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Nvidia ignores the console wars and doubles down on GPUs

PC gaming is still a huge market, and Nvidia isn't afraid to commit to it.

Nvidia ignores the console wars and doubles down on GPUs

The company's new cards will be released later this month.

Photo: Nvidia

What next-generation gaming consoles? The real action in the $160 billion video game business is on PCs.

That was Nvidia's dismissive subtext on Tuesday as the company unveiled its first major new line of consumer graphics hardware in two years. While Sony and Microsoft are yet to reveal pricing and timing details for their new game machines expected this fall, Nvidia is getting on the all-important holiday wish lists early, with specific product announcements that will make many gamers' eyes water.

In addition to announcing a new line of powerful PC graphics cards for the fall — ranging from $500 to $1,500 — Nvidia also flaunted its tight relationships with many of the largest and most popular game developers. Nvidia and Epic Games — which is locked in a high-stakes antitrust lawsuit with Apple — announced that Fortnite, Epic's flagship franchise, would soon add support for Nvidia's ray-tracing technology, which generates more realistic and immersive lighting effects. Nvidia also revealed footage of two other highly anticipated games — Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (from Activision Blizzard) and Cyberpunk 2077 (from CD Projekt) — that will use the same technology.

PCs are the world's most popular gaming platform with about 1.5 billion players — roughly half of the 3 billion gamers worldwide. By contrast, only about 8% of gamers globally appear to be dedicated console players. That's one reason why Nvidia, the leader in PC graphics, does not appear especially chagrined that both Microsoft and Sony opted for graphics systems from AMD for their new consoles. Dedicated PC gamers will pay more for a single graphics card than console gamers pay for their entire systems.

Wearing his trademark leather jacket and standing in his home's kitchen, Jensen Huang, Nvidia's chief executive, announced that the company's new 3070 card would be released next month starting at $499, the 3080 card would be released Sept. 17 starting at $699 and the 3090 (continuing a new trend of revealing hardware from his oven, saying "Come here, papa") would arrive Sept. 24 starting at $1,499. The company said that the 3080 — which Huang called the company's new "flagship," presumably because of what it sees as a sweet-spot positioning of price and performance — delivers up to twice the horsepower of current 2080 cards, which can cost up to $1,200.

In addition to the new cards, Nvidia also revealed new software to improve the performance of older cards; enable advanced machinima storytelling; and improve video and audio streaming quality.

Microsoft wants to replace artists with AI

Better Zoom calls, simpler email attachments, smart iPhone cases and other patents from Big Tech.

Turning your stories into images.

Image: USPTO/Microsoft

Hello and welcome to 2021! The Big Tech patent roundup is back, after a short vacation and … all the things … that happened between the start of the year and now. It seems the tradition of tech companies filing weird and wonderful patents has carried into the new year; there are some real gems from the last few weeks. Microsoft is trying to outsource all creative endeavors to AI; Apple wants to make seat belts less annoying; and Amazon wants to cut down on some of the recyclable waste that its own success has inevitably created.

And remember: The big tech companies file all kinds of crazy patents for things, and though most never amount to anything, some end up defining the future.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

Power

Everything you need to know about the Roblox direct listing

The company is expected to go public via direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange in February.

Roblox CEO David Baszucki is taking the company public.

Photo: Ian Tuttle/Getty Images

Roblox is a video game platform, though it describes itself alternatively as a "metaverse," "human co-experience platform" and "new category of human interaction." It's expected to go public via direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange in February.

In simpler terms, Roblox enables developers to build games within the Roblox virtual world, which looks like a crossover between Minecraft and Lego. Developers publish and distribute their games through Roblox to an audience of some 31.1 million daily active users.

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Hirsh Chitkara
Hirsh Chitkara (@ChitkaraHirsh) is a researcher at Protocol, based out of New York City. Before joining Protocol, he worked for Business Insider Intelligence, where he wrote about Big Tech, telecoms, workplace privacy, smart cities, and geopolitics. He also worked on the Strategy & Analytics team at the Cleveland Indians.
People

Meet the man behind The Game Awards

He doesn't make games or invest in them, but he founded one of gaming's biggest events.

Geoff Keighley created, produced and hosts The Game Awards.

Photo: JC Olivera/Getty Images

A few weeks ago, a somewhat-serious Twitter thread considered, "Who is the face of video games?"

According to an extremely unscientific skim of the more than 4,000 responses, No. 1 was clearly Nintendo's iconic character Mario. No. 2, and the leading real person, was Phil Spencer, Microsoft's head of Xbox. Neither should surprise you.

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Seth Schiesel

Seth Schiesel ( @SethSchiesel) is a contributing editor for Protocol focused on the business of video games and adjacent industries. He is a former editorial writer for The Boston Globe, entrepreneur and business reporter, technology writer and video game critic for The New York Times.

People

This startup wants to upend cloud entertainment

Genvid CEO Jacob Navok thinks Google, Amazon and Microsoft have cloud gaming all wrong.

Rival Peak is a Facebook Originals animated reality show running over a 12-week season. Think "Lost" meets "Fantasy Island" meets "Survivor."

Image: Facebook

Imagine yelling at live television and the characters actually hear you and respond in real time. Imagine watching a live streamer and affecting the content of the game they're playing — while they're playing — just by clicking or tapping the stream itself. Imagine online worlds you can explore with other real people simply through an interactive video stream, no downloads of any kind required.

Totally new forms of entertainment don't come along too often. Yet the path toward those innovative scenarios may become real on Wednesday as Facebook and Genvid Technologies release a genre-defying online experience called Rival Peak.

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Seth Schiesel

Seth Schiesel ( @SethSchiesel) is a contributing editor for Protocol focused on the business of video games and adjacent industries. He is a former editorial writer for The Boston Globe, entrepreneur and business reporter, technology writer and video game critic for The New York Times.

Power

For Microsoft and Sony, it’s all about the games again

The Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 deliver superb, but different, entertainment experiences.

Astro's Playroom, which comes with the PS5, is a game about exploring the inside of a game console.

Image: Sony

You know you've got a problem when you have a song about a graphics chip stuck in your head. A high-class, next-generation problem, that is.

But that's me, mentally trapped in the lush green GPU Jungle level of Astro's Playroom, the delightful platforming game (lots of jumping) included with Sony's new PlayStation 5.

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Seth Schiesel

Seth Schiesel ( @SethSchiesel) is a contributing editor for Protocol focused on the business of video games and adjacent industries. He is a former editorial writer for The Boston Globe, entrepreneur and business reporter, technology writer and video game critic for The New York Times.

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