Microsoft has announced a new loyalty program for their Xbox Live users. The new XBox Live Rewards loyalty program is aimed at rewarding users for their continued usage of the service and thereby win points that could be redeemed. The basic service works very much like Club Nintendo – except that instead of gears, Microsoft XBox Live users will be awarded points for every activity that they do on the service. This includes things like renewing a subscription, purchasing a family pack, buying select content from marketplace, etc. The points earned for every activity depends on whether the user is a free member or a paying member.
Points earned by members can be redeemed by purchasing content on XBox Live. For instance, a user may accumulate 1600 points to redeem a product worth $19.99 from Xbox Live marketplace. Here is a graphic that elaborates on the points that the user stands to earn on each activity. Check out the Xbox Live website to learn more and to join the Rewards program.
These are some impressive numbers, ain’t they? Just 25 days after its launch on November 4, Microsoft has announced that their newly launched motion controller is now selling twice as fast as the iPad. The company has reported sales of 2.5 million units in this period which means an average sale of 100,000 units every day.
The numbers are not hard to fathom. Microsoft has partnered with nearly 60,000 retailers across 38 countries and thanks to the discounts and heavy shopping during the Black Friday season, the company has been able to achieve these impressive numbers. Redmond has predicted a total sale of 5 million Kinect units by the end of this year.
Quite clearly, the sale numbers do not project a worldwide success story. Last week, there were reports that suggested that Microsoft had only sold around 26,000 Kinect units in Japan through the opening weekend giving an indication that the high sale price of the motion controller in the country may have created a massive barrier to its sale. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft builds upon the popularity of the opening month to expand into the future.
Media Create, a Japanese video game research firm has published a new report that shows that the new motion controller from Microsoft may not have had the best of starts in the oriental market. According to figures released by the firm, Microsoft sold 26,000 units of Kinect during the opening weekend of November 20 & 21. This number includes stand alone units as well as those bundled with an XBox.
The figure looks all the more sober when you consider that this is just half of the number of Sony PlayStation Move units sold during the debut weekend in October this year. However, a deeper look reveals why. PlayStation Move is available at a price of 5100 Yen (approx. $60.89) a unit. On the other hand, Kinect is being sold at a price of 14,800 Yen (approx. $176.70). Kinect is nearly triple the price of Move and this could be the primary reason why Microsoft has failed to attract the crowds. This has also consequently meant that none of the Kinect games have risen to the top 20 rankings in the past week.
We wonder if Microsoft would wisen up and announce a price drop soon.
Farmville, the popular game from Zynga, has for long been synonymous with social gaming on Facebook. The application at one point clocked nearly 84 million users a month making it the most popular application on the social network – a position that the app has held for over fifteen months.
That has finally ended as we learn that Farmville has finally dropped to the number 2 place in the popularity rankings. Phrases, another Facebook app that lets users build DIY quizzes and trivia has now risen on to the top spot.
Interestingly, this rise to the top has been more so due to the decline in popularity of Farmville than anything else. The Zynga game currently has around 53.9 million monthly players that is merely two-thirds of what Farmville boasted during its days of peak popularity. Phrases is noted to now have 54.3 million users.
American Football fans will love to hear that Electronic Arts is rumored to have commenced work on a new version of the popular NFL Blitz game. However, according to the sources, the development of the game is in very early stages at this point and so it is not likely that we see a new release soon. The possible release of this new NFL Blitz is likely to be in 2012 and is expected to be made available across multiple consoles.
Another piece of the rumor that avid gamers might not necessarily care about is that the game is being developed at EA’s Tiburon Studios which is incidentally where most of the football-relating gaming development normally happens. This is also the place where Mark Turmell – one of the creators of the NFL Blitz series is currently serving as the Senior Creative Director.
So if this rumor is true, NFL fans have something exciting coming up in a year or two’s time.
Where do the most number of gamers on Facebook come from in the United States? A study conducted by AdParlor looked into data gathered from hundreds of advertising campaigns to extrapolate the numbers for the entire Facebook audience. Here are the top ten states and the number of gamers that each of these states contribute
1. California : 159,841 (17.00%)
2. Texas : 119,906 (12.75%)
3. Florida : 108,963 (11.59%)
4. New York : 101,642 (10.81%)
5. Ohio : 75,768 (8.05%)
6. Pennsylvania : 73,420 (7.81%)
7. Illinois : 72,306 (7.69%)
8. Michigan : 68,683 (7.30%)
9. Georgia : 57,398 (6.20%)
10. North Carolina : 56,895 (6.05%)
Here are some more highlights from the study:
- The states of California, Texas, Florida, and New York together account for roughly 30% of all US game players.
- The highest ratio of game players to state population comes from the State of Wyoming
- The highest ratio of game players to city population comes from St. Louis, Orlando, Salt Lake City, Dayton, and Pompano Beach
- Despite a population of almost 650,000 – the city of Boston only brought in 1,792 gamers
Bungie, the developer of the popular console gaming series Halo has announced a new program that will let regular player sign up as beta testers for their upcoming games. The program will require users to sign up on the Bungie.net website with a valid email address and notify their interest in becoming a beta tester.
The beta tester will get involved in Playtests and Usability Testing at Bungie, surveys on game playing habits and Alpha/Beta Testing for their next game. That’s no confirmation on whether this shall indeed be the next game in the Halo series though we think that’s likely.
Also, not all those who signed up will be selected as a beta tester. But Bungie has indicated that they will require “hundreds of thousands of gamers” before the final launch happens. Does that make you all the more hopeful?
The race to the top among game developers has been very tight in the past few months. In September this year, Bungie released Halo : Reach and though the game broke records to register $200 million in the first 24 hours of launch, it still wasn’t able to dislodge Call of Duty : Modern Warfare 2 from the top slot for the week.
Looks like Activision has continued to prevail. Five days after the company launched its new Call of Duty : Black Ops, reports are coming in that the game registered over $650 million during the period. This is not just a record for the five day period, but as the company has noted, this is also the “first entertainment property in history to set five-day records for two consecutive years across all forms of entertainment.”
For what it’s worth, COD : Modern Warfare 2 logged in $550 million in the first five days of its launch. Now that’s some pretty impressive record.
Microsoft Kinect has been a terrific success in the American market so far with more than 1 million units being sold in the ten days since launch. However, not many hardcore gamers have taken to the new controller given that a majority of Kinect-supported games at the moment are casual. However, we hear that this could soon change with the launch of a new Kinect supported version of Gears of War.
According to these rumors, Microsoft is looking at the upcoming Spike TV Video Games Awards to make an announcement on this new game. However, it is not clear if this is going to be an all-new version of the game or if the existing version of Gears of War shall be retro-fitted with these Kinect controls. But if the words of Epic Games’ lead designer Cliff Bleszinski are anything to go by, it may just be the latter. He has noted that the Kinect supported version is not going to be Gears of War 3. So there you go.
Before I get to the news in the title, here’s something interesting for the week. Folks at PSJailbreak have announced that they have been successful in jailbreaking into the latest PS3 firmware version of 3.42 and 3.50. The hack is enabled using a USB mod that will enable users to install unapproved software and games to their PlayStation consoles.
If you have jailbroken your PS3 using one of these softwares, it is now also possible to downgrade your system to an older version of the firmware. PSJailbreak have now launched a sister-site called PSDowngrade.com that will assist the user in downgrading their Playstations to an older firmware. The hackers claim that the downgrade process is very easy and intuitive and will take less than a minute to carry out. So there you go.