Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai has spoken out on Sony’s current situation, looking back on his first year since taking over for Howard Stringer in January 2012. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Hirai said that Vita sales were “on the low end of what we expected,” adding that “long term is what is important.”
Hirai said that holiday sales were “pretty much” in line with expectations, though Sony lowered its estimated revenue for the year. Looking at Sony’s other arms, Hirai added that the TV business “continues to be an important area,” but that to return to profit “the first thing we need to do is not to pump more TVs into the market, because they’re money losers at this point. We’ve got to stop the bleeding first.”
As for rumors that Sony Pictures and Sony Music could be for sale, Hirai simply said “I’ve said this so many times, but those properties are not for sale. A lot of people may say if Sony puts it up for sale, we’d be interested. But that’s different than Sony putting it up for sale. They’re not for sale.”
Finally, Hirai also commented on Nvidia’s recently-announced Project Shield handheld. Hirai noted that creating gaming hardware is a very competitive business that has led to struggles from many manufacturers. “It’s not an easy business to get into,” he said.
For more about Sony, read our impressions of its CES press conference last night.
Andrew Goldfarb is IGN’s associate news editor. Keep up with pictures of the latest food he’s been eating by following @garfep on Twitter or garfep on IGN.
Sony has agreed to sell its New York headquarters, according to Bloomberg.
The 37-story building at 550 Madison Ave will be sold to New York-based commercial property firm the Chetrit Group for $1.1 billion, generating around $770 million in net cash for the company. While the sale might sound dramatic, it’s business as usual for Sony’s New York employees, who will continue to work out of the office for up to three years.
The move is one in a series of efforts to sell assets and cut jobs in response to four years of straight losses for Sony, which is currently re-evaluating its financial forecast based on the sale. As it stands, the company has predicted a 20 billion-yen ($223 million) profit for the fiscal year, which ends in March.
This is a positive turnaround for Sony in the wake of its massive 457 billion-yen loss year.
By Lucy O’Brien
The comic book industry is at a crossroads, of sorts. While the local comic book shop is still the driving retail force of the medium, there is a bigger and brighter future on the horizon in the form a digital marketplace. More and more, the comic book world is beginning to embrace the digital world, even if they are doing it with careful, measured steps. Make no mistake, digital comic books are the future, and the sooner the industry as a whole embraces that notion, the better. If there’s something that other artistic industries have learned, it is that fighting the digital market place is a no-win situation. You have to evolve or you die. It’s that simple.
You have to evolve or you die. It’s that simple.
Fortunately, these troubled waters were waded years ago by another creative industry. If comics are smart, they’ll take a good, hard look at the lessons learned by the music industry and take everything they learn to heart. Sure, music and comic books aren’t exactly similar mediums, that’s obvious. They are, however, alike in a lot of ways that matter when it comes to a digital evolution. Comic publishers and creators can avoid some of the major pitfalls of this new digital world by simply sidestepping the mistakes of the record labels and recording artists.
Things really started to change for the music industry on November 10th, 2001. On that fateful fall day, the first generation of the iPod was unleashed on the public. To say this changed everything would probably be an understatement. Were there digital music players before the iPod? Yeah, there were. But none of them had anything close to the success of those magical little devices.
Suddenly, digital music – which had been around for while – became something that people wanted. That they demanded. In four short years, Apple would begin to sell around 20 million iPods per fiscal quarter. CD sales steadily declined as more and more consumers opted to instead download an mp3 and load it on to their iPod rather than drive down to the local record store, buy a CD, drive home and rip it into iTunes and then load it on to their iPod.
Quick note: We will not be discussing the 800 lbs gorilla in the room known as digital piracy. That’s a discussion for another day and another couple thousand words. I look forward to everyone’s vigorous rationalizations when that time comes.
But the music business quickly learned a hard lesson with the rise of the iPod: the digital marketplace is not merely a replica of the physical retail world. The game changed; it wasn’t about album sales any more, it was about the individual songs. Now, when that one band accidentally wrote one good song, we the people could easily just buy that song instead of the crapfest that was said band’s attempt at a full length record. This was a big change for an industry that was used to packaging artists and selling millions of albums off of the success of a single track or two. We all know several people who bought Lit’s A Place in the Sun.
