Accused of DDoS against PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, swatting attempts
Another arrest has been made in the United Kingdom, over distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on Sony's PlayStation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live online services, as well as instances of "swatting." An unidentified 18-year-old man was arrested in Southport this morning, with computers and other electronic devices seized by law enforcement officials for further investigation.
News from the video game industry for the week of December 28
Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN offer a look back at some of the big news from the video game world in the previous week. To roll in the New Year for Weekly Game Replay, we take a look at Steam's new concurrent user record, Xbox Live founder Boyd Multerer's departure from Microsoft, the Planetside 2 beta coming to the PlayStation 4 in January, Croteam's trap for video game pirates in The Talos Principle, and the new free games for PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live gold subscribers.
Campaign add-on to Halo paced differently, highly regarded by fans
Microsoft game studio 343 Industries has spelled out a compensation package for users affected by the matchmaking flaws that Halo: The Master Chief Collection has been plagued with since launch. The package includes Halo 3 adjunct title ODST, which was not expected to be released, a remastered multiplayer map, a month of Xbox Live service, and a character nameplate for use in-game.
Bitcoin payments into Microsoft Account performed by BitPay
Microsoft is embracing Bitcoin, by allowing users of its services to pay using the cryptocurrency. US customers are able to add funds to their Microsoft Account using a Bitcoin wallet, which can then be used to may payments in the Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox stores, as well as paying for subscriptions for Xbox Live and Xbox Music.
News from the video game industry for the week of November 23
Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN sum up some of the news from the gaming industry over the past week in one article. In this week's edition of Weekly Game Replay, we take a look at the strong sales of Super Smash Brothers, Pok√©mon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby for Nintendo consoles, Ubisoft's free downloadable content (DLC) and games for botched Assassin's Creed Unity launch, This War of Mine statistics, new Star Citizen funding goals for pets, and upcoming PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Games with Gold releases.
Customers can submit for pro-rata refund after update through August 31
Customers that have paid an Xbox Live Gold subscription for media streaming services on either the Xbox 360 or Xbox One have some recourse in June when entertainment apps no longer require an active subscription. Microsoft has issued an update to their frequently asked questions that addresses possible refunds for those that no longer need the service.
Xbox Live Gold subscription will not be required to stream movies on Xbox consoles
Microsoft will allow users of its game consoles to watch video streaming services and use a number of other functions without paying for the Xbox Live Gold subscription, the company has announced. At the same time, it is also preparing to sell its Xbox One game console on its own, separate from the bundled Kinect sensor bar, in a bid to increase sales.
Xbox Live 'core services' crippled, unrelated to but affecting Titanfall launch
On the eve of the highly-anticipated Titanfall first-person shooter release, Microsoft's Xbox Live service is experiencing issues with the login process for some users. According to Larry Hyrb, Microsoft's "Major Nelson," the problems are not directly related to Titanfall, but some other connectivity issue related to "core services." Other Microsoft services, including Titanfall matchmaking, were still working during the outage. After three hours of downtime, at 11:00 EST, the problem was reported as resolved by Microsoft, and preliminary testing by Electronista confirmed Microsoft's report.
Job posting hints at lightweight Xbox Live framework for mobile developers
Microsoft is planning to push for Xbox Live to be more cross-platform than it already is, by making it easier for developers to include in their apps, according to a rumor. The company is preparing to extend the Live platform to more games, with a recent job posting hinting that it will compete directly with Google Play Games and Apple's Game Center on mobile devices.
Live action Halo, soccer reality show, more coming to Xbox Live
Microsoft's Xbox Live service will receive a new wave of original content in the first half of 2014, it has been revealed. Microsoft digital media head Nancy Tellem told Variety that a range of new programs will debut on the Xbox platform in either the first or second quarter of 2014. Among the content soon to hit Microsoft's gaming devices is a live-action "Halo" project, produced by Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg.
Company welcomes holiday walk-ins
Microsoft executives have shed light on the business strategy surrounding the Xbox One, which will be sold at cost or with a small profit margin as soon as it arrives on store shelves. The company also intends to improve inventory management as the holidays approach, stocking shelves with enough consoles to support last-minute walk-ins on launch day, while the Xbox Live Rewards program has been refreshed with cash payouts and other incentives.
Ads aim to increase awareness of patent trolls
The Internet Association has joined forces with several trade groups to launch an ad campaign critical of patent trolls. The radio and print ads are running in 15 states, focusing on small businesses that are commonly targeted by patent-holding companies and non-practicing entities. "Tell Congress to stop bad patents and stop the trolls," one ad says, as quoted by Ars Technica.
