Thursday, August 24, 2006

Leipzig Games Convention (Microsoft)

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At the Leipzig Games Convention this week, Microsoft dropped some cool nuggets for the Xbox 360 and the near future of PC gaming.


Face it, product is secondary to successful marketing, and Microsoft pulled off quite the coup.

Both FIFA 07 from Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) and Pro Evolution Soccer 6 from Konami Digital Entertainment Inc. will be out this year -- and be Xbox 360 exclusives for at least 10 months. This ostensibly means the only place to play next-gen soccer will be on the Xbox 360.

Don't blow the significance of this announcement off. American Football games (led by by Madden) are available on all consoles, which doesn't particularly help Microsoft. But that sport pales at the global level compared to soccer (futball), and Microsoft made the announcement at a convention hosted in a soccer-fanatical country. Nice.

Of course, the key is "next-gen" soccer, because at least from the FIFA 07 Website, it looks like a non-next-gen version of the game will be on PS2, PSP, GameCube, Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance, PC, and the original Xbox).

Continuing the smart marketing, Microsoft is going to bolster Xbox Live Arcade with titles inspired by board games from Europe ("Carcassonne", "Alhambra", and "Settlers of Catan" -- I really like this game).

The Xbox 360 is going even more global, wtih availability in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, and will launch in South Africa on Sept. 29 and Eastern Europe on Nov. 3.

PC Gaming on Windows Vista:

They also announced Windows Vista versions of LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, and Zoo Tycoon 2: Marine Mania, and showed a demo (currently available for download) of Flight Simulator X, but using an Xbox 360 wireless controller.


  • Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows -- This is slick. Basiclly, Microsoft has externalized the wirelss functionality in the Xbox 360, attached a USB 2.0 dongle, and now you can use your Xbox 360 peripherals on your PC.

    That's "peripherals". Plural. Because they're doing what I suggested (most recently here):

    "Or ... maybe they'll be among the first to implement wireless USB (or extend their proprietary wireless technology used for their controllers to DVD, camera, or other wireless coolness)."

    Because the wireless gaming receiver will let you use your Xbox 360 wireles controller, and wireless racing wheel, and wireless headset on your PC. How if they would just make the HD-DVD drive and Xbox Live Vision Camera wireless, that would be something.

    "By plugging the compact receiver into a Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 port on a PC, gamers can use Xbox 360 wireless accessories on their Windows-based computer (ERP $19.99 U.S., available in late December)."
  • Xbox Live Vision Camera -- This is a bigger deal than just a Web cam. I wrote some time ago about Microsoft licensing GestureTek technology, and that tech has showed up in the 360 camera. GestureTek technology includes face recognition, motion tracking, and -- surprisingly -- deopth-of-field perception. This, when partnered with object recognition functionality, can make any object or cotroller a wirelss, motion tracking interface. Wii find this interesting, don't Wii?

    There's also DigiMask's Face Renderer software, which will let you take pictures of yourself to put in games -- not just static GamerPicts. At least Activision's World Series of Poker and UbiSoft's Rainbow Six Vegas will use the technology.

    Read a full article at

    Why isn't this thing wireless?

    "Consumers can chat via video, send photo messages, put their own face in a game, and customize their gamertag on the Xbox Live network. The camera will be available in the U.S. on Sept. 19 and in Europe on Oct. 6 in two packages:

    "Xbox Live Vision. This package includes Xbox Live Vision camera, one-month Xbox Live Gold Membership, Xbox 360 Headset, and free downloads of two full-version Xbox Live Arcade games: the popular UNO card game and TotemBall, the new 3-D platform game from Freeverse and Strange Flavour Ltd. that is a mixture of platform skills and puzzles (estimated retail price (ERP) $39.99 U.S./ €49.99).

    "Xbox Live Video Chat Gold Kit. This package includes the Xbox Live Vision camera, a 12-month Xbox Live Gold Membership, an Xbox 360 Headset, free* downloads of three full-version Xbox Live Arcade games — the UNO card game, TotemBall, and the classic Robotron action shooter — and 200 Microsoft Points (ERP $79.99 U.S./€89.99)."
  • Xbox 360 Wireless Headset -- Just like with my old Xbox, I get tired of pulling out the Xbox 360 headset, and getting the cord tangled up with analog sticks, guests, or the neck of a brewskie. When we go wireless, that'll go away (and hopefully the quality will go up).

    "Providing the ultimate wireless experience, this headset integrates seamlessly with the Xbox 360 console to provide wireless voice chat capabilities, stylish design and superior voice quality over the Xbox Live network (ERP $59.99 U.S., available in November). "
  • Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel -- "For true racing enthusiasts who demand unparalleled driving realism at home, this innovatively designed wheel combines form and function with the latest technology in wireless and force feedback. Consumers who purchase the wheel will also get a limited-edition force feedback version of Project Gotham Racing 3 while supplies last (ERP $149.99 U.S., available in November)."
  • Xbox 360 Faceplates -- "Consumers can customize their consoles with one of three new special-edition faceplates featuring images from their favorite games, including the Halo franchise, Viva PiƱata and Forza Motorsport 2 (ERP $19.99 U.S., available in early November). "

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