The Morning After: PlayStation’s answer to Xbox Game Pass breaks cover

After a fair degree of speculation, Sony has officially announced the next evolution of PlayStation Plus, its subscription service. And, finally, it could offer enough to match Microsoft’s compelling Game Pass. It’s still called PlayStation Plus but will fuse it with PlayStation Now, the company’s middling game streaming service, at least at the highest tiers.

PlayStation Plus Premium ($18 per month) is where the PS Now aspect really comes into play, with access to an extra 340 or so games, including PS3 titles you can stream via the cloud. A bunch of PS1, PS2 and PSP games will be available to stream or download, too, but the streaming feature will be only in markets where PS Now is currently available. That includes the likes of the US, UK, Japan and a large chunk of Europe.

Then there’s PlayStation Plus Extra (for $15 per month), which will fold in the existing PS Plus service, soon to be renamed PlayStation Plus Essential (still $10 per month) but add a library of “up to” 400 PS4 and PS5 games. These will encompass PlayStation’s in-house titles as well as third party games.

At the outset, Sony plans to offer games including Death Stranding, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Mortal Kombat 11 and Returnal. However, it’s unlikely that first-party PlayStation games (usually exclusive at launch) will appear on the service immediately. Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan told GamesIndustry.biz in an interview: “We feel if we were to do that with the games that we make at PlayStation Studios, that virtuous cycle will be broken.” In PlayStation’s favor, at least in the US, the annual price is $60 less than Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members’ annual cost.

The new-look PS Plus will start rolling out in June.

— Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missed

They have the technology.

Dyson just unveiled its first wearable product: a set of noise-canceling, air-purifying headphones. The Dyson Zone comes with a detachable vizor for the bottom half of the wearer’s face, which looks, to put it mildly, odd. That vizor actually blows filtered air to your nose, mouth and chin, sort of like a portable fan dedicated to the lower portion of your face. Dyson has integrated a smaller version of its into the earcups.

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It arrives on April 5th, but isn’t cheap at $739.

Intel has unveiled the Core i9-12900KS Special Edition CPU, claiming it’s “the world’s fastest desktop processor.” Intel boosted the clock speed from 5.2GHz to 5.5GHz (on up to two cores) by bumping the power from 125 to 150 watts. AMD recently said its $449 Ryzen 7 5800X3D was the world’s fastest gaming processor, that its 3D V-Cache beats Intel’s older Core i9-12900K. However, Intel’s latest model has a much higher maximum clock speed (5.5GHz compared to 4.5GHz). Now we wait for the benchmark tests to prove the eventual winner.

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And you thought the Intel chip was pricey…

NVIDIA’s is finally here, and it’s clear the no-compromise design comes with the steep price tag to match. The new flagship GPU is now available, at a heady $1,999. That’s $500 more than the ‘base’ and closer to the price of line-blurring GPUs like the old $2,499 . And don’t be surprised if you pay more thanks to — we’re already seeing more expensive cards at retailers.

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It has eight built-in subwoofers.

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Devialet

There’s not an awful lot of competition at the high-end soundbar market, with most consumers looking towards surround sound speaker setups with multiple speakers, separate subwoofers and the rest. For those of us looking for minimalist aesthetics and better sound, Sennheiser’s Ambeo now has competition from Devialet. The giant soundbar can upmix stereo sound so it’s more enveloping and richer. You also have to be a certain level of wealth to afford the thing.

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No, Nintendo. Nooooo.

This won’t come as a huge surprise to gamer cynics, but Nintendo has announced it’s delaying the launch of the hugely anticipated Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel. As is usually the case with such delays, Nintendo didn’t offer a ton of details. Legend of Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma said the company decided to “extend our development time a bit” and apologized to those looking forward to playing the new game. Expect to wait til spring 2023. And possibly even a little longer.

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Politics and usage are to blame.

In the next wave of emoji, which has brought us burritos, flamingos and so on, don’t expect to see more flags. The Unicode Consortium has warned it will “no longer accept proposals” for flag emoji, regardless of category. They’re more trouble than they’re worth, the organization said, whether it’s the inherent politics or the value they bring. Flags are “by far” the least-used emoji, Unicode said, and aren’t even used that often in social media bios. The Consortium added that flag additions tends to “emphasize the exclusion of others.”

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