Amazon redesigns Silk web browser with new start page, UI
Amazon has updated the Silk web browser for the Kindle Fire tablet line with a complete overhaul. Users will see a new Just-In-Time tutorial screen pointing out new parts of the user interface, a new start page with "Most Visited" links being more prominent, redesigned tabs, new Bookmarks views, and according to TechCrunch, simpler navigation and quicker access to Reading View.
Change from Microsoft Points to cash transactions accompanied by higher prices
Microsoft has come under fire for raising the price of games on Xbox Live in the UK, at the same time as introducing local currency transactions. Gamers in the recent dashboard beta test found that downloadable content and Xbox Live Arcade games on the service cost far more than the equivalent cost in the previously-used Microsoft Points.
TWC TV app boasts 300 live TV channel streams, Kinect controls
Microsoft will be providing an app for the Xbox 360 that will allow Time Warner Cable customers in the United States to view live TV. The new TWC TV app, said to launch later this summer for TWC subscribers that also signed up for Xbox Live Gold, will provide up to 300 of the cable company's channel roster to the game console, and builds upon existing versions of the app on other platforms.
Xbox Live Gold subscribers to get free games until end of 2013
Microsoft revealed launch details for its upcoming game console, as well as an update for its current version, at its E3 keynote event earlier today. Aside from outlining upcoming games, the Xbox One is now slated to appear on store shelves in November this year, the Xbox 360 has been redesigned, and current Xbox Live subscribers will also receive some extra benefits.
New payment system to work on Xbox Live, Windows Store, Windows Phone Store
Microsoft may be scrapping its Points virtual currency in favor of local currency pricing, according to a report. The rumor, which has surfaced a few times in the past, is now bolstered with new claims that the new system would work across platforms, with Microsoft preparing to reveal it at the E3 game show later this year.
Prototypes said to have Kinect-style motion controls
Microsoft is looking to create a set-top box for media playback, according to one report. Continuing previous rumors, the software giant is working on a device that will allow users to sign onto Xbox Live and use its apps to view streaming video, effectively cloning the non-gaming aspects of the Xbox 360 game console into a relatively-cheap product.
Dashboard app allows for Kinect motion controls, voice recognition
A new Microsoft Xbox Live app, scheduled to launch on April 23, will allow users of the gaming and media service to order Pizza Hut products directly from the Xbox 360 console. The new app gives customers access to the restaurant's entire menu, and features full Kinect integration in addition to voice recognition, or regular game controller use.
Team behind intrusion claimed behind Swatting of reporter
Microsoft has confirmed that a number of Xbox Live accounts owned by current and previous "high-profile" employees have been accessed by hackers. The same group of hackers, known as Team Hype, are also said to be behind denial of service attacks as well as a case of "Swatting," convincing local police to send a SWAT team to a victim's house to conduct a raid, against a security reporter.
Xbox app provides access to Slacker service on the dashboard
Streaming music provider Slacker has announced its availability on the Xbox Live service. The service allowing Xbox Live subscribers in the US and Canada to listen to millions of songs and hundreds of pre-programmed stations on an ad-supported basis, including a new videogame music soundtrack station curated by gaming culture blog, Destructoid.†The app is now available through the Xbox Live Marketplace.
Physical game registrations to kill secondhand market
Microsoft's next console will need an Internet connection to operate, according to reports. A new version of Xbox Live will apparently be central to the console itself, and through registering physical games to an individual account, would render discs useless to anyone else wanting to play them, and in effect kill off the second-hand games market.
Personalization options, Home and Away audio feeds in app
Microsoft has added an app that covers hockey matches to Xbox Live, joining existing sporting apps from ESPN, the NBA and others. The NHL GameCenter service will provide subscribers the option to watch hockey live and on-demand in HD, as well as the ability to personalize the service for statistic tracking, and a number of on-demand classic games from the history of the sport.
Remainder of broadcast channels added, enhancements made
Today, ESPN on Xbox updated its app with a significant update. The program now includes†all†of ESPN's live network programming through WatchESPN including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, Buzzer Beater and Goal Line. Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers can watch the sports' network entire live lineup, including SportsCenter, SportsNation and the Mike and Mike Show, as well as ESPNís coverage of the NFL, including Monday Night Football, MLB and the NBA.
Custom consoles to longest subscribers, free game to all
Microsoft is celebrating the tenth anniversary of Xbox Live by giving some of its longest subscribers a free console. While a gift of hardware will not be made to all users of the service, Microsoft is also offering a free Xbox Live Arcade game to download, as well as allowing US-based members entry into a sweepstake for various prizes.
