Tech Bytes: May 2024

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

It is the penultimate month before we hit the year’s halfway point, but we are just starting to get our juiciest news from the tech and gaming sphere. Apple’s newest iPads, Ubisoft’s next Assassin’s Creed instalment, and more culminated the coverage for May 2024. Read on to find out more.

Microsoft closes Arkane Lyon and Tango Gameworks

Tech Bytes May 2024: Tango Gameworks

It gets worse for Microsoft in 2024. Just a few months after their headline-grabbing layoffs for much of Activision Blizzard, the company has further announced that they will be closing two big studios in their first-party lineup — Arkane Austin and Tango Gameworks.

Microsoft announced this month that four studios are being cut, but the duo are the most notable names on the list. Their closure was listed as a “reprioritisation of titles and resources” as part of changes to focus on smaller, high-impact titles. Further reports suggest that those studios were chosen because they were not working on active projects.

For Arkane Austin, some may point out that the performance of the much-troubled Redfall contributed to its closure, but the studio also made the well-received 2017 Prey reboot. Meanwhile, Tango Gameworks’ being closed down is more befuddling. Not only were they responsible for the popular The Evil Within series, but their last two titles (Ghostwire: Tokyo and Hi-Fi Rush)had good receptions from critics and audiences alike — Hi-Fi Rush being the very same type of game Microsoft is refocusing its efforts towards.

Both studios join an alarming statistic in the games industry: over 9,500 jobs have been lost just this year alone, and the number is seemingly set to grow. As for Microsoft and Xbox, the only way is up. They will be gearing up for their upcoming Xbox Games Showcase 2024 on 9 June, aiming to lift the doom and gloom from this latest announcement.

Behold the new iPad Pro and iPad Air

Tech Bytes May 2024: iPad Pro 7th Gen

After two years, Apple has released its newest iPad—two new iPads—the 6th generation iPad Air and the 7th generation iPad Pro.

Starting with the new iPad Air, in addition to the original 11-inch display size, Apple is now offering consumers a larger 13-inch option for this generation. Specs-wise, both iPad Airs have been equipped with the M2 chip, and the 12-megapixel front-facing camera has been relocated to the centre of the long edge of the screen, a more natural placement for video calls.

The latest iPad Pro, meanwhile, sports a more stark change. The series retains the 11-inch and 13-inch options for the lineup, but rather than having different screen types; both models will have a new tandem OLED display that provides 1,000 nits of peak full-screen brightness for SDR and HDR content. There’s more. Both iPad Pros will feature an even thinner profile at just 5.3mm for the 11-inch version and 5.1mm for the 13-inch one — ironically, the 11-inch model will be more lightweight than the iPad Air. Finally, the new iPad Pros will feature the latest M4 chip inside.

The new iPads are already available. The iPad Air starts at S$899, while the iPad Pro starts at S$1,499.

PlayStation gets new leaders

Jim Ryan’s retirement as PlayStation boss has raised questions about who will be the brand’s next leader. Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki has served as interim CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) while looking for a successor, and this month, the search has ended.

Instead of one new face, there will be two. The SIE CEO role will be shared between Hermen Hulst and Hideaki Nishino. Hulst will be a familiar name to PlayStation fans. Previously, he co-founded Guerrilla Games and served as its Managing Director until 2019, when he was appointed new head of Worldwide Studios. Hulst was in charge of the first-party studio lineup at PlayStation and frequently appeared on Sony’s State of Play and Showcase announcement streams.

Hideaki Nishino is more of an unknown. He is currently the Senior Vice President of the Platform Experience Group, responsible for developing the experiences and technology within PlayStation products and services.

While they will be co-CEOs, both will have different responsibilities. Hermen Hulst has been appointed CEO of SIE’s Studio Business Group, which involves the development, publishing, and business operations of SIE’s first-party content. Meanwhile, Hideaki Nishino has been named CEO of the Platform Business Group. He continues his work in the technology, products, services, and platform experience space while overseeing third-party publisher and developer relations and commercial operations. Both men will begin their roles on 1 June, providing a lead into PlayStation’s next showcase.

Assassin’s Creed Shadows announced

Tech Bytes May 2024: Assassin's Creed Shadows

The next instalment in the Assassin’s Creed series is here! From Baghdad, we are now travelling to a location that fans have wanted for years: Japan.

Previously known under the codename Assassin’s Creed Red, the next game is now formally titled Assassin’s Creed Shadows and will take place in feudal Japan. Like Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Shadows will feature two protagonists to follow along. The first is Yasuke, based on the legendary African retainer to Oda Nobunaga. The other is a new character, Naoe, a shinobi opposed to Nobunaga’s war.

The paths of both characters will intersect, forging an unlikely alliance within the story. In the game, players can switch between characters as they progress through different missions, with each character providing different gameplay elements to experience. Yasuke, as a samurai, is direct and downs foes with lethal force, while Naoe uses stealth to counter her enemies. Weather also plays a significant role in this game, creating reactive gameplay elements as it changes through seasons.

Assassin’s Creed Shadows will be released on 15 November 2024 for PS5, Xbox Series consoles, and PC. We will see more of it soon when Ubisoft presents its Ubisoft Forward showcase on 10 June 2024.

Switch 2 finally confirmed

Tech Bytes May 2024: Switch 2

The Nintendo Switch has been a breakout hit worldwide, so it isn’t a surprise that everyone is on the edge of their seats waiting for the next iteration of the console. Well, we finally have confirmation that it exists, though not in the way you might expect.

Alongside announcing its end-of-year financial results, Nintendo candidly announced that there will indeed be a successor to the console in a statement on X (formally Twitter). In the statement, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa states that a reveal will come within this fiscal year by 31 March 2025.

Furukawa also notes that a Nintendo Direct will be held this June, but hold your excitement because he reiterates that the next-generation Switch will not be mentioned. Instead, the Direct will be dedicated to the Nintendo Switch software lineup for the latter half of 2024.

While the reveal might be somewhat anti-climatic, fans now have something to look forward to in the coming months. Rest assured that we will cover the news in detail once they are ready to showcase the new console.

This marks May 2024’s edition of Tech Bytes, and we hope this round-up gives you insight into tech to be excited about. Check with us again in June 2024, as we bring you more byte-sized news every month!

Visuals courtesy of Bethesda Softworks, Apple Singapore, and Ubisoft. Additional visual of Nintendo Switch by Erik Mclean via Unsplash.

Russell Matthew Loh

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

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