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AMD Radeon 6700 XT Review: A Great GPU at a Tough Price

Earlier this week, we examined the Radeon RX 6700 XT’s IPC and power consumption improvements against its predecessor, the RDA-based 5700 XT. Our tests revealed that the Radeon 6700 XT is significantly more power-efficient than the Radeon 5700 XT when both cards are measured at 1.85GHz. Now we’re taking a fuller look at the RX 6700 XT as compared with the RTX 3070, as well as Nvidia’s previous-generation RTX 2080 and the 5700 XT.

The 6700 XT is based on the Navi 22 GPU core. Its performance against the 5700 XT has been of particular interest, as it’s a near-identical replacement for that GPU as far as core resource allocation. Our tests earlier this week showed that RDNA2 is only slightly faster than RDNA when measured clock-for-clock, but that AMD’s L3 cache and smaller memory bus have paid huge dividends in power efficiency. Here’s how the 6700 XT stacks up against the 5700 XT, as well as the competition from Team Green:

The relationship between the RTX 2080 and RTX 3070 (mostly) mirrors the relationship between the RX 5700 XT and 6700 XT. The RTX 3070 has far more cores than the RTX 2080, and its tensor core and ray tracing performance are higher overall. But the two GPUs share the same number of texture mapping units, render outputs, and ray tracing cores. Memory bandwidth on both GPUs is the same at 448GB/s, they run at nearly identical clock speeds, and they both have 8GB frame buffers.

AMD’s $ 479 positioning on the RX 6700 XT looks pretty optimistic at first glance. GPUs from different families can’t be directly compared on the basis of core counts, ROPs, or TMUs, but more of these things still tends to be better, and the RTX 3070 packs more of everything the RX 6700 XT has to offer (except VRAM and clock). The base clock of 2325MHz on the 6700 XT is no less than 1.54x faster than the base clock on the RTX 3070, and the 6700 XT offers 12GB of RAM, compared with just 8GB on other cards. We’ll run some tests today aimed at testing how much this additional VRAM matters.

Our RTX 3070 GPU is an MSI Gaming X Trio — we reviewed this card last year if you’re looking for more model-specific information.

Test Setup and Configuration

We’re switching to a new graphing engine here at ExtremeTech, so let us know what you think of the new design when you check it out below. The graph below shows our results for four video cards. You can select or de-select which cards you want to see by clicking on the color buttons next to each card.

Game results were combined for the three Total War: Troy benchmark maps (Battle, Campaign, and Siege), leading to the “Combined” score. Similarly, results from Hitman 2’s Miami and Mumbai maps were averaged to produce a single result. Gaps between the cards in these maps were proportional and this averaging does not distort the overall comparison between the three cards in those titles.

This presentation method prevents us from giving per-game detail settings in the graph body, so we’ll cover those below:

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation: Crazy Detail, DX12.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins: Ultra Detail, DX11.

Borderlands 3
: Ultra detail, DX12

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
: Very High Detail, 4x MSAA, DX12

Far Cry 5
: Ultra Detail, High Detail Textures enabled, DX11.

Godfall (RT-only): We only tested Godfall with ray tracing enabled, in Epic Detail. Grats to the Godfall developers for coming up with a credible name for a preset above “Ultra” that isn’t “Extreme.”

Hitman 2 Combined
: Ultra detail, but performance measured by “GPU” frame rate reported via the benchmarking tool. This maintains continuity with the older Hitman results, which were reported the same way. Miami and Mumbai test results combined. Tested in DX12.

Metro Exodus
: Tested at Extreme Detail, with Hairworks and Advanced Physics disabled. Extreme Detail activates 2xSSAA, effectively rendering the game at 4K, 5K, and 8K when testing 1080p, 1440p, and 4K. Tested in DX12.

Metro Exodus (RT): Ultra Detail, with Ultra ray tracing enabled. The only difference between Ultra and Extreme Detail in Metro Exodus is that Extreme enables 2x SSAA, effectively rendering the game at double the resolution. Hairworks and Advanced physics disabled.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider
: Tested at High Detail, with SMAATx2 enabled. Uses DX12.

Strange Brigade
: Ultra Detail, Vulkan.

Total War: Troy Combined
: Ultra detail, DX12.

Total War: Warhammer II
: Ultra detail, Skaven benchmark, DX12.

Watch Dogs Legion (RT-Only): Tested on Ultra detail with ultra ray tracing enabled and disabled.

Our test settings are aggressive and put a heavy load on GPUs, especially Metro Exodus and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Testing these GPUs at non-playable speeds can help expose differences in the underlying architectures.

