Posts Tagged ‘Xbox’

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?

 

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.

 

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.

Recently, I finally got a chance to play Assassin’s Creed II. It sold millions of copies, gained widespread critical acclaim, and… I found myself wondering why.

Not that it’s a bad game, necessarily, but if there’s one thing that defines this game, it’s the fact that the game is constantly inflicting arbitrary limits on you from the first frame. You can’t start the actual game proper until you talk to everybody in the room before entering the Animus. You can’t just climb up the towers to get to certain viewpoints, you have to follow a specific path laid out by the development team (or worse, unlock a mechanic to use). You have an open world but it’s deliberately limited until you finish certain memories, because God forbid we could unlock chunks of the map.

For me, the breaking point was an Assassin’s Tomb where you had to chase after a Templar who, of course, beat you to the goal. So you climb up to get into the room and fight the group. At this point I had throwing knives and a pistol.

And they were disabled. I couldn’t use two weapons to fight because the game had decided I wasn’t allowed to for no reason whatsoever except the game felt like it. This was immediately followed by a platforming section where you not only had to deal with the game’s imprecise controls but had to use an entirely new mechanic the game hadn’t introduced before this point.

Overrated or what?

The worst part is that this was hardly the only open-world action game that hit that year. inFamous and Prototype both were far less restrictive and frankly more fluid in getting around the world, and had better controls.

Again, it’s not a bad game, but it’s so unnecessarily restricted that I found myself wondering where the praise came from.

What about you? What game have you played and found maybe not bad, but baffled at the praise?

LEGO Universe, the latest and most ambitious Lego-themed video game, has flung open its doors to those who want first go on the game while it’s still in testing.

Initially, free trials were only on offer to fans that visited LEGO’s display at the Consumer Entertainment Show in Las Vegas this January.

Now, the announcement of a public beta phase means that the full game is likely to be less than six months away. Successful applicants will be able to play on a pre-release and in return help the developers improve the game before it goes on sale.

Recently, other games emphasizing online interaction such as Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Star Trek Online, and MAG started their public beta tests between four and five months prior to launching.

The LEGO toy line started life as a wooden toy company in the 1930s, and by the 1950s had grasped hold of a new technology – plastic.

The modern recreational shift to video games prompted LEGO to involve themselves in cross-over titles following up on popular films: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Batman have all found their characters given the LEGO treatment.

One major difference between LEGO Universe and previous LEGO video games is that it’s not thought to make use of characters licensed from other franchises. Instead, the citizens of LEGO Universe are original LEGO creations.

So here we are folks!

A Blog that allows us all to talk about Games Consoles, Games and all the latest news about what Hot and what not within the Gaming industry.

If you fancy talking about ‘Back in the day’ games like Space Invaders or what the next Zelda game will be called then be my guest.

If you fancy talking about the old school consoles or the current crop out there or the up and coming new possibilities like the XBox 720 then be my guest.