One of Microsoft’s biggest success stories last year has undeniably been that of Kinect. At the Consumer Electronics Show yesterday, CEO Steve Ballmer opened up on how much of a success this gesture based motion controller for XBox has been. According to him, Microsoft sold nearly 8 million Kinect units since launch. That is in an amazing timespan of just sixty days.
Evidently, a major portion of the sales came during the holiday shopping season in countries like the United States. If you have been following this space, you will be aware that Microsoft sold 2.5 million units of Kinect in the first 30 days of launch. That brings the sale during December to 5.5 million.
The popularity of Kinect does not look like it will be slowing down anytime in the near future. With more than 50 million XBox 360 units available in the market today, along with the fact that Microsoft is still innovating on the Kinect front, we are in for some real good times ahead.
Activision will be releasing the first set of downloadable content for Call of Duty : Black Ops which will be going on sale for the XBox 360 on 1st February and will be costing around $15. This downloadable content comes in the form of a multiplayer map pack comprising of 4 regular levels including one for the game`s zombie mode.
There are 2 regular maps which are based on campaigns for the singleplayer, i.e. Hong Kong and the Arctic Circle while the other 2 take place in the cold war locations – the Berlin Wall and an ice hockey stadium. Apparently, Microsoft has struck a deal with Activision to bring the Black Ops downloadable content first by February 1 on XBox 360 under the title “First Strike” . What this means is that the game is expected to make its way through to the PC and Play Station 3 users only later than that. That’s bad news if you are not an XBox user!
Crystal Dynamics has confirmed that a Tom Raider trilogy pack is on its way and will be released in the first quarter of 2011. This release includes Tom Raider Legend, Tomb Raider Anniversary and Tomb Raider Underworld all on one single Blu-ray disc. It is however worth noting that this trilogy pack had started to appear in the retail list of Amazon Germany even before developer Crystal Dynamics could confirm the authenticity
Brand director for Tomb Raider Karl Stewart mentioned in his Tweet:
“Yes, it’s official. A Tomb Raider PS3 Trilogy pack is coming in the New Year. Full details coming next week – watch this space.”
This pack will be joining in the trilogy ranks of the Sly Collection which had released on November 9 along with the rumored Splinter Cell and Prince of Persia Trilogy packs. Amazon has revealed that the packs will release on 22nd March, 2011 and also mentions that all the three games will be offering a trophy support with a collectors edition unlocking both male and female Playstation home avatars.
A new trailer for the Crysis sequel has arrived. The two minute video footage gives us a glimpse of the game with some actual gaming footage in it.
“New York has been ruined after an alien invasion in 2023. Donning the Nanosuit, you will use its strength, speed and invisibility as weapons to exculpate the once flourishing city from its unwelcome visitors.”
This footage has been the best of the single player footage that has been shown so far, showing off both the features as well as the visuals which are really stunning. It’s a trailer totally dedicated to the nanosuit and how it carries off all the activities in a violent style. All die hard Crysis fans will want to watch this trailer of the game.
All these nanosuit powers are displayed in the trailer. Crysis 2 has been scheduled for a release on March 22nd, 2011 for Xbox 360, PS3 and the PC. You can also pre-order the game for the platform of your choice from Amazon.com
Electronic Arts is offering all those people who are buying the BulletStorm Epic Edition an early access to Gears of War 3. This incentive is being offered to gamers worldwide by Epic Games in partnership with EA and Microsoft.
This Xbox 360 special edition game hits the markets on February 25th along with the inclusion of a special code enabling gamers to access the beta release of Gears of War 3 later this year. Speaking about this, Epic Game`s president, Dr. Michael Capps has said,
“Epic is poised to break new ground in 2011 with Gears of War 3 and Bulletstorm. With these two highly anticipated triple-A experiences comes a unique opportunity to do something to really excite players, and that’s what we intend to accomplish with the support of Microsoft and EA. This is for the shooter fans.”
This upcoming edition of BulletStorm will also include a few extra online goodies in the form of armour, new weapons, boots and extra experience points.
Mass Effect 2, the PS3 game that is slated for a January 18 release will be using the engine that developers at Bioware originally created for Mass Effect 3. This news was revealed in a podcast by Jesse Houston, the producer of the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2. This is expected to offer a visually stunning experience to the PS3 user as compared to what was offered on the XBOX 360 version that was released earlier this year.
