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Project Scorpio: Microsoft’s 4K Ready XBox

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project scorpio

At E3 2016, Microsoft officially announced Project Scorpio, a 4K ready upgrade to the existing Xbox One console. Project Scorpio was rumored to be much more powerful than the existing Xbox One and competes directly with Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro, which is also a more powerful iteration on the PS4. Up until recently, the only real information Microsoft released was that Scorpio would be capable of native 4K gaming (versus the upscaling that PS4 Pro does) and that all Xbox One games would still work on it. In early April, Digital Foundry was given an exclusive look at Scorpio and finally released some major tech specifications and details about the new console. Many people (including Microsoft itself) have speculated that perhaps this is the end of traditional console generations. Traditionally in the console gaming world, a new console has been released every 7-8 years. For example, the original PlayStation was released in 1995, the PS2 was released in 2000, the PS3 was released in 2006, and finally the PS4 was released in 2013. However, with both Xbox One and PS4 switching to generally off the shelf PC components instead of customized chipsets, both consoles seem to be obviating the need for a complete redesign. The trend seems to be leaning towards the PC gaming model where hardware is simply upgraded to more powerful components to run newer games while still being backwards compatible with older games. The ongoing effort by Microsoft to make Xbox 360 games playable on the Xbox One and Sony’s streaming gaming service PlayStation Now show that backwards compatibility is definitely a need. Along with Microsoft’s Xbox Play Anywhere program, Microsoft is clearly trying to use Project Scorpio to leverage the strengths of their Windows platform and the PC gaming community. Here are three things you need to know about Project Scorpio:

forza

It’s Powerful

To say that Project Scorpio is the most powerful gaming console ever is an understatement. First, let’s get all of the techie stuff out of the way. According to Eurogamer (who owns Digital Foundry): The central processor (CPU) has eight custom x86 cores clocked at 2.3GHz. The graphics processor (GPU) has 40 customized compute units clocked at 1172MHz – a very high clock speed for a console – and it does achieve Microsoft’s stated six-teraflop performance figure. There’s 12GB of GDDR5 RAM, with a memory bandwidth of 326GB/s. There’s a faster 1TB 2.5-inch hard drive, and a UHD Blu-ray drive. Like Xbox One S, it has an integrated power supply, so no external power brick. In terms of input/output ports, it is identical to Xbox One S (so, no Kinect port, but HDMI in is retained). What all that techie jargon means is that Scorpio is about 31% faster than the current gen Xbox One and can most certainly play all or most games at native 4K resolution. Microsoft showed Digital Foundry a stress test on the Scorpio using the Forza Motorsport game engine. The Scorpio was able to breeze through the test. Microsoft then upped the graphics settings to the PC equivalent of “Ultra” settings and it still smashed the test with performance to spare. It even kept a steady 60 frames per second which is the holy grail of performance.

Backwards Compatible

All current and future Xbox One games will be compatible with Scorpio. The increasing library of backwards compatible Xbox 360 games will also work on Scorpio. As mentioned earlier, Microsoft is envisioning the future of Xbox One similar to PC gaming. Any modern gaming PC can play every single game that has ever come out for PC (on Windows at least). Microsoft is aiming for that level of backwards compatibility in the future. Imagine it’s the year 2030 and you really want some old school Gears of War action. Theoretically you should be able to pop in a copy of Gears of War Remastered and play it just fine. Nintendo has shown with the recently discontinued NES Classic that people love playing older games.

Is It Better Than PS4 Pro?

Yes. Yes it is. Now to be fair, the PS4 Pro is a powerful machine in its own right and many games such as Horizon Zero Dawn can take advantage of the more extra power to improve performance or graphics. However, as far as console gaming, the Scorpio is in a league of its own. While the PS4 Pro can *technically* output games at 4K, it uses upscaling techniques such as checkerboard rendering to output games to 4K. The Scorpio is capable of native 4K gaming which is much more impressive. As a point of comparison, native 4K gaming on PC requires a high end graphics card such as the NVIDIA GTX 1080. Therefore, the fact that a console is able to produce this much performance is amazing.

The Elephant In The Room

Obviously, all of that power means nothing if there aren’t any good games to play on the Scorpio. In fact, the cancellation of several Xbox One exclusive titles such as Scalebound and Fable Legends have hampered Microsoft’s ability to secure exclusive games. Meanwhile, Sony has been killing it with titles such as Horizon Zero Dawn, Nier: Automata, Gravity Rush 2, Uncharted 4, and Nioh. Even with multiplatform franchises such as Call of Duty are releasing downloadable content (DLC) first on PS4. Microsoft is hoping that developers will see the performance potential of Scorpio and develop optimized games for it. Time will tell if the Xbox One will catch up to PS4 in the exclusives but the power of Scorpio combined with Microsoft’s push in the PC gaming scene may be the incentive developers are looking for. Microsoft hasn’t yet released pricing or even the actual name of Project Scorpio. That information will most likely be announced at E3 in June or perhaps an event ahead of E3.