The comic book industry is in a similar situation with the explosion of tablet sales. The iPad is flying off shelves along with several worthy competitors such as the Nexus, Nook, or Kindle Fire. Anyone who has had the pleasure of reading a digital comic book on one of these sleek, high definition devices will tell you, this is the future. Apps like ComiXology make the experience smooth and pleasurable. Now, I can wake up Wednesday morning, stumble downstairs in my underwear, and get my weekly comic fix from the comfort of my own couch.
The only problem is that the comic industry has not yet accepted the fact that the game has changed. They are treating the digital marketplace like an extension of the local comic book store. Comic publishers are used to selling single issues for 3 or 4 dollars. They get away with this because we comic book readers are like bloated, cave dwelling dragons, but instead of gold we crave comics. We collect them. We put them in shiny plastic sleeves and file them away in numerical order. Digital destroys those ideas. The collectible nature of comics is null and void in the digital landscape. Which means the comic industry needs to learn very quickly how to serve its readers twenty pages of digital content for less money than the print version.
Sadly, that’s just the reality of things. There are a lot of reasons, I’m sure, that the industry feels the need to charge the same amount for digital and print books, but most of them don’t really matter. Not to readers and certainly not to new customers who might be interested in jumping into the world of sequential art. One of the most insane reasons that is often tossed around is that the prices have to match in order to protect the physical brick and mortar stores. That’s simply crazy-town-banana-pants. Imagine if the music industry only sold digital albums and not individual songs to protect the physical record store? That’d be crazy, right?
Obviously, there are economic factors that have to be considered. I strongly suggest you read writer Jim Zubkavich’s enlightening post about the financial breakdown of digital comic book sales. It’s easy to see why digital comic books are currently priced the way they are. Of course, these are the financial figures through the old business model. These figures represent a digital marketplace that merely mirrors the physical retail world. The entire system needs to be rethought and reconfigured.
Watch MonkeyBrain and Thrillbent very closely. They’re the future, without a doubt.
The company that seems to be doing this best is MonkeyBrain. They are a digital-only publisher that offers new content by great talent for a reasonable price. This is a massive step in the right direction. Mark Waid’s Thrillbent is also producing comics that are made specifically with digital in mind. These two publishers are just the beginning. The Big Two and everyone under them would do well to watch MonkeyBrain and Thrillbent very closely. They’re the future, without a doubt.
There’s another huge lesson the music industry is learning right now that applies to the world of tights and fights. Access to music is slowly becoming the norm over ownership of music. Services like Pandora and Spotify are taking the place of people buying or downloading songs. The comic book world needs to offer something similar. Marvel has their digital subscription service, but to say it’s lacking would be far too kind. It is only now becoming available for tablet users and the comics that subscribers have access to are all over the place. There are large gaps in runs, missing issues, and glaring omissions.
In the digital world where collecting means nothing, the comic industry would do well to consider the benefits of consumer access — monthly subscriptions and such. There’s also the upstart site ComicBin that offers Spotify-style access with a similar business model, though their selection leaves plenty to be desired.
One of the greatest benefits of digital services is that things never sellout or go out of print. With collector mentality out of the picture, publishers can capitalize on existing products and how to get them into the hands of new generations. There is decades of stuff available. I played guitar in a band for a living in the early 2000s, and thanks to the digital marketplace, the albums I worked on are still available despite my old record label no longer pressing or distributing them.
All of this is not to say that print is the enemy and should be ignored. Your local comic book store offers a unique experience that can and should be embraced. Hell, this very article was written by a guy who still buys all his music on vinyl. Collecting stuff is fun. The comic book industry should absolutely support their partners in the retail world, but they can’t do it at the expense of the digital marketplace. Simply copying and pasting the retail model into the digital world is a mistake that could easily prove fatal. Digital comic books are their own beast and should be treated as such.
The comic book industry needs to rethink their digital game plan. Everything from prices to distribution to business model (do single issues even make sense anymore?) must be re-evaluated. The market has changed.
Evolve or die.
Benjamin played guitar in a rock n’ roll band called Arkham for four years. He lived in van, toured the country, and had the time of his life.Follow Benjamin on Twitter @616Earth, or find him on IGN.