All games were tested using an AMD Ryzen 9 5900X on an MSI X570 Godlike equipped with 32GB of DDR4-3200 RAM. AMD’s Ryzen 6700 XT launch driver was used to test both the 5700 XT and 6700 XT. AMD’s launch Radeon RX 6700 XT driver was used for all AMD GPUs and Nvidia’s 461.92 driver handled NV cards. Smart Access Memory / Resizable BAR was enabled for the Radeon 6700 XT but disabled for the 5700 XT, RTX 2080, and RTX 3070.

Performance Results and Analysis

We’ll talk about rasterization results first, then switch over and chat on ray tracing.

In 1080p, in aggregate, the RTX 2080 is 15 percent faster than the RX 5700 XT and the 6700 XT is 7 percent faster than the RTX 2080. The RTX 3070, in turn, is 11 percent faster than the RX 6700 XT. AMD refers to the 6700 XT as an enthusiast’s 1440p GPU and the data once again bears out this positioning — in 1440p the 6700 XT widens its lead over Turing to 14 percent. The RTX 3070 is still faster overall, but by just 6 percent. The gaps widen again in 4K, with the RTX 2080 winning over 5700 XT by 20 percent, 6700 XT once again 1.07x faster than the RTX 2080, and the RTX 3070 beating the 6700 XT by 1.16x.

There are some benchmarks where the 6700 XT pulls ahead of the 5700 XT by a larger-than-expected margin in 1440p, including Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation, Shadows of the Tomb Raider, Strange Brigade, and Total War Troy, particularly TWT. Total War Troy is an interesting example of a game that responds extremely well to AMD’s L3 cache in one specific resolution. Performance craters in 4K, but it craters for both AMD GPUs.

Our ray tracing results look much as we’d expect, but the 4K data, specifically, is worth your attention:

There’s some evidence to suggest that Nvidia’s decision to equip the RTX 3070 with just 8GB of VRAM really could be a limiting factor in games going forward. There’s evidence of this in both Godfall and Watch Dogs Legion, particularly WDL.

1080p and 1440p show similar patterns of performance between the three cards. Ultra detail is extraordinarily hard on both the RTX 2080 and the 6700 XT, with or without ray tracing enabled. Once we hit 4K, however, things change. Both the RTX 2080 and 3080 fall off a cliff in Godfall, where the RX 6700 XT outperforms them by over 3x.

In Watch Dogs Legion, the RTX 3070 is no less than 2.91x faster than the 6700 XT in 1440p, but loses to it in 4K. While none of the GPUs turns in a playable frame rate, the wholesale collapse of the Nvidia cards at high resolution is indicative of one thing: an insufficient VRAM buffer.

This is concerning in the case of the RTX 3070, which really ought to have enough horsepower to step up to 4K with ray tracing enabled, but can’t do so in titles you can already buy today. While overall ray tracing performance on the RTX 3070 is higher than the 6700 XT in both 1080p and 1440p (and by a significant margin), the RX 6700 XT makes a potent argument in favor of its own 12GB VRAM buffer at 4K and scores a few points in the process.

Power Consumption

Power consumption was measured in Metro Exodus and Metro Last Light Redux on the third loop of a three-benchmark run. I threw Last Light Redux back into the mix when I noticed Exodus stressed the 5700 XT a bit differently. I’ve also shown the low-power result from running the Radeon 6700 XT at 1.85GHz (to match the 5700 XT). We discussed these results more in our IPC comparison earlier this week.

There’s a much more efficient chip hiding inside the 6700 XT. Matched clock for clock against the 5700 XT, the 6700 XT is quite power efficient. At 1.85GHz, it’s actually more efficient in terms of power consumption per frame drawn than the RTX 3070. Cranking up the clock to compete with Nvidia reduces the 6700 XT’s efficiency, and the RTX 3070 is more efficient when both GPUs are run at full speed.

Compared with the 5700 XT, the 6700 XT offers a 1.20x increase in performance in Exodus at a slight increase in power consumption. This is a bit worse than its 1440p performance overall, where it offers 1.34x better performance than the 5700 XT. This is a very significant degree of uplift for a GPU that’s a near-mirror of its predecessor, and it speaks to AMD’s work optimizing RDNA2’s clock scheme and overall efficiency.

