Xbox 360 Revealed

Post ImageThe November 22nd launch of the Xbox 360 is now in plain view, so naturally more and more details are emerging. Microsoft is opening up too, as evidenced by it’s recent press event that CNET News.com reporter Daniel Terdiman attended:

For all the talk about whether there will be enough games available when the Xbox is released on Nov. 22, few doubt that the games that will be ready will be a cut above anything available for current-generation consoles. And after seeing a handful of Xbox 360 games Monday, I can say with confidence that it’s true.

Over plates of olives, endives, red peppers and other snacks at Dogpatch Studios in this city’s somewhat rundown Dogpatch neighborhood Monday, Microsoft finally pulled back the curtains on the new Xbox for a small crowd of journalists and invited us to try our hands at 12 titles expected to be ready in time for the console launch next month.

Seems as though Daniel left the event feeling confident in the Xbox 360: “I’d tried about five or six games, and have no trouble reporting that the Xbox 360 was the best console experience I’ve ever had.” He also left wondering about the one question those in the gaming industry, and fans of games for that matter, rarely ask:

Yet in the end, I came back once again to wondering if it’s all really necessary. When it comes to enjoying a video game basketball experience, just how real does the sweat have to be?

There’s no question the new Xbox will produce the most realistic games ever. The question then becomes, do more realistic games make for better games? I’m inclined to say yes, but I suppose time will tell. I’m also willing to bet the answer will vary with each person, and each type of game.

Read: CNET News.com

Die Texas Holdem Poker!

Post ImageI think if I see another advertisement for something related to “texas hold ’em poker” I am going to go completely bonkers! As if the email and blog spam I get weren’t enough, legitimate companies have created advertisements using texas hold em! First there is the Edmonton Sun, and their poker challenge or whatever it is. And just last night I saw a Telus TV spot where they advertised that you can play games on your phone, games like, you guessed it, texas hold em! Combined with all of the banner ads on the web and TV commercials to play poker online, it’s enough to make you go crazy.

I just don’t see what all the fuss is about. Here’s the Wikipedia definition:

Texas hold ’em (or simply hold ’em or holdem) is the most popular of the community card poker games. It is the most popular poker variant played in casinos in the western United States, and its no-limit form is used in the main event of the World Series of Poker (abbreviated WSOP), widely recognized as the world championship of the game.

Although it can theoretically be played by up to 22 players (or 23 if burn cards are not used), it is generally played with between 2 and 10 people. It is one of the most positional of all poker variants, since the order of betting is fixed throughout all betting rounds. Holdem is commonly played in the rest of the world as well, but seven-card stud, Omaha hold ’em and other games may be more popular in some places.

So if it’s just a form of poker, why all of a sudden is it everywhere!? Please! Make it stop!

Xbox 360 Launching November 22

Post ImageIt’s finally official! Microsoft has announced that the new Xbox 360 will be launched on November 22nd, just in time for Christmas (via Engadget):

Fueling global anticipation for the arrival of its powerful new video game and entertainment system, Microsoft® today announced that Xbox 360™ will arrive on store shelves Tuesday, November 22 in North America, Friday, December 2 in Europe, and Saturday, December 10 in Japan. The announcement, made on the eve of Tokyo Game Show 2005, marked the first time that a game console will be launched in three territories in the same time frame. In preparation for what is expected to be massive worldwide demand for the new system, Microsoft also announced that Xbox 360 manufacturing is under way, with state-of-the-art facilities producing millions of units ultimately bound for frenzied gamers’ homes from Osaka, Japan, to Oxford, England, and Orlando, Fla.

I want one of these things in the worst way – and it’s not really because of the games. It’s more because of the social element Microsoft has added to the console. And I think that’s very smart. Maybe it will be the beginning of the end of the “you need killer games to sell consoles” attitude.

Read: Xbox.com

Sharon – proof she's a gamer at heart!

Post Image You might recall that a few weeks ago I posted about how our good friend Sharon is a closet gamer. To refresh your memory:

When Sharon took the controls to play, it was like I had stepped into an alternate universe! She was so masterful at the famous side-scroller, she knew where all the coins and mushrooms and flowers were, all the secret passages, everything. Not only did she know the features of the game like the back of her hand, she had the timing down pat. And her hand-eye coordination was surprisingly good. In fact, she played so hard and so well, that I saw her head bob to the music. It was nuts!

Well, now I have more than simple text – I have a couple of photos! In the first, you can see Sharon is holding the NES controller. In the second, you can see she’s actually playing Mario. Enjoy!

Xbox 360 Stores

Post ImageLooks like Microsoft is getting serious about the Xbox 360 launch, with rumors of plans for two new Xbox 360 stores:

Looks like Microsoft is the last to get into the game with plans to open an Xbox 360 store in New York City’s Times Square. At least, rumour has it that they’re looking into prime real estate for that purpose. And by prime they may indeed truly mean prime, as in the 18,000 square-foot space that is One Times Square.

And the second store, in Tokyo:

The timing couldn’t be any better on this one — ITmedia snapped some pics of the construction shielding surrounding what they suppose is an Xbox 360 store.

I don’t know why a console needs its own store, and such a big one at that, but you have to admit it’s pretty cool 🙂

Read: Engadget

Microsoft sets Xbox 360 pricing

Post ImageMicrosoft has finally revealed the pricing for the forthcoming Xbox 360 console, and it looks bad for Sony, especially if they really are going to price the PS3 quite high as expected:

Pricing on the much anticipated Xbox 360 will start at $299.99, Microsoft announced Wednesday.

