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Sony shuts down SingStar

As users find their way to other platforms for entertainment, SingStar’s online servers will be shut down at the end of January 2020.

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At 23:59 on 31 January 2020, SingStar’s online services, including SingStore, will be shut down. Sony said in an announcement: “online functionality, network features, and digital music downloads will be immediately disabled”. Players who have downloaded the game and songs to their consoles or own hard copies will not be affected.

The game has sold almost 18 million physical copies and over 4 million individual songs purchased digitally. It was also popular enough in South Africa to have a SingStar Afrikaanse Treffers game released for PlayStation 3.

The decline in SingStar usage can be attributed to a shaky upgrade model. When SingStar for PS3 was released, Sony didn’t release the songs they had promised at 2006 E3. Its saving grace was the ability to play existing SingStar PS2 physical discs within the PS3 SingStar app. When the PS4 was released, SingStar didn’t support PS3 and PS2 hard copies of the game, making existing collections obsolete. This is most likely what caused the shift to other platforms like TikTok, where users can lipsync with music in a video, instead of repeatedly paying to sing along.

The following functionality will still be playable in offline mode:

  • Play songs on physical discs
  • Play digital songs that have previously been purchased and downloaded to the hard-drive
  • PS4 users only will also be able to re-download previously downloaded and deleted songs. Note this is not possible for PS3 / PS2 users, where if a downloaded song is deleted, it cannot be re-downloaded
  • Play Party Mode
  • Track and record high scores offline
  • Take and store videos and snapshots onto the PlayStation’s hard drive
  • Create song playlists

From January 31, 2020 online functionality will be affected in the following ways:

  • Purchasing or downloading new songs will not be possible or available
  • You will not be able to view, upload or interact with any online user-generated content (UGC)
  • You will not be able to share recorded media at the end of a performance on any of the available public sharing platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, PSN or SingStar community)
  • You will not be able to track and record high scores online
  • You will not be able to complete online challenges
  • You will not be able to unlock the following trophies:
    • Channel surfer
    • Concert debut
    • Stars in my eyes

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DStv Now adds free education to ‘lockdown channels’

In its response to the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa, DStv is offering 16 free channels on its streaming app

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Two new channels have been added to a free service being provided on DStv Now, the online version of DStv. 

In response to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, DStv owner MultiChoice worked with local and international news channels in mid-March to add 24-hour news coverage to the DStv Now free service.

The company says the intent was to help all South Africans stay up to date with announcements and developments, and the results so far are encouraging. Usage of the service has increased 20% since the lockdown began, and peak usage is up 80% compared to pre-crisis peaks. 

 Now, in another step to help families through the lockdown period, MultiChoice has added additional educational content to the free service with the Mindset PoP channel. This channel features educational programming covering the entire General Education and Training (GET) phase, including Early Childhood Development (ECD), as well as a key focus on the Grade 4 – 9 curriculum. 

The channel aims to prepare children for when schools reopen. Mindset PoP will deliver live lessons daily, with six fresh hours every day. A website is available for parents to download worksheets and information sheets to work through with expert teachers. Lessons are based on the South African Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) and are also aligned to the Cambridge curriculum.

“We’re extremely grateful to all of the channel providers for being so willing to work with us to help all South Africans through this unprecedented lockdown period,” said Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of the Connected Video division of MultiChoice. 

“Thanks to their support we’re able to keep people informed, keep kids’ educations going, and keep people entertained.”

The full list of channels available to non-DStv customers on the DStv Now free service is:

100 – DStv

180 – People’s Weather

238 – SuperSport Play

313 – PBS Kids

317 – Mindset PoP

320 – Channel O

343 – TBN

400 – BBC World News

401 – CNN

402 – Sky News

403 – eNCA

404 – SABC News

405 – Newzroom Afrika

405 – AlJazeera

414 – Euronews Now

417 – africanews

To sign up for the DStv Now free service, go to http://now.dstv.com 

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FNB Connect cuts data price by 55%, offers 1GB free

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FNB Connect has reduce its data prices by up to 55%. It is also doubling customers’ data on Lifestyle plans without any price increase.

This weekend, FNB Connect will also give all its customers 1GB of free data during the national lockdown, with a validity period of 30 days. This lockdown data allocation is in addition to the Free Connect allocations that customers with qualifying transactional accounts receive monthly.

“This will enable our customers to save on telco spend, which is a regular feature in household budgets,” says Raj Makanjee, CEO of FNB Retail. “Access to affordable and free data goes a long way in assisting our customers navigate difficult times and is also aligned to our ethos of offering real help when it’s needed the most.”

Shadrack Palmer, FNB Connect product head, says: “In our efforts to provide our customers with more value for their money, we’ve reduced our mobile data prices and doubled the data bundles on most of our Lifestyle plans, to give our customers more reason to connect anywhere and anytime. This is needed now more than even, as South Africans are observing the 21-day national lockdown, with many strapped for cash during these challenging times.”

The new data prices and doubling of the Lifestyle plans are to be repriced as follows:

“Since the launch of our Free Connect offering in July 2019, we’ve tried to remain consistent to see how best we can incentivise our customers when they need it most,” says Palmer.  “As FNB Connect, we understand the pressures customers are facing financially and are committed to providing better value at every opportunity.”

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