World of Warcraft Subscribers Descend To 9 Year Low

Is it me or has World of Warcraft been around forever and a day? It certainly feels that way considering the game was released way back in 2004, since then it has spawned expansions to the excitement of fans, but it seems subscription numbers are not quite what they used to be.

According to the press release from Activision, World of Warcraft has 5.6 million subscribers to of the end of the second business quarter which for Activision is 30th June 2015.

Blizzard president Mike Morhaime stated the Warlords of Draenor expansion brought more returning players to the game than any previously. He also confirmed plans for the company to increases the rate of content to help attract new players while also retaining existing fans.

For a game which is nearly 11 years old, I do think it is an achievement to be able to attract 5.6 million subscribers, considering how current market trends will become obsolete in a matter of months. For me, this is the unfortunate by-product of listing your company to investors, yes it brings in much-needed revenue, but it does not take long for the market to react to any slight negative data which would impact on profits.

If you’re a regular reader to my articles for eTeknix then you know I like a tangent, and here it is, take a look at the WWE, Hulk Hogan was erased for two reasons, the obvious “open your mouth before engaging brain” with the second reason being that WWE share price lost $50 million dollars as the market reacted to the news. Investors call the shots and back successful trends and track record projects, any negative press effects company value. Investors wonder why they have not attracted more players; try 11 years with the same concept being rehashed within expansions. This is why you also have Fifa 2679 and Call of Duty Black Ops 12, the balance sheet conveys a track record of revenue to consumers.

Thank you Polygon for providing us with this information.

Battlefield: Hardline Ultra vs Low Graphics Comparison

It looks like GreenManGaming has provided DSOGaming with some Ultra vs Low graphic comparison for Visceral’s Battlefield Hardline. Below you can see the comparison. Note that the Ultra screenshots are the top ones, while the Low are right below the Ultra screenshots.












Thank you DSOGaming for providing us with this information

China Apple Store Randomly Dominated by 1 Yuan Applications

$0.16 US, £0.10 GBP, $0.19 AUD or 1 yuan isn’t rather large amount of money – but it seems to be just enough for these app developers.

As ITHome reported, one morning they woke up and all of a sudden a ton of applications we’re listed at the low price of 1 yuan. There has been no official release from Apple as to why this change has been put into place, but it is rumored that it is to draw more ‘genuine’ users – seeing many previously free apps adopt the 1 yuan strategy along some big name offerings.

Some reports claim that this 1 yuan (3 yuan for some applications, too) implementation may succeed in fostering more genuine users, with less bot downloads – but may also draw people toward jail-breaking their phones in order to install them for free either way. Only time will tell however as this is all a big guess.

Some large scale applications have also implemented the 1 yuan method, seeing games such as Plague Inc., Limbo, Fire of God Vegas: Prometheus Rising among many other well developed mobile platform games being listed for the almost-nothing price. This may mean mean that more ‘freemium’ models will be implemented – seeing users be able to purchase in game points, gold or experience for real life money, alongside seeing them sit through annoying ads unless they pay $5 US or so to have them removed permanently.

There have been no announced plans as to if this will be released to the Western world, nor an official release from Apple regarding the subject. We will continue to report as more information comes to light.

Images courtesy of ITHome and Mobiloud

Samsung Losing its Lead in China Smartphone Market

Thanks to Chinese website t.qianzhan, we’ve learned that the kings Samsung are almost being dethroned. Since opening up their sales in China back in 2002, Samsung smart phone market share has seen a significant decline in recent years. Currently sitting at 13.5% of the market share, Chinese-Domestic brand Millet has almost caught up with a rating of 10.8% and Lenovo is close on it’s heels with 10.7%.

We’ve been reporting of the Chinese smart phone market being in some hot water. Sony’s sales have drastically plummeted and the Chinese public have shown that they are starting to lean towards the cheaper domestic made offerings, rather than shelling out the money for the big company offerings. As according to China’s mobile phone market quality monitoring report 2014, here’s what the second quarter of phone sales looked like:

  • Samsung 13.5% (Dropping from 15.4% in Q1)
  • Millet 10.8%
  • Lenovo 10.7%
  • Huawei 8.3%
  • Apple 6.9%

Although Samsung is still sitting at the top, they’re on a steady decline – dropping 1.9% from Q1 to Q2 alone. Samsung’s original market dominance is said to be due to their wide range of phone offerings – trying to supply many different models suitable for consumers of various pay grades and needs. However, this adds a premium cost to their whole product line, especially when they’re the number two spender in the world for research and development, as we reported yesterday.

