What It’s Like To Review A Video Game Console That Hasn’t Even Been Announced

What It's Like To Review A Video Game Console That Hasn't Even Been Announced

Yesterday, reporter Laura Kate Dale posted a review and video of the PlayStation 4 Slim. Problem: the console isn’t out yet, nor has Sony announced it at all.

This is not the first time an apparent PS4 Slim has been seen in the wild. Earlier this month, one appeared on UK auction site Gumtree. It seemed to be a smaller, sleeker replacement for the standard PS4, rather than a machine with new guts and capabilities. Shortly after, there was an unboxing video, and Eurogamer ran a story in which they “confirmed” the PS4 Slim by visiting a person who’d obtained one. However, they removed their video of the machine almost immediately “upon taking legal advice.”

Dale’s story stands as the most in-depth yet. She posted a full review in which she emphasized that the Slim is more or less the same as a regular PS4, but it runs “cooler and quieter.” She also delved into exact dimensions (264 x 39 x 288mm) and showed off the new, improved Dual Shock 4 controller. In a companion video, she took the console from unboxing to setup.

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Despite all this, Sony has yet to acknowledge that the console exists, nor has anybody from or connected to the company reached out to Dale. It’s bizarre, but in the grand scheme of major video game companies and colossal leaks, hardly unprecedented.

The whole thing, Dale told me over Skype earlier today, has been a rollercoaster ride. It began when she realized the leak was coming from a certain part of the UK, where she’s based, and decided to investigate. She found someone who was willing to let her verify that the console, you know, exists prior to any sort of transaction, so she decided to take the plunge.

“I saw the console, I touched it, plugged it into a TV, it turned on and it worked,” Dale told me, adding that she was told the console was not stolen, but merely came from a retailer who broke street date. “At that point I decided I knew enough to say, ‘OK, this thing is legitimate.’”

“I’m being vague enough to protect myself legally,” she quickly added.

The specter of legality has loomed over the whole enterprise ever since Eurogamer yanked their video in conjunction with the word “legal.” Dale told me she originally shopped her coverage around to multiple major video game sites, but got no takers.

“Without naming any of the sites involved, the concerns were A) that they would commission coverage and then be forced to pull it before it was seen enough to be financially viable,” she explained. “And then B) there were legal concerns. The legal situation in the UK regarding ownership of something like this is difficult, in that if Sony claims these units were stolen from them, then regardless of whether you bought them in good faith—believing them not to be stolen—you’re still responsible for handling stolen goods.”

What It's Like To Review A Video Game Console That Hasn't Even Been Announced

And then, of course, there was the forever-dangling possibility of blacklisting, an industry practice with which Kotaku is quite familiar.

Dale decided to do it herself because she was tired of Sony’s silence on a matter, and her site’s not really beholden to PR nonsense. “It’s been really annoying me knowing that this thing physically existed and we couldn’t confirm it one way or another,” she said.

Dale was surprised to find that, when her own coverage went up, no frighteningly pale men in suits showed up at her door, or in her inbox, as it were.

“I went in expecting my coverage to go down in under an hour much like Eurogamer’s did,” she said. “I expected to, at the very least, have to fight if I wanted to keep this coverage live.”

A day later, however, she hasn’t received a single message from Sony or any claims on her video. In the meantime, PS4 Slim has trended worldwide on Twitter, and the story’s been picked up by pretty much every video game and tech site under the sun. Dale figures that perhaps it’s all just too widespread at this point—that any act on Sony’s part would be a case of too little, too late. “They haven’t asked me to take my coverage down or pulled the YouTube video yet, so I can only assume it’s because they saw how quickly it picked up yesterday and were just like, ‘Welp, the cat’s out of the bag at this point. There’s not much we can do to quiet this one down now.’”

What It's Like To Review A Video Game Console That Hasn't Even Been Announced

If that’s the case, though, it makes it even stranger that Sony has not publicly said anything at all about this machine. In an age when even the Activisions of the world have taken to shifting their marketing plans in response to leaks, one of the more egregious leaks of an unannounced product ever has been met with complete silence from Sony.