Here’s one more tidbit. The Radeon VII (not shown) hits around 1.8GHz maximum and draws about 402W in Metro Last Light. The 5700 XT pulls about 350W in this test at a 1.85GHz clock, while the 6700 XT draws 267W at 1.85GHz. Performance between all three GPUs is similar at this clock, with the 6700 XT leading modestly. This means AMD has drawn down its 7nm power consumption from 402W at the launch of Radeon VII to a hypothetical 267W today, at least in this specific test. That data point doesn’t have any direct bearing on our review, since the Radeon 6700 XT is not a 1.85GHz card, but it helps illustrate the long arc of AMD’s RDNA2 efficiency gains.

Conclusion

The 6700 XT has some solid strong points. AMD’s efforts to bring some Ryzen DNA to RDNA2 have clearly paid off. There is no sign of untoward memory bandwidth pressure on the 6700 XT except in Metro Exodus and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided — two titles we benchmark in configurations that put egregious pressure on memory bandwidth. There’s no sign of a problem in any title at settings that yield playable frame rates. AMD may be marketing this GPU as a 1440p solution, but it’s perfectly capable of driving 4K frame rates.

If you read other reviews around the net, you’ll find that the relative gap between the 6700 XT and RTX 3070 ranges from 0 – 10 percent depending on which titles reviewers’ tested. In our test suite, the 6700 XT never quite matches the performance of the RTX 3070, even at its target 1440p resolution. The RTX 3070 theoretically costs just 4 percent more than the 6700 XT and it’s more than 4 percent faster, in every resolution.

Normally, this would be an open-and-shut case, but the high-end ray tracing hit we saw from both the RTX 2080 and RTX 3070 gives us pause. AMD recommends the 6700 XT be used for 1080p ray tracing, so it’s not clear how much ray tracing fans will be doing in 4K anyway. But in some circumstances, the 8GB buffers on the RTX 3070 and RTX 2080 are not large enough for ultra detail settings with RT ladled on top.

The strongest argument in favor of the 6700 XT is the GPU’s 12GB VRAM buffer. The additional VRAM capacity clearly buffers the 6700 XT in Godfall at 4K in a way that isn’t explained by it being an AMD-friendly title, and it allows the 6700 XT to eke out a narrow win in Watch Dogs Legion after losing the first two resolutions. It is possible that the 6700 XT is a rare example of a GPU whose larger VRAM capacity will deliver meaningfully better scaling down the line when cards with less VRAM are forced to disable features like ray tracing at lower resolutions.

I’m really hoping that the next Big Navi GPUs AMD announces find a way to take advantage of the card’s power efficiency rather than relying so heavily on clock. If the Radeon 6700 follows the 5700’s lead, it’ll feature 36 CUs instead of 40 and a reduced clock. It would be nice to see AMD keep more CUs at lower clocks to play up the power consumption angle; wider, slower GPUs tend to be more power-efficient than narrower, higher-clocked GPUs.

If the market were currently normal, I’d argue that the RTX 3070 is the better value if you replace your GPU fairly often or game at 1440p and below, while the 6700 XT might be a better option if you’re concerned about the VRAM issue longer-term. I always tend to weight the here-and-now more heavily than the long-term future of any feature, and the RTX 3070 offers generally faster performance for less than the additional cost of the card in both ray tracing and rasterization.

A $ 30-$ 50 price cut would do the 6700 XT a world of good. This is closer to where the card ought to be priced, given its overall competitive performance against the RTX 3070. At $ 429, the 6700 XT would be an easy recommendation for anyone wanting to save a bit of cash over the RTX 3070 or to step up from an older AMD or Nvidia GPU.

But market prices aren’t normal and they aren’t expected to be normal until 2022, making this talk of hypothetical price comparisons a bit silly. The actual best GPU you can buy right now is the GPU you can get for something approaching MSRP, the Radeon 6700 XT very much included. With six-year-old cards like the R9 390X going for over $ 400 on eBay, a $ 479 price tag on this latest GPU, should you ever see one, is an absolute steal.

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GTX 1050 Ti Rides Again: 2016 Budget GPU Returns With Zero Improvements, Elevated Price

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At least some manufacturers have followed through on putting old GPUs back on the market again. Japanese vendor Kuroutoshikou has restarted sales of the GTX 1050 Ti, with a 4GB card retailing for 22,800 yen, or roughly $ 200. The card in question, the GF-GTX1050Ti-E4GB / SF / P2, originally sold for $ 140 when the GTX 1050 Ti launched in late 2016.

There are absolutely no new features, capabilities, or functions to report regarding the new card, which is reportedly manufactured by Palit. The GTX 1050 Ti offers gamers a chance to return to the halcyon days of 2016, when we were also (coincidentally) discussing an ongoing GPU shortage.

