Posts Tagged ‘gaming’

Microsoft has unveiled the Xbox One which will go on sale later this year.

The next-generation console was shown off alongside a new Kinect sensor and a redesigned gamepad.

The US firm described the voice and gesture-controlled machine as an “all-in-one” system offering games, live TV, movies and music.

The firm’s Entertainment and Devices Division accounted for $9.6bn (£6.3bn) worth of sales in Microsoft’s last financial year.

That only represented about 13% of its total revenue for the period – but one analyst said the importance of this launch should not be underestimated.

“Microsoft is very strong in business software and the enterprise cloud business, but its consumer businesses are facing tremendous challenges: PCs are declining rapidly and Windows Phone handsets have only a fraction of the market shares of rivals,” said Jia Wu from consultants Strategy Analytics.
Microsoft has added the ability to watch live TV with channel selection controlled by voice
“Xbox represents Microsoft’s core strategy in the consumer entertainment market, especially after it sold its Mediaroom video distribution business to Ericsson earlier this year.

“This is also the unique asset which Microsoft has that can differentiate itself from Apple, Google and several of the other large tech companies.”

Microsoft’s decision to show off its new hardware in the opening minutes of its presentation sharply contrasted with Sony’s PlayStation 4 press conference in February when the Japanese company decided not to reveal the look of its machine – a move that was mocked by some commentators.

New features
The Xbox One sees Microsoft add a Blu-ray drive and Skype functionality to its console, incorporate vibrating feedback into its gamepad’s triggers, and upgrade the Kinect camera’s sensor to 1080p high definition resolution.

It said the new Kinect would be better at analysing body movements, allowing users to more accurately control games characters and navigate other entertainment options.

“When you’re exercising, it can read your heartbeat,” claimed the firm.

New tools will also allow users to record and edit gameplay so clips can be easily uploaded to the web.

EA Sports was first to announce new titles for the machine revealing Fifa 14, Madden NFL 25, NBA Live 14 and the fighting game UFC would all launch on the platform within the next 12 months using a new games engine called Ignite.

It said the new machine allowed it to carry out four times as many calculations a second as the Xbox 360 and 10 times more “animation depth and detail”.

Microsoft Studios also revealed that Forza Motorsports 5 – the latest in its own racing car franchise – would be available when the console launched.

The division added that it planned to release 15 games within the console’s first year, eight of which would be new franchises.

Activision also provided a first look at the next title in its Call of Duty series – Ghosts. It will use a new games engine to take advantage of the Xbox One’s improved graphics capabilities, offering more detailed textures for human skin and other features. The title will also be released on rival platforms.

French publisher Ubisoft was not part of the launch, but took the opportunity to announce that two games in development – Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag – would be available for the Xbox One before the end of 2013.

The company’s chief executive, Yves Guillemot, said he was excited by the opportunities offered by the machine’s improved specifications.

“We believe it will reinvigorate the industry,” he told the BBC.

“There’s a huge step up in graphics and there’s a big step up in terms of memory as well.

“It will take time to take full advantage of the machines because we’ll have to learn how to best optimise the technology – but even from the beginning you will see a huge difference between a game on the two different generations.”

Entertainment epicentre
Much of the presentation was dedicated to the console’s non-gaming features including its ability to make video calls; trigger live TV and online movies by voice command; and run several progams simultaneously without any apparent drop-off in performance.

Time was also given to promote an upcoming live-action television series based on Microsoft’s Halo games franchise which movie director Steven Spielberg is working on. The firm said tie-in interactive content would be offered exclusively to the Xbox One.

“Where Nintendo’s approach to next-gen gaming seems to ignore the need to share time with television and other forms of entertainment, and Sony’s approach seems willing to share the space, Microsoft’s vision is to so blur the line between different forms of entertainment that switching from game to television or movie watching will be as simply as flipping between television channels,” said Brian Crecente, news editor at games site Polygon.

“More importantly, it is lining up to make its system the one through which all entertainment happens. If it manages to pull it off, the Xbox One could become the one jumping off point for all forms of entertainment.”

News of a five-year deal with the US’s National Football League – which will allow sports fans to call up statistics, video replays and information about what live events mean for their fantasy teams – may also appeal to Microsoft’s domestic audience.

However, it did not discuss whether it was pursuing similar tie-ups for consumers overseas.

Processor change
Microsoft is planning to launch its new console at a time when many video games makers are trying to reduce costs.

Electronic Arts, Square Enix and Activision Blizzard are among firms which have announced layoffs over the past couple of months.