“It does seem a bit ridiculous at this point,” said Dale. But Sony has a big PlayStation event scheduled for September 7th, where it’s widely speculated that they’ll officially reveal the PS4 Slim, among other things.

“They’ve probably assumed that the number of people reading specialist games outlets is not as large as the number of people who read mainstream outlets that will probably cover the September 7th reveal event,” said Dale. “So they’ve probably decided they can live with people who are gaming enthusiasts knowing about this already so they don’t lose their big mainstream push.”

She added, however, that it’s all a bit insulting to customers, an overt reminder that Corporations Are Not Your Friend. “If Sony still thinks people don’t believe the PS4 Slim model exists, it can only be because they think their audience are idiots, because there is ample evidence out there at this point,” said Dale.

I reached out to Sony about all of this, but they’ve yet to reply to my inquiries.

What It's Like To Review A Video Game Console That Hasn't Even Been Announced

There are, however, some people who adamantly refuse to believe the PS4 Slim exists despite having seen Dale’s video and read her review. They’ve done everything from tweeting terrible things to deconstructing the video from every possible angle. Some are certain it’s a hoax. They believe Dale 3D printed the console and created her own extremely convincing box.

“So many things got nitpicked,” said Dale. “People got upset that I didn’t show the underside of the box. They thought there was something to hide. Or, much like when the Xbox One S first launched, before they did the day one update, it had a picture of a standard Xbox One rather than the S. The same happens with the PS4 Slim. When you boot it up, you get an image of the standard PS4. Presumably that’s because they’re gonna do an update closer to the release of the Slim.”

And of course, as is often the way of things with video game leaks (for some reason!), people have gotten really, really nasty about it, even though Dale is simply the messenger.

“There’s been goodness knows how many personal attacks on A) the fact that, on a week that I’m about to go away to a convention, my office is a bit messy,” said Dale. “And B) I’m transgender, and at one point you can see my reflection in a screen. The number of shitty comments that were about personal stuff rather than my coverage was quite ridiculous.”

“How dare I have a messy office and be me?” she added.

What It's Like To Review A Video Game Console That Hasn't Even Been Announced

I asked her why she thinks people got so upset about all of this, especially given that this isn’t a delay or anything intrinsically negative. It’s just an in-depth look at a thing Sony refuses to comment on. Dale pointed out that, if this is all true, it means the PS4 Slim doesn’t have the 4k and upscaling capabilities of the Xbox One S. For the first time this console generation, the PS4 won’t be the most powerful kid on the block. Some people apparently really, really don’t want to hear that. Ah, corporate loyalty. Such fun.

Ultimately, though, Dale’s taking it in stride. Word’s gotten out about the PS4 Slim, and the logic underlying the attacks against her credibility doesn’t exactly hold up to scrutiny.

“I clearly am trying to do this for a living,” she explained. “Why would I knowingly throw away my credibility for a week of some good views on a site that doesn’t claim any ad revenue? What would I have to gain from doing that?”

from Kotaku http://kotaku.com/what-its-like-to-review-a-console-that-hasnt-even-been-1786023376

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Saga Is the Best Comic in the Universe Because It Shows You How Evil Robots Jack Off

Saga Is the Best Comic in the Universe Because It Shows You How Evil Robots Jack Off

The kinkiest thing an automaton can wank to is the organic lifeform he’s tried to kill for five years.

[Warning: This post contains some images that may not be safe for work.]

At its core, Saga is a series about family, both the ones that we’re born into and the one we wind knitting together for ourselves out of friends and people who don’t share our blood. Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples, and the rest of the creative team behind the hit science-fantasy series understand that families are weird. You take for granted all the messaging you absorb about them when you’re younger and, as time marches on, you find yourself loving people you’re supposed to hate and hating people you’re supposed to love.

http://kotaku.com/reminder-saga-…

The main plot of the series has them on the star-crossed parents from warring planets on the run from governments trying to kill or capture them, a good metaphor for the peculiar kind of isolation that comes with figuring out a life together.