At the time, however, we were only chewing on AMD and Nvidia for launching cards they couldn’t ship for ordinary reasons, like low yields. Lower-end cards that were launching at the time, such as the RX 460 and GTX 1050 / 1050 Ti, were easier to find than their higher-end counterparts.

Last year, AMD and Nvidia offered tentative hope that the GPU market might stabilize as Q1 2021 drew to a close. Q1 2021 is officially drawing to a close, so take a moment to enjoy some of the better GPU deals you can currently purchase at Newegg. To those of you who don’t feel like clicking, a screenshot of current GTX 1050 Ti prices should tell the story well enough:

At $ 200, the Palit-built GTX 1050 Ti cards above would actually be a great value if they came to the US, where the cheapest card is currently $ 262. Under ordinary circumstances, we might expect high 1050 Ti prices at this point in time simply because the card is no longer manufactured, but that’s not what’s driving up prices. Even GPUs like the GeForce GT 1030, introduced at $ 80, are now selling for $ 140+.

Right now, your best bet for an economical graphics solution is to rely on CPU-based graphics. This is easier on Intel CPUs than AMD, because Intel offers an integrated GPU on all non-F CPUs, while AMD only offers a handful of APUs, and none equipped with either the Zen 2 or Zen 3 CPU architectures. There are no parts in-market currently selling at anything resemblant of a reasonable price and estimates for when market prices might approach a reasonable range from the end of Q2 to Q1 2022. We’re still hoping for the earlier part of that range, but no bets.

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Nvidia Doubles GeForce Now Subscription Price to $10 Per Month

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Nvidia has been trying to make cloud gaming workable longer than any of the other major players. Its current GeForce Now platform has gone through a few incarnations, and the current one is changing in a way subscribers won’t like much. Nvidia is increasing the paid tier from $ 5 per month to $ 10. This brings it more in-line with other streaming platforms, but the price was Nvidia’s big advantage until now. 

GeForce Now started its life in 2013 as Nvidia Grid, which was available only on Nvidia’s Shield Android handheld. Nvidia eventually moved to a storefront model like Google Stadia uses today, but it was unable to convince gamers to buy games and pay for a monthly service. Today’s GeForce Now is bring-your-own-games, but you’ll need a monthly subscription to have a good experience. 

Today’s changes don’t eliminate the free tier of GeForce Now — it’s just as frustrating as it was before. If you don’t pay for priority access, it can take time to get space on a server to run your game, and sessions are limited to an hour. With Priority (previously called Founders), you can get playing immediately, and sessions are valid for up to six hours. A subscription also enables ray tracing in supported games. 

The $ 5 per month pricing was a great deal, particularly if you already have a large library of games. GeForce Now connects to Steam, Epic, and GOG to mirror your games in the cloud, and it’s added support for a good number of titles. There are hundreds of compatible GeForce Now games, whereas Stadia only has about 100. Microsoft’s xCloud does a little better by the numbers, but it’s a pure subscription model that drops games on occasion. 

Nvidia is only charging the new $ 10 monthly fee to new subscribers. Unfortunately, if you’re reading this and have not subscribed, it’s too late to get in on the grandfathered price. Founders who cancel will only be able to re-subscribe at the higher $ 10 rate. 

In addition to the pricing change, Nvidia has announced it’s bringing new data centers online in Phoenix, Arizona and Montreal, Canada. This should help keep latency low for anyone in these general regions. The service is also now available in Turkey, and it will expand to Saudi Arabia and Australia soon.

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Silver price surges amid investor frenzy — but Reddit says it isn’t them

Silver broke above $ 30 US an ounce for the first time since 2013 on Monday, the latest asset to see a pop in a volatile few weeks on markets.

Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist with SIA Wealth Management in Toronto, said silver has apparently become the next asset to get caught up in the GameStop frenzy.

“The most significant move this morning has been in silver, which was a trending topic in the media and on Reddit over the weekend with a lot of chatter (both for and against) that it could be the next market to become active in the wake of GameStop’s big move last week,” he said. 

A Reddit group known as WallStreetBets, managed to help drive up the price of Gamestop shares 1,600 per cent in the past two weeks, costing short sellers billions on the process.

Spot silver leapt more than 11 per cent in London to $ 30.03 an ounce and was on track for its biggest one-day rise since 2008, taking gains to about 19 per cent since last Wednesday.

The jump set off a rally in silver-mining stocks from Sydney to London.

