News from the video game industry for the week of November 9
Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN offer an all-in-one report for some of the major happenings in the video game industry during the past week. In this week's edition, we look at the issues with the launch of World of Warcraft's latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor; the problems with Assassin's Creed Unity; Xbox sales numbers; Robotoki ditching the free-to-play model for Human Element, and Wildstar's content launch and raid size shrink.
Developer resume gives clues to the APU shrink from 28nm to 20nm
Gamers hoping for a slim version of the Xbox One with a reduced cost could be see something hit the market in the near future. According to a resume from a senior manager at AMD, the company has successfully shrunk the die size of the system-on-chip (SOC) that is included in Microsoft's next-gen gaming console. Based on AMD's roadmap and die shrinks for GPUs and APUs, it could mean a new Xbox One is on its way in 2015.
Microsoft cuts price of Xbox One bundles by $50 for holidays
Microsoft is cutting the price of its Xbox One game console for the holidays. Starting from November 2nd, a $50 discount will be applied on console bundles, bringing the standard version down to $349, or $449 including the Kinect, while the limited edition Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare bundle with a 1TB hard drive and customized console and controller will cost $449 when it launches from November 3rd. It is unclear if similar discounts will be applied in other markets, but the $50-off promotion will end on January 3rd.
Microsoft releases digital TV tuner for Xbox One in Europe
A digital TV tuner for the Xbox One has gone on sale in Europe through the Microsoft Store. Priced at £25 ($40) in the UK and 30 euros ($38) in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, the tuner will allow owners of the Microsoft game console to view free-to-air HD television through the device, complete with Snap Mode video, pausing and rewinding of live TV, and OneGuide program listings.
News from the video game industry for the week of October 12
Every Sunday Electronista and MacNN report some of the important news from the gaming industry across the past week. During this week's edition, we look at Final Fantasy XIV's first expansion, the download requirements for Halo: The Master Chief Collection, NPD numbers for video game hardware sales, and console updates for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Great design, strong bass signature, but inconsistent sound outside of games
Sound quality and design are two of the biggest areas of focus for manufacturers when coming up with a new gaming headset. Depending on the brand, some headsets lean toward universal use and good looks, while others try to focus more on the quality of sound. Polk Audio, a company with a long pedigree in consumer audio, has stepped into the gaming market to try its hand at balancing looks and sound with the 4 Shot. But is the headset a one-trick pony, or does it manage to offer everything consumers want? Find out in our review.
Cross-platform game creation kit available for free, or in $40 bundle
Microsoft's six-month beta for game creation tool Project Spark is over. The kit, with an included physics engine as well as gameplay mechanics that utilizes traditional inputs, as well as Kinect and SmartGlass, is available now for the Xbox One and Windows 8.1. The kit allows users to create worlds, share them with fellow players, and does not require an Xbox Live Gold membership to play.
Group invaded networks, stole more than $100 million worth of software
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) released a statement today in regard to a group of hackers charged with a string of computer breaches related to the theft of software from several large game companies. More than $100 million in software was stolen as a result of their activities, including a US Army helicopter training program developed by Zombie Studios, developer of America's Army: Special Forces.
Small delay keeps console on track to be first console since ban lift, 1,300 units sold in Japan
The delay of the Xbox One's release in China appears to only be a small hiccup for Microsoft. Reuters reports that the console will be going on sale on September 29, pushing the console back less than a week from its initial launch date of September 23. Meanwhile, sales of the console in Japan have sunk even lower, hitting approximately 1,300 units sold in its third week on the market.
Microsoft says it needs more time to ready 'the best experiences possible'
The Xbox One has hit a snag, just as it was readying for a September 23 release of the console in China. Only disclosing that it was seeking to create a better experience, Microsoft announced that the console wouldn't release until later this year. In January, the Chinese government lifted the ban on the sale of foreign video game consoles, positioning Microsoft to sell the first legal console in the country since the ban was implemented in 2000.
Rockstar Games title seeing enhancements for newer platforms
Rockstar Games has revealed that open-world crime title Grand Theft Auto V will arrive on next generation consoles PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 18. The long-awaited PC version will be a bit delayed from previous reports, and follow on on January 27, 2015.
Owners witnessing buzzing, clicking sounds at the dashboard since August
Since August, Xbox One owners have been complaining about a noise emanating from the console, leading owners to believe that new Xbox One consoles are faulty. Users are experiencing a loud clicking or buzzing sound coming from the hardware itself, with a majority of the faulty units purchased without the Kinect sensor. Microsoft now appears to be issuing exchanges for properly working models, according to a statement made to gaming site Kotaku.
