Friday, May 27, 2005

$299 Xbox 360? Old Xbox on its way out?

Microsoft VP and chief XNA architect J Allard told the Xbox
360 is "going to be in the neighborhood [of $300]." I've been worried
about a $399 or $499 machine, so a $299 launch price (like the first Xbox)
would great. I suppose $350 is still possible ...

Is the current Xbox on its way out? Could be. In a recent earnings call,
Xbox graphics chip manufacturer Nvidia said they won't be making any more
product after Q2 of this year (I'm assuming they're talking their fiscal
year, and I need to look up what that is for them). This could mean
Microsoft is sunsetting the current Xbox sooner than later, and we may see
$99 current-gen 'boxes to compete with the supposedly $99 PS2s this holiday
season. Interesting ...

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Xbox 360 vs. Playstation 3

Coolidge, more Xbox 360 meanderings. Next post or so, June games list ...

  1. The Xbox 360 vs PlaySation 3
  2. Xbox 360 controls are RF wireless (not optical)
  3. Xbox 360 UI


  1. The Xbox 360 vs PlaySation 3

    • OK, so I haven't done my comparison of the Xbox 360 vs PS3 vs Revolution (which isn't going to have concrete details until after the 360 ships), and I may still get to it.
    • In the meanwhile, check out a couple of articles that show -- despite paper specs to the contrary -- Microsoft may not be so far behind Sony:

    • Of course, Sony has two really cool features purportedly part of the PS3 (yeah, I said it) -- BlueTooth and dual HD output. The BlueTooth, which will allegedly allow (somebody stop me) 7 wireless controllers to attach to the console. Dual HD means you could power 2 separate HD displays, according to Sony, with bridged or unique content. If implemented right, this could mean you could have 7 people on one PS3 on two TVs, simplifying LAN parties and LAN vendors. If they deliver on what they say, of course. Come on, they're Sony for crying out loud ("Emotion Engine"? What?)
    • OK, but power is only part of it (there I go again). Sony showed no online strategy at E3, while Microsoft exploded theirs. And the aquisition/partnerships/exclusives MS is building -- Rare/Limelight networks/Gears of War -- We'll see ...

  2. Xbox 360 controls are RF wireless (not optical)

    • Cool, so I picked so misinfo a few weeks ago, and passed it on: The idea that the Xbox 360 wireless controllers were IR. I was wrong. I'm sorry Microsoft. Since you've never made a mistake or passed on misinformation, I can only hope you can conceptualize how you might forgive ... uh ... waitaminute ...
    • Anyway, RTX Telecom is developing the wireless pads and connections, which will be proprietary jobbies. They also give you "unmatched wireless gaming experience with the same speed and reliability as with a wired connection to the console while giving the players full mobility without the need of cables."
    • But, they're not BlueTooth, like the PS3, which allows for a whole host of peripherals and opportunities with a mature, published standard. Sigh.

  3. Xbox 360 UI

    • Turns out global interactive marketing mavens AKQA were the folks collaborating with Microsoft to create the new Xbox 360 UI. I'm actually impressed with the form and function of the new UI, and you can check out some picts at, and see the service side of the future of gaming.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

E3 Games: The Good. The Bad. The Mheh.

Games I'm excited about:

Games that look weak:

  • Killing Day
  • Scarface: The World is Yours
  • Pariah
  • The Apprentice
  • Aeon Flux

Games in which I've lost interest:

  • Starcraft: Ghost (frankly, it's been too long, and Aeon Flux'll probably still beat it to market)
  • Advent Rising (Dunno, maybe it can live up the hype; Orson Scott Card is pretty amazing)
  • Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 3 (Maybe third time's the charm)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare (Give up already)
  • Painkiller (Played it online on the PC -- what're you gonna give me?)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Nintendo brings the Revolution; Current Xbox seeing a lotta love

  1. Yet More Xbox 360 details
  2. Nintendo Revolution revealed
  3. Who's winning the next-gen console game?
  4. Current Xbox still looking good ...


