Amazon Is Making a PC Game

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Not content with simply making mobile games, Amazon has set its sights higher. The e-commerce giant has its designs on the AAA gaming space. The news comes by the way of a sponsored job listing on Gamasutra.

“The team is made of former Portal, World of Warcraft and BioShock creators, and we’re building a team of top talent for an ambitious new PC game project using the latest technology. Our team in Seattle has worked on a lot of other great titles like Half Life 2, Left for Dead, Dota 2, Halo, Infamous, Shadows of Mordor and The Last of Us.

If you want to be on the tip of the spear for game design and technology, contact us. We want people that are driven to make the best games in the industry. We’re looking to take interesting risks, and invent!” reads the listing.

This would be the company’s first PC game. It’s not exactly a secret that it was prepping for something big what with big name hires such as game designers Kim Swift (Portal, Quantum Conundrum) and Clint Hocking (Far Cry, Splinter Cell) as well as acquiring Killer Instinct and Silent Hill Homecoming developer Double Helix among others. Throw in its heavy spending in a deal to license the CryEngine – used in high-end games like Crysis 3 and Evolve, and you have what appears to be the foundations for a rather gargantuan undertaking which highlights Amazon’s ambitions in the space more than anything else.

Intel’s PC-on-a-stick dongle now available for preorder

The Intel Compute Stick, a dongle that plugs into an HDMI port to deliver full computing capability, is now available for preorder.

Newegg is offering preorders of the Compute Stick with a release date of April 24. (Update at 11:11 a.m. PT: now showing out of stock on both with estimated arrival on May 1). The Windows version costs $150 and the Linus version costs $110. Amazon also shows listings for the Windowsand Linux versions, but with no pricing or availability information.

Intel unveiled details on the Compute Stick at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The device is a slim HDMI dongle that connects to a monitor via HDMI. It has an Intel Atom quad-core processor, 2GB of onboard RAM, and 32GB of storage.

When Intel showed off the Compute Stick at CES, the company said the Windows 8.1 model would retail for $149. The Linux flavor would retail for $89, it said.

Getting the Compute Stick up and running won’t take much. The device is simply plugged into a monitor’s HDMI port and turned on. Once it boots up, the owner’s operating system of choice is running and with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, the device can provide a full computing experience. The Compute Stick is by no means a competitor to a desktop or laptop, but rather an option for people who are on the move and want a quick way to get some work done.

The Compute Stick is also a competitor to the Asus Chromebit announced last week. Like the Compute Stick, the Asus Chromebit connects to an HDMI monitor and with help from Bluetooth, provides a full computing experience. However, the Chromebit is running on Google’s Chrome operating system, rather than the Windows and Linux options available on the Compute Stick. Chromebit is slated to launch this summer for under $100.

GTA V’s 60 Frames-per-Second Trailer Shows What PC Gamers Can Expect

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The oft-delayed open-world adventure, Grand Theft Auto V will finally see a release on PC on April 14. But what’s a video game release without a trailer to show it of? Thankfully, Rockstar Games – the developer behind the game have rectified this with a stunning 60 frames-per-second trailer that you can watch here.

The trailer shows off the exotic locales of Los Santos and Blaine County along with some gorgeous lighting effects, detailed character models, and some of the game’s more crazy moments all in silky smooth 60 frames-per-second video.

“On April 14th, Grand Theft Auto V arrives on PC with a range of major visual and technical upgrades to make Los Santos and Blaine County more immersive than ever. Today, catch a glimpse of it in action – running at 60FPS with the official Grand Theft Auto V 60 Frames-per-Second Trailer. For the best viewing experience, please make sure to watch on the most recent generation device and/or browser,” the post on Rockstar Games’ website reads.

If you have the right PC hardware, the game will run at 1080p and 60 frames-per-second. Or you can even go up to 4K resolution. There’s support for up to triple monitor configurations, as well as Nvidia 3D Vision for stereoscopic output. Also, the multiplayer component for PC will support up to 30 players and include the Online Heists mode as well.

You can check out the recommended and minimum system specifications here. GTA V for PS4 and Xbox One consoles only runs at 30 frames-per-second, and recently, an game update was found to dramatically downgrade graphics quality which should be rectified with a new patch the company released yesterday.

Back-to-School PC Sales Up From 2013

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It’s back to school time! Which means it’s time for frantic purchasing of all sorts of stuff one (or one’s kid) may or may not need for the school year. Of course, desktops and laptops are important and expensive items on those shopping lists, and research firm NPD this week reportedthat back-to-school PC sales are up about 3 percent from last year.

The primary beneficiaries appear to be Apple and makers of computers running Google’s Chrome operating system. According to NPD, Windows-based PCs slipped to about a 68.4 percent share of the U.S. market in the 10-week time period between July 4 and Labor Day week. That’s down from the 72.3 percent and 75.2 percent share enjoyed by Windows machines for 2013 and 2012, respectively.

Sales of Macs jumped up to a 26.8 percent share of sales during the back-to-school period this year, NPD reported. That’s bit of a bounce from the relatively steady 24 to 24.5 percent share the company enjoyed in 2012 and 2013. Apple laptops, specifically, enjoyed a 16 percent overall increase in sales year-over-year, the research firm reported.

Chrome OS laptops didn’t enjoy quite as big a bounce between this year and last as they did between 2013 and 2012, when sales of the notebooks jumped from 0.2 percent to 3.3 percent of the market. Chromebook did grow 4.5 percent in 2014 and represented more than 5 percent of all U.S. notebook sales in total. They also accounted for 18 percent of all notebooks sold under $300, NPD reported.

“After a slow start, aggressive pricing and robust selection drove significant volumes towards the end of the Back-to-School season, making it a very strong year,” said NPD vice president Stephen Baker, in a statement.

“Due to the success of the aggressive Windows notebook pricing during Back-to-School we could see a much more aggressive pricing strategy this holiday season as the seemingly stable PC volume environment emboldens the PC OEMs and the OS and chip suppliers to make a grab for market share while the industry remains relatively steady,” he added.

In total, retail PC sales jumped 3 percent from the same time period last year. That’s a bit of a turnaround from 2013, where PC sales actually dropped 2.5 percent year-over-year. Notebook sales contributed to the overall growth with a 3.4 increase in sales over last year, while desktop sales remained flat, according to NPD.