PS3, Xbox 360 buyers get free next-gen copy for limited time, Vita remote play controls refined
With Bungie's Destiny coming out later this week, the company announced an initiative to give players still on last-gen hardware an easier way to transition to next-gen consoles in the near future. Bungie announced that players that purchase a digital copy of Destiny for the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 are eligible for a free digital version on either the Xbox One or PlayStation 4. Sony also announced a control scheme specific to that PlayStation Vita that Bungie developed for those playing the game via remote play.
Kinect costs more than bundle price reduction, will come with Dance Central Spotlight
Since the release of the Xbox One, Microsoft has experienced a rough relationship with consumers due in part to the Kinect. When the company ditched the sensor and dropped the price of the console by $100, sales were said to have doubled with the new the $400 sensor-less console option in place. However, now Microsoft says that it's seeing a demand for the Kinect. On a post on Xbox Wire today, the company said it would begin offering a standalone Kinect unit on October 7.
Surfaced screenshot of Xbox One menu suggests new trial system being tested
Microsoft may be preparing to offer games to play before purchase on the Xbox One. A screenshot has surfaced on Reddit showing some titles under the company's existing Games with Gold program, with some game listings being labeled "Free Play Day with Gold," suggesting that Gold subscribers would soon have the option to trial the game.
Yearly demo nixed in favor of limited EA Access playtime, adds CoachGlass for PS4
Electronic Arts (EA) has pulled an interesting move with the upcoming Madden 15 and its EA Access program recently, making the subscription program the only way gamers can try out the football title before it is formally released: the company is abandoning its yearly demo trend to give Xbox One owners the chance only to play the game before its August 26 release. News of the demo's absence comes from a Twitter exchange with EA Sports Community Manager Andrew Johnson, who stated no demo was coming.
Activity feed changes, outside purchases biggest updates, notification options added
On top of a handful of new features and changes that were previously announced as coming this month, Microsoft is bringing some additional user-requested tweaks to the Xbox One in the August update. While the activity feed is seeing the biggest number of changes, Xbox One owners will now be able to purchase, download and install games and apps from outside of the console.
New guide panel makes TV YouTube interface closer to desktop view
Google has overhauled the design of its YouTube for TV interface, and has started to roll out the changes to its set-top box apps. The new user interface, taking on many of the characteristics of Android L's Material Design scheme, aims to simplify searching for channels and specific videos for those preferring to watch YouTube clips on a bigger screen.
Date changes, beta launch dates and console exclusive titles outlined during press event
[Updated with Phil Spencer's comments on Rise of the Tomb Raider being a timed exclusive] During the Microsoft press event at Gamescom today, a number of announcements were made regarding some upcoming games and beta programs. While there wasn't much in the way of brand new games, some important date shifts were noted, as was the announcement that a sequel to one of the most successful games of 2013 would be exclusive to Xbox One.
Gamescom Xbox One presentation showed larger capacity, white console variants
The Xbox One will soon allow users to stream TV to a mobile device, Microsoft has revealed. Part of a number of updates to the game console unveiled at Gamescom, owners of the recently-launched Xbox One Digital TV tuner will be able to stream live TV from the console to smartphones and tablets running the Xbox SmartGlass app.
Remake based on 2002 version of game, said to retain the same atmosphere
Capcom announced this week that it's giving one of the first hit PlayStation games a high-definition makeover for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC. Horror fans will be happy to know that Resident Evil is getting the treatment, based on the remade version that was brought to the GameCube in 2002.
Company cites PlayStation Plus memberships, EA program lacks 'good value'
Earlier this week, Electronic Arts (EA) announced the EA Access program, which would give gamers access to EA games via a subscription platform. The program is currently exclusive to the Xbox One, but it appears that Sony thinks that the service wouldn't be a good fit for PlayStation 4 owners. According to Sony, a monthly program that only offers EA titles isn't "good value."
Chinese launch of Xbox One follows lifting of foreign game console ban
Microsoft is working with Shanghai Media Group's BesTV on bringing the Xbox One to China for the first time, with the game console set to launch on September 23rd. Timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, the console will launch with a number of games in tow, including Forza Motorsport 5, Kinect Sports Rivals, and Max: The Curse of the Brotherhood.
Now TV streaming service app from Sky available on Xbox One in UK
Now TV, the on-demand streaming service from satellite broadcaster Sky, is now available on the Xbox One game console in the United Kingdom. Previously available on the Xbox 360, as well as a large number of streaming devices and the PlayStation 4 as of last week, Pocket-Lint reports the Now TV app on Xbox One lets users pay in advance for passes to view the Sky Sports, Entertainment, and Movies packages, without requiring a satellite subscription.
