The Tech News Blog

February 15, 2015

PS4 Outsells Xbox One in January

XBox vs. PS4 update

Sales of gaming consoles might have been down in January as a result of the post-holiday sales slump, but that's totally fine. At least, we presume that's totally fine, since sales of Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One consoles are 60 percent higher, in total, at this point in their lifecycle compared to the exact same time period for the two company's predecessor consoles: the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

In other words, a lot more people have been buying PS4 or Xbox One consoles than the companies' previous offerings, leading to a generally larger base of video game players in total.

That said, hardware sales in January were down 23 percent. Sales of current consoles, or the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, were down 22 percent, and sales of previous-generation consoles were down 35 percent.

According to NPD, Sony's PlayStation 4 retook the crown from Microsoft's Xbox One for top console sales in January. Previously, the Xbox One was the best-selling console in the U.S. for November and December. It seems that not even Microsoft's $50 price drop in January—starting on January 16, specifically—was enough to keep it in the lead.

"PlayStation 4 was the top-selling console in January and remains the cumulative leader in the U.S., according to NPD data. Since launching in November 2013, 18.5 million PS4 units and 81.8 million software units have been sold through to consumers worldwide," read a statement from a Sony Computer Entertainment America spokesperson, as reported by Gamespot.

Nintendo claims that sales of its Wii U console and related software increased 30 percent and 45 percent, respectively, in January versus the same time period one year prior. The company hasn't offered up specific sales figures, however.

Software and accessory sales in January were up 5 percent and 3 percent, respectively, or $12.4 million and $5.4 million. However, the big hit from hardware sales managed to bring total retail sales for hardware, software, and accessories to a 6 percent decrease compared to the same time period last year.

February 3, 2015

PlayStation Network Returns After Yet Another Outage

PlayStation NetworkSony's PlayStation Network (PSN) was once again offline this weekend, this time during Sunday's Super Bowl XLIX.

"We're aware that some users are experiencing issues signing into PSN," PlayStation tweeted on Sunday. "Engineers are investigating. We'll keep you posted."

The Ask PlayStation account posted an update on Monday, saying that PSN services "are in the process of being restored." A later reply ensured that the network was back online, and suggested users "power cycle" their devices and try again.

Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This, of course, is not the first time the PSN has left gamers in the lurch. As folks were digging into their newly unwrapped PlayStation 4 consoles on Christmas Day, they found themselves locked out of the network. Microsoft's Xbox Live was also targeted by hackers who go by the name Lizard Squad.

Sony extended its holiday and flash sales as a result of the PSN's December downtime. Deals included PS4 titles like Alien: Isolation for $36, Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition for $40, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare for $45.

January 6, 2015

PlayStation 4 Sales Hit 18.5 Million

Xbox One vs PlayStation 4Though the last few months have certainly given Sony a headache or two, the company can celebrate the fact that its PlayStation 4 sales have been strong. Very strong.

Sony announced yesterday during its CES press conference that PlayStation 4 sales have topped 18.5 million worldwide since the console's debut in November 2013, and 4.1 million during the most recent holiday season alone.

It has some catching up to do to PlayStation 2, which topped 150 million in its lifetime, but Sony doesn't appear very concerned about that. In actuality, the PlayStation 4 is outpacing PlayStation 2 sales if you compare each console's sales approximately one year after their respective releases.

"The next-gen platforms right now—I don't have the numbers —this generation has grown faster, further, wider, broader than any other game generation in the past. PlayStation 4 is leading that entire charge in next-gen," Sony Computer Entertainment president and CEO Shawn Layden told IGN in November.

PS4 sales topped 10 million in August.

Sony also said that it has 10.9 million PlayStation Plus subscribers. Those stats come after Sony announced that it will start offering monthly subscriptions to its PlayStation Now gaming service.

Rival Microsoft, meanwhile, said it was approaching 10 million Xbox Ones sold as of November, help by the $50 discount it offered on the console through the holiday season.

