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"Details about the used-game policy on Microsoft's newly-announced Xbox One console have been leaked. The policy explains how used-game retailers can survive Xbox One destroying the used-game market as we know it: they have to agree to Microsoft's terms and conditions to do so. In summary, the used game retailer can still buy the game from the consumer, but they must report the consumer relinquishing their license to play the game to a Microsoft database. They must also sell it at a market price (35£ in the UK), but the publisher will get a cut of the price. The article goes on to explain how Xbox One will phone home periodically to verify a player hasn't sold the game according to the aforementioned database."A big downside is that we're likely going to see the end of cheap, used games. A potential upside pointed out by Ben Kuchera at the Penny Arcade Report is that this would unquestionably boost revenue for game publishers, giving the smart ones an opportunity to step away from the $60 business model and adopt pricing practices seen on Steam and iTunes (neither of which allow the purchase of "used" games/media). Also, it's worth noting that even if the policy leak is 100% correct, it could change before the console actually launches.
Former PlayStation boss turned Microsoft exec says standard camera input is 'game-changer'
Phil Harrison says having the second-generation Kinect packaged with every Xbox One will be a 'game-changer'.
The former boss of PlayStation is now the head of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment business, and his experience working for the competition seems to give him an added enthusiasm for the new features of the Xbox One.
"The fundamental, most impactful thing is that there’s a Kinect in every box now,"Harrison told GamesBeat.
"There’s the ubiquity of the platform having Kinect whereas before it was always a subset. That made it difficult for developers to invest against 20 per cent of the installed base or whatever it was."
The combination of the new Kinect's greater sensitivity and the certainty that customers will have access to it means developers can afford to experiment with the device.
User privacy may be invaded as Microsoft patent suggests 'snooping tech' in motion sensor
Kinect 2 will be able to employ certain DRM measures depending on what it observes in the living room.
That’s the conclusion suggested by a patent filed by Microsoft, and corroborated by sources talking to MCV in the weeks leading up to this week’s Xbox One reveal.
ExtremeTech reports that Microsoft has filed for a patent that allows Kinect to monitor the number of viewers in the room. It then cross-checks this with the maximum number of viewers permitted by the licence that a user agrees to when purchasing or renting content.
If it is deemed that too many people are present, the user will be prompted to pay an additional fee to upgrade the licence.
Says the filing: “The users consuming the content on a display device are monitored so that if the number of user-views licensed is exceeded, remedial action may be taken.”
Microsoft exec says having camera controller standard will boost dev support, says content will be "more broadly curated"
Much has been made of the Xbox One's TV initiative, possible support for always-on DRM, and plan to discourage used game sales. But in an interview withVentureBeat, Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business vice president Phil Harrison put a special emphasis on the system's second-generation Kinect camera.
"The fundamental, most impactful thing is that there's a Kinect in every box now," Harrison said. "There's the ubiquity of the platform having Kinect, whereas before it was always a subset. That made it difficult for developers to invest against 20 percent of the installed base or whatever it was. Having it as 100 percent - that's a game-changer."
In addition to expanded developer support on the gaming side, Harrison thinks Kinect will significantly change the user experience for all kinds of content.
"One of the things that I don't think we truly understand the significance of yet is automatic identity through Kinect," Harrison said. "If your wife or your daughter or your son or yourself starts interacting with the machine, it instantly switches to their choice of content, their profile, their personalization, their recommendation. That alone, that simplicity, is going to dramatically increase the number of people who want to interact with Xbox One."
Had Microsoft focused just on creating a gaming system rather than an all-in-one entertainment box, Harrison said the market would have grown. (Chris Lewis, Microsoft Europe's VP of Interactive Entertainment told GamesIndustry Internationalthe new consoles could grow the market as much as 30 percent.) But with the addition of features like content customization and Kinect user identification, the executive said an entirely new market of consumers could be reached.
"By making it simple and instant and complete, it means we can get men, women, old, young to enjoy playing and interacting with the device," Harrison said. "It's not just about core gamers; although, they are incredibly important to our future. It's also about finding entry points for all members of the household."
Harrison also addressed another lingering concern about Xbox One, that of Microsoft's approach to content curation. While the company has confirmed developers won't be able to self-publish their titles on Xbox One, Harrison suggested Microsoft would be loosening its control over its online storefront at least a little.