Apparently their constant release of copious smartphone models has been causing a large amount of friction in local Samsung offices, constantly trying to compete with Chinese-Domestic brands like Millet but being frustratingly unable to do so due to the locals low-overhead and domestic dominance. We will continue to report on the seemingly-broken Chinese smart phone market as the story develops.

Image courtesy of TechMac

Sony Mobile China in Turmoil

Recent times have seen Sony’s Chinese Mobile branch go through a large amount of employee lay-offs and follow a similar suit to Samsung in losing ground to Chinese-based companies.

This news doesn’t come as a large shock, we’ve reported recently of Chinese-domestic brands like Millet selling 1.62 million phones over a non-stop 72 hour period, alongside news of the whole Chinese Mobile market being in a significant decline.

The main issue that these companies are facing is said to be due to their ‘premium’ pricing, as is seen through most big business offerings (see: Apple). The public are now seemingly refusing to spend the extra few hundred dollars to buy the big-brand’s latest tech, choosing to go for the much cheaper domestic option instead. As according to Chinese-based website MyDrivers however, this is largely Sony’s fault – claiming that these external competitors only helped accelerate their decline.

Alongside issues with their tight marketing budget, Sony is said to be going about pushing their phones in the wrong way. We’ve seen reports that Sony phone counters have disappeared in many main Chinese cities, they’ve been also expressing a lack of appreciation for the social media market and providing a lesser product mobile to their competitors. Sony have been said to believe their products will ‘sell themselves’ which, given the information you’re currently reading, is not true- they’re not Apple.

MyDrivers has also claimed that the local service for Sony’s tech offerings was poorly handled. Free applications given to Western consumers are often blocked by the high-security Chinese government, making the ‘premium’ purchase price for an Xperia Z mean that much less. Alongside this, there has been reports of major internal fighting within the Chinese company branch – all of this amounting for a poor sales showing year on year.

One other major issue that was pointed out is the pricing issues that Sony experienced with their Xperia Z. Being released at 4,999 yuan ($815 US), Sony decided to cut their price majorly after just one month down to 4,299 yuan ($700 US) and a further drop to 3699 yuan ($600 US) was seen just 30 days later. The issue here is that it cheapens Sony’s image – Can you imagine how mad you would be, purchasing a product on release for $815 US, only for it to be retailing for $200 US less in just 60 days time?

Sony is not giving up the fight for the Chinese market, we will report as the story develops.

Image courtesy of Chiphell

Confusing Assassin’s Creed: Unity GPU Recommendations and Optimising Issues

As we’re inundated with comments about Assassins Creed: Unity barely performing above 50 FPS on low settings throughout higher end graphic card offerings from NVIDIA and AMD, we’ve taken some time out to look at NVIDIA’s recommendations as to what exactly you should purchase to run Ubisoft’s latest game.

Take a look at this table and explanation below, it mentions that Unity has some pretty demanding system requirements (we wrote about it pre-release) and suggests exactly what you should expect to run to reach smooth frame-rates at full HD – 1920 x 1080 resolution.

Now we must admit, aiming for 40 FPS is pretty poor – we suggest you should be looking at around 120 FPS minimum on any game to have a fully smooth experience. But according to this table, you should be looking at a rather nice experience running your budget grade GTX 780 Ti which will set you back a pocket change amount of $570 US in today’s market. Obviously we’re being sarcastic in this remark, and it leaves us thinking if Ubisoft spent enough time optimizing their game.

Looking at the plethora of posts on Reddits PC Master Race shows that even given these minimum system requirements, the game still isn’t properly functional. Below you can see Reddit user ElliotCarter94 using his R9 290 card coupled with a i5 3570k running at 3.8GHz, only managing to achieve 39 FPS on a 640 x 480 resolution set at the lowest graphic quality.

This is coupled with other users claiming 47-52 FPS when utilizing their GTX 760’s on low settings, among other issues of console wording being unchanged when Ubisoft went through through the process of porting it to PC.