  1. Yet More Xbox 360 details

    • Konami Castlevania: Curse of Darkness is coming to Xbox, marking the first time the franchise will see Microsoft hardware.
    • Xbox Media Center Extender: Currently a separate (and unbelievably sucky) add-on for the Xbox and Windows, Microsoft said they will be releasing a free download later this year for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, and the Xbox 360 will ship with Xbox extender capabilities out of the box. This'll allow access to digital music/video/picts and standard (and high-def!) TV and movies on Media Center Edition 2005-based PCs through a networked Xbox 360 game console. Besides the integrated functionality, the support for high-def is an improvement over the current offering. Bill Gates makes some astute comments in this month's Time magazine: "You can't just sell it as a convergence device. You gotta get in there because certain members of the family [i.e., teenage boys] think it's a must-have type thing. But the way to cement it is as a family experience."
    • Win an Xbox 360 before you can buy it. Starting August 28, Pepsi-Cola, and Xbox will select a winner of an Xbox 360 console every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for nine weeks straight in the "Every 10 Minutes" promotion. Codes are under participating beverage caps, and details and code entry can be found at

  2. Nintendo Revolution revealed

    • Nintendo revealed their next-gen console today at their pre-E3 press conference.
    • Controllers: Nintendo president Satoru Iwata confirmed the controllers (not displayed at the event) will be wireless, putting at least that on par with the other two competitors. No word on the rumored touch-screen capabilities.
    • Power: The Revolution will be "2-3 times as powerful" as the current GameCube (as opposed to the PS3's alleged 12-times increase over the PS2).
    • Online Support: Continuing their online flipflop, the Revolution will support an Xbox Live-like online service. As I mentioned yesterday, the online connectivity is via Wi-Fi.
    • Media: Besides supporting the current GameCube 8cm discs and new Revolution 12cm discs, the Revolution will support DVD movie play, though it will require an "internal attachment" to do so -- What? Oh, and it'll have SD readers.
    • Games: First-party support is Nintendo's strong suit (they developed/published 8 of the GameCube's top-ten titles). Not a lot of details here, but they did say they have "big plans" for the Metroid franchise, Mario and Zelda games are already underway (the Zelda trailer looks good -- Link can evidently turn into a werewolf), as is a Wi-Fi version of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. The real silver bullet (sorry)? The Revolution's online service will allow for downloadable puzzlers and "the potential" for downloadables from Nintendo's 20-year game library -- NES through N64.
    • For those keeping score, Microsoft revealed the Xbox 360 last week; Sony let the PlayStation 3 out of the bag yesterday, and Nintendo was last to showcase their new console today. This also mirrors the supposed release schedules for the consoles, with the Xbox 360 shipping November 2005; the PlayStation 3 in "spring 2006"; and the Revolution in "2006".
    • In other Nintendo news, the Nintendo DS is going online, connecting through Wi-Fi hot spots. Also, the company will be releasing a new version of the Game Boy -- the "Game Boy micro", the same funtionality in an even smaller, almost credit-card form factor (no, not thickness, ya greedy bastards).

  3. Who's winning the next-gen console game?

    • I'll be doing something a little more analytical in a day or two, but here's my 30-thousand foot assesment of how the three console competitors are doing:

      • Microsoft wins with first blood (both in announcing and alleged ship date), marketing, and new partnerships.
      • Sony wins with raw power, leading-edge technology (i.e., BlueTooth), and leveraging of long-time Sony development and publishing partners.
      • Nintendo wins purely on sexiness -- the thing's roughly the size of an external slimline optical drive. Seriously. Sexy -- check out the picts.

    • You know who's really winning the console war, though, right? IBM and Epic (Makers of the Unreal Engine 3, which is being picked up left and right by developer and publishers), is supported on PC, PS3, and is the development engine of choice for the Xbox 360. Though I hear at least one local Austin game studio isn't all that enamored with it ...

  4. Current Xbox still looking good ...

    • OK, all of the Xbox 360 announcements are amazing and exciting -- but the sun isn't setting on the current-gen Xbox. By the end of 2005, more than 200 games will ship for the big black box, including heavy-hitters like Half-Life 2 (which'll have even better lighting effects on the Xbox than the PC), Rare’s Xbox-only Conker: Live & Reloaded, and Star Wars: Battlefront II (from LucasArts; get ready to battle on the Death Star, baby!).

Monday, May 16, 2005

Pre-E3 Hoopla, PS 3 revealed, and Xbox 360 backwards compatibility

OK, this year's E3 is gonna leave me weak in the knees. More details on the Xbox 360 are blitzing the media channels, and Sony announced a spec-for-spec competitor (if not superior) to our 8.5-pound black box's successor. Nintendo will be out of the gate tomorrow. And, really, it's all about the games.