Four title available at program launch for free play of subscribers
Electronic Arts has rolled out a new subscription service for some of its games for Xbox One owners. For either a $5 monthly or $30 annual fee, gamers on Microsoft's new console will soon be able to sign up for EA Access, allowing them to play FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2, and Battlefield 4, in addition to saving 10 percent on purchases of all EA digital content through the Xbox Games Store.
Comic Con reveal shows reworked cutscenes from Blur, gameplay footage leaked
During a panel at San Diego Comic Con last week, new footage from Halo: The Master Chief Collection was shown off by a number of people involved with the Microsoft project, including Franchise Development Director Frank O'Connor. A new video was released by the company, offering a first look at the new cinematics completely remade for high definition. Leaked gameplay footage from the panel has turned up as well, showing off some of the in-game changes.
June console sales up 103 percent, PlayStation 4 in the lead by 476,000 units
After Microsoft provided internal figures that saw sales for the Xbox One double since dropping the Kinect and $100 off the price, NPD confirmed that the increase still wasn't enough to catch Sony's PlayStation 4. For the sixth month in a row, the PlayStation 4 claimed the top spot for console sales as the hardware market increased to $292.7 million.
Qplay video streaming app and device from TiVo to be shut down next Friday
TiVo's video service, Qplay, is due to be shut down on July 25. The company provides a media streaming TV adapter and mobile video app, and has only been running for six months. According to its blog, Qplay states that it is "not possible for [it] to keep developing and running the service. Users who have purchased a TV Adapter device can receive a refund upon request, if made prior to July 25 at 5PM PST.
Company says that sakes figures are up from May according to internal data
It seems that dropping the Kinect as a requirement for buying a new Xbox One is paying off for Microsoft. Posting on the Xbox Wire, an internal blog for Xbox news, Microsoft is boasting that sales of the new console have doubled since removing the sensor in June and reducing the price to $400. The increase could mean an gain in awareness and consumer desire for the console, which has lagged behind the PlayStation 4 in sales for months.
BlackBerry Messenger commences private beta on Windows Phone store
BlackBerry has put the BlackBerry Messenger app in the Windows Phone store, though it is not available to everyone. The listing, which follows the earlier BBM launch on iOS and Android, hints at a near-future release of the messaging app on the platform, though according to CNET, the app is being tested in a private beta ahead of its launch, with only whitelisted users able to install the app from the store.
Four games in one interface with Halo 2 receiving the full 'anniversary' treatment
During the Microsoft media briefing at E3, 343 Industries studio head Bonnie Ross took to the stage to outline some details on the upcoming Halo: Master Chief Collection for Xbox One. The collection will be coming to consumers in time for the holidays, hitting the shelves on November 11. As was previously announced, the collection will include Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4.
No hardware announcements in Microsoft E3 press event
In the first E3 keynote since the launch of the Xbox One, Microsoft has opted to spend time promoting upcoming games for the console, instead of introducing new features, hardware, or accessories like it did last year. The company showcased a number of titles for the console at the event, including releases from the Halo, Assassin's Creed, and Call of Duty franchises, as it attempts to prove to the public it should buy the Xbox One instead of the PlayStation 4.
Microsoft Store starts selling Kinect-less Xbox One for $400
Microsoft has started to sell an Xbox One bundle without Kinect through the Microsoft Store, as the company continues to compete against its high-selling competitor, the Sony PlayStation 4. Announced last month, the console is being sold as a secondary package without the motion and voice-based sensor bar priced at $400, representing a saving of $100 off the original bundle's list price.
CD Projekt Red details items in three releases, sets February 2015 as official release
Word has come in from CD Projekt Red, giving The Witcher 3 a solid date for its 2015 release. The game, fully titled The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, will be available February 24, 2015 in seven different languages with full voiceover, with an additional nine languages available in subtitles. The game is set to release for PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4 in physical and digital formats on GOG.com.
PC drivers allow Xbox One controller use, $200 developer Kinect for Windows v2
Microsoft has announced today that they will be issuing a new set of drivers that allows people to use Xbox One controllers with their PCs. While not yet part of an official update in Windows, gamers are able to get their hands on the drivers now. The company also announced today that pre-orders are up for the new Kinect for Windows v2 sensor, which will ship to developers in July.
Twitter added to Xbox One, Microsoft reveals further 45 apps incoming
The latest update for the Xbox One, being made available to download globally this week, has introduced support for external hard drives among other features. The game console update comes at the same time as a second Microsoft announcement, revealing more than 45 new apps will be rolling out onto the Xbox One and the Xbox 360 before the end of this year.