Saga Is the Best Comic in the Universe Because It Shows You How Evil Robots Jack Off

Part of the appeal of Saga has been watching the desperately itinerate nuclear unit of Alanna, Marko, and Hazel pull other characters like teen ghost babysitter Izabel, cutie man-walrus Ghus and liberated child slave Sophie into their orbit. Each new relationship brings its own specific tensions and fresh joys to the mix, while messing with the temperature and pressures of the core bonds between mother, father, and child.

As in soap operas, telenovelas, and any serialized drama, watching old characters return and new ones step into frame in Saga makes readers tingle with worry and delight. Past storyarcs have had Marco and Alanna estranged and separated from each other and toddler Hazel, either falling into drug use or dodging with extramarital temptations. Hazel wound up in a detention center for war refugees and, after a brazen rescue, there was an emotional family reunion before the series’ most recent hiatus.

Saga Is the Best Comic in the Universe Because It Shows You How Evil Robots Jack Off
ya boy just spent a solid minute legit tearing up over this panel again, while re-reading past issues
Saga Is the Best Comic in the Universe Because It Shows You How Evil Robots Jack Off
Saga Is the Best Comic in the Universe Because It Shows You How Evil Robots Jack Off
Saga Is the Best Comic in the Universe Because It Shows You How Evil Robots Jack Off

This week’s Saga #37 picks up after that last story arc, as Alanna, Marko and crew try to head back to the planet Quietus so Sir Robot IV can continue raising his son in exile. The former prince tries to take his mind off things…

Saga Is the Best Comic in the Universe Because It Shows You How Evil Robots Jack Off

…but wind up in a far more confusing place than he’d hoped

Saga Is the Best Comic in the Universe Because It Shows You How Evil Robots Jack Off

There’s that whole part about loving (sort of who) you’re not supposed to. Petrichor, a transwoman who looked after Hazel while detained, is now part of their motley crew, still struggling with the old prejudices that had the winged people on Landfall and horned denizens of orbiting moon Wreath fighting for decades. A fuel leak on their wooden spaceship forces them to head to Phang, a resource-rich comet home to a roiling polyglot society broken by the long-running war.

Saga Is the Best Comic in the Universe Because It Shows You How Evil Robots Jack Off
Saga Is the Best Comic in the Universe Because It Shows You How Evil Robots Jack Off

Once there, they meet another family in need, one whose cute looks almost certainly hide trouble of some sort.

Saga Is the Best Comic in the Universe Because It Shows You How Evil Robots Jack Off
Saga Is the Best Comic in the Universe Because It Shows You How Evil Robots Jack Off

There’s probably more heartbreak ahead in Saga. It’d feel wrong if there wasn’t. But, since the series is narrated by an adult Hazel, we have the assurance that she comes out okay on the other side of all this cosmic drama. Somehow, her family—blood-related and otherwise—gets her through. The heart-wrenching cost that we know they have to pay is what keeps us reading.

from Kotaku http://io9.gizmodo.com/saga-is-the-best-comic-in-the-universe-because-it-shows-1786018227

Windows 8 and 10’s Boring Old Solitaire Has Reached a Huge Number of Players

Solitaire has been a Microsoft mainstay since Windows 3.0, and now its newest version, Microsoft Solitaire Collection, has hit more than 100 million unique users. This comes about a year after Microsoft celebrated Solitaire’s 25th anniversary.

Microsoft released some facts about Windows Solitaire on the official Xbox website, where we learn that an average of 55 million games of Microsoft Solitaire Collection are played every day. On top of that, through the game’s Xbox Live Achievements, players have earned more than 1.3 billion Gamerscore. Microsoft also claims that Solitaire in general is “one of the most played games of all time on any Windows OS.”

As part of the celebration, Microsoft announced that its Solitaire Collection is coming to iOS and Android devices this fall. It’ll launch with Xbox Live integration and cross-platform play, so you can carry your stats and do daily challenges on whatever device you like.

