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?
Looking for a noise-dampening cooling solution for your obnoxiously loud Xbox 360 console? A-Tech Fabriction might have just what you need, but after looking at the price tag, you may conclude it's not that loud anyway.
To be fair, the company's HeatSync Three-Sixty 'only' costs $700 (plus shipping, which runs around $25 for UPS Ground) without any add-ons. But should you decide you also want a one-piece rack mount faceplate, black or silver aluminum case feet, memory card ports, accessory ports, DVD drive isolation and machining (which attacks the main culprit of the Xbox 360's noisy cry for attention), and thermal control system, be prepared to tack on another $195, bringing the tally to just under 900 smackers. For $1,200, A-Tech Fabrication will ship the case with a complete Xbox 360 system already installed, or just under $1,400 with all of the aforementioned extras.
What you get in return is a rather attractive heavy-duty chassis constructed from heat-treated aircraft quality aluminum. And with both CPU and GPU cooling benefiting from the integrated cooling system, you might up your odds at staving off the dreaded Red Ring of Death. Just don't tell your significant other how much it costs, or she/he might ring your neck.
We've seen some cool looking Xbox mods, but Ben Heckendorn's portable Xbox 360 creation stands apart from them all, and his latest is the sexiest one yet.
Now in revision 5, Heckendorn again gutted the same Gateway 1775W laptop with a 17-inch 1280x720 screen as he done in the past, but this time has added a bevy of new features. His portable Xbox 360 now comes with a built-in Ethernet port, WiFi, a digital push-button volume control, flush-mounted DVD door and side panels, remote IR sensor, two USB ports, a bunch more air holes, and the latest Jasper motherboard.
If you like what you see (and we certainly do), Gizmodo has a heaping handful of other Heckendorn-mods worth checking out right here.
Some users of Netflix’s streaming service have groused about dwindling performance in recent times. The dip in performance has not only nettled users but also engendered speculation as to its cause. The most plausible conjecture is that video streams are being deliberately throttled by Netflix.
“Also, routing to different ISPs in the same region may be quite different, thus performance may also be quite different, even for neighbors, if they are connected to different ISPs. Moreover, congesting points can rise and fall with ISP configuration changes and other conditions,” Hunt wrote.
It looks like everyone’s favorite online DVD rental service has seen 6 percent growth in just one month, and they’re now boasting over 10 million subscribers.
While many of these subscribers remain the average, web-queue using type, a significant portion of the newcomers are thanks to Xbox Live. To date, over one million people have downloaded the Xbox Live client, allowing the online streaming service to take huge prescient, and bringing in a mighty profit.
This number is expected to grow from here to 10.1-10.3 million subscribers by the end of Q1 of this year, and all the way up to 10.6-11.3 million by the end of this fiscal year.
It appears the Blu-ray format may finally be picking up steam. At CES, Andy Parsons, president of the Blu-ray Disc Association, described 2008 as a banner year for Blu-ray sales, and the numbers appear to back his claim. Fourth quarter sales saw 28.6 million Blu-ray sales, up significantly from 9.5 million a year prior. There are now nearly 11 million Blu-ray capable players in the U.S., although 6 million of those are PlayStation 3 consoles.
By comparison, in the same three year time frame after release, DVD players totaled 5.4 million units, not far above all non-PS3 Blu-ray players. And with 40 million homes equipped with HDTVs, there's plenty of room for Blu-ray player sales to grow. Helping to do that, 18 new Blu-ray players were announced at CES, including an HDTV with a built-in player by Sharp.
Despite Blu-ray's recent success, Microsoft reiterated it has no plans to integrate Blu-ray capability with its Xbox 360 console. According to Robbie Bach, Microsoft's president of Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices Division, the decision comes down to a combination of not enough users requesting a Blu-ray player, and because it wouldn't help "in the core of what Xbox does, which is gaming."
Microsoft’s CES keynote was, as expected, light on megaton gaming news, but a somewhat small – though undeniably interesting -- gem did manage to escape from Microsoft’s warchest. Titled Kodu, this easy-to-use game-creation tool is operated with only the Xbox 360 controller. However, based on a demonstration given during the keynote, Kodu could very well relegate games like LittleBigPlanet to the musty back corner of the toy box. Said MPC’s own Will Smith upon viewing the demo:
“The kid doing the Kodu demo (Sparrow) is hardcore with the radial menus. I forget how awesome they are if they're fast enough that you can actually use them. She was using the radial menus to adjust items in her game world. These are incredibly deep radial menus, compared to other apps. This is a pretty impressive tool, and she's controlling it entirely using the Xbox controller. There are lots of little games in the world.”
According to a Microsoft press release, Kodu’s colorful vistas are “expressed in physical action-reaction terms, using basic concepts like vision, hearing and time to control your character’s behavior.” Sounds pretty wicked.
Kodu launches this spring on the Xbox Live Community Games Channel.
See the rest of Microsoft’s game-related announcements after the break.
After months of anticipation, Microsoft rolled out its latest dashboard update for the Xbox 360 console on November 19th, which among other things, added support for Netflix's streaming service. The update couldn't come quick enough for Netflix subscribers with an Xbox Live Gold account, but not everyone is finding that the wait was worth it.
An unknown glitch has been wreaking havoc on the video streams causing both loss of quality and long delays before a movie is watchable. Xbox 360 owners aren't alone in their plight, as the problem first manifested itself in homes using the $99 Roku box. A Netflix spokesman said the company is working on a fix for both platforms, but that might be hard to do without having identified the culprit.
"We're doing all of the analysis we can," said Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey. "We're looking at the region, at carriers...we're working diligently to identify the problem. Unteil we have, we certainly don't want to speculate at all. Look, there's no manual to take off the shelf here. Netflix has created something new here."
Swasey also said Netflix isn't taking the complaints lightly, despite the relatively small number of complaints.
Hit the jump and tell us how your Netflix experience has been.
On Wednesday of last week, Microsoft rolled out its long anticipated dashboard update for the Xbox 360 console. Among other things, the update incorporated support for Netflix subscribers with an Xbox Live Gold account to be able and stream the online rental service's catalog of downloadable movies and TV shows through the Xbox 360, some of which is in high definition. With consumers slow to warm to Blu-ray, the Netflix capability could potentially nudge undecided console owners in Microsoft's direction rather than opting for Sony's Playstation 3 + Blu-ray combo. But does Sony feel threatened?
Officially, the answer is 'no.' Following the dashboard update, Sony films pulled a disappearing act from Xbox's Netflix streaming service prompting all kinds of speculation and conspiracy theories. And all of it wrong, according to Sony.
"This issue is not specific to Xbox or any other individual platform," Sony said in an email statement. "Sony Pictures is currently in discussions with the relevant parties to resolve certain licensing matters related to the distribution of its motion pictures. Given the ongoing nature of these discussions, we don't think it is appropriate to comment further at this time."
Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey didn't wish to comment on any specific studio licensing deals either, saying only that titles "come in and out of licensing all the time." And that's where things currently reside in the standoff between Sony and Netflix. Some Sony films have reappeared on the streaming service, but neither Sony or Netflix are saying when the rest might return.