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Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene interview — Prologue is huge, but here’s the vision for Artemis



Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene interview — Prologue is huge, but here’s the vision for Artemis

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Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene made news this week as he left Krafton, the company that published his tremendously successful PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) battle royale game, and he started a new studio in Amsterdam called PlayerUnknown Productions, funded by Krafton. He further revealed Prologue, a tech demo that his team will create in the coming years. Prologue will be a huge virtual world, with some previously unfathomable dimensions of 64 kilometers on a side. That is as big as open world games get.

But that’s not all. In an exclusive interview with GamesBeat, Greene said that Prologue is just what its name implies. It is a single-player game where you can wander in the wilderness. But it is setting the stage for something bigger: Project Artemis. If Prologue is impossible to build with current game technology, then Artemis will be even more impossible, as an Earth-size virtual world. But Greene is still going to try.

Greene said that Artemis is a journey towards the sort of gaming experience that people have dreamed of for decades but that have never been  able to make before: a giant, deep world that exists not as a single experience but as a place where anything can happen. He said that half of this is technology, leveraging machine learning to create worlds and systems far too big and complex for humans to feasibly make. Half of this is vision: finding ways to fill this colossal canvas with opportunities for interesting and emergent behavior.

“Prologue is really just a stepping stone,” he said. “My biggest mission with PlayerUnknown Productions is to build an authentic and trustworthy studio. I want my team’s name to mean something in a couple of years, and I think the only way to achieve that is to be open. To open the doors and say, ‘This is what we’re working on.’ Prologue gives us that opportunity. We have funding to head toward Artemis and the big dreams, so we don’t have to make money from Prologue. We have a chance to show off and bring people into the fold a lot earlier and build that relationship.”


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You could think of this world as a metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. But Greene doesn’t really like to think of it that way. He calls it a world.




The keyword for Prologue is that it will be “emergent.” It won’t be pre-scripted, and it could very well be different every time you log into it. If players want to create a battle royale game in this world, they could certainly do so, Greene said. Prologue will draw on systems and concepts from existing survival games. But that’s not all it’s going to be.

This dream of a giant world goes pretty far back for Greene.

“Since the first day I played DayZ, getting to the edge of the map and thinking, ‘Fuck, man, why does it have to end here?’,” he said. “Seeing some of the bigger worlds and thinking about what’s possible, I loved the idea of making a space where a helicopter has real meaning. It’s not just that it cuts the trip across the map down to a few minutes. It cuts it down from a few days.”

He added, “This kind of desire to have a digital life is strong in a lot of gamers. Providing this space where it’s a big enough world–I love Rust, but if you play on a busy server there are bases every few meters. I want a space where you don’t discover a player’s base for miles. Or when you do it’s a big settlement rather than a box. This stuff has always excited me, ever since I got back into gaming by discovering really open worlds. Red Dead Redemption is fantastic, but it’s just a bunch of scripts. You go kill all the bears in a region, go away, come back, and they’re all back again. I want to have meaningful life in the world. If you kill all the bears in a region, maybe the deer population explodes.”

That last line is what he means by “emergent” gameplay. The world can have all kinds of unintended, unplanned consequences.

“We have the technology to do this. We can think about ecosystems. I want this world to have a life that isn’t dependent upon the player,” he said. “It exists without the player. It’s a big ask. I know what I’m trying to do here is seemingly impossible, but it will be small steps. I think we’ll get there. I’ve been thinking about this a long time. I want this open world. This space where you can just even go by yourself and discover places in it. Just go hiking. I’ve had this dream for quite some time.”

Cultural capital

Brendan Greene is the creator of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

Above: Brendan Greene is the creator of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

Image Credit: Gamelab

Before we dismiss this as pure fantasy, it’s important to remember what Greene has pulled off.

It’s a bit sad for Krafton that Greene decided to leave the company, as Krafton just raised $3.75 billion in an initial public offering at a $20 billion valuation. But if Greene creates something valuable again, then at least Krafton will own a piece of it. Greene said he was thankful to fans and to Krafton. I asked him why he left.

“It was more that I just wanted a chance to do things by myself. I wanted the buck to stop here with me. What I’m doing is a little crazy,” he said. “I love Krafton and the opportunity they’ve given me, but I wanted a chance to strike out on my own and leave a legacy. Ultimately, I want PlayerUnknown Productions to be in a state where I can leave it and they can still release games without me as a trusted development studio. I hope. But it was more that I just wanted to strike out on my own and make my own name.”