But the updated machines may put the companies under fresh strain.

Games engine developer Epic has warned that if studios want to take full advantage of the advances in graphics power that will be available, then their design costs could be double what they were when the Xbox 360 and PS3 launched.

“The additional rendering capabilities of these consoles will demand larger budgets for the marquee high-end games,” said Lewis Ward, video games analyst at tech research firm IDC.

“That creates a risky proposition for developers.

“But the costs are going to be mitigated to an extent – studios have said it will be easier to make games on next-gen platforms because they’re going to be closer to the development environments that are common on the PC side.”

Mr Ward was referring to the fact that Microsoft has decided to power its machine with an eight-core x86-based CPU (central processing unit) made by AMD rather than continue with IBM‘s PowerPC technology. The move means its console will run off a chip that is similar to those found in most PCs.

Sony has also opted to switch from its proprietary Cell processor tech to the x86 architecture meaning, in theory, it should be easier to port a title across different platforms.

However, the move means neither of the two new consoles will be backwards compatible with the former generation’s catalogue of games.

Both Microsoft and Sony plan follow-up “keynote” announcements at the E3 trade show in Los Angeles on 10 June.

Nintendo launched its next-generation console, the Wii U, last year and has said it will not host a major press conference at the event.

Do you think the Xbox One will be a hit or miss?

 

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Microsoft Corporation will be unveiling its next generation Xbox, thought to be called the Xbox 720, on 21 May.

It follows months of speculation that the company was preparing to announce a new video game console later this year.

The company has sent out press invitations hinting it would be announcing the successor to its seven-year-old Xbox 360.

Rival Sony announced in February that it would be launching the PlayStation 4 this year.

Microsoft’s event in May will be held at its Xbox campus near Seattle in the northwest of America just under a month before the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.

“On May 21, we’ll mark the beginning of a new generation of games, TV and entertainment,” the company said on its official blog.

“At E3 we’ll continue the conversation and showcase our full line-up of blockbuster games.”

Falling spending

The Xbox 360 is the market-leading console and has 76 million users around the world.

Gaming blogs have been speculating about the possible features on a next-generation console but Microsoft has not commented on the rumours.

The present version of the Xbox has voice and gesture command capabilities.

Figures released at the end of last year suggested the amount of money being spent on traditional games consoles had dropped dramatically.

Video games analysts IHS said spending on consoles had fallen 20% in the last two years.

 

Sony has announced its next-generation gaming console – the PlayStation 4 – at an event in New York.

Its new hardware is designed to offer superior graphics as well as new social features including the sharing of recorded gameplay clips.

It will succeed the PlayStation 3, which went on sale in 2006 and has sold about 75 million units.

The PS4 will eventually compete against Microsoft’s still-to-be-unveiled Xbox 360 successor and Nintendo’s Wii U.

Sony also confirmed a range of big-name software for the machine including Bungie’s upcoming “shared-world shooter” Destiny, which will include exclusive content for the PS4.

WatchDogsUbisoft’s WatchDogs was among the titles confirmed for the PlayStation 4

The developer’s previous title, Halo, helped drive sales for the rival Xbox platform.

A successful launch might spur on sales of Sony’s new televisions and other consumer electronics, helping turn around its fortunes.

Sony posted a 456.7bn yen loss ($4.9bn; £3.2bn) in its last financial year, marking the fourth year it ended in deficit.

But the firm has forecast a 20bn yen profit for the current financial year ending in March.

Sony said the console was “coming holiday 2013” suggesting it will go on sale in at least some countries in or around December.

It did not give any indication of its price nor did it show what the console would look like.

There was also no mention of whether the console would support 4K – or ultra-high definition – video. However, Sony told the BBC it would have more to say on this matter “at the appropriate moment”.

DualShock4 controllerThe new controller features a touchpad and a light so its movement can be tracked by a camera

PC-based chip

Sony described the machine as being like a “supercharged” PC.

It runs off an x86-based CPU (central processing unit) – similar architecture to that found in most desktop computers – and an “enhanced” PC GPU (graphics processing unit). Both CPU and GPU are designed by the US firm Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

It comes with the new DualShock 4 controller, which includes a touchpad, a “share button” and a lightbar, which allows a separate camera to track its movement.

“This is a complete controller upgrade with touch, share and better responsiveness,” said Brian Blau, an analyst at the tech consultancy Gartner.