Halo 3 in 2006? Yeppers. Sony's Killzone 2 a potential Halo killer? The trailer says "yes"; but that's Halo 2; let's see what Halo 3 brings when it launches at the same time as the PlayStation 3 ...

  1. Xbox 360 backwards compatible
  2. More Xbox 360 details
  3. Halo goes platinum, and on the cheap
  4. Halo 3 and PS3 toe-to-toe?
  5. Nintendo Revolution details
  6. PlayStation 3 revealed


  1. Xbox 360 backwards compatible

    • At today's E3 Microsoft press conference, MS said the Xbox 360 will be "backward-compatible with top-selling Xbox games". What does it mean? Maybe Microsoft will pick which games will run on the Xbox 360. Maybe it'll be like the PS2, where early gen PS1 games don't work. I'm guessing Halo 2 and Doom 3 will run on the new box, so I don't care.

  2. More Xbox 360 details

    • Square Enix announced Fantasy XI to the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live.
    • There will be between 25-40 Xbox 360 games this year (with more than 160 games in development).
    • Other new games announcements of note include Blue Dragon (Microsoft Game Studios/Mistwalker Inc.); Dead or Alive 4 (Tecmo/Team Ninja); zombie title DEAD RISING (Capcom/Capcom); RPG Lost Odyssey (Microsoft Game Studios, Mistwalker); fantasy actioner NINETY-NINE NIGHTS (Microsoft Game Studios/Q Entertainment/Phantagram Ltd./Tetsuya Mizuguchi); third-person World War II title The Outfit (THQ Inc./Relic Entertainment).
    • The Xbox wireless controller will use Microsoft-patented wireless technology, which sounds like it won't be IR. As long as it's not line-of-site, I don't care (my Xbox is hooked up behind me to my projector).

  3. Halo goes platinum, and on the cheap

  4. Halo 3 and PS3 toe-to-toe?

    • Bill Gates is on the cover of this month's Time magazine, and he mentions the 2nd crop of Xbox 360 games in spring 2006 will include Halo 3. Specifically, "It's perfect. The day Sony launches [the new PlayStation], and they walk right into Halo 3." Brilliant!

  5. Nintendo Revolution details

    • The press event hasn't been held yet (tomorrow morning), but Nintendo's verified some Revolution details.
    • Size: About thickness of 3 standard DVD cases and also slightly longer than a DVD case (though the thing can be place vertically or horizontally).
    • Backwards compitable?: Yeppers (playing the current GameCube 8cm discs and new 12cm discs), as well as DVDs.
    • Connectivity: Wireless internet-ready out of the box.

  6. PlayStation 3 revealed

    • At today's Sony press conference the current console king revealed the PlayStation 3 will be available spring 2006. Point-for-point, the PS3 does seem to trounce the Xbox 360, but I'll offer my opinion in a day or when the dust has settled.
    • Processing power will be the equivalent of 2 teraflops of performance.
    • The drive'll use Sony's Blu-ray discs, and will also support CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD, DVD-ROM, DVD-R, and DVD+R.
    • The PS3 will also have slots for Memory Stick Duo, an SD slot, and a compact flash memory slot.
    • It will also have a slot for a detachable 2.5-inch hard drive (though no word on whether the hard drive will be standard).
    • Support for 1080p -- about the highest high-def around -- and two HD outputs, and can be attached to 2 side-by-side HDTVs for 32:9 "extra-widescreen" (think the Nintendo DS on 'roids).
    • Out-of-the-box support for seven bluetooth wireless controllers, and wi-fi connectivity to the PSP.
    • 6 USB ports.
    • Wireless High-Def IP Camera.
    • Supported features will include video chat, Internet access, digital photo viewing, and digital audio and video.
    • Check out the full summary and picts at

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Recap of the Xbox 360 reveal!

OK, so I still hate the name, but I think Microsoft took all of the concepts behind my name ("Xbox Now"), and plugged them into tonight's MTV reveal.

And color me impressed. Unlike yanking the Rolling Stones to launch Windows 95, Microsoft tagged MTV, happening actor (and game nut) Elijah Wood, the Pimp My Ride guys, and suh-weet rockers The Killers.

You can now go to for a blitz of all things Xbox 360, and is now Live (yeah, it's a pun).