Macintosh compatible with add-on software
The market for video game recording is somewhat limited, and yet very demanding at the same time. Machinima directors and actors could use a recording tool, as well as professional gamers, or even just a journeyman gamer wanting to display his against-the-odds victory against the Xbox Live hordes. Not all games feature a clip-recording feature like more recent entries in the Halo series does, making delay-free third-party video capture and display virtually a necessity for such products. A recent release by computer video specialists Hauppauge updates a previously-released (and slightly flawed) product with enhanced recording resolution, as well as a no-delay passthrough feature. Does the HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition keep all its promises? Read our review and find out!
Latest beta sees Xbox Video app default to credit card
Microsoft is reportedly replacing its virtual currency with real-world currency, users of the latest Windows 8 beta claim. The Microsoft Points system, used on Xbox Live for purchasing downloadable content, is apparently absent from the Windows App version of the Xbox Video store, according to The Verge.
Call of Duty: Black Ops arrives on Mac September 27
Aspyr is releasing popular shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops for the Macintosh. The game will include the First Strike downloadable content package, with the last two DLC packages available before Christmas as a single package for $25. The game requires a minimum 2.4 GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, and a Radeon HD 3870 or Nvidia 650M or greater. Until release, the three other Call of Duty titles are half off. Call of Duty: Black Ops will ship on September 27 and retails for $50 on the Mac App Store and Steam, or for $45 on Aspyr's GameAgent.
Fox' Digital HD movies coming to iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Xbox Live, more
Google was one of many on Tuesday to reveal that it has signed a new deal with Twentieth Century Fox to bring over 600 titles to Google Play and YouTube. Dubbed Digital HD and available on the premium services, the shows and movies will be available to rent or buy, with many in high-definition. The campaign is highlighted by Fox's Prometheus, which can be purchased on Tuesday in HD for just under $15, a full three weeks before it comes out on Blu-ray, DVD, and video-on-demand services.
Raspberry Pi to get camera by October
The Raspberry Pi miniature computer will be getting a camera add-on later this year. CNet UK reports that the credit card-sized Linux computer will see its first add-on in the form of a camera module with a 5MP sensor. The module plugs into the Pi and takes still pictures and video. The module is expected to cost between $20 and $25 and will likely arrive some time in the next three months.
Ported apps could be seen as stepping stone for SmartGlass
Kinectimals, Microsoft's first game on iOS, has made its way to Google's mobile platform. The release schedule appears to follow Microsoft's habit of bringing titles to iOS before Android, as demonstrated by the My Xbox Live launch earlier this week. The company has also released an update to its My Xbox Live app for iOS.
Xbox Live services to go free from April 19-23
In an attempt to get some more users hooked on its premium Xbox Live subscription service, Microsoft will offer it for free for five days, commencing on Thursday, April 19, and running until Monday, April 23. Partners like Hulu Plus, Netflix, and EPIX will also open their doors for free during the same time period. Depending on where users are, however, they will get various amounts of free app access during those five days.
PSN down for half a day on Monday
Sony triggered an upset among gamers on Sunday with notice that it would be taking down the PlayStation Network for maintenance during 13 hours on Monday. From 9AM Eastern until 10PM, gamers won't have the option of playing any games online, checking their accounts, or using services like PlayStation Home and the PlayStation Store. Websites that need PSN, even including the official PlayStation blog, would also be switched off.
Netflix update brings Kinect controls, more
Microsoft and Netflix have delivered a new update for the Xbox 360 that brings new functions to the app, the former's Larry Hryb revealed. The revamped media streaming client includes the ability to skip forward an back through movies and shows with buttons. Users with Kinect can also perform this using their voice or by waving their hand.
PS3 4.11 and Xbox 360 update appear
Microsoft and Sony unintentionally posted simultaneous updates for their game systems overnight on Thursday. The Xbox 360 has received its promised fix for a color space issue, where certain apps and video playback would distort the colors. The upgrade is required to keep using Xbox Live and will translate to individual apps.
Consumer Preview of Win 8 may have Media Center
The Consumer Preview of Windows 8 will have a number of Metro-style apps preinstalled, The Verge has learned. They will include mostly simply-titled core apps, such as Camera, SkyDrive, Messaging, Mail, Calendar, People, Photos, Video, and Music. There may be even more than that, and all will be updatable from the Windows Store.
Microsoft's well-known Stepto quits in shift
Microsoft took another loss to its Xbox divsion Friday after its Director of Xbox Live Policy and Enforcement, Stephen Toulouse, resigned from the company. Often known as Stepto, he planned to finish his term at the company on February 15. He stressed that the exit was amicable and a matter of looking for a life change, with no other companies in mind.
Apple continues drawing from gaming industry
Apple has recruited an important executive from Microsoft's Xbox division, Robin Burrowes, reports say. Until this week, Burrowes was in control of Xbox Live marketing for the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) region. At Apple, he will be responsible for marketing the App Store for iTunes Europe. Other highlights on his resume include work on Microsoft's MSN, and time with music and movie retailer HMV.