“The new controller is the key to a better PS4 experience. It has the ability to share content easily, and brings in a component of touch that allows even more ways to interact with games.”

The console also includes new hardware dedicated to video compression to make it a more social device.

Users will be able to pause a game, select a few minutes of recorded video of their most recent activity, and instruct the clip to be uploaded to a social network.

This will then occur in the background while they can return to their game. The firm said it wanted to make sharing video clips as common as it is today to share screenshots.

Another new feature is that gamers can let one of their friends connect to their machine and take control of their character to help if they have got stuck, or allow several friends to watch their live progress as spectators. This facility uses technology from Gaikai – a cloud-based service Sony acquired last year for $380m.

Gaikai’s technology is also being used to allow PS4 games to be streamed and played via the PlayStation Vita handheld console, which may boost its sales.

Sony said it was also exploring the possibility of using its Gaikai unit to allow PlayStation 3 games to be played on the new machine as well as other devices.

However, at the moment PS3 games will not run on the new console.

“The decision to not make the PlayStation 4 backwards compatible is disappointing and means the 5.5 million plus people who own a PS3 in the UK will essentially have to start their gaming collection from scratch,” said Alex Simmons, UK editor-in-chief of the gaming site IGN.

“PlayStation 3 games – and indeed PSone and PS2 games – will be available to download at some point, but most likely at an additional cost, which might turn consumers off.”

Sony Corp will this month host its first major Playstation meeting in two years, sparking a flare-up in online speculation the Japanese consumer electronics giant is preparing to unveil the successor to its 70 million-selling PS3 games console.

Sony declined to say whether it would release a new product at the meeting in New York on February 20. “We will be talking about the Playstation business,” spokesman Masaki Tsukakoshi said on Friday. A Google search for “Sony Feb 20 Playstation” returned more than 7 million hits.

PS4 on the way

The last time Sony held a Playstation event, in January 2011, it presented a protoype of its     handheld Vita console. Before that, it convened a gathering in 2005 two months after it first  demonstrated the PS3 concept. A meeting in 1999 revealed designs for the PS2.

 

It has been more than six years since Sony launched the PS3 home console, a longer gap than between it and its PS2 predecessor, adding to the anticipation that it will soon disclose its next gaming concept.

Since Sony’s last home console launch, the games market has been transformed by the boom in smartphones and tablet computers that have wooed players with free or cheap games.

Sony and other console makers Nintendo Co Ltd and Microsoft Corp now have to contend with competition from hand-held devices made by Apple Inc, Samsung Electronics and others.

Analysts expect that tablets and other mobile devices will match the power and graphics of today’s games consoles within a few years.

Struggling under competitive pressure, Nintendo on Wednesday cut its sales target for the Wii U, successor to its 100 million-selling Wii, to 4 million machines by the end of March from its launch in November, compared with an earlier forecast for 5.5 million.

 

Super Mario Galaxy

Super Mario Galaxy

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has reigned as “Best Game Ever Made” for over a decade. Needless to say, a game’s true quality is subjective due to the player’s taste, but Ocarina of Time has been the recipient of dozens of awards for most critically-acclaimed game ever made. 1UP, Metacritic, and even the Guinness Book of World Records have recognized its outstanding review scores as recently as 2011.

Slowly creeping past and slyly making its way to the top, however, is Nintendo’s recent smash hit, Super Mario Galaxy. According to GameRankings, Galaxy has an incredible 97.64%, just 0.01 point above Ocarina of Time.

In third place is Super Mario Galaxy 2, giving Nintendo complete domination of the Top 3.

 

The next chapter of the New Super Mario Bros. series as well as high-profile names such as Call of Duty will debut alongside the upcoming successor to the Nintendo Wii.

Nintendo Wii U is here...

Nintendo Wii U is here…

The Japanese-based company revealed 23 games will be available when its Wii U gaming console hits stores in the U.S. on November 18.

Notable first-party titles arriving with Wii U include action game New Super Mario Bros. U and the party game NintendoLand, which features theme parks based on past Nintendo franchises.

Publishers including Activision, Disney Interactive, Electronic Arts, THQ and Ubisoft will release launch-day titles. Among the third-party titles listed: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Assassin’s Creed III, Just Dance 4, FIFA Soccer 13 and Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition.

Nintendo says an additional 29 titles will debut before the end of March, including space epic Mass Effect 3, fitness title Wii Fit U and first-person thriller Aliens: Colonial Marines.