Immediately after the special, the good boys in green over at have posted a their own full reveal of the Xbox 360. Come on you guys -- you were holding out.

TeamXbox is still guessing a bit, but they did some sleuthing as to the product packaging mockups, and it looks like the shipping Xbox 360 in November will come with a console, 20GB removeable hard drive, one wireless controller, Media Remote (could be a promotional deal), Xbox Live, wired headset (relax; it'll be wired to the wireless controller), and an ethernet cable.

Console: Front

  • IR port. Crap! The wireless controllers are IR -- which means line-of-site. That's a screw-up, Microsoft.
  • A "connect" button for synching wireless controllers.
  • Two memory unit slots.
  • Two covered USB 2.0 ports (there's a third one on the back).
  • Customizable faceplate. I'm making one that says, "Sony". uh, just kidding, guys ... Mine'll be a medicinal hemp-like weave.

Console: Back

  • New video out (probably one cable that does component or composite)
  • Third USB 2.0 port.
  • Ethernet

Hardware: Camera

  • Interesting, a USB 2.0 camera is going to be launched shortly after the console, and will support voice and video chat.

Hardware: Controllers

  • IR wireless (yank!), but wired will also be supported for those trying to trip up the dog.
  • Lighter, smaller, and smoother than the Duke and the Controller S.
  • That synch button I mentioned earlier should be pretty useful. Take your controller over to your Xbox 360-lovin' friend, push synch, and everyone's supported.
  • The new button incorporating the new logo is the Xbox Guide button. This button'll give instant access to the Xbox Gamer Guide or Xbox System Guide when playing games, watching a movie, making Julianne Carrots, etc.
  • Built-in recharging port if you're using rechargeable AA batteries.
  • Yes, Virginia, rumble will be here for Christmas.
  • Hey, 4 wireless controllers can be supported -- can additional wired controllers be used? let's put 6 or 7 people on one Xbox!

Hardware: Headset

  • Yeah, the pack-in headset will be wired, but the system will support wireless headsets shortly after launch. Current headsets will work, but you won't have volume control (since that's currently on the Live controller jack).

Hardware: Remote

  • Cool! The Xbox 360 is gonna support universal remotes! And the pack-in is going to allow for Windows Media Center functionality, too. I can get rid of that POJ Xbox Media Center Extender.

The Ring of Light

  • So, here's a consistent theme and functionality with Xbox 360 -- the Ring of Light (get it? Elijah Wood? Frodo? One ring to rule them all? Never mind.).
  • Fully programmable, the Ring of Light is in the System Guide, on the Xbox 360 controller, and on the console face. There are four sections, and there can be one color for each player's Xbox controller (it's light red, dammit!), system alerts like friend invite or low battery (again, just to your controller), and it'll be up to game programmers to do cool and slick stuff (MySimon, anyone?).

Xbox Live

  • The 360 will ship with a "Silver" version of Xbox Live, which'll let you create a profile, Gamertag, do voice chat and messaging, get to the Xbox Live Marketplace, visit Xbox Live Arcade, etc. All games'll have to support a unified Friends list, voice chat, game invites, blah blah blah. I minimize, but this is freakin' awesome.
  • An Xbox Live "Gold" account will add online play and enhanced matchmaking options. And your current Xbox Live subscription is usable on 360 Live (though backwards compatibility on the game front is still up in the air).
  • Xbox Live 360'll show your friends playing on 360 titles, and "old" Xbox titles. And you can message back and forth!
  • Spectator mode -- finally! Get online and watch people play a new title. Find out how many griefers and whiners are online, and decide if you want the heartburn.
  • The Xbox Live Marketplace is gonna shatter micro-payments boundaries, build community, and extol the virtues of capitalism. Marx is rolling in his grave.
  • The Gamer Card -- Check out the TeamXbox summary of the new Gamer Card.


  • There'll be an Xbox Gamer Guide, and an Xbox System Guide. These are customizeable and skinnable.

Digital Media

  • Plug in a digital camera via USB and make a slideshow. Share it with your friends list.
  • Rip music and use it as a custom soundtrack for any Xbox 360 title.
  • Connect your MP3 player.
  • Use Instant Messenger


  • Video: All games will be required to support 720p and 1080i and 16:9.
  • Audio: All games will be required to support 5.1 audio.

What's out

  • DVR functionality.
  • DVD burner.

