Marc Whitten, writing on Xbox 360 Press, says that the original Xbox console and games just don’t hack it on Xbox LIVE any more. It’s too much of a kludge. It’s not capable of taking advantage of the cool new whiz-bang features, like Marketplace, Netflix, or social networking. And, one might suspect, it’s become too expensive to continue to support. Therefore, on April 15, users of the original console will be dropped from Xbox LIVE.
Writes Whitten: “Your Xbox LIVE community has grown to 23 million strong. And as we look down the road, we’ll continue to evolve the service with features and experiences that harness the full power of Xbox 360. To reach our aspiration, we need to make changes to the service that are incompatible with our original Xbox v1 games.” Translation: welcome to dumpsville--population you.
Microsoft today reported results for the second fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2009. It managed to churn out strong results during the quarter thanks mainly to Windows 7. Both its profit and revenue soared to record levels in this period. During fiscal 2Q, the company reported earnings of $6.66 billion, or 74 cents per share, on revenue of $19.02 billion. This is way better than what financial pundits had predicted.
Microsoft claims it has sold 60 million Windows 7 licenses. While the phenomenal consumer interest in Windows 7 is clearly propelling Microsoft's growth, the lingering parsimony among enterprises is a cause for concern.
The division that makes its popular Office productivity suite was particularly hit by lack of corporate spending, with its revenue dropping 3 percent. The entertainment division did not fare too well, either. It only sold 5.2 million Xbox 360 consoles, 13 percent less compared to the previous year.
Microsoft isn't usually the type of company that likes to compare itself with Apple, but in its anti-trust case over the Xbox 360, they are borrowing a page from Steve Jobs legal manual to justify the walled garden that is "Xbox Live". According to Microsoft, if Apple can prevent Psystar from selling unauthorized hardware with OSX, why shouldn't they be able to stop unauthorized accessories from being sold on the Xbox 360?
The company at the heart of the lawsuit is hoping to sell a game genie type device to allow in-game cheating, but if aftermarket accessories were to become a real possibility, I'm sure they wouldn't be the only ones to hop on the bandwagon. I know at least a few PC Gamers who have taken issue with SSD style prices for 5400 RPM laptop upgrade drives simply because they have no other choice.
Datel argues that Microsoft is monopolizing the market for "Multiplayer Online Dedicated Gaming Systems". This won't be an easy thing to prove, but do you think Microsoft is up to its old monopolistic tricks again?
For gaming on the go, it's probably a better idea to pack a PSP or DSi in your carry-on luggage than to stuff an Xbox 360 in your suitcase and hope it makes it in one piece. It's not that the luggage handlers play a game of kickball with your suitcases, but do you really want to risk having your $300 console tore into?
That's exactly what a man named Adam claims happened to him, who wrote to the consumerist complaining that US Airways destroyed his console after telling him everything would be hunky-dory.
"I was flying out Logan Airport and I checked my Xbox 360 in my baggage," Adam writes. "The agent assured me that here would be no problem with it. When I got home I found that they had put a little Ziploc bag on top of my things, and the bag was filled with tiny metal components that used to be in the Xbox. It's broken and they're telling me tough luck. Any advice?"
Already given, Adam--see above. But it's too late for that now, assuming Adam isn't pulling a fast one. Seems like this is the kind of thing that would warrant more than just a single paragraph description. And with no accompanying pic, color us skeptical, though the possibility is duly noted.
Dreaming about what the Xbox 720 (or whatever Microsoft decides to name the Xbox 360's followup console) will be like? Well, keep dreaming, because the Redmond outfit has no plans of replacing the four-year old console any time soon, and is instead focused on Project Natal and other ways of extending the console's lifespan.
"I think it's important to say that the Xbox 360 is the console of the long future for us. There is no need to launch a new console, because we're able to give this console new life either with software upgrades or hardware upgrades like Project Natal," said David Hufford, senior director of Xbox product management. "The Xbox 360 was designed for a long life, and I don't even know if we're at the midpoint yet."
Microsoft is concentrating on bringing Project Natal to the Xbox 360, which the company indicated should be ready for the 2010 holiday season. After that, it's anyone's guess what else Microsoft has planned, especially if, as Hufford suggested, the console hasn't even reached its midpoint yet. Could Blu-ray finally be in the Xbox 360's future? Probably not.