“We’re making sure that Wii U owners will have great games to play from the moment they open the box, and that a steady stream of fun new games is always on the way,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America‘s president and chief operating officer, in a statement.

Also, Wii owners will get to play most of the games in their library on Wii U.

Launching Nov. 18, the Wii U comes in two varieties: an 8 GB white model ($299.99) with GamePad tablet controller, AC adapter, HDMI cable and sensor bar; and a 32 GB version in black that also adds a charging cradle, stand and copy of NintendoLand.

The device will also turn the GamePad into an advanced remote, allowing users to control their television sets using Nintendo’s TVii service.

The list of Wii U titles launching Nov. 18
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Skylanders Giants
Transformers Prime
Wipeout 3
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
EA Sports FIFA Soccer 13
Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition
New Super Mario Bros. U
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge
Nintendo Land
Sing Party
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper
Darksiders II
Assassin’s Creed III
ESPN Sports Connection
Just Dance 4
Rabbids Land
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013
ZombiU
Scribblenauts Unlimited
Game Party Champions
Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition

 

 

Nintendo TVii is exactly what it says it is and more. It is the ability to watch your favourite TV shows through your current set-top box, straight out of the box, on either your TV screen or on the Wii U GamePad’s integrated second screen. You can even use it to watch movies and TV shows through subscription services such as Netflix.

Nintendo TVii

Nintendo TVii

At the New York City Wii U Event, Nintendo’s Director of Network Business, Zach Fountain, spoke more about this amazing (and free) service. One thing is for sure and that is that Nintendo are clearly behind their sentiment at E3, they want the Wii U GamePad to be the first device you head to in your living room.

With Nintendo TVii, Nintendo have showed that their priorities have changed. Their standpoint when Wii was released was that they wanted to make a games console, and so that is what they did. However, now with Wii U on the way, Nintendo have now fully embraced the multimedia age in a move that would almost seem too brave until the specifics are known. To the uninitiated, Nintendo TVii sounds like it will probably have the same operation as say Apple TV, however Apple TV alienates those who prefer to watch TV live through the traditional channels.

Nintendo TVii does not have such boundaries, this (as I said earlier) free service operates with your set-top box after just a few questions on screen about your carrier, then it is a simple case of using your GamePad as a remote control. Zach Fountain said this, “Imagine, if you’re a content creator, you want the greatest possible exposure and distribution. Some platforms have walls built around them; what Nintendo TVii is doing is joining all of those together.”

So, clearly what Nintendo is saying is that they want to make it easier for those who wish to continue watching through traditional TV channels and that such a thing is possible through Wii U. He continued by saying, “The ways that everyone’s watching, now, they’re changing. There are more video services than ever, and more time-shifted viewing on DVR… but traditional TV still dominates 98 percent of video viewing. By building an experience, a Nintendo TV that works with what you already have, we have already covered a huge occasion that is missing from other platforms”

All of this has been possible by the teaming of Nintendo with i.Tv, a company specialising in creating integrated television experiences with second screens. However, this isn’t just a piece of ported software, “The TVii service has been built for the ground up for Nintendo. Everything you see with the Nintendo TVii will be exclusive to the platform with the important exception: The social component around these live moments that are delivered.” This, of course means, that Nintendo TVii will definitely have the social integration features spoken of before. You will be able to share moments from your favourite shows with friends, comment on scenes, and even better you will have your own viewing profile with recommendations tied to your preferences.

He concluded by saying, “I think immediately at launch we have some wonderful points of difference. The second screen is so critical; it’s integrated, you don’t have to provide your own separate screen, download an app or sync your devices. It’s built to work out of the box. There are a lot of interesting services out there, but you have to go buy hardware, or it’s an incremental purchase, or you might have ongoing subscription fees. A lot of the ideas around interaction with live TV will debut when this service launches.”

This is some interesting news to hear. Nintendo TVii, after all, does have the potential to be huge if done correctly. Also, with the recent confirmation as well that the service will recognise your NFL Sunday Ticket too, there are bound to be other big hitters in the TV world that will soon join in. I think personally that it’s a great idea, and one that I am disappointed that I have to wait for (especially the social features).

What do you guys think? Are you interested in the Nintendo TVii service?

 

 

Set to become the latest addition to the ‘Xbox 720 feature rumours‘ list, Microsoft have revealed their patent plans for a ’gaming projector’ designed to bring immersive virtual reality features to the surroundings of the player.
Potentially working alongside the Kinect motion-sensor system, an ‘environmental display’ is planned to serve alongside 3D cameras to offer a 360-degree backdrop on which the game can be played.

