- Microsoft in Times Square
- Xbox Live 2.0 details
- Rest of the Halo 2 maps released
- Get an Xbox 360 early
- Xbox 360 Guide and Dashboard
- The Hard Drive Debate
1. Microsoft in Times Square
Imagine a four-story Xbox 360 retail store in New York City's Times Square. According to a Seattle Times report this week, it's in the works. And though Microsoft "does not comment on rumors", they do, "At any given time, Microsoft evaluates and pursues real-estate opportunities and needs."
Why not? In 2001, Microsoft launched the first Xbox at the Toys "R" Us Times Square.
Besides, Nintendo two-story Nintendo World at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan in May of this year.
2. Xbox Live 2.0 details
Cool, Xbox Live Silver memberships are going to be free, and'll give you access to Xbox Live Marketplace, create a gamer profile, and leave voice messages.
If you want to do online gaming, you'll need Xbox Live Gold, which'll, uh, cost you more. details are a little sketchy, and GameStop and EBGames have got different names for the same packages:
- One-month: $7.99 (Up $2)
- Three-month #1: $19.99
- Three-month #2: $39.99 (includes headset, $10 rebate on a game, copy of Joust for Xbox Live arcade, and 100 marketplace points)
- One-year: $49.99 (includes headset, 200 marketplace points, $20 game rebate; EBGames makes it a 13-month subscription and the Billiards Xbox Live arcade game, while GameStop has a 12-month subscription and, again, a copy of Joust)
So far, everything's listed as coming out on November 15 from both retailers.
3. Rest of the Halo 2 maps released
The last 5 of the new Halo 2 have been released for free download today. Though available now, the last 5 maps (Relic, Elongation, Terminal, Backwash, and Gemini) will be required to download them by next week's matchmaking update.
4. Get an Xbox 360 early
Mountain Dew is running the "Every 10 Minutes" promotion is giving away an Xbox 360 system every 10 minutes. Winners will get their systems before the launch date, and their choice of Madden NFL 06 or Need for Speed Most Wanted. You gotta buy specially marked beverages, or request a game piece get mailed to you.
5. Xbox 360 Guide and Dashboard
TeamXbox.com has got some details from the Game Developers Conference Europe.
Things that are cool for developers the Xbox 360 Guide is an always-running app handling configuration, device management, common system tasks (Xbox Live log-in, log-out, alerts, Friend’s List, game invitations), plus game saves, controller disconnection, music playback, and error messages. This means developers spend less time writing for stuff outside of their title, and more time on the title itself. Or myabe they get to go home after only 16 hour days.
Microsoft has also (smartly) allowed developers more control over system stuff -- like temporarily delaying system messages during gameplay, or deciding where it's positioned.
For gamers and developers, the Xbox 360 Guide can be skinned with any game when it loads, and add their own banners (uh oh), with things like downloadable content for the title from Xbox Live Marketplace.
For gamers, I'm looking forward to the Gamer Profile. The best thing? Common game settings. No more inverting your thumbsticks for every FPS, or (hopefully) picking a Halo-esque control set every time.
I've talked about the Gamerzone before, and I'm looking forward to joining the R&R zone, and hoping the wankers who hang out on Live and look for me to log in so they can insult me because of my blog content join the Underground.
6. The Hard Drive Debate
So, Microsoft said developers shouldn't count on the hard drive being there. While it looks like Sony may do the same, I think Microsoft is making a dangerous move. I mean, the hard drive is the differentiating attribute of the current Xbox.
It's next gen time, and without an HD media option, Microsoft is saying all of that great content needs to fit on the same sized media as current generation titles.
J Allard made the point that the removable hard drive might not be there, so the title needs to function in the absence of the hard drive. He was saying the console owner may take the hard drive to a friends house, and other family members should be able to still play.
OK, but what do we know won't work with that hard drive gone?
- Current Xbox games (requires a profile stored on the hard drive)
- XBox Live Arcade
- Possibly Xbox Live (I think they'll address this)
At least Gabe Newell, Valve Software’s founder/managing director/head honcho is mad about it, saying that it makes his job harder.
Several recent games, such as the stellar X-Men Legends, don't support memory cards (and it's not because of space limitations; we're talking 4 blocks for a game save, and 510 blocks on a memory card).
Maybe the lack of a hard drive'll be mitigated by the 12x, dual-layer readthrough on the 360 (versus a supposed 1x or 2x readthrough on the PS3 Blu-Ray), and the total abstraction of the storage medium, which means the game'll choose from a variety of storage resources, but doesn't assume the type of storage device -- if there's free space, it can be used. So, if there's a hard drive, a memory card, or (I suspect) remote storage (c'mon, the main feature of Windows Longhorn/Vista will resurface at some point), you can save your games.
I can't help but think that the decision will make the Oblivion experience less on the Xbox 360 than the PC, and I don't know what Final Fantasy XI is going to do -- it required the hard drive for the PS2, and won't work on the slimline PS2. And they're currently developing it for the Xbox 360.