Update: The campaign has now been restored.
GameStick has been pulled from Kickstarter. According to a message on the former home of its Kickstarter campaign, GameStick “is the subject of an intellectual property dispute and currently unavailable.”
According to a message from GameStick’s creators, the dispute “does not relate to our design or product” but instead is due to “one of the games that was exposed in our UI demonstration on our that we did not have permission to use.” The people behind GameStick say they’re “working to quickly edit this video to comply with Kickstarter and we hope to be back up and running as soon as possible. We’re sorry for any confusion or worry this may have caused you but we want you to know that we are on it!”
GameStick was revealed earlier this month, calling itself “the most portable TV games console ever created.” The Android-powered console is the size of a thumb drive and plugs directly into a television via HDMI, then interacts with its own Bluetooth controller. The campaign was seeking $100,000 in funds and surpassed its goal within the first few days of funding.
Andrew Goldfarb is IGN’s associate news editor. Keep up with pictures of the latest food he’s been eating by following @garfep on Twitter or garfep on IGN.
After debuting on Windows two years ago, EA’s games digital distribution platform Origin has arrived on Mac as a limited alpha. Announced this week, the client is available to only “a few thousand users” in North America and the UK. While the client features the same look and feel as the Windows variant, many features are still forthcoming. For instance, the app currently lacks access to the company’s digital storefront, limiting functionality of the service to only titles already installed on your machine via other methods or clients. What’s worse, EA says that the storefront won’t be available until the final release of the client later this year.
Those who try out the alpha will, however, have full access to the service’s social features, cloud saving, and access the in-game Origin overlay on supported titles. Alpha testers will also get a free copy of PopCap’s Bookworm added to their library.
The alpha is available from Origin.com now and requires a minimum of Intel Core 2 Duo processor and OS X 10.6.8 or newer.
Scott Lowe is IGN’s resident tech expert and Executive Editor of IGN Tech. You can follow him on Twitter at @ScottLowe and on MyIGN at Scott-IGN.
By Scott Lowe
Editor’s Note: Some of you have noticed the button placement in Nyko’s stock photo appears to be incorrect. Our hands-on video shows those buttons have since shifted – and we distinctly remember B being in its typical Nintendo controller position when we were playing Black Ops II.
Third party gaming accessories are almost a taboo topic amongst some gamers. Play with a controller that’s not made by a console publisher? How absurd. Yet in the case of Nintendo’s Wii U and its GamePad and Pro controllers, key flaws have left openings for third parties – in this case, Nyko.
COMMANDING THE PRO
The most prominent (though perhaps not most popular – see below) peripheral Nyko will begin offering next month is the Pro Commander controller, an angular version of what Nintendo has offered since the Wii U launch.
The biggest difference, of course, is that the Commander’s analog sticks are staggered, making the controller even more like its Xbox 360 cousin. During a brief hands-on, the controller and its buttons felt great, including the D-pad, which truth be told was a bit surprising. Another interesting change is Nyko’s ZL/ZR buttons have more range of motion (again, more like the Xbox 360’s triggers), though that doesn’t mean developers will suddenly start supporting that greater range, since Nintendo’s official Pro triggers are digital. The result is a bit of a wash – the Commander’s ZL/ZR have a more intuitive, familiar feel to them, but that tactile advantage doesn’t really matter, since it won’t apply to actual in-game action.
The Pro Commander is wireless, supports force feedback and carries a matte finish (no more fingerprints!). Despite its more rigid appearance, the controller feels quite comfortable in the hands. Nyko is pricing the Commander a full $15 less than the Pro, with a MSRP of $34.99, though that comes with one drawback – an estimated 25 hours of life for the Commander versus 80 hours for Nintendo’s Pro.
A LONGER LASTING GAMEPAD
Perhaps the biggest complaint about Nintendo’s new, innovative GamePad controller is this – it has a relatively short battery life, particularly when taking longer, more involved games into account. With only a 3-4 hours of gameplay between charges, many players have complained that they need a solution. Good news – Nyko doesn’t just have one, it has two.