"We like an element of curation in the content landscape and the content experience, but that is definitely getting more broadly curated than it has been in the past," Harrison said. "I'm not sure I would describe it as closed versus open because that implies a more binary shift. I don't think you can be partly closed or partly open. It's more about curating content." http://www.gamesindustry.biz/article...-says-harrison
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Eric Hirshberg says there's a "false divide," that hardcore gamers can enjoy other entertainment like watching TV too [h=3]Activision Blizzard[/h]Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision Blizzard, Inc. is a worldwide pure-play online... activisionblizzard.c...
During Microsoft's unveiling of the Xbox One, games seemingly took a back seat while the company shined a spotlight on the next-gen console's enhancements for TV watching and other forms of entertainment. That's rubbed some core gamers and some members of the press the wrong way, but Activision Publishing boss Eric Hirshberg isn't concerned. He's confident that the core will flock to Xbox One to play the new Call of Duty because "it's a game machine first and foremost," he toldVentureBeat.
Hirshberg believes Microsoft understands that all game consoles "have to be great game machines first." He continued, "I think that's the tip of the sword. Everyone's trying to own the living room and own the entire entertainment experience."
While Hirshberg has been "pleased" with Microsoft's approach so far, he also pointed to a "false divide" he sees when it comes to how people enjoy entertainment.
"I don't think competition for different forms of entertainment in the living room is anything new. People can watch TV in their living rooms now. People can listen to music in their living rooms now. There's a false divide that gets created in people's minds sometimes, as though hardcore gamers don't also consume other forms of entertainment and wouldn't appreciate those things being made more seamless and more integrated into a more elegant experience. I think that's all that you're seeing here. To me, as a gamer, I'm excited by it," he said
Hirshberg also seems excited by Kinect's evolution. While Activision never fully supported Kinect before, it seems that the company could be changing its tune.
"I made a passing comment that you're going to see voice integration, voice commands via Kinect, which is something that we haven't done in the past with Call of Duty. We think the improvements to Kinect really excite us because of the level of responsiveness and detail. I thought that the demo they did with the voice commands on television, the instant changing between games and music, was really compelling. You'll see more of this coming from us as we get closer to the launch," Hirshberg said.
"Obviously, we didn't reveal that element today. We just mentioned it. But we've always made sure that we don't just use new technology for novelty's sake. We always make sure that it makes the gameplay better. In this case, we think it will."
E3 is only three weeks away. That might be important - it might, in fact, be central to Microsoft's thinking. Perhaps the company thought that, with the annual gaming jamboree fast-approaching, it could bundle all of the excruciating corporate newspeak and market positioning nonsense into a brief one-hour press conference and then - with appropriate lip service and homage paid to the twin gods of broadcast TV and American sports - it could rapidly move on to an E3 focused almost exclusively on games, delighting the core audience so much that they'll utterly forget a coming-out party that seemed to imply a jumped-up cable box that merely plays games as an afterthought. "Here is a company which is so arrogantly confident in its dominance of the core gaming space that it believes it no longer has anything to prove"
I sincerely hope that's the case - that Microsoft is keeping its powder dry for E3. It's an odd and probably deeply misguided communications strategy, since the firm completely held the specialist press' attention for the days surrounding its unveiling event and could have used that to set the tone for E3. Instead, whatever wonders it pulls out of the bag at E3 must now act first and foremost as damage control, a job made tougher by sharing the airwaves with what will no doubt be a massive charm offensive on Sony's part. Still, while such a muddled reveal isn't a great start, the firm did tease 15 exclusive launch window titles, eight of them new IPs - an E3 focused with laser precision on that line-up would cover up early stumbles nicely.
That assumes, of course, that Microsoft understands and accepts that what happened this week was a stumble. There's a more pessimistic interpretation, one to which core consumers have been quick to leap - that Microsoft genuinely believes in the way it positioned Xbox One (a daft name, but we got used to "Wii" so I suppose we've proved that daft names aren't much of a stumbling block). That here is a company which is so arrogantly confident in its dominance of the core gaming space that it believes it no longer has anything to prove - that it can take for granted the support of core gamers and early adopters, instead focusing its energies from the outset on television, movies, sports, music and, er, Skype.