December 28, 2014

Playstation Network Down for Third Day in a Row; Sony Suggests DDoS to Blame

PlayStation NetworkBad news for Playstation gamers looking to get a little time in with their consoles—old or new—this holiday season. As of around 5 p.m. today (PT), the Playstation Network remains down for basically the third day in a row, minus a few brief spurts of service here and there.

Though it's unclear just what, exactly, the specific reason for the downtime actually is, it's widely rumored that hackers hit both Microsoft's Xbox Live and Sony's Playstation Network with a DDoS attack starting Christmas Day. At least, that's what Twitter accounts belonging to members of the group Lizard Squad have claimed, but there's been no outright confirmation from Microsoft or Sony that this is the case.

Additionally, it's unclear just what's taking Sony so long to restore its service. Presumably, it was hit with the same style of attack that took out Xbox Live as well, though rival Microsoft has certainly rebounded quite a bit faster than Sony. A blog post from Sony, published today, doesn't shed much additional light on the mystery, though it does seem to imply that a DDoS attack was the culprit.

"The video game industry has been experiencing high levels of traffic designed to disrupt connectivity and online gameplay. Multiple networks, including PSN, have been affected over the last 48 hours. PSN engineers are working hard to restore full network access and online gameplay as quickly as possible," reads a blog post from Catherine Jensen, a Sony Computer Entertainment America vice president.

"From time to time there may be disruptions in service due to surges in traffic, but our engineers will be working to restore service as quickly as possible."

And no, it's not you; it's them.

"If you received a PlayStation console over the holidays and have been unable to log onto the network, know that this problem is temporary and is not caused by your game console. We'll continue to keep you posted on Twitter at @AskPlayStation and we'll update this post once the problems subside," she added.

Though Lizard Squad has allegedly called off its DDoS, so the group announced Friday, that doesn't necessarily mean that they have—or, for that matter, that those with access to the resources used to DDoS major entities aren't carrying on and simply not saying anything.

It's also possible that the Lizard Squad twitter account originally taking credit for the attack doesn't necessarily represent those behind said attack. Et cetera. Insert your own Sherlock Holmes-like scenario here… while you're waiting for the Playstation Network to kick back online, that is.

December 14, 2014

Xbox One Outsells PS4 in November

Xbox One holiday saleThough the PlayStation 4 has largely outsold the Xbox One for the last year, Microsoft's next-gen console has picked up some steam this holiday season.

The Xbox One unseated the PS4 to become the top-selling console in November, Microsoft announced Friday, citing data from The NPD Group.

"November set a new record for sales of Xbox One, and Xbox One was the best-selling console in the U.S. and U.K.," Microsoft said in a statement. "Response to the holiday lineup of games on Xbox One was incredible, with Xbox One fans buying more games in November in the U.S. than any other gen-eight platform and enjoying over 357 million hours of gameplay globally." Redmond added that fans logged into Xbox Live across Xbox One and Xbox 360 more than any other month in the game system's history.

Microsoft gave its Xbox One a $50 discount for the holiday season. Earlier this year, it also started offering a version of its console without the Kinect sensor, bringing the price down another $100.

Overall, according to NPD, sales of new gaming hardware, software, and accessories in the U.S. declined 11 percent year over year last month to $2.41 billion, the analyst firm said.

December 9, 2014

PlayStation Network Restored After Hack

PlayStation Network

Sony's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad month continued when the PlayStation Network was knocked offline Sunday.

The site—now up and running again—was allegedly hacked by a group called "Lizard Squad," which recently hit Xbox Live and took credit for an August attack against several major gaming networks.

"PSN Login #offline #LizardSquad" the collective tweeted on Sunday afternoon. Several hours later, Sony's official PlayStation Twitter account acknowledged the problem, saying in a message that "We are aware of the issues some users are experiencing, and are working to address them."