Nintendo Network to accompany 3DS and Wii U
Nintendo's Friday briefing in the wake of its tough quarterly results has confirmed that it plans to at last go head-to-head with Microsoft and Sony in a persistent online gaming network. Just called Nintendo Network, it will let gamers download chat and play with each other without needing friend codes in addition to getting game add-ons. On the Wii U, gamers will have personal accounts, presumably letting them transport their Mii, downloads, and other preferences across systems.
Microsoft Points may be droped by end 2012
A potentially impactful rumor on Monday claimed that Microsoft will drop its Microsoft Points system. As of the end of 2012, the Windows Phone, Xbox Live, and Zune Marketplace stores would all rely on real currency, Inside Mobile Apps had heard. Developers being published by Microsoft were reportedly being told to prepare any downloadable extras to adapt to the change.
Microsoft and Google TV plans trade fortunes
Microsoft and Google made both official and unofficial plans for their TV strategies on Wednesday. A leak uncovered by Reuters had Microsoft freezing its long-rumored plans for live subscription Xbox TV. The company had decided that the rates TV channels were asking for the Internet-only service were "too expensive" for the plan it wanted to offer, industry insiders said.
Microsoft cuts Indie Games developers some slack
Microsoft has relaxed the Xbox Live Indie Games limits. Among the new rules, independent game developers have had the 150MB ceiling lifted to 500MB for CCGAME bundles for publishing on Xbox Live Indie Games. Independent developers can now also charge users between charge as little as $1 per game, instead of the previous $3 or $5 entry points.
First Xbox Live UFC fight plagued with problems
Microsoft's live UFC app for the Xbox that launched in December suffered a number of hiccups when trying to stream UFC 141 on December 30, BitMob's Dan Hsu reported. Microsoft sent out 30,000 promotional passes for Xbox Live members to try out the app, which likely led to the technical issues many suffered with the app not loading. Other issues included resetting, crashing, moving to an earlier point in the fight with no ability to fast forward to live broadcasting, buffering, stutteringl and switching between standard, high or very low resolutions.
Xbox Live loses gun avatar add-ons on January 1
Gears of War developer Epic Games warned late this past week that Microsoft was pulling all "gun-like" avatar props from Xbox Live. As of January 1, the Hammerburst, Lancer, and other items wouldn't be available as a matter of policy, Community Manager Will Kinsler said. Any avatars bought before the cutoff would stay afterwards.
Xbox Live Error Code 801540B7 bug mended soon
Microsoft has confirmed the existence of a bug with the fall 2011 Xbox 360 Dashboard that has been kicking gamers from Xbox Live. Surfacing as either Error Code 801540B7 or 80070571, the flaw both stops them from getting online and from accessing any content that hasn't been cleared to run offline. The bug tries to have users re-download their profiles and ask for help but is ultimately out of users' control.
Microsoft tries Xbox app for iPad, iPhone
Microsoft bucked expectations Wednesday by releasing an official My Xbox Live app for iOS (free, App Store). The app lets iPad, iPhone, and iPod users handle most of what they can do outside of gameplay and the Game Marketplace. It touts messaging, managing the friends list, comparing profiles and achievements, and customizing the avatar, as well as newer features like game Beacons.
Verizon details FiOS TV on Xbox 360 requirements
Verizon has now made public some details of its Xbox 360 Live TV service first mentioned back at the start of October. Through their Xbox 360, Xbox Live Gold members will have the ability to access up to 26 live FiOS TV channels, depending on their subscription. They also need to be FiOS TV and Internet service subscribers.
Xbox hits 10 years old and gets bonuses
Microsoft kicked off the tenth anniversary of the Xbox with a celebration page and bonuses. Everyone gets access to a free avatar prop for Xbox Live that provides a gift box that opens to reveal fireworks. Some downloadable games will also be on sale as part of the anniversary.
Microsoft sends tile-based Xbox 360 UI
Microsoft on Thursday started giving beta users its promised fall 2011 Xbox 360 Dashboard update. The upgrade introduces the tiled, Windows Phone 7-like interface we first saw at E3 and organizes sections that would normally need hierarchical sections into groups. The interface is more optimized for the Kinect and lets users search for content across the whole Xbox and Xbox Live using voice, although a gamepad fallback is available.
UFC starts on Xbox as ATT U-verse clamps down
Microsoft finished off the week with word that its promised live UFC games on the Xbox 360 would go live on December 1. Along with on-demand clips, it will give viewers the option of pay-per-view live fights much like they would on the web or regular TV. The first live event should be UFC 140 in Toronto with Jon Jones and Lyoto Machida.