"We love our prices right now," Hufford added. "I don't want to say that technology stops, but we believe we have a high quality console, and we stand by that quality with an unprecedented warranty, so we think we're in a good place now heading into the Natal era."
If I asked you in 1993, “What’s a PC?”, you’d probably have pointed to the beige box sitting under your desk at work. In 1999, if I asked you the same question, the odds are good that you’d have shown me a grey box in your den. In 2005, you would probably have shown me a shiny new notebook. But, as I sit here in 2009, I’m finding it difficult to answer this seemingly simple question.
Sitting on my desk, I have four extremely powerful computing devices, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Let’s decide which of these are personal computers together.
Machine A features four CPU cores, and a host of GPUs and coprocessors. Machine B is more modest, with three CPU cores and a decent GPU. Machine C is even more modest, with a dual-core CPU, but a woefully inadequate GPU. Machine D pushes a lot of its workload onto dedicated processors, but still sports a dedicated GPU.
So, what’s all this powerful hardware? A home-built gaming PC, an Xbox 360, a Lenovo X200s notebook, and an iPhone 3GS.
“The strategy and vision of Zune is to continue to build out that full entertainment experience. This is a very important step for us to introduce Zune to new consumers around the world,” Christine Heckart, general manager for TV, video and music marketing at Microsoft, told the Financial Times. Apart from rebranding the video service on the Xbox 360, the company will also be introducing direct access to social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
It looks like Walmart is gearing up for Black Friday a little early this year. How so? The mega-chain has begun advertising several one-day in-store specials slated for this Saturday November 7th at 8AM.
Among the sale items is an Xbox 360 Arcade console for $199, which will be accompanied by a $100 gift card. That essentially brings the price down to just $99, provided you can make use of the gift card.
Other sale items on tap for the one-day special include a 15.6-inch HP notebook with an Intel Celeron processor for a shade under $300, a Blu-ray player for $150, a 42-inch 1080p Sharp LCD TV for $498, and a few more items.
According to Fudzilla, this is just the first of ongoing Saturday specials that will continue until Black Friday.
We've stopped counting the number of rumors suggesting Blu-ray hardware would somehow integrate with the Xbox 360 gaming console, whether as a built-in drive in a revised edition, or as an add-on accessory. The details would vary, but all the rumors shared one thing in common: They were all bogus. So why are we paying it any attention now? Because this time, the rumor's coming straight from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
During a video interview with Gizmodo, Ballmer spent a couple minutes talking candidly about the Xbox 360 and project Natal, but he appeared to be caught off guard when asked if Microsoft would adopt Blu-ray in a bid to take over the home theater.
"Well I don't know if we need to put Blu-ray in there," Ballmer began as he wiped his eye. "You'll be able to get Blu-ray drives, and Blu-ray drives as accessories."
Does this mean a Blu-ray add-on is in the works, or did Ballmer simply not word his answer carefully enough? We don't know, but when Gizmodo pinged Xbox spokespeople about Ballmer's answer, more fuel to the speculative fire was added.
"Our immediate solution for Blu-ray quality video on the Xbox 360 is coming this fall with Zune Video and 1080p instant-on HD streaming. As far as our future plans are concerned, we're not ready to comment."
In the past, Microsoft made it a point to quickly squash Blu-ray rumors, but that isn't the case this time around. Draw your own conclusion on what that could mean.
CryEngine 3's officially ready for third-party consumption, and Crytek's released a new trailer to celebrate. Despite Crytek's jaunt into console land, the trailer's still bonkers beautiful. Don't believe us? See for yourself. Or, if you'd rather read about the feast your eyes are gearing up to scarf down, look at this:
“CryENGINE 3 also introduces CryENGINE 3 Live Create™,” reads the press release. “It allows developers to work with a single editor, but see and play the results in real-time on PC, PS3 and Xbox360, hooked up to a single dev PC. The engine takes care of the conversion and optimization of assets in real-time; enables instant, cross-platform changes to any part of game creation and as a result materially increases the speed, quality and significantly reduces the risk of multiplatform development.”
Granted, everyone and their ITT Tech professor is developing cross-platform games these days, but we still think this has the potential to radically alter the triple-A game development scene. Less muss and fuss over the eccentricities of other videogame platforms (*cough*PS3*cough*) could lead to faster development cycles. And developers might also end up saving a buck or two here, which is never a bad thing. This is all just speculation on our part, though.
Would any game developers in the audience care to enlighten us?