Several hours later, Sony encouraged users to try again.

September 15, 2014

Microsoft Buys Minecraft Maker Mojang for $2.5 Billion

Minecraft: An Explainer for Old People

Heads up, Minecraft fans — the acquisition rumors were true.

Microsoft has purchased Mojang, maker of the massively popular sandbox building game, for $2.5 billion, the Swedish game developer announced on Monday. The company also announced that founders Markus "Notch" Persson, Carl Manneh, and Jakob Porser are leaving.

The news follows reports last week that Microsoft and Mojang were in "serious discussions" about a multibillion dollar acquisition.

"Change is scary, and this is a big change for all of us," the Mojang team wrote in a note on its website. "It's going to be good though. Everything is going to be OK."

The developer continued: "Please remember that the future of Minecraft and you — the community — are extremely important to everyone involved."

The acquisition is somewhat surprising given that Persson, who created Minecraft, has, in the past, avoided outside investment and derided big firms like Microsoft. But as Minecraft grew from a "simple game to a project of monumental significance," the pressure of owning it became too much for Persson to handle.

May 19, 2014

Sony Opens PlayStation Now Beta to PS4 Users

PlayStation Logo/Credit: SonySony on Monday expanded beta testing for its coming PlayStation Now streaming game service to users of PlayStation 4 consoles after several months of running the private beta exclusively on the PS3.

PlayStation Now, a streaming service that delivers games to PlayStation consoles with no discs or downloading required, remains on track to go live this summer, Sony said on its official PlayStation blog.

Gamers who have upgraded to the company's best-selling PS4 console will now have a chance to test out PlayStation Now ahead of its official launch, provided they've registered for the beta testing program.

"Up until this point, our Private Beta for PS Now has been available on PlayStation 3 systems. We're pleased to announce that the Private Beta program is expanding and will make its debut on PlayStation 4 systems on May 20. If you've registered for the PS Now Private Beta, keep an eye on your mailbox for a voucher code," Sony said.

The consumer electronics giant revealed that it was planning a game-streaming service for its PlayStation platform at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

April 18, 2014

Xbox One Shipments Top 5 Million

Microsoft confirms the Xbox One is not designed to stand vertically

Microsoft on Thursday announced that more than 5 million Xbox One consoles have been shipped to retailers since its November launch.

While that's nothing to sneeze at, rival Sony has sold more than 7 million PlayStation 4 machines to customers around the world in about the same time period.

Being stuck in second place hasn't put a damper on Microsoft's mood, though. In a blog post, chief marketing and strategy officer Yusuf Mehdi celebrated the next-generation console's progress—311,000 units sold in the U.S. in March—already outpacing the Xbox 360 during the same time period.

"Even more important to us is how much fun you are having on Xbox One," Mehdi said, adding that users are spending an average of five hours a day on the machine, collectively capturing more than one billion hours spent in games and apps on the console.

March 4, 2014

Sony Surpasses 6M Global PS4 Sales

Sony PlayStation 4

Following last month's release of Sony's PlayStation 4 in Japan, the company today revealed a whopping 6 million console sales worldwide.

That figure includes the 370,000 sold in Japan since its Feb. 22 launch.

"I am absolutely delighted that PS4 is off to such a great start in Japan," Sony CEO Andrew House said in a statement. "The responses we have received for the PS4 system's integrated social capabilities have been phenomenal, and I couldn't be more thrilled that gamers are utilizing these unique features to engage, share, play, and connect with users around the world."

Software sales have been soaring as well, reaching almost 14 million copies of game titles and other software sold in retail stores globally and via digital downloads. According to a recent Sony blog post, more than 90 percent of U.S.-based PS4s are online, allowing gamers to connect and compete with each other.

"It's truly humbling to see the rate at which gamers across the globe are choosing PS4 as their next-gen console of choice," John Koller, vice president of marketing, wrote in a blog entry.