The action in silver, following thousands of Reddit posts and hundreds of YouTube videos suggests that a rise in the physical price could hurt large investors with bearish bets, also marks a foray into a much bigger and more liquid market than individual stocks.

However, within the Reddit forum WallStreetBets, some members were adamant targeting silver is not their next strategy. They said outsiders are trying to pump the stock, and it appears to be working. 

Analysts who monitor silver markets say there is more to the story than small investors rushing in.

“The asset is traded by a variety of institutional players and it is very likely that those parties have joined the move to push the metal higher,” wrote Boris Schlossberg of BK Asset Management.


On Twitter, #silversqueeze was trending as investors turned their attention to silver, but some members of the WallStreetBets forum on Reddit insisted this was not their latest strategy. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

“I would look at the silver rally the same way as I would the GameStop saga — from the point of view of market stability, for now it’s not an immediate concern, but if we see sharp moves, we could see some deleveraging in markets,” said Antoine Bouvet, a rates strategist at ING.

“This reducing of risk through deleveraging could potentially boost demand for bonds if it is causing excess volatility.”

In the first signs of deleveraging, Goldman Sachs said the amount of position-covering last week by U.S. hedge funds, buying and selling, was the highest since the financial crisis more than a decade ago.

Nevertheless, their market exposure to stocks remains near record levels, the investment bank warned.

Rise of new trading platforms

The rush to silver and GameStop-like stocks has been testing limitations in newer trading platforms and processing venues, frustrating retail traders who are unable to feed their hunger to buy and sell more frequently.

The feverish silver-buying has hit a glitch, with large U.S. broker Apmex warning of processing delays while it secures more bullion. The Money Metals online exchange suspended trade until mid-morning Monday.

Trading volumes in small miners’ stocks in Australia were unprecedented and jumps in some exploration firms, which do not actually produce silver, topped 90 per cent.

Similar hiccups were seen in equities last week. GameStop, AMC and a few other volatile stocks saw temporary buying restrictions in trading apps like Robinhood, as frenzied buying led to trading apps putting on curbs.

“The Reddit crowd has turned its sights on a bigger whale in terms of trying to catalyze something of a short squeeze in the silver market,” said Kyle Rodda, an analyst at brokerage IG Markets in Melbourne.

“This is their big, bold Moby Dick moment.”


Stock in video game retailer GameStop saw huge increases last week as a cadre of retail investors mobilized to buy it up. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Another ‘short squeeze’

The popularity of dabbling in stock markets has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic as volatility, stimulus checks and lockdowns have driven account openings and investment.

The craze hit fever pitch last week when the GameStop pile-on resulted in a “short squeeze,” turning price gains stratospheric as hedge funds with bets against the stock desperately bought it at high prices to close their positions.

Now it is silver’s turn and once again the scale of buying is catching the professionals by surprise.

Online discussions turned to silver late last week as Reddit posts suggested higher prices could hurt banks with large short positions, and that buying easy-to-access exchange-traded silver funds could quickly ramp up the metal’s value.

Retail traders poured a record $ 39.1 million Cdn into Australian ETF Securities’ Physical Silver fund by the afternoon. A silver ETF in Japan surged 11 per cent.

So far, the Redditors are rolling on. Several of the renegade traders are millionaires on paper and their hedge fund adversaries are nursing their wounds. Melvin Capital, which bet against GameStop, lost 53 per cent on its portfolio in January.


The trading app Robinhood has exploded in popularity this year by offering free trading, fuelling a boom in retail investor activity. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Robinhood, the Redditors’ main broker, has also backed down and lifted some of the buying restrictions it imposed last week, although limits remain on eight companies, including GameStop, AMC Entertainment and BlackBerry.

However, with regulators circling both Robinhood and the Redditors’ forums, the battle is far from over.

“I’ll tell you one thing, [I] absolute guarantee this ends in tears,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets (Australia). “I just don’t know when.” 

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Ubisoft: No Price Increases For AAA Games (This Year), Better Conduct

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Ubisoft has pledged to keep the price of its upcoming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X games aligned with the current $ 59.99 structure we’ve had since the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 launched back in 2005 and 2006. The company’s promise stands in contrast to 2K, which recently announced higher prices for next-generation games and now offers the ability to buy a title for both Xbox One and Xbox Series X in a two-package deal for $ 99.99.

“For the Christmas games, we plan to come [out] with the same price as the previous generation of consoles,” Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said on a conference call. “That’s what we’re focused on at the moment.”