If that sounds familiar, it's probably because - like me - you watched the Xbox One reveal with strong flashbacks to exactly the kind of hubris and arrogant assumption which dogged and ultimately crippled Sony's launch of the PlayStation 3. Rather than seeking to enrapture and engage the tens of millions of core gamers upon whose support a successful hardware launch might be built, Sony simply assumed that they would support PS3 no matter what - a line of reasoning which led to a ludicrous price point (they'll get second jobs to afford one, remember?) for a system openly intended as vehicle for the nascent Blu-ray movie standard and both designed and promoted as a home entertainment hub rather than a games device. Core gamers, in the end, demurred in large numbers, preferring Microsoft's upstart Xbox 360. There's always a choice, and having usurped Sony's market dominance only a few scant years ago, you'd think that Microsoft would recall that brand loyalty - quite rightly - doesn't run all that deep. "The tone and content of Microsoft's announcement should also rankle, and deeply concern, shareholders and analysts"
The tone of Microsoft's event rankled gamers, for good reason - the reveal of a game console which focuses so heavily on how good it is at controlling television shows and movies shows basic disregard for the reasons most people watching the reveal online have to actually buy game consoles. Do not, however, fall into the trap of thinking that Microsoft's reveal only slighted gamers in order to delight the business community. In reality, the tone and content of Microsoft's announcement should also rankle, and deeply concern, shareholders and analysts.
Television is in trouble. It may not look like that from some angles, given the immense critical and audience success of shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men or Game of Thrones, but the business model on which television has based itself - especially in the United States - is creaking at the seams. With the decline in the value of advertising (caused by the rapid fragmentation of the audience - only huge events like the Superbowl, which guarantee a large, unified audience, have held their value for advertisers), everything in that industry now boils down to the cable subscription model. If you want to watch a TV show, you end up paying an exorbitant amount of money every month to subscribe to dozens if not hundreds of TV channels you'll never watch.
Consequently, two things have happened. Firstly, a whole generation of consumers has bowed out of the legitimate model entirely. Despite the efforts of media firms to crack down on piracy of TV shows, the tide has not been stemmed in the slightest; TV episodes find their way onto pirate services within minutes of broadcast and are watched in that manner by a vast swathe of consumers. No legal or technical adjustment short of the most insane and wicked invasion of the privacy of every citizen - honest or otherwise - is going to stop that from happening. What has helped, though, is the emergence of a new business model, with companies like Hulu, Lovefilm and the daddy of them all, Netflix, stepping into the breach. Netflix is now, by hours watched, the most popular and successful TV network in North America. It's started making its own high-budget, high-profile TV shows. If every cable network in the US isn't terrified of it, then they've not been paying attention.
It's against this background that Microsoft has seemingly decided that the most important thing about the new Xbox One is how well it plays with your cable box. Of course, it'll play Netflix as well, but so does just about every device you own. The core of Microsoft's strategy to "dominate the living room" seems to be that its box will be good at streaming content from providers to whom you pay a subscription fee entirely independent of Microsoft's ecosystem, and whose content will, incidentally, work perfectly well without an Xbox One in the equation. Without an Xbox One you won't be able to wave your hands to control it, but then again, nobody I know who owns a Samsung Smart TV actually uses the hand-waving control system anyway, other than to show house guests how broken and annoying it is. "A business strategy which in five years time will probably look about as wise as launching a game console that plays VHS tapes"
It's for this - a business strategy which in five years time will probably look about as wise as launching a game console that plays VHS tapes - that Microsoft has chosen to alienate and annoy its core consumer base at what should have been a triumphant coming-out party. Microsoft achieved absolutely remarkable, wonderful things with the Xbox 360; Xbox One should build on all of those things and be a system that gamers simply cannot do without. Perhaps it is that system, and perhaps we'll see that at E3, but we didn't see it during the reveal.
Meanwhile, all the murkiest rumours about Xbox One refuse to be dispelled. It cannot have escaped Microsoft's notice that consumers and press alike are deeply concerned over the system's online requirements and its policies with regard to used software. Yet rather than smiling graciously on stage and saying "of course not!", earning brownie points and clearing the air with a single phrase, or even explaining their approach in clear, humble terms, earning at least some respect, Microsoft executives ignored the issue in their presentation and subsequently equivocated in interviews, ducking and dodging around questions regarding second-hand software (or even the ability to lend games to friends without incurring a charge). We still don't know exactly what the firm has in mind, but it's safe to assume that it's going to be a pretty flagrant violation of consumers' existing rights and behaviours - because if it wasn't, then they wouldn't be dodging the question, would they?