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You Need To Know What Happened To Snapchat Stock

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Released in September 2011, Snapchat brought time-sensitive photos to the social media realm. It encouraged users to rely on those images to show their friends interesting, funny or memorable things. March 2018 data reveals Snapchat stock is down more than 15 percent compared to the previous month, leading some people to wonder if it’s too risky to own Snapchat shares. Well-known pop culture stars can capture the attention of people all over the world by posting material on social media. Snapchat got reminded of that twice recently. What’s happened with the brand recently to cause the downward trend in Snapchat stock? And what’s likely ahead for the app?

The App Got a Recent Redesign

In November 2017, Snapchat revamped the application’s interface, but that decision caused an uproar among some users. Despite the pushback, Snapchat is sticking with the new look. Before rolling it out, site representatives acknowledged some users find Snapchat “difficult to understand or hard to use”. The app partially prompted a different layout that allows people to sort the content they see, among other things. Snapchat clearly aims to keep the service fresh and exciting for current and potential users. But, besides the new layout that’ll reportedly be tweaked throughout this year, what else can people expect?

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel spoke favorably about the facelift, saying, “While we are still very early in the rollout, we are optimistic about the potential to unlock additional growth with the redesign of our application. As expected, it will take time for our community to get used to the changes, but overall, we are pleased with the initial results and will be making the redesign available to our entire community in the first quarter.”

Indeed, it does take time for people to adjust to change, and user bases often aren’t happy when their favorite social media sites debut significant changes. That’s why I expect this displeasure about Snapchat’s evolution will blow over soon. However, that’s not the only problem the service has dealt with lately, and you can see it in Snapchat stock.

Unfavorable Mentions From Two High-Profile Celebrities

 

First, in February 2018, Kylie Jenner confessed she doesn’t open Snapchat anymore and asked if anyone else had stopped using it. Afterward, Snapchat stock prices sank 6.1 percent, causing a loss of $1.3 billion in market value.

kylie jenner

Then, less than a month later, Snapchat came under fire again for allowing a phone game advertisement to run that asked viewers if they’d rather “slap Rihanna or punch Chris Brown.”

Many angrily took screenshots of the offensive ad and recalled the 2009 incident, which involved Rihanna and then-partner Chris Brown. He was arrested after an assault on her that occurred the night before that year’s Grammy Awards ceremony.

Soon, Rihanna posted a response on her Instagram feed. It’s no longer visible there, but people quickly took screenshots of it while reporters quoted the singer’s irate words.

Rihanna Snapchat

In a quote given to the BBC, Snapchat said, “The advert was reviewed and approved in error, as it violates our advertising guidelines. We immediately removed the ad last weekend, once we became aware. We are sorry that this happened.”

The apology did not stop people from accusing Snapchat of allowing content that made light of domestic violence. The site might be doomed after Kylie Jenner and Rihanna’s comments. After Rihanna’s statement, Snapchap stock plunged again by nearly 5 percent.

Also, people chimed in to say if Rihanna advised people to delete their Snapchat accounts, they would. The hubbub even caught the attention of former first daughter Chelsea Clinton, who called the ad “just awful” in her own tweet.

It’s also likely there will be more sudden action with Snapchat stock prices. Despite the plunges due to Kylie Jenner’s and Rihanna’s comments, the company had the biggest one-day jump in Snapchat stock history this February due to news it added nearly 9 million more daily users.

Snapchat Bans ICO Ads

Snapchat announced a ban of all advertisements for initial coin offerings (ICOs). They’re following the lead of fellow social media site Facebook, which outlawed all cryptocurrency ads of a non-educational nature. The news came in mid-March shortly after the Rihanna incident. T could cause some people to wonder if the site is cracking down on other kinds of advertising.

That recent occurrence is not the only evidence that suggests the two social media sites pay attention to each other’s actions. Last spring, Facebook began letting people post content that disappears after 24 hours, just like Snapchat stories. Users could also personalize the Facebook content with stickers and filters, which Snapchat offers too.

New Features Are Continually Available

At the end of January 2018, Snapchat announced a way for people to depend on visual references from selfies while creating their Bitmojis. They are Snapchat avatars that represent site users. Snapchat calls the feature “Bitmoji Deluxe.” It lets people study selfies to make their bitmojis as realistic as possible.

A couple of years ago, Snapchat dropped hints about the possibility that people could create Bitmojis automatically with help from facial recognition technology. There’s no sign of that ability in this latest update. But since an increasing number of today’s gadgets identify people by their faces, it makes sense Snapchat might offer it relatively soon. They’re already focusing on making the Bitmojis better.

When Snapchat made the Snap Map feature available last summer, it attracted attention while catering to people’s desire to know what’s happening in real time. Although some might say Snap Map triggers FOMO, other people think the location-sharing feature is cool. Those who don’t want to use it have the option to stay in “Ghost Mode.”

Snapchat Merchandise

I think Snapchat will incorporate a much more stringent ad-screening process based on the recent Rihanna fiasco. Plus, 2018 could be the year Snapchat re-enters the physical merchandise realm after its 2016 foray that saw it offering glasses that take pictures from a first-person perspective and let people upload them to Snapchat.