When attendees asked for additional information, like whether this would also apply to the upcoming Far Cry 6, or if the deal would hold through 2021, Guillemot demurred. “For the $ 60 price, we are concentrating on the Christmas releases. Those games will launch at $ 60.”

Meanwhile…

Normally I don’t fuse disparate story topics together, but there’s no way to currently discuss Ubisoft without also discussing the torrent of allegations currently unleashed against the company. In the same call in which he discussed game pricing, Guillemot also declared the company was “committed to implementing profound changes across the company to improve and strengthen our workplace culture.”

A number of former and current UbiSoft employees came forward in late June alleging consistent abusive behavior as well as sexual misconduct. On Wednesday, Ubisoft fired its PR director, Stone Chin, for failure “to uphold the company’s code of conduct over the course of my career at the company.” Ubisoft co-founder Maxime Béland was fired for allegedly choking a female employee at a work party. Another powerful Ubisoft employee, Tommy François, has been placed on disciplinary leave pending an investigation into his alleged misconduct.

Kotaku has more details on the allegations and investigations if you’re curious, but they’re directly pertinent to Ubisoft’s long-term future and the short-term launch schedule for its various titles. A number of the individuals implicated in the allegations sit at the top of the company. Ubisoft, it should be noted, doesn’t have the best track record with women or female representation in general. The company pushed back against the idea of having a woman star in an Assassin’s Creed game on a number of occasions. Back in 2014, Ubisoft developers claimed doing so would have doubled the amount of work and that the issue wasn’t relevant. Now we know that multiple high-ranking executives pushed back against the idea of a female lead because “Women don’t sell.

Sarah Kerrigan, Bayonetta, Lara Croft, and Ellie, from the Last of Us 2. LoU2 is one of the fastest-selling, highest-earning PlayStation 4 games of all time. So…who wants to tell him?

In any event, Ubisoft may have decided it didn’t need to take fire for both its toxic culture and its decision to raise prices simultaneously, or the company may simply be acting cautiously in the COVID-19 pandemic and not wanting to rock the boat by raising prices. This move implies we’ll have some companies offering $ 69.99 price points, some at $ 59.99, and some using their own bundles like 2K. We don’t normally get this much experimentation in the gaming market with pricing strategies, so this should actually be rather interesting.

Feature image from Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. While Eivor is canonically female with a gender-swapped option for players, much of the art thus far has featured the male version of the character. If Guillemot is serious about changing the culture at Ubisoft, I can think of a few really basic ways to start. 

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Microsoft May Undercut Sony’s PS5 Price by $100 With Xbox Series X

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We’re at the dawn of a new game console generation, and both Sony and Microsoft are hoping to come out of the gate with strong sales. However, numerous reports claim that Sony is having trouble keeping the PlayStation 5’s price down, and now some industry veterans think they’ve figured out Microsoft’s strategy. The company may just be waiting for Sony to announce a price so it can undercut the PS5 by a noteworthy amount

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter and former EA and Microsoft executive Peter Moore appeared on a podcast recently to talk about the game industry. The pair talked about console launch strategy with particular emphasis on how much the hardware will cost. Neither Microsoft nor Sony have talked about pricing, but numerous reports claim that Sony’s cost to manufacture the PS5 is much higher than previous consoles. 

Both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 will rely on an eight-core, 16-thread AMD processor and an RDNA 2 GPU. Sony’s implementation is a bit different with support for flexible clock speeds and Adaptive Voltage and Frequency Scaling that sends unused power from the CPU to GPU. It also has a faster custom storage platform. Sony is reportedly looking at around $ 470 to manufacture each console, so much that it has allegedly opted to scale back the number of units it plans to manufacture for launch. 

Sony PS5 DualSense. The console it goes with is still a mystery.

It’s not unusual for companies to make little to no money on game console hardware when new generations launch — it’s all about getting people locked into a platform for the next five years so they’ll buy games, controllers, and online services. Pachter noted that Sony looks to be targeting $ 500 for a launch price, but Microsoft has more cash on hand than Sony. It could afford to lose money on the first 10 million units. 

So, Microsoft might be ready with a price, but it’s waiting on Sony to announce that $ 500 price tag. Then, Microsoft will very publicly undercut Sony by as much as $ 100. A $ 400 price tag would make the Xbox Series X a much more attractive purchase this holiday season, and that could give Microsoft a big advantage going into this new console era. Microsoft will also be able to lean heavily on its growing Game Pass subscription service and the xCloud game streaming platform.