If consumers felt left out in the cold by a party which was supposed to be about games but ended up being all about TV and live sports, then spare a thought for developers. After the developer love-in that was the PS4 announcement, where Sony laid out the red carpet to invite creators of all shapes and sizes to come and play in its garden (formerly walled, now surrounded with something more akin to a picket hedge), you might have expected Microsoft to give some kind of nod in a similar direction. Not so. The only third-party bodies on the stage were from EA (who showed FIFA) and Activision (who dutifully showed up to stun the world by confirming that they're making another Call of Duty game). The broad, thriving community of independent developers and creators who have turned out so many of the great games of the past half-decade didn't even warrant a wink and a nod. Like so many other things, that can be fixed at E3, but the contrast in tone to Sony's invitation will not go unnoticed. (The missed opportunity to have Steve Ballmer run on stage reprising his "developers, developers, developers, developers!" routine is also disappointing, of course.)
Do I sound unimpressed? Well, I was seriously unimpressed. It's only the first hour of Xbox One, but it suggested a company that's curiously both mired in arrogance and somewhat directionless. I don't know who the Xbox One reveal was meant to appeal to, other than the TV executives whose egos it massaged. Worse; I'm not sure that Microsoft knows who they're meant to be appealing to. The company is desperate to head off Apple in the consumer space, and Xbox One right now feels less like a competitor to Sony's heavily games-focused PS4 and more like a pre-emptive shot at a hypothetical future version of the Apple TV. "Xbox One feels less like a competitor to Sony's heavily games-focused PS4 and more like a pre-emptive shot at a hypothetical future version of the Apple TV"
That's unfortunate, because it brings to mind something rather uncomfortable. Xbox 360 was a fantastic system - probably the best thing Microsoft has ever done in the consumer space, and unquestionably one of the best games consoles ever created. Xbox One should remind us of that, but instead it's hard not to think of other products Microsoft has created since the 360 - products like Zune, Surface, Windows Phone and latterly, Windows 8. Products which have, even when they've been rather good (as Windows Phone is), completely failed to ignite interest from consumers. In fact, in terms of consumer entertainment products, Microsoft has had one hit - Xbox 360 - in the midst of a litany of failure (it's fair to note, though, that Sony has its fair share of dodos as well, Vita being only the most recent). Xbox One needs to replicate the factors that made Xbox 360 into a success. This week, we saw none of that; we saw a console that felt less like an Xbox and more like a Microsoft Product, with all the baggage that brings. We can only cross our fingers and hope that with the dull rubbish out of the way, Microsoft is now preparing an E3 showing that will really light the touchpaper for the next console war.
Microsoft’s Major Nelson has attempted to deflect criticism of its still mysterious pre-owned policy by claiming that key decisions have not yet been made.
"We are months away from the launch of Xbox One and policy decisions are still being finalised," he wrote onTwitter. "When they are, we will let you know."
The statement came as the company continues to endure some sometimes quite severe criticism for its lack of transparency over both pre-owned games and the console’s online requirements.
These were the two biggest questions surrounding the console even before it was announced – that Microsoft planned to simply deflect questions and avoid giving precise and consistent answers remains baffling.
Will we get any answers at E3 in a couple of weeks? Don’t hold your breath.
Publisher EA has reassured Xbox 360 and PS3 owners that it will continue to support the consoles.
Speaking at the Stifel 2013 Technology Conference, EA CFO Blake Jorgensen said that it will continue to develop and release titles for both machines until at least 2017, according to GameSpot.
Of course, it’s not unknown for a publisher to change its mind should sales dip more than expected, but with a large and active install base still supporting both machines its entirely possible they could live on.
Much, of course, will depend on the hunger with which gamers adopt new platforms like PS4 and Xbox One.
EA games such as Battlefield 4 and FIFA 14 are currently in development for both machines. There’s talk of a new Need for Speed being announced today, too, and you can also expect a current gen release for that.
Despite two generations of failure in the Far East, Xbox One will be launched in Japan.
