Tech Bytes: April 2022

Welcome to Tech Bytes! In this series, we bring the biggest news hitting the Tech and Gaming fields, getting them into a simple brief for you to quickly catch up on, so you’re up to speed over that dinner and drinks.

It is a slightly slower month for tech news this April — not surprising given the big reveal we’ve had in the three months since 2022 began — but luckily for us, the gaming world picks up some slack with several exciting announcements. See what went down thus far in our Tech Bytes for April 2022.

Sony Expands PlayStation Plus Subscription Service

Tech Bytes April 2022: New PlayStation Plus

PlayStation Plus, the main subscription service for Sony’s console line, is getting a makeover with the introduction of a new tier system that offers various additional benefits if you’re willing to pay a little extra.

This new system has three tiers labelled Essential, Extra, and Premium in ascending cost. Essential is basically the current PlayStation Plus that players are familiar with, offering monthly free games, discounts, cloud storage, and online play. On the other hand, Extra will allow people to access a range of up to 400 PS4 and PS5 titles to download and play; just for a few dollars more monthly. And if you add another few extra bucks to that, you get the Premium tier which adds 240 additional games from the classic PlayStation console line (PS3 [streaming only], PSP, PS2, and PS1).

The Essential tier will retain the same pricing as the current system but the Extra and Premium tiers will increase to S$13.90 and S$15.90, respectively to access those benefits. In addition, countries that don’t have cloud streaming features available in their region will have the option of a Deluxe tier for a lower price which grants the same things as Premium sans PS3 game streaming.

In essence, this new PlayStation Plus is a combination of their other service, PlayStation Now — streamlining them both into one system. There’s also the suggestion that this was created as a way to combat Microsoft’s successful Game Pass service.

No information has been given on what games are on the list for players to take advantage of. Still, PlayStation details that it will be targeting a launch on 23 May starting with Asia (excluding Japan) and followed by Japan, North America, Europe throughout June.

E3 2022 No Longer Happening

Tech Bytes April 2022: E3 2022

Unfortunately, if you’ve been looking forward to E3, you’ll have to wait until next year as this edition has been formally cancelled. 

Initially, it was only announced that a physical event wouldn’t be happening this year, suggesting that the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), organisers of the event, we’re looking to continue using 2021’s virtual format. However, even that won’t be going forward. 

No reason has been given as to why the event has been cancelled, but the ESA does note that it will look to return in 2023 both as a digital and physical experience. 

E3’s reputation has been unfavourable for the past few years, and this year’s cancellation is another dent. We’ll wait to see how 2023 pans out, but the writing is most certainly on the wall for them at the moment.

Samsung’s New 2022 TV and Audio Arrives for Singapore Homes 

Tech Bytes April 2022: Samsung New TV and Soundbars

Samsung is refreshing its TV and Audio lineup for 2022 with an updated set of televisions and soundbars for consumers looking to upgrade their existing home setup.

Their new Neo QLED TVs will look to bring media consumption to the next level for those wanting the best in picture quality. At the top of the line is their 8K series, featuring a Neural Quantum Processor 8K that optimises the viewing experience for users through AI.  The new line also comes with Object Tracking Sound technology and Dolby Atmos to provide a cinema-like experience from the upwards and side-firing speakers.

On the lifestyle end, Samsung’s The Frame line also features updates. The Frame’s highlight is that it can function as a wall painting for your home when its TV functions aren’t in use, and it now boasts a Matte Display that wards off glare, reflections, and fingerprints to appear more like actual paintings. Additionally, Samsung reveals that they are collaborating with National Gallery Singapore to bring a curated selection of artworks by Singaporean and Southeast Asian artists from the Gallery’s collection onto the Samsung Art Store for users to display at home.

On the sound end, several soundbar series will see refreshed designs. For example, the Q Series, headlined by their top range Q990B soundbar with wireless rear speakers, has the Q-Symphony feature, which combines with the TV’s existing speakers to produce a fuller, more harmonic audio experience. It also features Wireless Dolby Atmos connectivity to give an excellent sound performance without additional cables. 

Meanwhile, the Ultra Slim Series presents a slim soundbar with a 39.9mm side profile and only 38mm of height without compromising sound quality and Wireless Dolby Atmos. Finally, their B Series has Adaptive Sound Lite technology that optimises performance based on the content playing and bass boost for those who enjoy heavier tones.

These new devices are available right now, and you can check them out from Samsung’s official website and online store.

Slew of game announcements

Tech Bytes April 2022: Kingdom Hearts 4

While we are still far from the hot period of June and July, where game reveals are aplenty, many exciting announcements have made the news during April.

The first is the reveal that there will be a new Tomb Raider game being made by Crystal Dynamics, who are coming back after leaving the third game in the modern series, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, in the hands of Eidos-Montréal. It was announced when the studio made an appearance in  Epic Games’ State of Unreal presentation, further detailing that it will be using Unreal Engine 5.

Remedy Entertainment also jointly announced with Rockstar Games that they would develop remakes for Max Payne and Max Payne 2, their early cult-favourite titles. They will come as one game, currently labelled as New Max Payne 1&2 Project, and is set to come to PS5, Xbox Series consoles, and PC. It is still early days with it still being in concept development stage, but Rockstar Games does confirm that they will be financing the game to the same level as Remedy’s other AAA offerings, so it will be a massive game.

A new Star Wars game is also set to be made by Amy Hennig’s new game studio Skydance New Media. The game is set to be  “a richly cinematic action-adventure game featuring an original story”. This is set to be Hennig’s second try at the Star Wars franchise after her game with EA was unceremoniously canned. Which also comes off the heels of the studio’s previous announcement, where they revealed they are also working on a Marvel game

But the biggest news is perhaps Kingdom Hearts IV, the latest entry into the popular series. It was revealed in Japan’s Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary event, with Sora going up against a giant heartless in a populated city. Old favourites like Goofy and Donald return, and there’s also the appearance of a new character named Strelitzia. No details on the release date or platforms were revealed though, further confirming that the game is still in early development.

This marks 2022 April’s edition of Tech Bytes, and we hope this roundup gives you a little insight into tech to be excited about. Check with us again in May 2022, as we bring you more byte-sized news every month!

Visuals courtesy of Sony PlayStation, Entertainment Software Association, Samsung Singapore and Square Enix.

Russell Matthew Loh

Watcher of films and player of games. Dabble with writing in between.

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