The first of these options is an external battery, one that simply clips onto the GamePad. Called the “U Boost,” this device will actually stick out a bit from the bottom of the tablet controller, yet will still rest in a cradle and comes with an adjustable built-in stand. This added battery will double the GamePad’s life to an approximated 6-8 hours. Nyko’s MSRP for the U Boost is $24.99.
The second option requires a little work on the part of the GamePad owner. You might recall that Nintendo’s provided battery didn’t even fill the entire cavity within the GamePad. Nyko decided to do just that, and this new Power Pak battery will triple the tablet’s life to an estimated 9-12 hours. Like its U Boost counterpart, the Wii U Power Pak will cost $24.99.
Nyko’s planning on shipping a variety of other Wii U accessories next month, ranging from basic GamePad cradles (called Power Stands) to Pro controller charging stations (called Charge Base Pros, which can charge up to two Pros simultaneously) to the Charge Base U, which not only refills the battery of a GamePad, but two Wii remotes as well.
Most of Nyko’s Wii U accessories, with the exception of the Pro Commander, will come in white or black, though it will be up to retailers to stock both colors. Nyko did note that since more the Deluxe (black) Wii U bundle is proving more popular, stores are ordering accessories of that color. In other words, white might be tougher to find.
For more on CES, check out IGN’s CES 2013 hub!
Rich is an Executive Editor of IGN.com and the leader of IGN’s Nintendo team. He also watches over all things WWE, Resident Evil, Assassin’s Creed and much more. Follow him on Twitter, if you dare!
Year after year, CES serves as the launching point for some of the most anticipated smartphones and tablets, and this year’s show was no exception. We’ve traversed the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center, hunting down the hottest, most innovative devices. We’ve rounded up the front-runners, which are certain to be contenders for our regular Best of CES awards. So, without further adieu, here are the mobile devices that could soon be topping your wishlist.
Sony’s Xperia Z
The Xperia Z isn’t just one of the best looking phones at CES, it’s one of the best looking Android phones we’ve used. With a sleek, minimalist design, powerful hardware, and Sony’s renowned video processing and camera technology, the Z is the new flagship in the Xperia line. While Sony has yet to commit to specific pricing, carriers, or release beyond a general Q1 estimate, the Xperia Z could turn out to be a key player in the Android market. To read more about the Xperia Z, check out our hands-on impressions.
Huawei’s Ascend Mate
This year, China-based manufacturer Huawei introduced the largest smartphone display to-date. Clocking in at a whopping 6.1-inches, the Ascend Mate is absolutely massive, but don’t be fooled — it’s hardly a gimmick. The Ascend Mate is thin, well-designed, and the 1080p IPS+ display is absolutely gorgeous. It’s got plenty of power inside provided by a 1.5GHz quad-core processor and it’s running the latest version of Android — 4.1 Jellybean. Of course, such demanding specs require significant power, so Huawei has dropped in a staggeringly large 4,050mAh battery. Of course, there’s no telling if smartphone shoppers will want a phone so large, but it’s without question one of the coolest devices on-display in Las Vegas this week. Read more of our hands-on impressions.
Vizio’s 5-inch and 4.7-inch Android Phones
In 2011, Vizio introduced a smartphone prototype at CES, which unfortunately never made it to market. However, this year, the company is back in the game with a pair of Android handsets scheduled for release in China (and later, possibly North America). While Vizio’s first foray wasn’t much to look at, it’s latest efforts look great. Both feature sleek designs, powerful internals, and bright, colorful 720p displays. Now, if only we could persuade the company to offer them in the United States.
Samsung’s Curved Display Prototype
(Image Credit: The Verge)
Malleable display technologies have been touted at CES for years, but this week, Samsung showed off the idea in a fully conceived prototype smartphone. While details about the device were sparse, the company showcased the concept during its press conference and in private demos. The device uses a 5-inch 720p OLED display, which curves along the edges to conform with the frame of its plastic casing. The concept displays email notifications and other alerts along the curved edges of the display, offering a unique utility over current flat screen technologies. There’s no word on when we might see the concept brought to market, but we’re excited nonetheless. For more, check out The Verge.