Artemis is about the creation of something that isn’t authored or controlled, but rather an organic collaboration between humanity and machines to make a world from scratch, Greene said. No other studio will get the chance to create something this crazy, he said.

Greene’s team has been working together for some time. Krafton agreed to make an unspecified investment into Greene’s company.

Greene is famous as the creator of the battle royale mode for first-person shooter games, starting six years ago with a mod for the military shooter Arma. Greene’s work has led to a huge change in the first-person shooter genre and generated more than $5.1 billion in revenues for the mobile version of PUBG alone, according to measurement firm Sensor Tower. The PC and console versions have generated billions more revenue, with copies sold surpassing 70 million in mid-2020.

Greene believes the industry has become risk-averse with skyrocketing budgets, the elimination of many mid-sized studios, and lots of sequels. But he believes battle royale showed that people are hungry for genuinely new experiences. It gave Greene the cultural and financial capital to take a bigger risk than battle royale and possibly transform the industry again.

Greene said he has held “this deep fascination with sandbox-style, open-world games, and the freedoms that they give their players.”

But he said he always wished they were a bit bigger. At the new studio, his team wants to create realistic sandbox worlds on a huge scale with thousands of players interacting, exploring, and creating.

He said he is following in the footsteps of other great open-world developers and his dream is not to create a game but a world. That’s what he wants to do with Prologue.

“We are entering a new space race for the metaverse. Companies are taking positions but not yet knowing precisely where they want to go. But the interesting thing is that all these investments and both the failures and success of them, will get us closer to the dream (or the nightmare) of creating fully livable alternate realities,” said Ivan Fernandez Lobo, organizer of the Gamelab conference in Barcelona. “I don’t necessarily think of the metaverse as real-world scale worlds to explore (I am more excited about other narratives and possibilities like the ability to sharing dreams of all sizes), but we are still in 2021, and I take Brendan’s vision and ambition very seriously. He is young, brave and bright enough to make it happen or at least to open amazing paths for other explorers to follow.”

The team

Above: A birds-eye view of Prologue.

Image Credit: PlayerUnknown Productions

PlayerUnknown Productions has about 25 team members in Amsterdam. They have been working for some time together, and Greene negotiated with Krafton to take that team with him. He also gets to keep the PlayerUnknown name, while Krafton keeps PUBG.

“I take my intellectual property, Prologue, my work, all of that with me, and the team. That was very important to me,” he said. “The last few years we have battled to find the right team, and now we have a good team that believes in what we’re doing. A lot of time spent making sure we could take that away with us.”

Some of the team is working on a proprietary game engine, as Greene did a lot of research on the technology required to make the game. He found that nothing commercially available was suitable. And so the team is making that game engine, dubbed Entity Component System (ECS), itself.

“We haven’t been able to be very open about what we’re doing, especially through recruitment channels,” Greene said. “Part of opening up, hopefully, is that we’ll start attracting the kind of people who are crazy enough to take on the challenge we’ve taken on ourselves.”

Thanks to COVID, the team has to work remotely for now.

“Maybe we’ll have to enable a bit of remote work. Right now everyone’s working from home, but even when we come back we’ll be doing 50-50,” he said. “We can do that. We’re in the right industry. It makes that relatively easily. But in Europe, it’s not so easy working from home because the homes are a lot smaller. A lot of people prefer being in the office.”

Greene realizes he’ll have to hire more people, perhaps taking the team up to 50 people.

“We don’t see the need for a big team because of the tech we’re building,” he said.


Prologue is Brendan Greene's next project.

Above: Prologue is Brendan Greene’s next project.

Image Credit: PlayerUnknown Productions

I asked Greene how his team settled on a 64-kilometer by 64-kilometer world. The terrain of Prologue will resemble the modern forests of Europe. And you can see in some of these images there are modern battle tanks and elegant sanitoriums. There’s a coal mine that should be the size and scope of a coal mine in the real world. The weather system should be realistic.

“This was more to see how far we could push the tech. The game mechanics should work on any scale world, or at least that’s the idea,” he said.

Prologue requires that the company build the technology required to generate vast worlds, and “in that sense Prologue is intended to serve as a simple introduction to an early iteration of our technology,” he said.

In Prologue, players will find their way across a “runtime-generated wilderness” and use tools and gather resources to survive on a journey where harsh weather is constantly a problem.