Announcement includes data imports from older consoles, upgrade price
Minecraft is making its way to the Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita this August, according to a statement from Mojang today. The company detailed some of the differences from previous console generations, including a reduced cost for buyers of previous versions and ability to import saves to next-generation consoles. The company also announced that most downloadable content (DLC) and texture packs would be available in the new versions.
System update in June to include external storage support, real friend names feature
As was speculated on Monday due to a leak on Reddit, Xbox One's June update will include external storage support. According to Microsoft's Major Nelson, the Xbox One system will soon support up to two external hard drives (with 256GB of space or more) simultaneously, to be used to increase game storage capacity.
Image leak hints at external drive support in Xbox One update
An upcoming update to the Xbox One could enable support for external hard drives, according to an image posted by an anonymous developer on Reddit. The photograph of the update allegedly shows the storage of the game console with 585.9GB free and 24.9 percent used, far higher than the 500GB built-in drive is capable of, along with an on-screen notification stating "External Drive Ready." Microsoft has yet to reveal if it will be providing support for the feature at all.
Flagship of Microsoft's Xbox console may see complete release on Xbox One
Two pieces of Halo news have emerged; one confirmed by Microsoft, the other a rumor. Microsoft Games' 343 Industries today officially announced the next in its Halo series of games, Halo 5: Guardians. Designed for the Xbox One, the new title continues the second trilogy of Halo titles, started by Bungie in 2001 with Halo: Combat Evolved. Rumored is the HD re-release of previous Halo titles, encapsulating Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4.
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.
All platforms to open up in near future
Group video calls on Skype are now free for users on Windows desktops, OS X, and the Xbox One, according an announcement by the Microsoft-owned service. The company in fact says it intends to make group calls free across all platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and the Windows 8 "Metro" interface. A precise timetable hasn't been revealed.
IFTTT recipe app now available for Android devices
If This Then That (IFTTT), a recip-based automation app, is now available for Android devices as of today. Offering photo, call, notification, SMS, location and device settings specific to Android, users can use IFTTT to harness greater control over how one's mobile device's features interact with other another; an example of this would be automatic ringtone silencing when the user's phone connects to the office WiFi network. IFTTT is available for download from Google Play.
Xbox One continues to be outsold by PlayStation 4
Microsoft has sold more than five million Xbox One game consoles since its launch, the company has revealed. While Microsoft is celebrating the sales milestone, the game console is still far behind the leading PlayStation 4, with Sony reporting more than 7 million units sold worldwide in a blog post just one day before Microsoft's announcement.
Microsoft rolls out latest update for Xbox One console, adds friend notifications
Microsoft's Xbox One console has received another update, rolling out beginning today. Now including notifications for when friend players arrive online, users will be able to identify friends who are playing multiplayer games. The console's Kinect voice and motion detection has also been improved, reducing false positives on non-hand objects that trigger gesture commands. Other features in the update include improved GameDVR video quality, controller headset adapter firmware updates, silent reboot after system updates and system update on demand, and more.
Media client Plex to develop for use on Xbox One
Microsoft has given permission to Plex developers to create a version of the media client for Xbox One, in light of the recent announcement to support universal applications. Plex offers users the ability to organize movies, TV, music and photos for consumption on one's TV, and other devices. The developers have been granted membership into ID@Xbox.
Xbox One owners in Europe, Canada, US involved in invite-only preview
Microsoft hopes to make the Xbox One more useful for watching television and media, by outlining updates for the game console and SmartGlass. Changes to the way SmartGlass navigates around the console have been shown off, as well as upcoming changes which will give more viewing options to users on both sides of the Atlantic in the future.
Titanfall for previous generation Xbox 360 delayed yet again
Critically-acclaimed Xbox One title Titanfall's release date for the Xbox 360 is slipping again. Publisher EA today announced that the new ship date for the title is April 8 in the US and April 11 in Europe. This is the second ship date for the ostentibly-complete title in this calendar year, with the first pushing the date from March 11 to March 25 to "put the finishing touches" on the game. EA is hoping that the latest delay will make the game "even better."
Exits Microsoft Xbox unit after 14 years, three console launches
Marc Whitten, the long-time chief product officer for Xbox at Microsoft, is leaving the company, the software giant has revealed. Whitten is departing to take on the same role of chief product officer at home audio device manufacturer Sonos, leaving Microsoft executive vice president Terry Myerson to temporarily take over the Xbox position while the company searches for a replacement.
Nokia rolls out Refocus app to all Lumia devices running Windows Phone 8
Nokia is making its Lytro-style Refocus app available to all Windows Phone 8 Lumia devices, as a free download via the Windows Phone Store. The app, which was initially released for Lumias with PureView, allows users to adjust the focal point of an image, after the photograph has been taken, with the resulting image shareable on social networks and stored on OneDrive.