"We're committed to Japan," Don Mattrick said in a roundtable attended by OXM. "We continue to build on our partnerships, we continue to build on our offerings for consumers inside of that space.
"We think it's an important market. And we'll continue building on the working investment that we've done over all these years."
The not always reliable VGChartz pegs lifetime Xbox 360 sales in Japan at just 1.64m units – a definite improvement on the 530k sales of its predecessor in the region.
However, it’s a tiny slice of Xbox 360’s lifetime sales of nearly 80m units. It’s hard to see how Microsoft can make any further significant inroads into the region owing to the buying public’s loyalty to the Nintendo and PlayStation brands.
All eyes may be on the Premier League this weekend, but Alternative Software expects to cash in on a rising interest in rugby.
Rugby Challenge 2: The Lions Tour Edition is due for release on Xbox 360 and PS3 on June 13th, halfway through this year’s major rugby tournament.
The game features 110 official teams, 50 stadiums, competition fixtures plus enchanced features based on the 2011 release, Jonah Lomu Rugby Challenge.
Alternative MD Roger Hulley predicts the sports’ growing popularity will make the sequel a solid seller this summer.
“With the British and Irish Lions tour about to start, enthusiasm for rubgy is reaching fever pitch,” he told MCV. “We expect to see the sales rocket as the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia peaks and receives the media attention it truly deserves.
“Criticially we expect very good things. Jonah Lomu Rugby Challenge received high ratings across the board, and this iteration has only built on the high-quality gameplay that made its predecessor so successful.”
An ad campaign for Rugby Challenge 2 is already underway, with adverts and editorial in mainstream and gaming press, as well as dedicated rugby magazines.
Yes, that's right. A headline with 'Xbox One' 'positive' and 'pre-owned' all at once. Am I crazy?
You may well conclude after reading this that I am.
And certainly, you'll have little cause to expect much sense from the second-hand game storm surrounding Microsoft's ambitious new Xbox One console.
So far, it has swung back and forth between 'messages' as it clarifies or re-clarifies and then de-clarifies what its take on pre-owned games is.
Right now, we know this: A new licensing model around discs and content mean you have to install games and let Microsoft tie them to your user login on Xbox Live, but the device is 'not built to block pre-owned games'.
Make no mistake, the unknown grey area between these statements - Xbox has promised an update further on - has been a right old mess.
But allow me for a moment to play devil's advocate on the situation, give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt by stripping out the confusion about the strategy away from the actual strategy.
Still with me? Thanks for sticking around.
Here's what I'm wondering: assuming that Microsoft knows just how important the pre-owned model is to retail, maybe the real story here is that Microsoft isn't trying to kill pre-owned.
Control it, maybe, but not kill it.
What if it is trying to turn used games into a more profitable business that keeps publishers happy but doesn't alienate retail by converting the model to one where retailers participate in the trade off software licences, not discs? A model which, in turn, could eliminate the stigmas around 'second-hand' games?
We know that Xbox One will require you to install newly purchased games on your machine and register them with the Xbox Live server-brain. You can also take that disc to a friend's house and, provided you log in, you can install and play it with them. The main thing is that the licence is locked to your account, not the disc or the console. So, if you want to sell the game on or trade it in - which lots of users currently do as they can't afford to always by new games - you transfer the licence back to Microsoft, to another user, or to a retailer.
It's still the trade-in model, but with a new digital licence element. The licences would be moved or tracked through software installed at retail level or accessed via the web.
Go a step further: each game disc could even be manufactured with a unique authentication licence serial number attached to it.
That's not entirely unfeasible has Microsoft has already explained that licences can be locked to your account, and also removed from them.
Assume that this is somewhere near how that works and, despite the faff involved, there are three huge shifts.
PRE-OWNED MARGINS GROW?
If retailers are selling a licence, not a disc, they no longer have to price their stock based on its condition. That's the second-hand market's achilles heel: it is used stock, the disc might be scratched, the manual may be missing, the box dented.
But Microsoft has already had the instruction book all but abolished. If you want a nice box or new disc, buy it new, or a collector's edition.
Digital licences aren't about any of that - they are about allowance. The 90p-to-produce disc doesn't matter, its contents are rendered inert without the activation.