“There will be no guidance, no path for you to follow. Just a world a spot on the map to reach and the tools needed to get there,” he said.

Because Prologue is a tech demo, Greene said the company will use a “pay what you want” model for it. If you like what you see and enjoy the experience, you can pay to support the team.

“This is just the start of the small glimpse of that technology that will eventually power a much more extensive experience,” Greene said. “Prologue is our first step on a multi-year journey towards creating what we hope will be rich, interactive, open worlds. We’re thinking of truly massive worlds. That brings a whole load of questions alongside it. But the idea behind the technology is that it’s scalable. It shouldn’t matter what size of world you want to create. The technology should scale with it. That’s our main focus.”

The technology

Above: Prologue is going be as much as 64 kilometers by 64 kilometers of game space.

Image Credit: PlayerUnknown Productions

In a traditional game, Greene would need hundreds of artists to create the detailed art in a map this big. If you downloaded it, it would be ridiculously big. The team concentrated on this problem, and it thought about bringing AI into the solution and an easier programming model as well. This AI won’t replace human designers and artists, but it will make the task more manageable.

The key to making the whole project work is to find a balance between game design, machine learning, and user-generated content. The process of creating this world is a team effort. And that’s why Greene is trying to be transparent about the process.

AI is going to be key to automatically creating a lot of the content.

“We figured out how to achieve this massive world. We broke it down into some pillars,” Greene said. “The first was building a terrain tool to generate and fill massive worlds with content. The second thing would be how you fill that with life, using AI, giving the player real things to do, and making the world feel alive. And then finally, how do you dump 100,000 players on top of that?”

At first, Greene thought he would build a new game technology first, and then add a game on top of it. But he realized how hard it would be to do the game in addition to the tech. So he decided to build the tech first, make it free, and then transparently take feedback from players.

“Building a game on top of new tech is very hard. Prologue was always meant to be an example of our terrain tech,” he said. “Here, we can generate these worlds. How do I leverage that into some kind of game to show it off? Prologue would get you across the map. We put in some equations there, put in the weather, and you just had to get across the map. A simple sandbox game, single-player, just leveraging the tech.”

Then he realized, after talking with the team, that this wouldn’t turn out to be a good game. So the team stripped Prologue back to being a tech demo.

“The more I got experience as a producer, the more I realized this wasn’t really a good plan,” Greene said. “After talking it over with the rest of the team, we stripped it back to now being a tech demo. We’ll release it for pay-as-you-want. If you like it, pay us some money, but either way you can try it out and enjoy it. That’s our plan.”

Since the engine isn’t ready yet, Greene said the team is using Unity to create initial game assets. Graphics processing units (GPUs) will be needed not just for graphics but non-graphics processing for increased simulation detail. Many players should be able to share one world. And the functions in the game should be able to morph at any time, allowing for new gameplay and mods.

“We don’t have our engine ready yet. We need to leverage Unity’s tools and our own tools to start testing our tech,” Greene said. “This is a big and a long project. The only way to achieve it is by iterating. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Greene admired Unity’s Megacity demo, and it inspired him to use its tools. The experience will run on Windows, but the team will attempt to add other platforms over time. The minimum hardware system would likely include Windows 10, a four-teraflop GPU, four gigabytes of video memory, a four-core CPU, eight gigabytes of RAM, and a variety of GPU vendor types.

“Holy hell, we can really make these massive worlds. Now my dream can be made,” he said.


Above: Can machine learning generate maps? Or an entire world?

Image Credit: PlayerUnknown Productions

Artemis is an open world, undirected sandbox experience that uses machine learning to produce worlds and systems bigger than any other game ever made. It is an attempt to recreate the world as close as the team can, Greene said. And it’s going to be far bigger than Prologue.

You can think of it like other open world games like Rust, DayZ, Arma II, No Man’s Sky, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Eco, Valheim, Second Life, Eve Online, and World of Warcraft — all titles that have pushed the boundaries of sandbox-style gameplay over the years. Players will explore a procedurally generated world, gathering resources and building things.

Rust, created by Garry Newman and Facepunch Studios, is perhaps the closest thing to this idea. It also sounds lot like Nvidia’s Omniverse, which is targeted at engineers doing physically accurate simulations, as well as Improbable’s engine for massive simulations.

The biggest difference should be the scale. In contrast to Prologue, Artemis will likely be full of different biomes, terrain types, players, animals, plants, and more. Players will be able to build not just camps, houses, or bases. They can build whole cities, societies, and civilizations.

