U.S. video game industry sales were down 26% in July compared to the same period last year according to new data published by The NPD Group. Hardware sales were down 29% year-over-year to $223 million, video game software sales dipped 17% to $336.2 million and sales of video game accessories were down 8% to $127.8 million. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was the best-selling console in the U.S. for the seventh consecutive month with unit sales of 277,000, though July marked the first time the Xbox saw a year-on-year decline since December 2009. “There is no getting around the fact that video game sales in the new physical retail channel suffered its lowest month since October 2006,” NPD analyst Anita Frazier said in a statement. “Despite the very rough month, new physical retail sales are down just 4% year-to-date and based on seasonality trends observed over the last 10 years, which have been remarkably stable year-in, year-out, industry sales in this particular channel are poised to land in the flat to -2% range once the total year is completed.” NPD’s top-10 list of video game software title sales in the month of July follows below. More →
During the SIGGRAPH 2011 conference in Vancouver this week, a team comprised of researchers from various universities showed off a demo during a Microsoft Research presentation of how the Kinect Xbox 360 accessory can be used in the real world to create real-time dynamic 3D models. The project, dubbed “KinectFusion,” shows off the Kinect’s ability to render 3D models of an entire room nearly instantly as one researcher pans the accessory around. After the device has scanned the entire area, KinectFusion is capable of creating a 3D texture-mapped model of the entire room using a Kinect RGB image. The technology could be used to create highly immersive augmented reality games or, as TechNet points out, for architectural purposes on a budget. Hit the read link to see a video of KinectFusion in action. More →
Microsoft’s internal Tellme team is working on implementing speech recognition software into the Redmond-based firm’s portfolio of software and hardware products. Microsoft will build the feature into its new Windows 8 operating system, its Bing search engine, Windows Phone, Kinect and Xbox, Azure and other products, ZDNET has learned. We already know Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Phone Mango release will offer voice-to-text and text-to-voice functionality, but Tellme senior director of sales and marketing Ilya Bukshteyn told ZDNET‘s Mary Jo Foley that the HTML 5 speech tag will allow Microsoft to develop Windows 8 applications that are “speech capable.” The Tellme team is capable of taking conversational speech, querying your social networks and creating appointments, too. For example, one might say “I’m meeting Zach Epstein for sushi in Philadelphia on Wednesday,” and the voice-recognition tech can pull “Zach Epstein” from LinkedIn or Facebook, setup a calendar event and search for sushi in Philadelphia using Bing. Of note, it looks like we’re still several years away from seeing devices capable of deciphering natural conversation. Read on for more information. More →
Microsoft is being sued for patent infringement over motion-sensing technology used in its blockbuster gaming accessory, the Microsoft Kinect. Ohio-based Impulse Technology has filed a complaint alleging that Microsoft’s Kinect controller infringes on seven of its technology patents. One patent referenced in the lawsuit covers “wide variety of games where the movement of a player is tracked in three dimensions…and certain exercise games where the motion of the player is tracked to effect movement of a virtual avatar, and the exertion of the user is monitored, including where the tracking of the player is done by the use of a camera.” A separate patent describes an “education system challenging a subject’s physiologic and kinesthetic systems to synergistically enhance cognitive function.” Impulse Technology is seeking a permanent injunction to block the import and sale of Microsoft’s Kinect, and it is also suing Electronic Arts, Konami and Sega for developing Xbox 360 games that utilize Kinect and infringe on its patents. Impulse is seeking damages, treble damages, interest, and attorney fees from Microsoft as well. The Kinect motion-based video game controller has been a smash hit for Microsoft, having set numerous sales records since its launch. This past March, Microsoft announced that it had sold 10 million Kinect controllers since the device’s launch just before the holidays last year. More →
Microsoft released its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday and noted that its revenue of $17.73 billion was greater than any other fourth quarter in the company’s history. The Redmond-based firm also reported $69.94 billion in revenue for the fiscal year — also a record — up 12% from 2010. The company’s Entertainment & Devices division was particularly successful, reporting 30% growth in revenue for the fiscal fourth quarter and 45% for the entire year thanks to Xbox Live, the Xbox 360 game console, and the Kinect controller. “Throughout fiscal 2011, we delivered to market a strong lineup of products and services which translated into double-digit revenue growth, and operating margin expansion,” said Peter Klein, chief financial officer at Microsoft. “Our platform and cloud investments position us for long-term growth.” Read on for Microsoft’s full press release. More →