So retailers go from selling a thing to selling access. And they probably will be able to, if they want, sell that access for a higher price than they currently do - because the current model relies on condition and functionality. If you're just selling access, where you sell someone the right to download a game, the price changes immediately. (They might actually be forced into this, too - which is the most likely version of this scenario, to be honest.)
Under this theory, retailers would probably be selling less used games as the new model will just deter consumers from pre-owned anyway.
But the ones they do sell might get the change to sell game licences priced close to RRP. The model will be changed irreparably, but the bigger, final result is that the swift price erosion that happens in the physical market because of the mix of new and pre-owned stock goes away.
(Even if the margins don't grow in execution, at the very leas, raising the RRP gives Microsoft the scope to milk the pre-owned model for the money that publishers have so often said second-hand games 'steal' away from them.)
PHYSICAL GOES VIRAL?
But the ideas of trackable discs or trackable software licences gets me wondering further.
Gamer A can take a game to Gamer B's house, either on disc or just by logging in and downloading it. But when Gamer A goes home Gamer B can't play it. So what happens next?
If the game was any good, Gamer B might want to buy it. With an Xbox Store sat on their TV with a beckoning buy button, they might just buy the game they hadn't bought there and then, at full price from the Xbox Store direct. (The option to go to a retailer and buy a new disc on offer or a second hand version with a slight reduction will be there too - and will still be relevant to kids without credit cards or those wanting to trade games in for other games - but broadly convenience will likely win out here.)
Plus, trackable licences coupled with the pseudo-always-online functions would be adored by publishers.
Publishers will be punching the air love to see where their discs go and how they are used. To see how social recommendations work and whether it leads to purchases. And find out just how important (or not…) the second-hand market is.
Currently, publishers know how many they have pressed and shipped, and then they have to wait and see how many are being played through Xbox Live logins. In-between they might get some retail figures or download stats. But they don't know if all the discs are being used, they have no accurate numbers. A digitally-supported physical model would change that.
Very little has been said about piracy on Xbox One, even though it is - as most of us know - something that does happen on the current Xbox platform and something Microsoft of course wants to end.
Today, regular system updates and added multiplayer have been a deterrent, at least.
But authenticated licences would promise to totally squash piracy. If you can't install or access a game without authenticating it with the official Xbox mother brain server that's another point in this model's favour.
Plus, short of stealing someone's face and voice, it's clear the new Kinect and Xbox One's home page sign in process is already designed to not just make the experience more personalised for users, it is another way to stop hardware and software access being compromised.
WILL THIS REALLY HAPPEN?
Sure, this pre-owned scenario is a bit of dream-work on my part.
I half-wonder if MS will just be tempted to ignore that possibility and skip straight to the other two elements, which is locking users to their purchases like on a smartphone, but using the portability of discs to drive some trackable virility as described above amongst players who share games.
Certainly, publishers would be delighted with those elements, even though it limits consumer choice and drives a knife into specialist retail perhaps not a mortal wound, but a deep scar that just kills off part of the model as the industry shifts to a more digital centric focus).
But many of us think this would be a mistake. And although Microsoft has insisted there is a solution, it just doesn't want to talk about it yet, so all we have are assumptions and speculation.
FIFA 14 will be released across Europe on September 27, EA Sports has confirmed.There’s a genuinely bewildering array of special packaging, Ultimate Team packs and other in-game incentives for those that pre-order one of three FIFA 14 special editions – Limited Edition, Ultimate Edition and Collector’s Edition.Over 3.4 million games of FIFA Ultimate Team are played daily, and over 17 million footballers are transferred through the transfer market each day, added EA Sports.You can see the first batch of official FIFA 14 shots through the link.