“We want to give people a new place to live, because this one has some issues,” he said.

Artemis represents the next leap forward in technology, and it could take five years to get there. Maybe longer, Greene said.

I asked Greene what the difference was between Prologue and Artemis. It should be a spherical place, like the planet, with a radius exceeding 6,000 kilometers. But that’s subject to change.

“We’re using Prologue as a testbed for the game elements of the world. We can test out an electrical system,” Greene said. “We can put in a better animation system. All these things will be spec’d out first in Prologue, made to work, and then when we come to Artemis we at least have the logic figured out and we can start programming it into the engine. It’s like what ArmA was for battle royale. It was a place for me to test, iterate, get a final game mode, and then be able to say, ‘Okay, it works.’ That’s what we want to do with Prologue.

Prologue will be a single-player experience, while Artemis will be massively multiplayer.

“Artemis probably won’t be worlds generated with runtime. Prologue will be, every time you press play you’ll get a new world,” Greene said. “It will hopefully be a different enough terrain that it should feel different every time. With Artemis we won’t have that. We’ll probably have static worlds that you can come and enter. Prologue is on a much smaller scale as well. It’s maybe 32 kilometers by 32 kilometers or 64 kilometers by 64 kilometers, whereas Artemis will be planet-scale, hopefully. A smaller planet, but that kind of scale.”

While Prologue will be big, Greene said he didn’t think it would be a very interesting game for most people.

“I think it’ll be quite boring. Light fires, board up windows, keep yourself warm against the constant storm where cold weather will knock you out,” he said. “But again, it’s more to show a consistent world with logical points on it where you can do things, and this is systemic gameplay.”

Artemis could include conflict, particularly over limited resources. But it’s not required for players who would rather be in a peaceful world. Combat will be onerous, and the designers intend to reward players for cooperation.

And while it could take five years to build, Greene said all of this is subject to change, as it’s a joint project with players.

Massive challenges

Above: A military base in Prologue.

Image Credit: PlayerUnknown Productions

Greene acknowledged creating such worlds presents challenges.

“One of the more significant is that we simply don’t have a way to fill these massive spaces with content, assets, game mechanics, locations, and similar things in a reasonable amount of time,” he said. “Realistic open worlds take a great deal of time and effort to produce. And so this was the first issue that we chose to tackle.”

The key to making things bigger than humans can create on their own has always been to get machines to pitch in and help. And he plans to use deep learning neural networks, or artificial intelligence, to help generate the massive realistic open world.

The game should be a new experience each and every time you press play, he said.

“It’s this breakthrough that we hope will start pushing video game worlds to the sorts of scale that would lend weight to the idea of “you see that mountain, you can climb it,” a reference to a comment by game designer Todd Howard about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. That became a meme.

He thinks that finding a hidden corner in a vast space will have real meaning when thousands of other players haven’t passed through it in the last hour.

“This is what I and my team have been working on,” he said. “We’re developing this technology required to enable massive scale within open-world games. It’s been a fascinating project to date. And soon, we’ll be ready to show off some of what we’ve achieved.”

Staffing will be a challenge too, as the early work will focus on proving out the technology with Prologue. There are more people who would rather start working on a game first.

The multiplayer challenge

Above: A sanitorium in Prologue.

Image Credit: PlayerUnknown Productions

Multiplayer is also going to be a huge challenge, and the company has left that as its final problem to tackle.

“We’re going to be leaving multiplayer until the end, because multiplayer tech is coming out every year,” he said. “The further we push that out, the more chance there will be to leverage some exciting new tech. Already there’s stuff out there being developed for high player counts, to get across that thousandth player. If we’re doing the worlds we’re doing, the size we’re doing, we have to have massive numbers of players.”

It will be tough to find the right gameplay. The goal is to create non-player characters (NPCs) that behave more like real players than AI characters.

“I’m making a sandbox, more like Rust than a single-player experience,” he said. “That’s hard for a lot of people in the game industry. They want to make games, and I don’t want to do that. I want to make a big world where you can make all the games.”

If players just want to use a piece of the world for their own battle royale games, that would be fine.

I want to start with something basic. Battle royale, king of the hill, capture the flag, these very simple game modes where I need a weapons pack, some basic game mechanics, and then you can just put that anywhere on the map,” he said. “Even with the ArmA III battle royale code, there was one mission file at the start, and you could change the size of the map and all this. It would fit any size of the world. I want to keep that mentality. You can give your friends a set of paintball guns and a location and you can figure out how to play.”