The Razer Edge
While not without its flaws, Razer’s new gaming tablet is an exciting piece of tech. For the first time ever, high-definition PC gaming performance is now available in a tablet form factor. Packing Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, Nvidia’s GT 640M LE GPU, and a full version of Windows 8, the Edge is capable of running most current PC titles at 720p at mid-range graphics settings, providing exceptional transportability. Of course, it comes at the cost of battery life, but the future of PC gaming tablets is unquestionably bright. For more, check out our hands-on impressions.
Panasonic’s 20-inch 4K Tablet
You’ve heard of 4K TVs, now introduce yourself to the world’s first 4K tablet. Showed off in a prototype form, Panasonic’s massive 20-inch Windows 8 tablet packs an absolutely stunning display driven by powerful internals and housed in a sleek, brushed metal and glass exterior. We’re not sure when it’ll be coming to market or for how much, but one thing is for sure: it’s one of the coolest tablets we’ve seen all week. For more, check out our hands-on impressions.
Vizio’s Tegra 4 and Windows 8 Tablets
Along with its return to the smartphone business, Vizio made a big push into tablet devices at this year’s show. First, they introduced their very first Windows 8 tablet, which uses a 1080p, 11.6-inch display powered by AMD’s new Z60 mobile processor. Then, later in the week, it showed off one of the first Android tablets to use Nvidia’s new Tegra 4 processor, which boasts six times the performance of its predecessor. Both take cues from the company’s laptop and desktop lines, and feature sleek, unibody designs with aluminum enclosures. We expect to learn more about Vizio’s tablet efforts soon, as the first devices are expected to ship this spring.
For more from CES, check out IGN.com/CES.
By Scott Lowe
The iPhone is rapidly becoming a prominent gaming device of choice, but touchscreen controls aren’t always optimal. Whether you’re operating a casual social game or immersing yourself in Sim City, there are drawbacks to using your iPhone for extended gameplay sessions — fast-draining battery life and sub-par audio notwithstanding, sometimes it’s just hard to operate the game.
If you’re seriously into smartphone gaming, then you have the opportunity to boost your gameplay experience with a little help from some handy third-party accessories. The best part, of course, is that most of these items can be used across multiple mobile platforms and even as standalone products to enjoy on their own.
What’s your favorite smartphone-enhancing game product? Let us know in the comments.
1. iCade 8-Bitty
If you long for the days of the original NES or Atari, and feel like your retro games are missing that extra analog magic that doesn’t quite translate with a touch screen, than an online order and 4 AAA batteries are all that’s separating you from the iCade 8-Bitty, a retro controller for your smartphone.
With dimensions that harken back to the original NES controller (except with the clutch placement of four buttons), the 8-Bitty connects via bluetooth to your mobile device and works with any app that supports the controller. As of now, the main draw is Atari Greatest Hits, an app for iPad that allows users to play more than 100 classic Atari games. But, if you’re the adventurous sort with a jailbroken iPhone, the iCade also has MAME support, meaning that you can play a ported version of nearly any emulated game on your mobile phone — not too shabby.
Price: $29.99 at ThinkGeek
Devices: iPhone, iPad, Android
2. Zagg Caliber Advantage
If you’re glued to your smartphone games like a 4th grader rabidly playing Pokemon, then an investment in the forthcoming Zagg Caliber Advantage is definitely for you. The hardware frame of the Caliber Advantage operates both as a protective case for your iPhone and as a slick controller for all of your gaming needs.
From far away, the Zagg Caliber Advantage looks a little like a PS Vita, which shows how dedicated it is to mimicking a handheld console experience. Users simply pop open the case, flip the phone into landscape, and connect the controllers present on either side via bluetooth. The controller layout features both dual joysticks and a d-pad/button combination, which affords versatility across a wide array of iPhone games. Plus, the Caliber features a sweet lithium ion battery for recharging, ensuring the accessory doesn’t draw precious battery life from your smartphone.
Price: $69.99, coming soon at Zagg.com
Devices: iPhone 5 only
3. Apple TV
One of the biggest features of Apple’s sleeper hit, the Apple TV, is it’s ability to seamlessly bring Airplay to your television. That’s right: you can finally play all of those teensy mobile games on your big, beautiful television with no lagging and even some enhanced stereo. It’s an added bonus to the Apple TV’s well-rounded and interesting set of abilities — and it’s worth picking up if you love everything else about the device.
