Microsoft will launch a TV service for Xbox 360 this holiday season, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced at a financial analyst meeting this week. Ballmer said Microsoft is working with "dozens or hundreds of additional video-content suppliers," which makes us wonder if someone should send out a company memo describing the substantial difference between those two figures. Xbox TV will feature live television as well as on-demand services. Xbox TV will use Bing and the Kinect voice commands to facilitate users' searches, a feature that Ballmer said separates Microsoft from previous, failed TV-peripheral attempts by other companies, such as Google and Apple. Van Baker, an analyst at Gartner, said that may not be as much of an advantage as Microsoft thinks. "Search is not discovery," he said. "Search as an answer to discovery implies you know what you're looking for. Most people have no idea what they're looking for." A well-integrated streaming TV service is a wonderful idea, if it's implemented correctly -- we'll see if Microsoft has the magic formula (Wingardium televisiosa!) this holiday season.
Sunday, 18 September 2011
Call of Duty recieves a lot of criticism for launching on a yearly cycle, and the developers responsible for Modern Warfare 3 are well aware of these concerns. The franchise always runs the risk of losing steam, and sales momentum when launching each year. In a recent interview, Glen Shofield of Sledgehammer games talked about the internal struggle for innovation, and listening to the fans for feedback to make each game better than the last. Shofield told Gamerzines, " It's not losing momentum right now, it's growing. You can see it out there. It's so big, people love it and I get so many tweets from the community. It's the biggest thing in entertainment. You stay paranoid because things can happen, but staying paranoid actually makes your game better." Early indications suggest that Modern Warfare 3 will be the best selling game of 2011, outpacing Call of Duty: Black Ops in the pre-order department. Black Ops became the single largest entertainment release in history following its November 2010 release and growing popularity among gamers on all platforms.
Infinity Ward's Robert Bowling announced that come November, there will be no Prestige Edition for Modern Warfare 3. Bowling confirmed the news that the Hardened Edition will be the only collector's edition for the game at launch. Bowling said on his Twitter account: "The Hardened Edition of #MW3 will be the only collectors edition available this year". That means no over-the-top bonuses of the likes contained in editions past. Night vision goggles, rc-cars, and other collectors items have made their way to retail in years past. The Hardened Edition comes with a one year membership to Call of Duty: Elite, where you'll recieve "Founders Status", a Steelbook case for the game. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 launches this November.
343 Industries will be hosting a beta for the Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary edition early next month. With a November release window for the game, Halo fans will be getting a title update for Halo: Reach, and with that, Microsoft will be adding a matchmaking beta playlist to the game for all Xbox Live gold members that own Bungie's final offering to the Halo universe. 343 recently unveiled one of the classic maps for the Halo: CE multiplayer. The fan favorite from Halo 2, Headlong has a load of newly remastered screenshots which can be found here. The Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition arrives on November 15th with a remastered original Halo: CE campaign and reworked versions of classic Halo multiplayer playlists. Get your first look at multiplayer on October 4th.
Jets will be featured in Rush Mode on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, as was recently confirmed by Alan Kertz of DICE. The jets which Kertz further detailed as "player flown" will be just as viable an option as the many other vehicles that have always populated the objective based mode. While it was thought that with some scaling on the console version of the maps, the jets would not be included for those versions of Battlefield 3. Kertz claims that "We found them fun on the right maps, so we kept them.", while feilding questions about the game via Twitter. Battlefield 3 launches with jets in Rush Mode on October 25th, 2011 on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.
Another demonstration for the Xbox Live functionality on Windows 8 was given on Thursday, and the cross platform possibilities of the new operating system were on full display. With Xbox Live coming to the new interface, and plenty of back-end optimizations, a whole slew of new features that work with Xbox Live will be coming to Windows 8. One of the most promising features however, is the aysnchronous multiplayer that allows players on Windows PCs, Windows Phone, and Xbox 360 to play against each other using the same multiplayer and matchmaking functionalities across all platforms. It was rumored that Windows 8 would be centralized around gaming to give Valve a run for its money, and this new Xbox Live functionality incorporated into the new OS is looking to do just that.
Recently Sony went on the warpath with allegations that Microsoft refuses to publish games on Xbox Live that release on the PlayStation Network first, in an attempt to "protect inferior technology". While the truth of the matter may be that Microsoft implements these guidelines to protect its own interests, one developer doesn't believe that it's to protect inferior technology in the Xbox 360. According to Mel Kirk of Zen Studios, "Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft all have very different cultures. Microsoft has a very specific way of managing Xbox Live Arcade. It makes for a more successful platform for everybody who gets a game up there . Those things are in place to act as a real gatekeeper for quality content.... I'll be perfectly honest, you're going to do better on XBLA than you will on PSN. The policies they have in place really enable that. They don't stifle creativity because, you look like a game like Pinball FX, we did some groundbreaking things there for a free-to-play with in-app purchasing game on console. They let us take those risks. They were there. They wanted to work and help us develop them even further and gave us a lot of good input...If you want to get your game on XBLA, yeah, don't put it out anywhere until you get it there. But XBLA right now, Steam is rivalling, but XBLA is the Holy Grail for digital publishing."