And it shouldn’t be really hard to create games to play within Artemis.

“I want to give the player as much freedom as possible. I want to liberate people from coding,” Greene said. “I want them to be able to make a game mode without having to worry about modding.”

Is Artemis the metaverse?

The Metaverse ETF is an index for the future of the internet.

Above: The metaverse is the next phase of the internet.

Image Credit: Matthew Ball

Asked if Artemis is the metaverse, Greene said that could be confusing to think of it that way because the metaverse is so vague.

Greene replied, “I don’t want to say that word. I’ve been thinking long and hard about this. I watched Ready Player One and I thought, ‘Holy shit, that’s what I want to make.’”

That doesn’t mean he wanted to copy the movie, or the book by Ernest Cline. Rather, he said the world of the film was more like a validation of an idea that he had been thinking about for a long time, rather than a source of inspiration.

Ever since having these big open worlds, I thought, ‘But then how do you make the metaverse?’ I’m just building a layer. I’m building this one big open world that you can all come in and fuck around in. If that happens to be a layer — we’re doing it fully open and making sure the protocols for files and everything are all open.”

A scene from Steven Spielberg's 2018 movie Ready Player One.

Above: A scene from Steven Spielberg’s 2018 movie Ready Player One.

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Rather, Greene thinks this is more like the next version of the internet. (A lot of metaverse advocates say it will be the next version of the internet).

“It won’t be Tim Sweeney’s metaverse or Unity’s metaverse or PUBG’s metaverse. They’re all separate universes. Even the blockchain stuff going on right now, I’m not sure it’s the metaverse,” Greene said. “Maybe it’s a part. They made a good talk in that talk about how the metaverse has to be open. It has to be a protocol. Ultimately, with my world, I want you to be able to access it from a browser.”

Greene considered whether Google Stadia’s technology was a way to scale up the players and get to 100,000 players in a single shard, or game space.

“If you simulate everything on a server, you don’t have to worry about the stupid peer-to-peer stuff that holds up massive multiplayer,” he said. “I can simulate 100,000 people on a server — but then that restricts people through bandwidth. That’s not good. If you make an open world for everyone, everyone has to be able to enter regardless of device. It has to be accessible via web browsers. I’m building a world. If that world happens to be part of the metaverse that’s great. But it’s not my first thought.”

I asked if it would have blockchain tech or nonfungible tokens (NFTs), which enables new business models like selling rare items or transferring digital assets from one world to another.

He said it was possible hew would use such technology because if he’s going to make a world, he has to give people a way earn a living in that world. He said he noted that EverQuest had one of the biggest economies in the world at one point, and he admired Axie Infinity, which lets many players earn a living by playing and earning rewards. But Greene is wary of scammers in the space and will only move forward with it as NFTs become tangible and scam-free.

The story

Inside a sanitorium.

Above: Inside a sanitorium in Prologue.

Image Credit: PlayerUnknown Productions

The story behind the world is still pretty much a secret. The world will be a generated world, and there’s a story to it, but Greene isn’t telling anything about that yet. He wants people to think about the tech problem at hand first.

“How do you build a digital massive open world and give people the freedom to do whatever the hell they want in it? You can give people a square chunk of land and let them manipulate that how they want,” he said.

It still has to be worked out in terms of what level of user-generated content the world will have. But Greene definitely believes in the creativity of users. Perhaps the users will build towns, and they can keep expanding the borders of the towns. You should be able to spin up your own private world and design it as you wish, he said. He wants it to be something like the Holodeck in Star Trek, where you can create any kind of lifelike simulation.

“I want to build a Holodeck,” Greene said. “Anything should be possible on the Holodeck.”


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Roblox settles NMPA lawsuit, paving path to music in the metaverse



Roblox settles NMPA lawsuit, paving path to music in the metaverse

Roblox Swordburst 2 and Flood Escape

Roblox Swordburst 2 and Flood Escape

Image Credit: Roblox

A new GamesBeat event is around the corner! Learn more about what comes next. 

Roblox announced today that it has settled a lawsuit filed by the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA). The lawsuit from the NMPA has been summarily dismissed, and Roblox will be open to further agreements with artists who want to debut their music in the game world, as they can now make their own deals with Roblox.