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‘Price Is Right’ Announcer George Gray in Stable Condition After Suffering Multiple Heart Attacks

‘Price Is Right’ Announcer George Gray in Stable Condition After Suffering Multiple Heart Attacks | Entertainment Tonight

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Sony Scaling Back PlayStation 5 Production Over Price, Not Coronavirus

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Sony may be reducing the number of PlayStation 5s that it intends to sell this year, thanks to a mixture of price concerns and COVID-19. The PlayStation 5 is widely expected to cost more than its predecessor, with estimates of $ 499 to $ 549 not being uncommon. It’s worth noting that the PlayStation 4’s $ 400 launch price in 2013 is ~$ 442 in 2020 when accounting for inflation. A $ 500 PS5 wouldn’t actually be all that much more expensive than the launch price of the PS4. For comparison, the PlayStation 3 launched at $ 640 and $ 767 in 2020 dollars ($ 499 and $ 599 in 2006 dollars). Sony expects the PS5’s price to be higher at launch thanks to expensive internal components, Bloomberg reports, and as a result, the company will produce “far fewer” units than with the PS4.

As for COVID-19, the ongoing pandemic has reportedly changed Sony’s marketing plans for the new console, but not its production figures.

Why Are Manufacturers Moving Back Towards More Expensive Hardware?

One of the big differences between this generation and the last is the way both Sony and Microsoft are approaching their hardware loadouts. While we don’t know how much either console will cost, both companies have aggressively pushed the envelope in terms of CPU and GPU performance.

The PS4 and Xbox One used a capable but ultimately lower-end CPU core intended for modest laptops and paired it with an already in-market GPU core in what was, at most, a midrange PC GPU configuration. One of the most common complaints about both systems, however, was that they didn’t offer as much of an improvement compared with previous consoles as expected. The Xbox One X and PS4 Pro were mid-cycle refreshes intended to solve this problem. But, having introduced them, the two companies will need to both demonstrate a significant-enough performance improvement with the PS5 and XSX to make them worthwhile upgrades.

Sony PS5 DualSense

Much will depend on whether Sony and Microsoft were willing to start shipping console hardware at a loss again, but I suspect part of the argument for selling more expensive hardware this generation is that the hardware itself is far more capable. Day One backward compatibility is a fairly rare feature. Sony offered it with the PS2 and the initial run of PS3 systems, but neither the Xbox One nor the PS4 were immediately compatible with their predecessors. This time, that’s going to be different. The Xbox One and PlayStation 5 will both play their predecessors’ games, which means the two companies may feel more comfortable asking gamers to pony up for new hardware.

This is a subtle point, but an important one. If I built a new gaming PC tomorrow, it would still run every game I already own, presumably at better detail levels and resolutions than I could previously achieve. Previous console launches have not offered this kind of compatibility regularly enough for gamers to expect it as a baked-in feature, but console players may feel more comfortable shucking out higher prices for hardware if they know it’s compatible with the library of software they already own.

I don’t envy Sony or Microsoft the difficulty of planning a console launch this year. While it’s true that gaming is one of the only markets seeing robust engagement right now, it’s not at all clear what the global economy will be doing in the back half of the year. But pushing back launches is also fraught with peril, because the software developers who are building launch titles for the PS5 and Xbox Series X need to recoup those investments in order to stay in business. Pushing the launches back 6-12 months might be fine from Sony and Microsoft’s perspective, but their various studio partners might not be able to absorb the financial hit. Plenty of game studios have gone out of business when they couldn’t ship a game on time for reasons that had nothing to do with a global pandemic.

We don’t know how large these production cuts would be, but the PS4 sold 4.2 million units by the end of 2013 and 5.3 million as of February 8, 2014.

Top image: PS5 render by LetsGoDigital

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Global pact forged to drastically cut oil production to contain price crash

The OPEC cartel and other oil producers agreed Sunday to cut crude production by at least a tenth of global supply — an unprecedented move to stabilize the market.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman all support the deal, which would see global crude output cut by 9.7 million barrels a day, the Kremlin said Sunday.

OPEC confirmed in a release the cuts will begin May 1 and continue until June 30. After that, the countries will keep gradually decreasing curbs on production until April 202. From July until December of this year, output cuts will continue at 7.7 million bpd, and 5.8 million bpd for the 16 months after that.

The so-called OPEC+ countries agreed to have Mexico reduce its daily output by 100,000 barrels only for those two months, which had been a sticking point for the accord. The pact came after a marathon video conference between officials from 23 nations. The group will meet again in June to determine if further actions are needed.