Scheduled to launch in North America in time for the holiday season, that core version of the tech giant’s next-generation game system will include the console, one controller, a white faceplate and an audiovisual cable.

But wait, there’s more!

For $100 more, gamers can upgrade to the premium edition. That package will feature, in addition to the standard equipment, a headset, remote, membership to the Xbox Live entertainment and chat network, and a 20GB hard drive for storing games, music, and other content downloaded from Xbox Live. It will also swap out the wired controller for a wireless one.

The premium edition will be known as the Xbox 360 and will have a cream-colored shell, while the lower-priced version will be called the Xbox 360 core system and will come in a light green box, said David Reed, director of platform marketing for Xbox.

Yeah, so why you’d purchase a core system is beyond me. Seems like a waste when you get the premium for only a hundred bucks more. Even Microsoft’s director of platform marketing for Xbox David Reed knows it, “There’s no question we’re going to sell a lot more Xbox 360 this holiday than we are of the Xbox 360 core system.”

Read: CNET News.com

World of Warcraft invading privacy?

Post ImageI know at least a few of you reading this are hardcore World of Warcraft players, so I thought it would be interesting to get your take on this:

A number of “World of Warcraft” players are up in arms over software being used by the game’s publisher to scan users’ computers for hacks prohibited under its terms of service.

“It opens the ability for a company to do a whole list of things under the guise of security,” said a frequent “World of Warcraft” player who asked to be referred to only by his first name, Dennis. “Once you give a company the right to scan your system, you’ve basically opened the door…Now you must fully trust that company with any data on your computer, because it’s at their discretion that they download this data and do whatever they want to with it under the guise of stopping the hackers.”

Do you care about the privacy issues? Do you really think Blizzard would do anything malicious?

Read: CNET News.com

Everything online? Not likely!

Post ImageIn a recent post, popular PR blogger Steve Rubel says:

It’s not to hard to picture a world without Microsoft one day if you believe these guys. ePlatform, now in beta, promises to deliver over the Internet virtually every application you need to effectively manage your life, all available on demand.

Sounds like a great concept, but it’ll never, ever fly. Why not? Let’s list the main reasons:

  • I very much doubt the majority of consumers would be willing to give control of their personal data to a third party. We’ve seen this time, and time again. Remember Hailstorm anyone?
  • Video games continue to grow, and you just can’t power Doom3 or Halo2 over the net. Even if we did get fast Internet access absolutely everywhere, there will always be an argument for rich clients. Games are just one example, video creation is another. It’s not feasible to edit your 20 GB of video using a program hosted on a server thousands of miles away.
  • How about taking content offline? That’s one of the main reasons I used NewsGator as my aggregator – I can take all the blogs I read offline on my tablet. As much as I want wireless everywhere, so that I’m always connected, we’re a long way from that goal.

There are lots of reasons both for and against so-called “thin clients”, but I think that the “rich client” world pitched by Microsoft is more likely to succeed, for the reasons I’ve noted above as well as many others. I’d guess that the closest we’d ever get to a thin client world would be if everyone had their own central server in their house or office. Actually, I guess that’s already happening with tools like the Xbox and Media Center PC. But a third party acting as the central repository and processing house?

Not likely.

As an aside, I think it’s interesting to note that the ePlatform application looks a LOT like Outlook 2003 and Outlook Web Access.

Read: Steve Rubel

Gates considering Xbox clones?

Post ImageI don’t think there is much to this story, but it’s interesting enough to mention. Apparently Chairman Bill Gates was recently asked in an interview if Microsoft would consider allowing third parties to manufacture Xbox units, and he gave a very open answer. Now, some people think that Microsoft is looking at paving the way for Xbox clones:

“Clearly, everyone at Microsoft is thinking out of the box to increase sales. I mean look at the nontraditional way of introducing the Xbox on MTV,” [JupiterResearch analyst Michael] Gartenberg said. “It sounds like they are just testing the waters with a hybrid of the (white box) PC model and the (proprietary hardware) video game model.”

I can see the reasons why such a move would be considered – Microsoft makes far more money on games than consoles, so increasing the market for their games is a good idea. On the other hand, I am not sure if this would fly with end users. Even if Microsoft kept the base standards for a console very strict, one of the best things about consoles is that everyone has the same stuff – the playing field is level. I suspect that hardcore gamers would not react favorably to a clone culture.

Read: CNET News.com

Xbox 360 Revealed!

Yep today is the big day! Microsoft finally revealed details on the next Xbox, named Xbox 360. Check out the amazing specs, a story about the launch, and live coverage of the MTV presentation.

Looks good to me. Three cores, just like the PS3 is slated to have.
Perhaps the most encouraging bit of news about the new Xbox, is that
there should be 25 to 40 new games supporting it’s launch. That’s in
stark contrast to the first Xbox.

Oh yeah, and apparently Halo 3 will come out this year too!

UPDATE: The official site is now up, check it out!
Some other cool features of the new Xbox: free, basic Xbox Live service
for everyone, and interchangeable faceplates for the console! Also,
sounds like The Killers kinda sucked during the MTV presentation – too
bad.

Read: Xbox