Gamers have been eagerly anticipating the launch of Microsoft's next generation Xbox console, and today they finally got what they've been waiting for. Microsoft's next console, previously referred to as Durango and Xbox 720, was introduced to the world as Xbox One, a name that underscores Microsoft's intent to rule the living room with an all-in-one entertainment system that's equally adept at playing games as it is for watching live TV, chatting on Skype, browsing photos and videos, and more.
Serving as more proof that Microsoft isn't ready to put its Xbox 360 console out to pasture in favor of its unannounced but oft rumored Durango (Xbox 720) refresh, the Redmond software giant has put the call out for volunteers to test the next version of Xbox Live on the 360. This is the second time in two months that Microsoft has gone in search of beta testers, and though space is limited, the company said it's accepting "far more beta testers this time around."
Microsoft's Xbox Live Gold is kind of like Hulu Plus in that even though you pay a subscription fee for the service, it still dishes up a heaping of ads for your viewing displeasure. Thus far, they've mostly been unobtrusive and ignorable, but a recent announcement heralds a whole new era of advertising annoyance: Microsoft has sold its first NUAds, clips that bug you to utilize your Kinect to talk or shake your fist in response to the product plugs.
For as popular as the Xbox 360 is, Microsoft's been notoriously slow to certify game updates to be rolled out via its Xbox Live service, a constant source of frustration for developers and gamers alike. That's reportedly going to change when Minecraft is ported over to Xbox Live Arcade, which could very well end up being the first game to tout frequent and constant updates.
When Microsoft announced the Windows Phone platform at Mobile World Congress, Xbox lovers had to be excited about the potential for integration between phone and console. Sadly, those aspirations for a unified gaming platform haven't reached the levels that many of us dream about, but Microsoft is making an effort to provide added value to customers who embrace the Microsoft ecosystem.
The Xbox Companion app for Windows Phone provides a way for Xbox 360 owners to control their console and more efficiently browse music and video using their Windows Phone.
Oh, Microsoft, why have you abandoned PC gamers? Don't get us wrong, Age of Empires Online looks awesome, but the company's almost complete lack of PC gaming news at this year's E3 left a bitter taste in our mouths, and Microsoft's been conspicuously silent on the PC front ever since – until now. Lower your heads and mourn, PC gamers. The continuously half-baked Games for Windows disappears on July 11th, swallowed by the all-consuming console-centric blob that is the Xbox brand.
When lulz-seeking hackers aren't busy reincarnating Tupac on PBS and taking down government websites worldwide, they always seem to turn their attention to videogame companies. We're not quite sure what the grudge is, but Sony, Nintendo, Minecraft, Bethesda, Sega, BioWare and scads of other gaming targets have been hacked in one way or another. Pretty much the only major player unaffected thus far has been Microsoft. In fact, the company's even profited from the rash of attacks as gamers bailed the PlayStation in droves. So what does Microsoft think of all the recent troubles from its seat on the sidelines?
If you asked Microsoft, they'd probably say their flashy keynote address at E3 signaled the day the Xbox 360 grew into its own as an entertainment center, rather than a dumb old video game console. Here at Maximum PC, we view it a little differently: we think Microsoft's keynote address at E3 signaled the day that PC gaming fell off of Microsoft's radar.
A few weeks ago, we took a not-so-fond look at the console portion of the grotesque, unruly mass (in some circles known as a “family”) that is the gaming world. As we often do with those with whom we share any sort of relation, we proceeded to list off all the ways they've wronged us. We find it to be a good ice-breaker. Now, though, we've been struck with some strange and debiltating malady that top scientists are calling “civility,” and we've realized there's plenty of good mixed in with the bad. No, seriously. Consoles, we may not always get along, but we'd be remiss if we didn't give you due praise for having our backs every once in a while. Now go! Jump past the break before we change our minds.
Jennifer Zdenek lives in Seattle and has an 11-year-old son diagnosed with autism. One of the ways he copes with his disability is by logging time on Xbox Live racking up achievements. Little Julias Jackson signed on to play last week, and to his and his mother's surprise, Xbox Live had taken away his achievements (nearly 1,500 of them) and labeled him a "cheater," Seattle's local Fox News affiliate reports.
"It is pretty much his only outlet and his only friend, because of autism," Zdenek explains. "It disgusts me that they did this to my child... if you have no friends and have no life outside of your home and this is all you do, you know because of your mental illness, then this is pretty devastating to him."
Zdenek says she called Microsoft and spoke with two people, one of which was a supervisor, but neither was any help. She was then referred to Microsoft's legal department "by address only."
Microsoft says, "The only actions that we take are to correct the player's current Gamerscore, and to label the player as a 'cheater.' This label can be observed on Xbox.com and through the player's view of their Gamercard on a console or computer that is connected to Xbox Live. The player can still legitimately gain future achievements. The player's experience does not change in any other way."
Furthermore, HardOCP reached out to Microsoft, who explained that even though it might not have been Julius or his mother who fudged with the account, they feel certain that someone did in order to boost his gaming score.
Stephen Toulouse, Director of Xbox Live Policy and Enforcement at Microsoft, apparently confirmed that somone at the home was cheating on the account in question.