In addition to mirroring, some games (like MetalStorm: Wingman) have compatibility with the Apple TV, transforming your mobile device into a controller while also putting the game on the screen. It’s the closest you’ll get to a full-blown gaming experience with your iDevices, and it’s quite impressive. Throw in Apple TV’s healthy stack of quality entertainment outlets (Netflix and Hulu Plus, FTW), and you’ve got a smart investment that also dials up your gaming up to 11.
Price: $99.99 at Apple
Devices: iPhone and iPad
4. Fling Mini
If a slicker, more flexible (and less expensive) peripheral accessory is more your speed, then the Fling Mini is a good option that offers an enhanced play experience without all of the big commitments. Simply snap on the Mini’s suction cups onto your smartphone over the joysticks for any game, and feel the advantage a little extra grip will give you.
In addition to working with nearly any game with a built-in joystick on the screen, the Mini can also be effectively used with the Joypad Wireless controller — allowing you to team your iPhone up with your iPad to create your own mobile console and have a little extra control while playing. Connect your iPad to the aforementioned Apple TV, and you can create your own iDevice ad-hoc gaming network to use at your own leisure.
Price: $24.95 at Ten1Design
5. Jawbone Jambox
It’s no secret that the audio on a mobile game leaves much to be desired. When you play without headphones, it’s inevitable that the placement of your hands will warp the sounds or muffle it in such a way to make it annoying to finagle. How can you get into the game if you can’t hold it and listen to it well at the same time?
The easy solution, of course, is to send your audio to a new source, and it’s hard to not be drawn to the Jawbone Jambox. Stylish and remarkably tiny, this speaker packs a big boom that will certainly enhance the noise in your gaming experience. Simply connect your mobile device via bluetooth and enjoy listening to everything the game is telling you clearly and concisely. Plus, when you’re not using it for gaming, the Jambox makes a great airplay speaker — and chic home decor item — that’s sure to impress.
Price: $199.99 at Jawbone
Device: iPhone, iPad, and Android
6. Mophie Battery Packs
It’s a bummer when your device dies from too much gaming, and it’s a double bummer when it’s also your only way to contact the outside world. If you’re a power-hungry user or like to game on long trips, then it’s worth picking up one of Mophie’s many battery packs. Simply hook up your dying device to a battery via a USB port and charge to your heart’s content.
The battery, depending on your choice, can charge your phone up to nearly four times over, so you’ll never really have to charge again. The battery packs also display the charge capacity left right on the side, which is especially useful in high-travel situations. Not sure what battery pack is right for you? Make sure you you check the company’s compatibility chart before you buy.
Price: $55.95-$99.95 on Mophie
Devices: iPhone, iPad, and Android
Lauren Hockenson is a tech reporter and 8-bit enthusiast who dreams of being a wizard. She can be found on MyIGN at lhockenson or on Twitter at @lhockenson.
Product placement is nothing new in movies, but one Chinese firm — electronics manufacturer TCL — is reportedly going all out with for Iron Man 3.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, TCL has “announced that its televisions, cloud technology and mobile phones will be conspicuously employed by Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr.’s billionaire superhero, in Disney-Marvel’s upcoming Iron Man 3, which is set for release on May 3 in North America, China and other select territories.”
TCL also recently acquired the right to rename the Hollywood landmark Grauman’s Chinese Theatre to the TCL Chinese Theatre.
Iron Man 3 is a Chinese co-production Disney-Marvel and the Chinese outlet DMG.
By Jim Vejvoda
Someone has built Iron Man gauntlets that actually work. And it’s not Tony Stark (he’s fictional, so that would be absurd).
The person in question is Patrick Priebe of Laser Gadgets, a firm that specialises in building custom props. The gloves pack enough punch to blow up balloons. (Skip forward to 2:30, if you just want to see them in action.)
Unfortunately (perhaps thankfully), Priebe doesn’t take orders, nor does he include a tutorial on how to assemble the gloves.
Daniel is IGN’s UK Staff Writer, and he now knows what he wants for Christmas this year. You can be part of the world’s worst cult by following him on IGN and Twitter.
By Daniel Krupa