OPEC+ said in a draft statement seen by Reuters effective oil output cuts could amount to more than 20 million bpd, or 20 per cent of global supply, if contributions from non-members, steeper voluntary cuts by some OPEC+ members and strategic stocks purchases were taken into account.

Global measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus have destroyed demand for fuel and driven down oil prices, straining budgets of oil producers. Consumption has dropped by an estimated 30 million bpd.

Trump had threatened OPEC leader Saudi Arabia with oil tariffs and other measures if it did not fix the market’s oversupply problem. Low prices have put the U.S. oil industry, the world’s largest, in severe distress.

Canada hasn’t committed to specific cuts

OPEC+ has said it wanted producers outside the group, such as the United States, Canada, Brazil and Norway, to cut a further five per cent, or five million bpd. 

Canada and Norway had signalled their willingness to cut, but as of Friday, Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan had said Canada had yet to promise any specific production cuts.

Alberta, Canada’s biggest oil-producing region, “has already formerly curtailed 80,000 barrels per day,” O’Regan said.

“This is good. We welcome any news that brings stability to global oil markets,” O’Regan said in an emailed statement to CBC News Sunday.

“The federal government is deeply concerned about oil price instability and the impact on thousands of workers in Canada’s energy sector, and their families. 

“Canada is committed to achieving price certainty and economic stability. We will keep working with provinces, businesses, labour, Indigenous communities and our international partners, including the G20.”

A government source told CBC News Sunday that Canada has not committed to production cuts as that would fall under provincial jurisdiction.

Deal won’t turn market around, economist says

Concordia University economics professor Moshe Lander said while the news should in theory be good for Canadian producers, “the proof is in the pudding.”

“I think that markets in general are usually pretty suspicious of OPEC announcements unless there’s a clear announcement of enforcement and consequences for noncompliance,” he said. “Maybe when markets open on Tuesday you might see oil prices jump a little bit.

“I don’t think that this is going to turn the market around.”

Kevin Birn, an analyst with IHS Markit in Calgary, said though the scale and scope of the deal was unprecedented, it is not a sufficient solution to ongoing demand shock brought on by COVID-19.

“What it will potentially do is stave off the lowest potential price that we could’ve seen,” he said. “Of course, the outcome of this remains to be seen in how well the producers adhere to it themselves, which has always been a traditional problem of any of these deals.”

Additional volumes will still have to come off during this period, Birn said, implying there is still a tough road ahead for producers around the world and in Western Canada.

“I think it’s reasonable that we will see some movement on price coming out of the other side of this when the markets open, some optimism,” he said. “But I would caution being too excited about this. We still have a larger issue.”

The United States, where legislation makes it hard to act in tandem with cartels such as OPEC, said its output would fall steeply by itself this year due to low prices.

Mexico had initially blocked the deal but its president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, had said Friday that he had agreed with Trump that the U.S. will compensate what Mexico cannot add to the proposed cuts.

“The United States will help Mexico along and they’ll reimburse us sometime at later date when they’re prepared to do so,” Trump said at a White House press briefing Friday.

‘Economic conditions continue to worsen’

Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at Cambridge Global Payments in Toronto, said in a release that while the deal was historic, challenges remain — such as the capacity of storage facilities before the deal begins, and questions about what enforcement mechanisms will apply to nations who renege on the agreement. 

“Perhaps most importantly, economic conditions continue to worsen on a global basis, with shutdowns extending, trade flat lining, and unemployment levels surging to historic levels. Demand declines may outpace any production cuts, leaving storage facilities to continue filling,” he wrote.

A 15 per cent cut in supply might not be enough to arrest the global price decline, banks Goldman Sachs and UBS predicted last week, saying Brent prices would fall back to $ 20 US per barrel from $ 32 at the moment, and $ 70 at the start of the year.

As Asian markets reopened Monday local time, West Texas Intermediate crude was trading at $ 22 US per barrel.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said on Twitter Sunday that while there are challenging months ahead, the deal puts the sector on a path to recovery.

“We are glad to see sanity return to global oil markets. As I have said, OPEC+ started the fire, and it was their responsibility to put it out,” he wrote.

A spokesperson for Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage referred CBC News to a Friday statement, saying the minister was cautiously pleased by the deal.

“The agreement to implement production limits by OPEC+ brings global energy producers in line with measures that Alberta has reluctantly taken since January 2019,” she said

“However, demand will return as economies around the globe recover from this pandemic. Life will return to normal. In the interim, we hope that the measures taken by OPEC+ will stabilize the global price of oil and prevent further stress to energy workers in Alberta.”

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