You can head over to's Xbox site, and get a ton of info: Specs, the "green carpet" recap (whatever; if I'm not there, I don't care), and all of the next-gen trailers. Of particular note on the trailer front:

  • Sega's Full Auto is new to me, and looks like Crazy Taxi 3 + Twisted Metal, and horror/suspense/CSI-next-step Condemned looks absolutely amazing.
  • Saint's Row was also new to me, and though it looks slick, I think it looks like Grand Theft Auto, 25-to-Life, and Max Payne's constipation grimace got stuck in a blender.
  • The Darkness. Are you kidding me? Freaking awesome comic from Top Cow that is looking very slick in the trailer -- no gameplay, yet, but this is being done by Starbreeze Studios -- the genius studio behind The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay.
  • Tom Clancey's Ghost Recon 3 looks amazing. The clip is too short, but the hinted at gameplay? Fuggedaboudit!
  • Kameo: Elements of Power looks to put Rare back on the map after their aquisition by Microsoft (though not as much as Perfect Dark: Zero -- now in an FPS!).
  • Project Gotham 3? Let me go out on a limb and say that it'll be better than first party Project Gotham 2. And first-party Forza Motorsport.
  • Oh, and a little ditty called Quake 4 may just leap frog Doom 3 + Halo 2 + Half-Life 2 ...
  • ... And'll either be neckin' with or kissing the rump of the Unreal Engine 3 powered Gears of War.

    Oh, this holiday is going to rock me like a hurricane ...

Xbox 360 revealed tonight; E3 games lists; Sony's historical miss-steps

  1. Xbox 360 to be revealed tonight!
  2. EBGames goes Live
  3. Same controller for Xbox 360 and Windows?
  4. E3 Line-ups
  5. Sony's historical miss-steps


  1. Xbox 360 to be revealed tonight!

  2. EBGames goes Live

    • In a smart co-marketing move, Microsoft is partnering with EBGames to put Xbox Live-enabled kiosks in 25 EBGames stores across the country. Store visitors will be able to go head-to-head against EBgames visitors from other stores.
    • Playable games will likely be of the "E for Everyone" rating (initially, the newly release Forza Motorsport), and the Xbox Live headset won't be in use at the kiosks (thanks to the foul-mouthed putzes who frequent online games, and the need to protect underage video game shoppers).
    • You can find a list of supported stores here, and no, Austin, TX isn't on the map. Nice, Microsoft -- Don't put a kiosk in the town that houses the guys that do Red vs Blue for the Halo faithful ...
    • The partnership with EBGames is interesting to me, given GameStop's recent announcement they are purchasing EBGames. Then again, negotations with EBGames probably started will before the aquisition announcement, and GameStop has said they'll be keeping the EBGames brand around for sometime, both online and brick-and-mortar.

  3. Same controller for Xbox 360 and Windows?

    • Microsoft announced they'll be showing a prototype "universal gaming controller" next week at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). The controller will work on both Xbox 360 and Windows, and, according to MS, "Gamers will have more playing options with a familiar, versatile and well-designed gamepad-style controller."
    • I don't know if the controller is going to work on the current Windows XP OS, or whether it's targeted for Longhorn, MS's next-gen Windows OS.

  4. E3 Line-ups

    • There'll be more of these, but the announcements to date for next week's industry boondogle are pretty nifty:
    • Electronic Arts

      • NCAA Football 06
      • Madden NFL 06
      • NASCAR 06
      • Batman Begins
      • Battlefield 2
      • BLACK
      • Burnout Revenge
      • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
      • From Russia With Love
      • Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects
      • Medal of Honor European Assault
      • Need for Speed Most Wanted
      • The Godfather
      • The Sims 2

    • Activision (not all games will appear on Xbox)

      • Call of Duty 2
      • Call of Duty 2: Big Red One
      • Fantastic 4
      • The Movies
      • QUAKE 4
      • Shrek SuperSlam
      • Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland
      • Ultimate Spider-Man
      • X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse

    • Hip Interactive

      • George A Romero presents City of the Dead
      • Call of Cthulhu: Destiny's End
      • Fear Factor: Unleashed
      • Rugby Challenge 2006

    • Majesco Games

      • Demonik
      • The Darkness
      • Aeon Flux
      • Taxi Driver
      • Jaws Unleashed
      • Advent Rising

    • KOEI Games

      • An unannounced title for Xbox
      • An unannounced title for a "next generation console"
      • Dynasty Warriors 5

