great way to rack up bonus points on easy-to-kill enemies. You’ll find it’s not difficult to melee attack a group of Grunts one-by-one, or land a grenade near a pile of Spectres.

Play Hardpoint…

Hardpoint is a game of territory control. Capturing and maintaining a Hardpoint gives points to your team, but more importantly, it lets you rack up easy experience points without having to kill anyone. And here’s the best part: Even if another teammate captures a Hardpoint, you can still earn experience by hanging around and keeping the point under your team’s control.

The best strategy, then, is to pick a Hardpoint and make it your sworn duty to defend it. Not only will you gain experience points directly, you’ll also have an easier time ambushing enemy invaders and earning even more points. (The shotgun and compact SMG are especially useful, since you’ll be fighting at close range most of the time.) With each game, you should earn between 2,000 and 3,000 points on Hardpoint control alone, not including any extra points you get from killing enemies. No other game mode is this lucrative.

…but Mix in Some Last Titan Standing

Last Titan Standing is a close second to Hardpoint for earning experience points — a good match could earn you upwards of 3,000 points — and it’s worth playing if only to earn the extra challenge points you get from fighting as a giant robot. As you rack up kills with Titan weapons and complete Challenges, Titanfall rewards you with increasingly larger bonuses. The same is true for other game modes, but they won’t give you as many opportunities to pilot a Titan and work on those challenges. Besides, robot-on-robot combat can be a lot of fun.

Don’t Go Chasing Titanfalls

Although killing Titans rewards you with lots of experience points, fighting them can also be a waste of time, especially on foot. Certainly, you should help out your team and attack an enemy Titan when it’s distracted by something else, but don’t try to play the hero once that Titan has you in its sights. Move on, and leave the job to your own team’s Titans and to other players who aren’t being targeted.

You can, however, play the opportunist. If you see that an enemy Titan is nearing death, go on the offensive with your anti-Titan weapon, or better yet, try to run and jump onto the Titan for a rodeo attack. Landing the rodeo attack will get you some experience points — and progress toward a couple of challenges — even if you don’t succeed at bringing the Titan down.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

It’s a game. You paid $60 for it. If you spend all your time in Titanfall grinding for experience points and not actually enjoying everything the game has to offer, you’re probably not getting your money’s worth. So take some time to ignore all of the advice above. Grab whatever weapon you feel like using, check out the Campaign mode, give Capture the Flag a try and run after Titans with reckless abandon. You may not level up as quickly, but you won’t get tired of the game as easily.

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

TIME Video Games

Sony Unveils Project Morpheus, Its PlayStation Virtual Reality Headset

Sony PlayStation VR Headset
Sony

Sony took the wraps off its PlayStation VR headset at a GDC session in San Francisco Tuesday evening

All those rumors about Sony working on a virtual reality headset to compete with Oculus Rift were correct: Sony boss Shuhei Yoshida finally revealed the product this evening—it’s officially codenamed Project Morpheus—during a GDC session titled “Driving the Future of Innovation at Sony Computer Entertainment.”

The future looks…well, like a lot of futures involving virtual reality have been looking since the notion took wing in the 1980s: you put something on your head, in most cases something that looks like a helmet or a really bulky pair of glasses, and motion sensors in the headset track your cranium’s movement to present the visual illusion (with varying degrees of fidelity) of being somewhere else.

That’s pretty much what Sony’s version looks to be doing, though I’m sure the company’s itching to tell us all the ways in which it’ll be different. Sony’s also stressing that what it’s showing at GDC is a prototype, not final hardware.

According to Yoshida, the prototype includes a 1920 x 1080 pixel display, has a 90 degree field of view along with accelerometer and gyroscopic sensors, and works with the PlayStation Camera simultaneous with the DualShock 4 or PS Move controllers. The headset also features Sony’s new 3D audio tech, apparently capable of generating omnidirectional sound that triggers based on your head’s orientation.

(I noticed another site amusingly noted the device’s codename isn’t a reference to The Matrix, but rather to the Greek god of dreams — of course Lawrence Fishburne’s character’s name in that film was also a reference to the Greek god of dreams, just by way of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman.)

Yoshida says Project Morpheus has been in the offing for over three years, so props to Sony for managing to keep the lid on this one right up to disclosure. We’ll know more soon — Sony’s demoing the device at GDC, and I’m sure it’ll be a centerpiece of the company’s E3 show this summer.

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

TIME Video Games

Most Common Video Game Console Problems and How to Fix Them

PS4 controller
Bloomberg / Getty Images

A new report finds that errors with the Xbox One and unprovoked PlayStation 4 shutdowns top the list of the most common hardware problems currently facing video gamers.

The report, crafted by troubleshooting site Fixya, is based on over 40,000 video game problems submitted by owners of the newest consoles, the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Wii U. Here are the top 4 most commonly reported problems for each console.

Microsoft Xbox One

The biggest problem area for Microsoft’s Xbox One (aside from the $499 price tag) is the included Kinect motion sensor, which represents 30% of the trouble reports reviewed. Specifically, a number of people are having difficulty with having the device recognize voice and motion commands, which can affect menu navigation and, in many cases, gameplay. Shutdowns and audio problems occur as well, but are less common.