We saw the next gen Xbox, new super-advanced Kinect and a new pad. We learned that Xbox One is built on cloud technology, designed to deliver ‘intelligent, interactive’ TV and we even saw Steven Spielberg, ready to helm a Halo TV series.And yet the majority of the debate around Xbox One right now has little to do with that highfalutin stuff. The games playing public has rather earthier questions: what does the new console do that my 360 doesn’t? Which new games will I be playing on it? Can I play second-hand games? Will it be backwards compatible?Games sites tied themselves in knots reporting on the Xbox One event, because Microsoft fumbled all of the answers. Hours later, when the press had the chance to ask the questions that the games playing public wanted to ask, Microsoft executives’ clammed up. It appeared as if they’d barely even considered these fundamentals – the strength of the reaction around second hand games and always-on in the last few days has surely brought this oversight into sharp focus at Microsoft HQ.The questions Microsoft did answer during its reveal event were obscure, and entirely of its own invention. Can I search for something on the internet and watch a movie on the same screen, at the same time? Can I interact with TV shows through my Xbox? Is switching between inputs with Kinect as fast as using a remote control?Xbox was always intended to be the connected hub at the heart of your home at some point, but the leap Microsoft is attempting to make here is too great. The rhetoric at the Xbox One reveal was so far removed from the principles Xbox 360 is built upon, it feels like Microsoft staged the launch of an entirely different product – as if the Xbox branding was arbitrarily slapped on at the last minute.Simplicity and ease of use were the virtues so vigorously emphasised during our on-stage tour of the UI; next gen Kinect is a technical marvel, but I can’t personally ever envision a time when I will use its gestures and voice commands over the humble remote control. Right now, all-in-one entertainment appears to mean cramming the TV screen with as much stuff as possible, all at once.I don’t want the distraction of running apps alongside a game. I don’t understand why I would want to be interrupted in the middle of Breaking Bad’s various escalating tensions with a Skype call from my mum. I will never want to switch between Grand Designs and Gears Of War in a flash, not least because it’d be a shocking change in tone. As we’ve already noted elsewhere, maybe TV is fine just as it is.
Head of Xbox division claims only five percent of gamers play older console games on current gen
Backwards compatibility on new hardware is just plain backwards, says the head of Microsoft's Xbox division Don Mattrick.
One of the more controversial aspects of the freshly unveiled Xbox One and Sony's own PS4 is that neither console provides backwards compatibility for the previous generation of titles.
For Sony, this might be solved through the cloud gaming capabilities of its console, but, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, Mattrick said there isn't a problem to begin with.
“If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards,” he said.
Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson noted that while some consumers might be initially less prone to buy a console without backwards compatibility due to negative sentiment, in the long run the move could help drive sales "as gamers rebuild their entire library for a new console".
Middleware firms show support for Microsoft's next-gen console
A plethora of the game industry's top middleware providers have pledged support for Microsoft's new Xbox One console.
Already backed by powerful hardware that features 8 cores, 8GB of DDR3 RAM and 500GB worth of memory storage, a number of development tools are set to be made available for developers working on the system.
Tools announced as compatible with the new Xbox currently include CryEngine 3, IKinema RunTime, Enlighten and Substance Engine.
We will continue to add new tools and tech as they are announced, so be sure to check back for further additions.
Refusal to offer easier submission process leaves the way clear for Sony to capture innovative indie market, says Jason Perkins
It’s sad to see a lack of dedicated support for indie developers on the Xbox One, says the MD of indie game publisher Curve Studios.
Following the unveiling of its next-gen console, Microsoft has said it will be abolishing the Xbox Live Arcade and indie game sections on Xbox Live in favour of a broad and all-inclusive digital marketplace.
The company’s Redmond Game Studios and Platforms GM Matt Booty has also said that, for the time being at least, there will be no self-publishing for indies on Xbox One.
In response to the news, Curve Studios’ MD Jason Perkins said it was sad to see Microsoft not taking a stronger stance on indies, giving the “trailblazing” success of XBLA.
He added the move would pave the way for Sony to clean up in the indie game sector on the PS4.
Publisher benchmarks video and audio performance of new Xbox at eight-to-10 times higher than current gen
The Xbox One and PS4 are a generation ahead of the highest-end PCs currently available on the market, says EA’s chief technology officer.
Taking to LinkedIn, Rajat Taneja said the design of the hardware, the underlying operating systems and live service layers had created “one of the most compelling platforms to reimagine game mechanics”.
He claimed that the publisher’s benchmark tests rated the audio and video performance of the Xbox One at eight-to-ten times higher than the Xbox 360.
“Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have adopted electronics and an integrated systems-on-a -chip (soc) architecture that unleashes magnitudes more compute and graphics power than the current generation of consoles,” said Taneja.
“These architectures are a generation ahead of the highest end PC on the market and their unique design of the hardware, the underlying operating system and the live service layer create one of the most compelling platforms to reimagine game mechanics. Our benchmarks on just the video and audio performance are 8-10 times superior to the current gen.
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