Microsoft made headlines recently by proudly proclaiming it would support Netflix streaming video to Gold members starting this fall at no additional cost. They have also announced plans to open a community application store whose concept very much mirrors the approach taken by Apple with the iPhone app store. Anyone can apply to join the XNA Creators Club, as long as you have the $99 application fee and a unique idea to work with. Microsoft will distribute content at prices ranging from $2.50 to $10.00 taking a mere 30% cut of the profits. Most readers know this approach is about as creative as the mii2 avatar’s but is still a step in the right direction. With community application support and streaming video now coming to the Xbox, it speaks to a larger trend. Consumers are increasingly looking for a one box solution to their entertainment needs. And the battle for the living room is just starting to heat up.
Click the jump to see to see why the future of all in one entertainment devices is bright.
Yesterday, I discussed, in brief, gaming's trend toward the future -- generally at the expense of the past and even the present. Coincidentally, I think that trend ties in well with another point of discussion yesterday's Roundup shoved into the limelight: PC gaming's "death." A good many of you seemed to think I'd love nothing more than to drag the ol' PC out back, aim down the sights, and end its miserable existence.
You couldn't have been more wrong.
PC gaming is, in my mind, thriving. Oh sure, consoles may rake in more mullah, but PC gaming never stops blazing trails into the future. Do I think we should grind to a halt and take a look around every once in a while? Sure. But never should we stagnate, or else our industry really could slump into a lifeless heap. PC gaming, whether it be through MMOs, services like Steam, or even its colossal casual market, is console gaming's crystal ball. "That's what I want to be when I grow up!" I can almost hear Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo's petite blocks of plastic excitedly screech.
With that said, however, progress is a series of trials and errors. Today's Roundup casts its gaze upon a few recent missteps, from MMOs' lack of true emotion, to E3 2008, to, er, the iPhone. Oh, I didn't just go there; I rented a room, saw the sights, and brought back a refrigerator magnet. Read more for all of that -- and more.
The gaming industry is, currently, on the forefront of media. There's nothing else like it -- nothing else endowed with its far-reaching potential. Gaming is the future, so I guess it makes sense that gamers' gazes are aimed unflinchingly forward, never braking for the past -- or even the present. Our news always involves what's "Coming this holiday season" and our real-life heroes, when not piecing together the latest triple-A titles, rack their brains over how tomorrow's games will work. Why can't we stop for a breather every once in a while?
But no, our breakneck pace continues today. We'll rest when we're dead or when we practice what we preach. Into the crystal ball I've gazed, and I've seen things, man -- things like Unreal Engine 4, PC gaming's death, and, ack, Cammie Dunaway! Consider this crystal ball retired!
In order to work in the gaming industry -- or any industry where ravenous journalists circle about, just waiting for a choice quote, really -- you probably need a fairly resilient sense of humor. After all, even if you possess an iron will and never blab a single well-guarded secret, out-of-context headlines are still perched atop websites, waiting to knock the wind out of your sails.
With that said, life isn't fair, and I have a living to make. Today's Roundup does, in fact, feature a couple of seemingly-ridiculous lines from a couple of your favorite industry luminaries. But you guys are great, so I'm sure we won't have any issues with context or mockery, right? Right?
You've read our in-depth interview with the designer of the game, but here's a chance to you to get a clear look at the awesome zombie slaughterfest in Left4Dead. Valve has given us four exclusive screenshots from its upcoming multiplayer shooter, along with a detailed briefing explaining the graphical enhancements they've made to the game engine since acquiring Turtle Rock Studios. The new post-processed filmic effects and advanced shadow rendering makes the game look like nothing you've seen before. It sure doesn't look like Half-Life 2!
Click the jump for more exclusive screenshots and Source engine upgrade details!
Better late than never, right? That seems to be what roughly half of you think about GFW Live finally ditching its subscription fee. The remaining half, then, think Microsoft wizened up too late in the game, and that Steam has already taken home the gold. Personally, I have to say that dropping the fee was a smart move, but it's what Microsoft does next that'll really count. Will they add features that differentiate GFW Live from other services, or was today's announcement just lip service to keep the unwashed masses from becoming belligerent?
Luckily, today's Roundup will provide you with instant gratification where Microsoft couldn't. Whether you're looking for humbled admittances from Nintendo, excellent new titles on Gametap, or proof that the PS3 is actually front-runner in the console wars, the Roundup has you covered.
One of the big announcements at this year’s Gamefest – Microsoft’s XNA developers conference taking place in Seattle right now – is the next step for the Games for Windows initiative. We spoke with Kevin Unangst, Senior Global Director of Games for Windows, who gave us a breakdown of the updated service and how it’ll affect current GFW account owners. Kevin also clued us into the details from the official DirectX 11 unveiling, including what three new features have been added to the API.
Click through the jump for more details, and how this affects gamers who've already paid for GFW LIVE accounts.
Remember that old economics lesson about supply and demand? If demand for a product rises, the company producing it can raise the price to the point where the supply and demand curves intersect. But when the demand for a product is almost non-existent, the invisible hand of economics demands that price falls. In the case of Microsoft’s Games for Windows LIVE initiative, the price has now fallen to zero. Microsoft just announced today that Games for Windows LIVE will be free for all users (both Silver and Gold accounts), which is the price it should’ve been at all along. Gamertags, buddy lists, and achievements will be enabled on all accounts without an annual fee, though gamers who play on Xbox LIVE will still have to pay for that service.
Check back later today for our interview with Kevin Unangst, Senior Global Director of Games for Windows, who will reveal what other plans Microsoft has next for the GFW program. Click through the jumpf for Microsoft's official press release.
Pro: E3 was tons of fun. Con: It served little-to-no purpose. Sure, the California-based trade show presented journalists with a relaxed pace and a civil atmosphere, but the only thing it served up for lay-gamers was a heaping plate of disappointment. No big announcements, no mind-blowing demos, and only one or two cases of easy fodder for the Internet's flames. We can only hope the show will see a drastic revamp soon, because it's quickly circling the drain.
But let's not dwell on the recent past; today has provided us with plenty of interesting stories, including Peter Molyneux's MMO aspirations, another new Sonic game, and, er, Michael Pachter's damning comments towards E3. Ok, so maybe the past deserves one more quick peek into the rearview mirror.
Face it, pirates and ninjas are out and zombies are in. And we have no doubt that one of our most high-anticipated games of this year is Left4Dead, Valve’s post-apocalyptic survival horror shooter. Our initial playtest sent chills down our spine when we first saw it at last year’s Showdown LAN, and the game looked much more refined and polished when we played it at this year’s E3. A revamped visual style and new character designs suit the cinematic direction -- the levels looked grittier and the zombies were definitely more terrifying (if that’s even possible). We spoke with Michael Booth, the designer of Left4Dead, to find out what other changes have been made to the game since Valve bought up his development team.