Windows 10 users get something this fall, too. A new game mode called Events is on its way, and Microsoft says you can win “tons of awards” and see how “you stack up against your friends and the community,” while building “your Solitaire legacy.” It’s not clear what this mode will entail exactly, and the teaser video that Microsoft released doesn’t help us parse it at all. You can watch it below.

Microsoft Solitaire Collection isn’t the Solitaire you remember from past incarnations of Windows. It launched with Windows 8 and 10 and includes five different types of the classic card game–Klondike, Spider, FreeCell, Pyramid, and Tripeaks. You can download it here.

from GameSpot http://www.gamespot.com/articles/windows-8-and-10s-boring-old-solitaire-has-reached/1100-6443205/

42 Minutes Of The Turing Test, The New Portal-Style Puzzle Game

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Like first-person games that challenge you to solve puzzles in room after room? The Turing Test is one of those. We livestreamed it on Facebook today, and you can watch the archive here. It starts with a cleverly-built puzzle that’s not too tough, but then we hit one that stumps us badly.

The Turing Test is from Bulkhead Interactive. It’s out now for Xbox One and PC. $20. It’s pretty good so far, though it suffers comparisons to the magnificent Portal, which has the advantage of having its own great disembodied voice talking to your character and its own great puzzle-solving mechanic. But, hey, we ain’t ever getting a Portal 3. Game like this’ll do.

from Kotaku http://kotaku.com/42-minutes-of-the-turing-test-the-new-portal-style-puz-1786021449

World Of Warcraft: Legion’s Order Halls Are A Good Reason To Play All The Classes

World Of Warcraft: Legion's Order Halls Are A Good Reason To Play All The Classes

The Druids. Nobody knows who they were, or what they were doing. In World of Warcraft: Legion what they’re doing is spending a lot of time in their lush and vibrant Order Hall, the latest expansion’s answer to one of Warlords of Draenor’s more contentious features.

I loved Warlords of Draenor’s Garrison feature, which gave players their own personal fortress to develop, filled with questgivers, resource buildings, followers and other special stuff. Others felt that the Garrison structure killed some of the game’s social structure and screwed majorly with the economy.

Legion takes the Garrison idea and expands upon it with Order Halls, which are basically expansive areas dedicated and themed around a single character class. Rogues get an underground lair, sort of like a dungeon. Hunters get a mountaintop hunting lodge. And Druids? Druids get this:

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The Order Hall is the hub for Legion questing, with extensive missions themed to their respective character class. The extensive class-specific content means that Legion finally gives players a compelling reason to play through it with every class. This is a dangerous thing and will surely end my marriage.

World Of Warcraft: Legion's Order Halls Are A Good Reason To Play All The Classes
All my druid friends are coming over tonight.

The Druid-specific content begins with my character being crowned (I guess it’s some branches and twigs) an Archdruid, leader of Azeroth’s anti-demon, tree-hugging contingent. Gerbil amasses followers and sends them on timed resource-gathering missions, goes on Druidic quests to save famous Druidic characters from Druid-themed doom—basically she runs the place.

World Of Warcraft: Legion's Order Halls Are A Good Reason To Play All The Classes

Unlike the solitary Garrisons, Order Halls are filled with other player characters, each a member of that specific class. The Dreamgrove, as it is called, is flush with Druids, running about as cats or bears or stupid owl-things or deer, making the whole place reek of patchouli. They’re harvesting resources, upgrading their artifact weapons, flirting with the Laughing Sisters and otherwise Druiding all over the place. It’s pretty great.

World Of Warcraft: Legion's Order Halls Are A Good Reason To Play All The Classes

It’s still early days for Legion, but the class-focused structure of the expansion has already changed how I play. Specifically how I play Druids, more specifically that I play them at all. I used my level 100 boost for Gerbil because I could never get into the class, but as I took each of my level 100 characters through the opening Legion content, the Druid’s storyline took hold, and now my focus has completely shifted from human Rogue to Worgen Druid.

And it’s always nice to have a clubhouse, even if it always smells like cat pee and patchouli oil.

from Kotaku http://kotaku.com/world-of-warcraft-legions-order-halls-are-a-good-reaso-1786019563