The NMPA originally sued Roblox for about $200 million for copyright infringement. Now the two companies appear to have come to an agreement that will allow music within the metaverse, or at least it will give publishers the chance to decide whether or not they are willing to allow it. NMPA President David Israelite called Roblox “a unique platform for musicians and songwriters in the metaverse” and said it offers unique options for artists to connect with fans.

According to the NMPA, this new settlement will allow Roblox to broker more agreements with music publishers going forward. They now have “an industry-wide opt-in open to all eligible NMPA publishers” with Roblox as well as a negotiating period that allows publishers to work out individual licensing contracts. The NMPA adds that these deals will offer new ways for songwriters to monetize their music.

Roblox has recently begun expanding its music offerings, most recently with the addition of Listening Parties — in-game music streams in which artists can show off their work. It’s also held several virtual concerts within its metaverse for users. Roblox’s Global Head of Music Jon Vlassopulos said in a statement: “We are pleased that the publishing industry sees the potential of Roblox to be a significant creative and commercial opportunity for its members.”


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The NMPA also recently settled a similar issue with Twitch, wherein it didn’t exactly condone the widespread use of licensed music on the platform, but it did leave the possibility open for individual artists or labels to have their own deals with the platform — an “opt-in” it described in almost identical language to its settlement with Roblox. The NMPA said this agreement will allow artists to find their audiences: “From virtual shows to studio sessions, the partnerships stemming from this agreement will connect the Twitch community in many ways to the music they enjoy.”


GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it.

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How IT managers plan to deal with rapidly growing API complexity



How IT managers plan to deal with rapidly growing API complexity

Image Credit: Getty Images

The Transform Technology Summits start October 13th with Low-Code/No Code: Enabling Enterprise Agility. Register now!

The rapid increase and ceaseless evolution of API technology has ushered in a challenging new era of API complexity. A new study of IT leaders by Axway reveals that the average enterprise currently uses three different API management vendors, and plans to engage more to reach an average of four by 2023. In some countries, the number could even grow to five different API management solutions on average per company.

While 44% of IT leaders primarily benefit from reduced IT complexity and/or better oversight, 34% of enterprises do not have access to the multi-management capabilities needed to master API complexity, though 66% say they have some kind of plan in place to master these complexities.

There was a surprisingly strong correlation between enterprises that have mastered API complexity with an API-first approach (those who can build APIs the quickest), and the number of digital projects they can launch each year. Enterprises that build APIs in a matter of hours or days are more likely to launch more than 40 new digital projects every year, while enterprises that need weeks or months tend to launch fewer digital projects per year.

The study also showed the same correlation between the number of digital launches and the time to onboard new partners, or how often enterprises are able to reuse APIs. Companies stand to save nearly US$ 30K on average every time they reuse an API.

Axway, a global API Management company, analyzed new data from more than 800 senior IT and business decision-makers in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Australia, and Singapore. The study concluded that API complexity is negatively impacting the bottom line, raising numerous challenges and pain points — from security to governance to innovation and many others.

Read the full report by Axway


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Use your TV as a computer monitor: Everything you need to know



Use your TV as a computer monitor: Everything you need to know


Will that big, sexy screen look as good on your desk as it does in your living room? Let’s dig into the specifics of using an HDTV with your PC.

pcw windows10 tv

Getty Images / Dmitriy Moroz

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You’re not the first person who’s wondered what it would be like to have a giant desktop monitor. Think of all the multi-tasking and immersive gaming you could manage if you had a 50- or 60-inch monitor instead of a standard 24-inch monitor! But you’ve probably noticed that as monitors get bigger, they also tend to get prohibitively expensive.

You’ve probably already got a big screen in your house, though—a high-definition television. At the end of the day, isn’t an HDTV just a giant, living-room-oriented computer monitor?

Not exactly. While you can use a TV as a computer monitor in most cases, that doesn’t mean it’s the best option. In fact, it’s likely less attractive, convenient, and usable than you think (not to mention, probably not that cheap). There’s a reason dirt-cheap 32-inch HDTVs aren’t flying off the shelves to be used as budget-friendly jumbo screens.

You definitely can use an HDTV as your PC’s display, though, and your television can also work in a pinch if you suddenly need a second screen. Here’s everything you need to know about how to set up a TV as a computer monitor—and why you might not want to.

Will it even work?

The short answer: Yes. You may need a special cable, depending on your PC’s outputs and your HDTV’s inputs, and you’ll need to check a couple of settings, but you shouldn’t have too much trouble hooking most modern PCs up to most modern HDTVs. 