Sales of video game hardware and software declined 10% in June according to new data reported by industry watcher The NPD Group. Total content sales including home consoles, portable consoles and PC game sales totaled $1.03 billion last month, down 10% from June 2010. Hardware sales declined 9% from $401.7 million in June 2010 to $366.6 million last month, and software sales dropped 12% over the same period to $469.5 million. Video game accessory sales also declined from June of last year, dropping 11% from $177.7 million in 2010 to $158.9 million last month. Game publisher Take 2 Interactive was responsible for the two best-selling games in June, with L.A. Noire occupying the top spot and Duke Nukem Forever coming in at No. 2 despite low ratings from reviewers. Sony’s Infamous 2 was the third best-selling game for the month, while Disney’s Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game and Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D rounded out the top-5. Overall hardware, software and accessory sales in the first half declined 2.4% compared to the first half of 2010. A list of The NPD Group’s top-10 software titles for the month of June follow below. More →
Sony’s manufacturing partners will begin building the consumer electronics giant’s next-generation video game console toward the end of this year, with a launch scheduled for 2012, DigiTimes reports. Details surrounding Sony’s PlayStation 4 are very limited for the time being, but the report states that the new console will feature integrated movement-based controls similar to the Microsoft Kinect controller. Foxconn and Pegatron, the two manufacturing firms charged with assembling Sony’s PlayStation 3, will build the new console according to DigiTimes’ sources. 2012 shipment volume for the PS4 is said to be at least 20 million units. Sony’s PlayStation 4 was not expected to launch until 2013 or 2014, but with Nintendo’s Wii U launching next year and Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox due to be unveiled in 2012 as well, it is possible that Sony accelerated the new console’s development in order to remain competitive. Sony’s current PlayStation 3 console has sold more than 51 million units globally since its launch in November 2006. More →
Will Microsoft enter the portable gaming market to compete with Nintendo, Sony, and Apple? According to its chief operating officer, Dennis Durkin, not yet. In an interview with Industry Gamers, Durkin explained that the portable gaming market is too crowded right now and that there’s too much change happening. “I’m not sure I would want to be launching a dedicated portable device right now into that market,” Durkin said. “I think the DS – if you look at the 3DS, certainly versus people’s expectation’s it’s not been as successful as people would have thought. So that’s a very crowded market and a very, very red ocean right now with a lot of change happening. So I’m not sure it’s [a good idea] … You only have a certain number of bets you can make as a company and you have to decide what you want to put your wood behind and I’m just not sure that that’s a place that I would put mine.” Durkin said he sees strength in Microsoft’s Xbox 360 system and is excited about the future of the firm’s future plans for Kinect and Xbox Live. We also imagine Microsoft has its hands full right now with the company’s next-generation Xbox console, which is set to debut at E3 next year. More →
Windows developers around the world had cause for excitement Thursday afternoon as Microsoft finally released a beta version of its Kinect for Windows software development kit. As the name might imply, this new SDK will allow developers to build Windows software that makes use of Microsoft’s popular motion-based controller as a peripheral. The SDK obviously opens the door for Kinect-controlled Windows PC games, but we’re sure Windows developers will find plenty of creative ways to make use of the great technology. Developers can download the SDK beta immediately via the read link below. More →
During Microsoft’s E3 2011 press conference on monday, Peter Moore, president of EA Sports, confirmed that Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Kinect motion controller will support EA Sports games in 2012. The initial titles compatible with the Kinect controller will be Madden, FIFA, Tiger Woods and a fourth title that has not yet been named. Now we’ll all be able to throw hail mary touchdown passes in the closing seconds of the Super Bowl from the comfort of our living rooms!
During Microsoft’s press conference at E3 in Los Angeles on Monday, Casey Hudson, the project lead for Mass Effect 3, announced that the game would be available on store shelves sometime in March 2012. Ray Muzyka, BioWare’s chief executive officer, also said that the Mass Effect 3 will take advantage of Microsoft’s Kinect controller, and gave a brief demo of how it will work, showing how gamers will even be able to use their voices to direct squad members. The BGR team is here in Los Angeles, so be we’ll be sure to bring hands-on impressions of the game as soon as we can.
During the Microsoft press conference at E3 in Los Angeles on Monday, Microsoft showed off a quick sneak-peak of Halo 4, a new trilogy that will begin when the title launches during the holiday season of 2012. Microsoft didn’t discuss much else about the game, but it did also announce that Xbox 360 owners will soon be able to get their hands on Kinect Sports Season 2, which will include golf, baseball, skiing, tennis, and football. Kinect Sports Season 2 is expected to land in time for the holiday season this year.
Looks like the weekend’s going to start a bit early. Hulu’s subscription-based Hulu Plus service will launch for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 on Friday, and here’s the best part: it’s free for Xbox Live (Gold and Silver) users until May 6th. After that you’ll have to drop $7.99 per month to kick back and watch your favorite shows from ABC, Comedy Central, FOX, NBC, MTV, and others. Hulu’s even adding Kinect support, which means you’ll be able to play, pause, fast forward, or rewind whatever you’re watching with your voice or with a gesture. Hit the jump for the full release. More →