    • THQ

      • MotoGP 3
      • Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers
      • Juiced
      • Destroy All Humans!
      • SpongeBob SquarePants: Lights, Camera, Pants!
      • Tak: The Great Juju Challenge
      • The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer

    • Webzen

      • Huxley
      • APB

  5. Sony's historical miss-steps

    • Caveat Emptor: I really like and admire Sony as an industry innovator and powerhouse. I just shake my head and them not learning in the console space, or getting lazy while owning the console space. I am so gonna get nasty-grams about this ...
    • Following my summary a few weeks ago and (I hope professional) digs at Sony's miss-steps in the console space, has released an editorial, "Sony and The Hype Machine", which is a good historical look at Sony's hyp-versus-reality in the console space including "The Emotion Engine", Sony's online initiative, the non-PlayStation 3 unveiling, and unanswered questions on the future.
    • I also forgot one key miss-step in my last article -- Sony's penchant for proprietary media. Beta? MiniDisc? MemoryStick? Blu-Ray? And the PlayStation Portable (PSP) Universal Media Disc (UMD). UMD is Sony's proprietary game and movie medium for the PSP, and has been causing heartburn (and increased cost) for game developers, publishers, and movie studios. Let's look briefly at the UMD versus mini-DVD specification, and ponder why Sony would have gone this route. Just to punctuate it a bit, Sony already uses mini-DVD recordables and mini-DVD-RW in some of their video cameras, which would seem to make re-use a no-brainer. Which flags another Sony miss-step: The historical inability of the different Sony companies and divisions to work with each other. And think how easy it would be for the studios to reduce content for existing DVDs to fit mini-DVDs (i.e., reduce 5.1 audio to 2.1 audio, reduce special content and/or put it on the flip side of a dual-sided DVD, etc.).

Physical size:
1.4GB (2.8GB dual sided)
1.8 GB
Industry Acceptance
Support for streaming content
Support for multiple content
(i.e., video/audio at same time)

Sunday, May 08, 2005

MTV can't keep a secret ...

Yeesh, so I said MTV: Music Television is gonna blow the lid on the Xbox May 12.

Seems that can't wait. First, they revealed the new logo at the taping.

Then, Saturday, some leaked photos (allegedly from an attendent's camera phone at the event) have made it onto the Internet.

The photos show the console, stood on edge, a wireless controller, a headset (which plugs into the wireless controller), and a camera (lending credence to the Eye-Toy-like rumor).

Another photo shows a more detailed wireless controller, with a very cool implementation of the new Xbox logo, which is a button with at least 4 directional inputs.

Finally, the new remote control has shown up, and it's (not surprisingly) a mishmash of the current Xbox DVD remote, Xbox Media Extender, and the Windows XP Media Center remotes.

OK, commentary? Yeah, the new Xbox is much smaller, but it's still huge compared to the slimline Sony PlayStation 2. And, this solid gloss white of the controller and remote are almost throwback (not good retro), so I'm a wee bit apathetic on them as of yet. We'll see how the near-final versions look ...

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Backwards compatibility? Bill on Xbox 360. Partnerships of note.

  1. Xbox 360 backwards compatible?
  2. Bill Gates talks up Microsoft and the next Xbox
  3. Recent Microsoft partnerships of note
  4. Next-Gen games of note
  5. Nintendo going 3D?
  6. New Releases


  1. Xbox 360 backwards compatible?

    • A few week's ago, I mentioned CNN's Game-Over column. Specifically, I told folks to check out Chris Morris's article, "A wish list for Xbox 2", which contained (among other things), the insightful comment about the technical difficulty of backwards compatibility: "Gamers don't care, though. They just want it done."
    • Well, according to this week's GameSpot Rumor Control, "numerous Xbox Live users reported they were sent a survey that explicitly stated they will be able 'to play against gamers who are on Live through Xbox 2--as long as they are playing a current-generation Xbox game.'"

  2. Bill Gates talks up Microsoft and the next Xbox

    • Microsoft chairman Bill Gates sounded off recently at a Society of American Business Editors and Writers meeting. Gates said the goal of the first Xbox was to show Microsoft was legitimate in the industry, but the goal in the next generation is to be an equal cometitor (with Sony) the industry.
    • During the meeting, Gates said the next Xbox will indeed be a home's media hub, and will sport an OS akin to a reduced version of Windows Media Center.
    • Also, Gates apparently let slip confirmation the next Xbox is shipping this year. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Gates said, "What will the year of high-definition be? This year, because we're going to ship this next Xbox."