Furthermore, if you take a quick look at NVIDIA’s apparent amazing comparisons when comparing high and low settings within Unity, they provide two total comparisons set in different environments, set to display the major difference between running high or low settings. You can see example one here, and example two here. If you look closely, you’ll find that there’s basically no difference at all – what’s up with that? On top of this fact, NVIDIA are offering free Assassins Creed: Unity copies with some of their graphic cards, which begs the question – why are they offering a game which the card wont run?

Please don’t let it end like this Ubisoft, they’ve made some great games in the past – but as of recent times, they’ve really proven that they are out of touch with the community and are seemingly dragging NVIDIA down with them.

We are currently working on securing a PR contact for Ubisoft – we will continue to report as soon this happens or as the story develops.

Cover image courtesy of eTeknix

Sony Xperia Creative Director Leaves, Sony in Turmoil

Creative leader Kirchiro Kurozumi has called it quits, leaving large-name tech Company Sony to pursue a slightly different career in Japanese telecommunications and Internet corporation SoftBank.

This is especially bad timing for Sony, as they’re currently transitioning through a current re-design of their whole smartphone strategy. Kurozumi was responsible for overseeing the product planning for Sony’s Xperia phone series and is said to be carrying out a similar role now in SoftBank’s Mobile department. After his departure one month ago, reports began to immediately surface of Sony’s current turmoil in the form of sales figures.

The Financial Times has reported that Sony’s market performance was already suffering before this loss, as they’re expected to lower their annual smartphone sales target again at the end of October; this will mark the second time they’ve done so this year. We’ve also learned that Sony will be removing their line of low to mid range phones in the Chinese market, but they will not confirm this statement.

Suppliers aren’t too happy either – Sony has reportedly held a meeting with them with no said plans to cut back production, but then announcing a roll-back in production a few hours later. A Japanese supplier has added “We’ve set a sales forecast for Sony phones that is more conservative than what the company told us,”.

All in all, this news isn’t looking too good for Sony’s mobile branch – here’s hoping they can get someone on board to steer them in the right direction. We’ve seen plenty of good products out of them in the past, it’s only a matter of time before something new comes out to tackle the large beasts such as Apple, HTC and Samsung.

Image courtesy of Poder pda

PiPO Windows 8.1 Tablet to Cost only $82 USD

Today, domestic tablet manufacturer PiPO has announced they will be launching some high quality and low-costing Windows tablets into the market. They’ve released the Work-W4 8-inch tablet, which is said to be debuting at just $82 USD (499 yuan). Pictured above is only the prototype model, but the final product is said to end up very similar in design and functionality.

We’ve seen an increase in the ‘cheap’ domestic tablet market recently, what are your personal views on it? Having neither an allegiance to Android or Apple myself, I tend to be the kind of consumer who sticks with the ‘mainstream’ opting to get myself a Nexus 7 to try out. Or maybe you’re the kind that thinks tablets aren’t needed in this day and age with phones like the Samsung Galaxy 5 and iPhone 6 plus offering large enough screens, even before you transverse into the ‘note’ market.

As for specifications, the Work-W4 is said to offer:

● 1280 x 800 IPS LCD screen sitting at 8.0 inches in size
● Bay Trail-T 3735F Intel quad-core processors
● 1GB RAM
● 16GB built-in storage
● front and rear camera
● 4500mAh battery

Many end users are making immediate comments about the low amount of RAM being supplied, which could certainly create some lag issues in the final design.

Image courtesy of Chiphell

‘Exciting New Announcement’ by Google to Hit India September 15th

Invites have started arriving for a special Google event set to take place in India on the 15th of September – this marks the possible launch of their ‘Android One’ certified devices.

Although we know what the events purpose is, we’re unsure where  and what exactly is going on. NDTV has reported on the actual date of the event and rough starting time and this is all we have to go off.

Google have said they will release “More details closer to the date!”, but speculation points towards a launch of the aforementioned Android One devices. Originally uncovered in June at Google I/O, these devices were announced in partnership with Karbonn, Micromax and Spice. With these companies being based in India, the launch location starts to make perfect sense.

Googles Android One devices are said to reach a new pinnacle in mobile technology, providing consumers with a sub-$100 low-cost alternative running pure Android.

Image courtesy of NDTV