Modern HDTVs have HDMI outputs. Some older HDTVs have DVI inputs, and some even have VGA inputs specifically designated for “PC use.” If your graphics card has an HDMI output, you’re good to go: Just use an HDMI cable to connect your PC to your HDMI.

dsc01797 Brad Chacos/IDG

All modern graphics cards (like this Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 6600 XT) include at least one HDMI port (second from left, between several DisplayPorts).

If you’re using an older graphics card or motherboard that only has a DVI output, you can snag a cheap DVI-to-HDMI cable and plug it into your HDTV’s HDMI output. Amazon sells a six ft. AmazonBasics version for just $7. Although some older HDTVs and some older computers only have VGA inputs/outputs, they aren’t not an ideal choice. VGA’s an analog signal that will give you a far fuzzier, lower-resolution image than you’ll get with an HDMI or DVI cord.

If you want to use your HDTV as a second or third monitor, you may need to use a different port, such as your graphics card’s DisplayPort output. In this case, you’ll need to use a different cable (DisplayPort-to-HDMI). The main advantage to using the DisplayPort output instead of DVI or VGA is that HDMI and DisplayPort carry both video and audio signals. A DVI-to-HDMI cable can transmit both video and audio if your graphics card supports HDMI audio via DVI—unlikely if it doesn’t have any HDMI ports—while VGA only transmits video. If you use DVI or VGA, you will most likely need to connect your PC’s audio up to the HDTV separately, or use external speakers or a headset.

Bottom line? Try to stick to HDMI if or DisplayPort-to-HDMI connections if it’s possible. It’s the easiest solution.

Getting your PC ready

You’ll also need to determine whether your graphics card (or your PC’s integrated graphics) is capable of outputting at the resolution of your HDTV. To do this, you will first need to find the resolution of your HDTV by consulting the manufacturer’s manual. Some HDTVs have non-standard resolutions; it’s not a given that your HDTV will be supported. Most stick to standard 720p, 1080p, or 4K resolutions however. Next, find the maximum resolution your graphics card/integrated graphics supports.

display adapter properties Brad Chacos/IDG

Open the Windows 10 Start menu and head to Settings > System > Display > Advanced display settings > Display adapter properties for Display 1. In the window that pops up, click List All Modes. Find the resolution that matches your HDTV’s resolution and select it. 

If you’re using the HDTV to supplement a standard computer screen, simply follow our guide on how to set up two monitors to tell Windows how to manage both displays. 

Will it look good? Maybe. It depends on how you’re using your HDTV.

HDTV features to keep in mind

If you’re turning your HDTV into a PC-backed multimedia powerhouse, and you plan on using it primarily as a television and streaming hub—e.g. a screen you’ll continue to view from several feet away—it will probably look fine. But if you’re trying to stick a 60-inch HDTV on a desk, you’re more likely to end up with headaches and eye strain.

There are a few different factors to keep in mind if you want to use an HDTV as a computer monitor.

Pixel density

Pixel density, or the number of pixels packed into one square inch of screen (measured in pixels per inch or ppi), is the most important factor to consider. A 15.6-inch laptop screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution has a pixel density of 141.21ppi, while a 32-inch HDTV screen with the same resolution has a significantly lower pixel density of 68.84ppi. The lower the pixel density, the less clear and detailed the image becomes.

But the importance of pixel density decreases with viewing distance. The further you sit from a screen, the lower the pixel density need to be for you to have a comfortable viewing experience. You won’t have any problems looking at a 15.6-inch/141.21ppi screen from two feet away, but you will find it much harder to view a 32-inch/68.84ppi screen from the same distance. This is why a “Retina” screen on the iPhone has a pixel density of 326ppi, but a “Retina” screen on the Macbook Pro has a pixel density of just 226ppi.

55r635 front hero TCL

A normal user typically sits between two and three feet away from a desktop monitor. To comfortably view a monitor at this distance, you should aim for 80ppi or higher. This means that for 1920×1080 (1080p) resolution, your screen should be no larger than 27.5 inches diagonally, and for 4K sets, you’ll want to max out at 55 inches, like the $700 TCL 6-series 4K UHD quantum dot TV shown above. It’s our favorite bang-for-buck HDTV.

Important: “4K” is not a market standard. A 4K HDTV can mean 4x720p (3840×2160 resolution) or 4x1080p (4096×2160 resolution). Most models use 3840×2160, but you should check the exact specs of your model to determine pixel density.