  3. Recent Microsoft partnerships of note

    • Limelight Networks -- Limelight Networks announced Microsoft has signed them to be the content delivery network for Xbox Live. The press release says, "Xbox Live will utilize Limelight Networks' technology and high-performance distributed network to provide on-demand games and other multimedia content", which is interesting, since it sounds like hosting of the games themselves will remain within Microsoft (with some unfortunate exceptions, like Electronic Arts hosting their Xbox live titles in a sub-par way). The reference to "on-demand games" is interesting, because it speaks to MS maybe getting serious about things like their half-hearted Xbox Live Arcade implemention. Limelight's gotta be feeling pretty good -- they're also the also the content provider for Valve Software's Steam service, IFILM, and the upcoming Phantom console (I'm not even going to link to that marketing fiasco).
    • Samsung -- Microsoft has taken a big step in putting their money where their mouth is in the upcoming "HD Era" they say they're ushering in with the Xbox 360. In a recently signed partnership with Samsung Electronics, the companies will put over 25,000 Samsung high-definition televisions in Microsoft Xbox retail kiosk locations around the world. Pretty cool, but the crux is what the kiosk locations do. Just like the breaking factor in showcase Microsoft Windows Media Center PCs, the retailers generally screw up the display, leaving really broken or otherwise functionless kiosks unaddressed. I've seen this at virtually all Best Buys, Circuit Citys, GameStops, EBGames, Walmarts, Hastings, and Fry's Electronics, to name a few. Of slightly cooler gamer news on this front is Samsung will be pairing a new 23" Samsung LCD TV (LNR238W) at retail with the new Xbox console. Samsung and Microsoft have a longstanding partnership, which is particularly appropos given Samsung and Sony's competition in the electronics space.
    • Showtime -- This summer, Showtime and Microsoft are launching an aggressive promotional campaign, where new Showtime subscribers get free Xbox games and Xbox Live starter kits. The campaign links premium TV, videogames (in about half of US households), and cable/satellite affiliates. Under the promotion, new Showtime subscribers get either two free games, or one free game and an Xbox Live starter kit -- including headset and 12-month subsciption. The promotion starts this month and runs through the summer. Given Microsoft and Showtime are touting "two distinct offers, each valued at $100 or more", I'm curious to see what the games are, and whether the game that comes with the Xbox Live option is different than the pack-in for the retail version (Crimson Skies).

  4. Next-Gen games of note

    • Will Huxley redefine online gaming? It certainly has that potential. The Webzen Inc. mixes MMO with FPS, promising support for 100 simultaneous player battles, and 5,000 players per server. In addition, the "outcome of each battle is directly linked to the survival of the characters [sic] entire race", the Huxley world is persistent, your character is constantly growing in skills, requiring changes in gameplay styles for yourself and your competitor. As an aside, I actually chatted with the Webzen folks at last year's Austin Game Conference.
    • Epic's Gears of War -- That site just seems to keep on giving. Recently, it looks like leaked picts have shown up indicating Epic Games may indeed by doing a game with new IP, using the Unreal Technology Engine 3.0, as an Xbox 360 launch title. A year later, the Unreal 3.0tech demo from the 2004 E3 is still mind-boggling, so it would be great to see it as an Xbox-exclusive. Besides, Microsoft recently announced the technology is the engine of choice for their first-party development from Microsoft Game Studios.

  5. Nintendo going 3D?

    • More Nintendo Revolution rumors. This time, the rumor is Nintendo's next console will feature some sort of stereoscopic projection. That could be cool, and we may or may not get more details at this year's E3, since the Revolution is supposed to be a no-show.

  6. New Releases (May)

    • 5/1/2005

      • Still Life

    • 5/3/2005

      • Pariah
      • Forza Motorsport

    • 5/5/2005

      • Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith

    • 5/15/2005

      • Virtual Pool: Tournament Edition

    • 5/17/2005

      • Sid Meier's Pirates!
      • Outlaw Tennis

    • 5/23/2005

      • Madagascar

    • 5/24/2005

      • Classified: The Sentinel Crisis

    • 5/31/2005

      • Advent Rising
      • Digimon World 4