Will it look like this?

Will it look like this?

The features of such a device are set to place a ’360-degree game-world view’ onto the walls of the room where it is being played (presumably able to adjust to the room’s size), whilst connecting with the 3D camera and Kinect to measure where and how the player is standing/moving to ensure a wall display is relevent to the game rather than just a background (for example, crouching down to trigger a lower view of in-game surroundings).
The Microsoft patent states a claim for its potential popularity, reading: “Interactive media experiences, such as video games, are commonly delivered by a high quality, high resolution display. Such displays are typically the only source of visual content, so that the media experience is bounded by the bezel of the display. Even when focused on the display, the user may perceive architectural and decorative features of the room the display is in via the user’s peripheral vision. Such features are typically out of context with respect to the displayed image, muting the entertainment potential of the media experience. Further, because some entertainment experiences engage the user’s situational awareness (e.g., in experiences like the video game scenario described above), the ability to perceive motion and identify objects in the peripheral environment (i.e., in a region outside of the high resolution display) may intensify the entertainment experience.”
Meanwhile, the patent also reveals plans of a ‘Kinect 3D’ glasses (codename Fortaleza) to add depth to the images, and an enhanced Kinect sensor (version 2.0) to cater to the ambitious developments.
The next Xbox is expected to launch sometime in late 2013, though recent manufacturing difficulties may cause the system to be delayed.

 

Will Nintendo rule the world?

Next Generation consoles..

While we have a pretty good idea about what the Wii U is and what Nintendo’s strategy is going to be, details about Sony and Microsoft’s next consoles have been very limited. However, based on comments made by these companies, I believe that the next generation of gaming will feature three very different consoles with separate strategies and functionalities.

Now one could say the same thing about this generation to a certain extent. Microsoft has focused on strong online play and multimedia functionality; Sony has released lots first-party exclusives and focused on being the “gamer’s system” with services like PlayStation Plus; and Nintendo has achieved great success by reaching a huge audience with innovative new motion controls and a cheap price tag while sacrificing HD graphics and some of its hardcore audience.

However, I would argue that the PS3 and Xbox 360 are fundamentally similar consoles, thus why so many games were released on both platforms. Both are HD systems with traditional controllers, robust online functions, and are both focused on giant AAA games, especially shooters. Nintendo’s decision to revolutionize how we play games while remaining in SD separated it from the other systems.It’s already apparent that the Wii U will also be unique in its controls and graphical fidelity, but I think people might be surprised by how different the Xbox 720 and PS4 could be.

In an interview with IGN during E3 2012, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios Phil Spencer couldn’t talk directly about Microsoft’s future plans. However, when asked about what they have up their sleeve for the next-generation, Spencer gave some hints of what’s to come.

“We really start looking at the Xbox as an entertainment product, plugged into the biggest screen in your house, the TV, and a unique display surface in the TV. That’s why I try to focus on SmartGlass, trying to light up other things that are happening in the house, because we understand that it’s a connected-device ecosystem.

It’s a little bit like Kinect when it came out. We got Dance Central 3, the kind of game that didn’t even really exist before Kinect came around. I think now we look at SmartGlass and these other opportunities, and I think the kind of entertainment that we’re building will continue to push forward, multiple devices and opportunities to play anywhere, asynchronous multiplayer gameplay. We’re trying to come up with new terms for these connected experiences. I think you’re going to see just a ton of growth.”

Based on this quote as well as Microsoft’s recent trends, it would appear that the next Xbox will continue to emphasize multimedia connectivity like Netflix, ESPN, and Internet Explorer while connecting with other devices through technology like SmartGlass. Maybe it will even come bundled with some kind of Kinect 2.0 that uses more accurate motion and voice controls to help you navigate the menus and play games.

IGN’s Colin Campbell mentions the likelihood of “new models for buying and playing games and priced, at least as an option, on a smart-phone subscription model, with a low entry price and further payments over a couple years”. This seems like a good possibility given Microsoft’s strategy of selling a 360 for $100 along with a two-year contract for Xbox Live. While they don’t seem to be in any hurry to move to the next generation, we have seen pictures of alleged 720 dev kits and know that some developers have them, so it can’t be too far away. A late 2013 launch time seems likely, but Microsoft could wait until 2014 for launch and announce it at the next E3.

This montage of Link is for all Zelda lovers across the world…..Enjoy!

Ganondorf is shaking in his boots

Don’t mess with the Princess!