Input lag

Input lag is the delay between movement you make on your input device (in this case, a mouse and keyboard) and what displays on your screen. While most computer monitors prioritize minimal lag times, HDTVs generally do not—they prioritize (laggy) video processing instead. These extra milliseconds may not seem like they matter, but they will make a massive difference if you’re trying to do something like competitive online gaming.

DisplayLag maintains a good database of input lag times, sortable by display type. An input lag of less than 30 milliseconds is considered good for an HDTV if you’re using it as an HDTV. For a computer monitor, you’ll want to aim for less than 20 milliseconds, and the lower you can go, the better.

Response time

Often confused with input lag, response time describes how long it takes for a display’s pixels to switch colors between scenes. HDTVs and computer monitors can have very different response times. HDTVs tend to prioritize richer colors, higher contrast, and wider viewing angles—all of which lend to a longer response time. Computer monitors tend to drop some of the image processing and viewing angles for faster response times. If you use a display with a slower response time, you may see “ghosting” in fast-paced video and gaming sequences.

lg oled55e8pua rear inputs LG

Also pay attention to the type and number of ports. This is only one of two port areas on an LG TV. Many TVs offer ports nearer the side as well for the sake of easy access.

Some HDTVs have a “game mode” setting, which cuts some of the image processing to improve both input lag and response time. If you plan to play PC games on your TV, definitely dig around in your HDTV’s options to see if it has this feature.

Refresh rate

Another factor that may affect performance is a display’s refresh rate. Refresh rate is the number of times a display “refreshes,” or re-draws, its image each second. Most modern displays have a refresh rate of 60Hz, which means they refresh their image 60 times per second. But you’ve probably also seen higher-end gaming monitors and HDTVs with higher advertised refresh rates—120Hz, 144Hz, or even 240Hz. This can be misleading, however, because a computer monitor with a 120Hz refresh rate may not be the same as an HDTV with a 120Hz refresh rate.

The reason for this is because the content people watch on a television is produced at either 24fps, 30fps, or 60fps. The content people view on a computer monitor can be very different—many games can output frame rates higher than 60fps if you have a powerful enough graphics card.

An HDTV with a high advertised refresh rate may use post-processing technology to achieve that rate, such as by creating additional frames to upscale content, or by adding black frames between each frame to prevent image blur. The good news is that this probably won’t make a difference if you’re not playing PC games at very fast frame rates. But if you have a PC designed for the best possible gaming experience, hooking up an HDTV instead of a computer monitor likely means that you’re not getting the most out of your machine.

Is it worth it?

There’s no harm trying to connect your computer to a TV you already own to see if it works for you. Go for it!

pcw windows10 tv Getty Images / Dmitriy Moroz

Our advice varies if you’re shopping though. If you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck, an HDTV isn’t necessarily going to save you money over a monitor. In fact, if you’re purchasing a new display, I recommend sticking with the tried-and-true computer monitor. For one thing, smaller, cheaper HDTVs are typically 720p resolution, not 1080p, while similarly priced monitors will almost always be 1080p. So if you’re looking for something under 27 inches, an HDTV will probably be more expensive and lower-resolution.

These lower-priced 1080p monitors often support AMD’s FreeSync adaptive sync technology as well, which can help your games look buttery smooth. You won’t find that in a cheap TV. 

If you’re looking for something larger than 27 inches, remember that pixel density decreases significantly with every few inches you gain, and there’s a reason HDTV-makers suggest sitting several feet away from their displays. If you need a display that will multitask as an up-close work/email display as well as a movie/entertainment display, you’ll want something with a high enough pixel density that text won’t be a pain to read—and even with a high pixel density, a large display may still cause eye and neck strain if you sit too close to it.

twitch stream Twitch

An HDTV as a secondary monitor is perfect for streaming Twitch, watching Netflix, or keeping an eye on Twitter in real time.

There is an ideal situation in which the HDTV-as-monitor shines, though.

If you want to add an extra display to a single- or multi-display setup for entertainment—say, so you can watch Netflix or Twitter while you write articles, or so you can play Skyrim on a 60-inch screen—then an HDTV can be a very capable (and cool!) monitor replacement. Bonus points if you happen to have an extra HDTV lying around, or if you can pick one up for dirt cheap.

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Sarah is a freelance writer and editor based in Los Angeles. She has a love/hate relationship with social media and a bad habit of describing technology as “sexy.”

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