Kinect 30%
Console shutdowns 25%
Audio problems 15%
Disc drive 10%
Other 20%

Sony PlayStation 4

The Sony PlayStation 4 may be topping the sales charts, but it’s not due to a lack of problems. The biggest problem in terms of frequency (and likely severity) is unprompted console shutdowns, representing 35% of trouble reports. Especially unfortunate users see these shutdowns take the form of the dreaded “blue light of death” – a worrying sign that you need a new PS4. Problems with audio, freezing, and the disc drive are also issues for owners.

Console turning off 35%
No audio/video 25%
Freezing 20%
Disc drive 10%
Other 10%

Nintendo Wii U

Not many of you have purchased a Nintendo Wii U, but I predict that may soon be about to change: Nintendo is mere weeks away from releasing the long-awaited Mario Kart 8, and Super Smash Brothers 4 is on its way later in the year. Just watch out for game freezes – the annoying problem represents 35% of Wii U trouble reports and can (rarely) brick your device. Numerous people are having problems with the tablet-like Wii U controller, as well.

Freezing 35%
Gamepad 30%
Internet connection 15%
Audio/video 10%
Other 10%

Quick fixes for your console problems

For many of the above maladies, nothing short of sending your console to the manufacturer for repair or warranty replacement will get you back in the game. Otherwise, there are a few simple tips that can fix a number of the most commonly reported issues.

Reset your console. If your game freezes while playing, or if you get some other miscellaneous error, your first step should be to give your console a hard reset. Power the device down normally if you can, then completely disconnect it from the power supply. Wait a minute or two, then reconnect the device.

Check the cables. It’s Tech 101, but a large number of audio/visual issues arise from simple connection errors such as wires being switched or coming disconnected. Take a moment to make sure cables are securely plugged in, and in the right places. If you’re having difficulty with one HDMI outlet on your TV, try using a different one. If you have extra cables, you can try swapping them out to make sure the problem isn’t with the cable itself.

Keep cool. Electronic devices get hot when in use, and your video game system is no different. Make sure you place your console in a well-ventilated area, and make sure any air intake area on the console is free and clear of obstruction.

Stay up to date. Unlike the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Master System of the Reagan era, modern video game consoles need to connect to the Internet to keep their firmware up to date. Keep on top of it – installing updates is must-do.

Wait it out. Historically, the earliest versions of a video game console have more hardware issues than later releases. It’s not a heck of a lot of fun to wait, but in a year the major problems will have been worked out and you’ll likely get a lower price as well.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

TIME Video Games

Microsoft’s Xbox One Could Make Up Lost Sales Ground Big Time in September

Microsoft

Microsoft will launch its flagship games console in 26 new markets this fall.

Let’s review the numbers: Sony’s PlayStation 4 was available in 53 countries in December, and it’s added four since, most notably Japan in late February, bringing its worldwide tally to 57. Microsoft’s Xbox One, by contrast, is in just 13, and that’s where the platform remains today.

The PS4 is thus outselling the Xbox One by leaps and bounds on the world stage. Is that a revelation? It shouldn’t be. Stories of PS4 supply constraints notwithstanding, if competing products aren’t being sold in the same countries at more or less the same time, sales comparisons are going to be off (and in this instance, with so much market disparity between the two, way off).

That’s going to change come September, when Microsoft says it’ll add 26 new markets to the Xbox One’s purview, bringing the total to 39. Here’s the list of additions, hot off Xbox Wire’s press:

  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Czech Republic
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • South Africa
  • Turkey
  • UAE

Joystiq notes that eight of the above — Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland — were supposed to make the original November 2013 launch. Microsoft scrapped those plans at the eleventh hour, so while tales are rampant of Sony’s PS4 sales not representing demand because of production issues, it’s actually Microsoft that seems to be having the more egregious manufacturing troubles. I can’t imagine the company wants to be in roughly a quarter of the number of markets Sony is today. Bear that in mind (and I’ll keep making note of it) as we do these sales comparisons rolling forward.

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

TIME Video Games

Minecraft Is Still Generating Insane Amounts of Cash for Developer Mojang

Minecraft
Minecraft

Five years after its initial release, the video game Minecraft is still bringing in huge revenue for its developer, Mojang AB. The Swedish video game company reported that its revenue increased to 2.07 billion Swedish kronor (or $330 million) in 2013, a 38 percent increase from the previous year, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company pulled in 816 million kronor ($129 million) in profit.

Minecraft, a sandbox game in which people can build virtually anything they can imagine out of blocks, began as a quirky, independently developed PC game in 2009. Since then the title has blossomed into an empire, spawning a glut of merchandise, versions for mobile phones and home consoles and, appropriately, an official LEGO set. In total Minecraft has sold more than 35 million copies across various platforms. The PC version alone generated almost $250,000 in revenue in the last 24 hours. Because Mojang sells the PC version exclusively on its own website, the company gets to keep all of that money instead of splitting it with game retailers like GameStop or Valve’s Steam online marketplace.

Other gaming startups that have hit upon viral successes like Minecraft are now going public. Dublin-based King, maker of the mobile hit Candy Crush Saga (and former employer of Minecraft creator Markus Persson), is prepping an initial public offering in the U.S. that could value the company at as much as $7.6 billion. Chukong Technologies, a Chinese mobile gaming firm that developed the popular title Fishing Joy, is reportedly planning a U.S. IPO as well. Mojang has no current plans to go public, according to the Journal.

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

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