The company is reportedly currently developing new versions of those spectacles that are water-resistant. They come in more than one color and could be available as soon as this fall. That effort for the company to diversify makes sense, especially if Snapchat wants to profit from indirect income streams.

Google recently debuted its Cilps camera, which uses artificial intelligence to decide when to snap photos that seem most interesting. Similarly, there are rumors Spotify wants to start selling products such as speakers.

The months ahead will be action-packed for people who use Snapchat regularly. Those who are curious about the performance of this social media service will be following closely. If the service can achieve the growth it seeks from the redesign and continual rollout of features, it’ll likely be in the headlines even more than usual.

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Why Amazon’s Second HQ Should Choose Nashville

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Amazon's Second HQ

Nashville is amongst 20 cities being considered for Amazon’s second headquarters site. The “Country Music Capital of the World” hopes to boost their state’s job market with the new Amazon Headquarters. Amazon’s second HQ expects to invest more than $5 billion to build the 8-million-square-foot facility and promises to create as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs over the next 15 years. Before any decisions are made, the company created specific requirements to be met for each city. Some of the requirements include a metropolitan area with over a million people, a time distance of 45 minutes from an international airport, direct access to public transportation, and to be able to expand 8 million square feet in the next decade.

The Unemployment rate is on the rise in Nashville. City officials have their sights set on the on the jobs that Amazon’s Second HQ will provide for 50,000 residents. “It is going to increase the size of the economy,” University of Tennessee Economist Bill Fox stated, “It is going to bring in a really highly skilled labor force that is not already there, a lot of community leaders. To have somebody with the worldwide vision of Amazon look at Nashville and say, ‘This is the place we want to be’ is really good for the brand.”

The aspect of new jobs may not be enough for some to welcome the online retailer with open arms. Residents of Nashville fear the new site would affect the housing market for low income families  in the process. “If you look at the size of Nashville, a headquarters like this bringing tens of thousands of jobs, it’s going to radically affect what the housing landscape looks like,” said Javier Vivas, Realtor.com’s director of economic research. Amazon’s decision creates an atmosphere for the conservation of gentrification not only for Nashville, but the other 19 cities in the running. “We have a housing crisis now and all this would do is throw gasoline on the fire,” said John Summers, a former Metro Council member who now leads the Coalition for Nashville Neighborhoods. “We cannot build affordable housing to replace what’s being lost by the rapid gentrification in all of our inner-city neighborhoods.”

The community of Nashville are now able to broadcast their opinions on Amazon. While state officials deal with the financial benefits, agencies and businesses within Nashville are now able to give insight on their city as well. This is why Amazon’s second HQ should choose Nashville.

If you are an agency from Nashville, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here: https://ownersmagazine.com/need-talk-marketing-pr-agencies-amazon/

*Sponsored by Penji

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Why Amazon’s Second Headquarters Should Choose Northern Virginia

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Amazon’s second headquarters

Among the top 20 shortlist for Amazon’s second headquarters, Northern, Virginia is not a stranger to the massive tech company. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos have frequently conducted business in the region. Bezos is known to own The Washington Post and Amazon’s cloud service AWS is situated in a huge data center in the northern Virginia region. It is no surprise that Northern, VA is listed on the list. This region proved to be a safe home for Bezos’ businesses, it would only make sense that Northern, VA is the next home for HQ2.

While the nation waits for the announcements of Amazon’s second headquarters, speculations rise as Amazon employees crowd ARLnow.com. The local news-source for Arlington Virginia have reported major traffic from an internal Amazon site. The article reporting the county’s green building council had received over 6,000 page views and 3,500 visitors from an Amazon web page that is only visible to Amazon employees. Amazon’s interest in the community’s dedication to sustainability is predicted to help the company’s future development of a sustainable building of their own.

The area is surrounded by copious international airports including Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, and Richmond International Airport for Amazon’s consideration  of transportation. The bid for Amazon had reports of the Hub property as a potential site for Amazon’s second headquarters. This 85-acre undeveloped location is near the Dulles Airport, perfect for Amazon’s demands.

Amazon’s second headquarters

Amazon announced that they are developing a second headquarter of up to 8 million square feet in order to accommodate 50,000 workers. The plan to bring in 50,000 lucrative jobs to the new location will create billions of dollars in investment for the community. This opportunity for economic expansion does not come often, but neither does a perfect business location in Northern Virginia that is close to Bezos’ other businesses.

A possible site for Amazon’s second headquarters is on the border of Fairfax and Loudoun counties along Metro’s Silver Line. “We are very excited that Northern Virginia is included on the short list as a potential location for Amazon’s second headquarters,” spoke the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Sharon Bulova. “Fairfax and Loudoun counties are able to offer a great quality of life coupled with an innovative and business friendly culture for future Amazon corporate neighbors and employees. With our highly educated and talented workforce and a location close to Dulles International Airport and a new Silver Line train station, we hope we will have the opportunity to welcome Amazon HQ2 to Virginia.”

Small businesses and agencies within Virginia are able share their professional insight to Amazon now as well. This is why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Virginia.

If you are an agency from Virginia, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here: https://ownersmagazine.com/need-talk-marketing-pr-agencies-amazon/

*Sponsored by Penji

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