Speaking about this upcoming game,Houston said,
“One of the first things you’re going to see is improved graphics. We actually created the engine for Mass Effect 3 and used that to make Mass Effect 2 PS3. So we took the content, the story and all of the other assets that made up Mass Effect 2 and we put it into the Mass Effect 3 engine.”
Houston has also promised some more cool additions to the game like improved planet scanning and including all patches and bug fixes that have been intended for the XBOX 360 version after the release. Mass Effect 2 for PS 3 is slated for release on January 18.
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.
Microsoft is reported to be in talks with a number of media companies over bringing a subscription based web TV service to Xbox consoles that could give the company an effective tool to fight Google and Apple in the new web television space. Sources have indicated that under the new plan, subscribers will pay a monthly fee to access television networks such as ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, ESPN and CNN over Xbox.
Another alternative proposal seems to be using the Xbox as an interactive layer above the service offered by cable TV. Using this, subscribers may continue to pay cable TV operators for content access but may be able to, for instance, message friends while watching a television show.
While there is not much information about the new plans on offer, Microsoft could also integrate its new expertise in motion control technology using Kinect that would let users change channels or fast-forward videos by waving their arms or using voice commands.
In addition to this, there is also a possibility of Microsoft incorporating a TV show recommendation service. You may remember our article from back in April this year where we had noted about a new Microsoft patent that talked about such a service.
This is a slightly extrapolated speculation. A new job posting on the Microsoft website has called upon applications for a position that will be “responsible for delivering features for Silverlight on the XBOX as part of the next wave“. Microsoft has since then removed all references to the console. But the posting itself has caused quite a bit of speculation about what the “next wave” could mean here.
It is definitely not just another buzz term used to lure potential employees. One speculation is that Silverlight could be the platform Microsoft could be banking upon to let developers build one app that can be used across platforms – on XBox 360 as well as Windows Phone 7. Another speculation is that Microsoft may be hiring developers who will build more applications for the XBox dashboard.
While we do have XBox integrated with services like Facebook, Twitter, ESPN and Netflix,there are still no apps for browsing the internet and watching YouTube. Do we have an Internet Explorer app and YouTube app coming soon?
Microsoft has rolled out a new version of the XBox 360 dashboard update that, apart from some interface level changes, also introduces users to some new features. Primarily, users can now watch ESPN over XBox Live. Besides this, users also have access to over 3500 live sporting events through the year. On-demand action is available too and along with this, users also get access to a number of out-of-market games.
Other features included in the new release include compatibility for Zune Pass, a smart DJ device, better track searching tools and also an improved Netflix search service that makes it easy to streamline all the movies and TV shows that the user wants to watch. Additionally, the update brings improved sound quality on voice chat, a streamlined in-line virtual keyboard, improved Gamertag, an enhanced Live Marketplace interface and easier access to a wireless network.
This is not a geographical update and users should be prompted for an update when they login to the Live service. While there are several enhancements, is it really better than the older interface? Here are some reactions
“First and foremost with the old dashboard update you gave us a choice on what we wanted our dashboard to look like…with this update no such thing! you have made the panels too big on which i have read many people stating they will get motion sickness from and i 100% agree that it has already given me a headache for using it in the last 5 minutes.”
“I have to pay $10 extra dollars so some guy “can” watch football on his xbox? I say “can” because if he is going to watch football, he is probably going to watch it on his big screen tv with beer and friends, and not on his xbox. Yet I have to pay extra money for it when I will NEVER use that service?”
“Not as clean as the last Interfce running at 1080p this one looks like a kid did it more pixelated. and the EULA was in French.”
Some users though seem to be finding great improvements in performance,
“I really like this update because it’s made my system run a lot faster and smoother. So far since the update, I haven’t had a single crash in Fable 3 where I was getting them often before the update. Also my load times have been shorter while playing my WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011. Unfortunately, my friend has not had the same luck with the update that I have. We both have came to the conclusion that this update was probably only tested with the latest generation of the Xbox (I have a slim, my friend has the previous version)”
Do you like the latest XBox 360 dashboard update? What are your complaints and wishlists? Tell us in the comments.