Little by little, Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox SmartGlass app is becoming more useful. Microsoft Director of Programming for Xbox LIVE Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb announced on Monday the release of the Sports Picks app, which allows users to “make picks, compete with your Xbox LIVE friends and fight for domination of the leaderboard.” Xbox SmartGlass also has new ESPN and NBA Game Time experiences that provide second-screen information and navigation to “thousands of live events, highlights and replays” during a game. Xbox SmartGlass is compatible with dozens of existing Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8 smartphones and tablets as well as Windows 8-compatible mobile devices. The new update to Xbox SmartGlass is the latest in Microsoft’s attempts to position the Xbox 360 as the ultimate living room device.
Game consoles are no longer simply for video games, as evidenced by last week’s announcement that the PlayStation 3 is the top Netflix (NFLX) streaming device of the year. Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s (MSFT) chief marketing officer for its Interactive Entertainment Division, said this past March that Xbox 360 owners were spending more hours watching online entertainment than playing online games. And now, in a bid to bolster its efforts to conquer the living room, Microsoft Director of Programming for Xbox Live Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb announced in a blog post that 43 new entertainment apps (mostly video) will launch between now and spring of 2013 in various regions. Ten new apps including ARTE, CinemaNow, CNET, Karaoke, Maxim, Napster, SkyDrive, SPORT1, VEVO and Zattoo will arrive this week. Microsoft’s full list of upcoming apps follows below.
Big-budget games such as Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops II might brag about how they rule the Xbox 360 in terms of sales, but indie games can also compete – if they’re addictive enough and offer enough value. Take Minecraft, an indie game developed by Markus “Notch” Persson’s company Mojang. According to Mojang, Minecraft, an indie game originally made for PC and ported to the Xbox 360 seven months ago has sold 4,476,904 copies as of the end of November with 40,000 to 60,000 copies sold every week. Minecraft is an anomaly because it doesn’t boast high-definition graphics that ooze of detailed lighting effects and didn’t cost millions of dollars to make, and yet it is the third-most played game on Xbox LIVE. More →
The Xbox 360 shows no sign of slowing down even as Nintendo (NTDOY) launched its Wii U last week. Month after month, Microsoft’s (MSFT) seven-year-old game console continues to outsell and lead the sales charts for the current generation. Microsoft’s Director of Programming for Xbox Live, Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb wrote in a blog post that the Xbox 360 sold more than 750,000 consoles in the U.S. between November 18th and November 23rd. Microsoft announced last month that the Xbox 360 had reached 70 million lifetime sales since 2005. Hyrb also revealed that three-month Xbox LIVE Gold subscriptions were up over 50% compared to the same period last year and 14 million users managed to log-on to LIVE for a total of 72 million hours on November 23rd. More →
As if you needed more figures to drive home the fact that Microsoft (MSFT) and 343 Industries’ Halo 4 for Xbox 360 is a huge success. Not only did Halo 4 manage to sell 3.1 million copies worldwide in its first 24 hours of availability, but according to AllThingsD, it made $220 million in sales and managed to beat out Hollywood blockbusters Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and the The Avengers, each of which made $91 million and $80.5 million, respectively. More →
Who needs a new Xbox when Microsoft (MSFT) has Halo 4 to keep its “aging” Xbox 360 console alive? Launched on Tuesday, gamers snatched up 3.1 million copies of Halo 4 in its first 24 hours, with 1.9 million of those sales coming from the U.S., according to VGChartz. The video game sales tracking website says Halo 4 managed to sell about 15% more copies than previous games in the franchise including Halo 3 and Halo Reach. 343 Industries’ hit first-person shooter is expected to sell 4 million copies worldwide by the end of the week and smash previous opening week day sales for Halo games as well. More →
The hard times continue for the video game industry as sales in the United States have declined for the 11th month in a row. According to the latest numbers from NPD Group, sales of games, hardware and accessories fell 25% year-over-year in October from $1 billion in 2011 to 755.5 million, Bloomberg reported. Console sales have plummeted 37% to $187.3 million as consumers continue to wait for the next-generation offerings from Microsoft (MSFT), Sony (SNE) and Nintendo (NTDOY), while software sales fell 25% to $432.6 million. For the 22nd consecutive month, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console was the best-selling gaming system, although sales declined 31% from 393,000 in October 2011 to 270,000 in 2012. The research firm estimates that traditional retail sales of video games account for about half of all spending, while the rest comes from digital downloads. Sales are expected to rebound in the coming months as we approach the holiday season, along with the release of hit games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Halo 4.
First-person shooter fans have been salivating for Halo 4 for nearly five years since the release of Halo 3. Sure, there was 2009’s Halo 3: ODST, but that game didn’t feature poster boy Master Chief. Microsoft (MSFT) officially launched Halo 4 worldwide on Tuesday (except in Japan; they get it November 8th) for Xbox 360. Halo 4 is developed by 343 Industries’ after Bungie decided to part ways with Microsoft. Although Microsoft didn’t release any figures, the company said recently that Halo 4 is the most expensive game it has ever made. Master Chief faces stiff competition this year with Activision’s (ATVI) highly anticipated Call of Duty: Black Ops II arriving next week on November 13th for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. More →
As Microsoft (MSFT) braces for its Windows 8 launch, it’s also making good on its promise to flip the switch on Xbox SmartGlass by the end of the year. The Redmond, Washington-based company announced on its official blog that SmartGlass, a free Xbox 360 companion app for Windows 8 tablets, on October 26th. It will also be available on Windows Phone 8 on October 29th and for iOS and Android in 2013. Unlike the Wii U’s GamePad controller or the PlayStation 3’s remote play connectivity with the PS Vita, SmartGlass works with a person’s existing tablets and smartphones.
As the Xbox 360 enters its seventh year on the market, Microsoft (MSFT) has announced that its second game console has sold 70 million units worldwide since it launched in 2005. It still trails the 96.56 million Wii consoles Nintendo (NTDOY) has sold, but in terms of competing with Sony’s (SNE) PlayStation 3, it’s still in the lead by about 6.1 million units. More →
Microsoft (MSFT) is giving consumers two more reasons to buy an Xbox 360 this holiday season. First, all Xbox 360 consoles except the standalone 4GB model without Kinect will receive a $50 price cut for a limited time at all major retailers including Amazon (AMZN), (BBY), GameStop, Target, Toys ‘R Us and Walmart. Second, there are three new holiday bundles that come with some of the best-selling games of the year. More →
Microsoft (MSFT) just brought Christmas early for all Xbox 360 owners. Starting today, Microsoft is gradually rolling out the new Xbox 360 dashboard update to Xbox LIVE subscribers across the globe. The new update refines the previous Metro-inspired UI to bring it closer in line with the company’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system. Aside from a few cosmetic changes to the UI, the Xbox 360 now has Internet Explorer, a “Recommendations and Ratings” section, improved Bing voice search with Kinect and the addition of 9 new supported languages and customizable homescreens. Microsoft’s Director of Programming for Xbox Live, Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb wrote in a blog post that Xbox SmartGlass will also land on October 26th alongside Windows 8. More →
At last, the Xbox 360 Gamerscore is no longer just for show. Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox Live Rewards program is now giving gamers special perks for having higher Gamerscores. Rewards are split into three tiers: Contender, Champion and Legend. Contender rewards gamers with a Gamerscore of 3,000 to 9,999 with a “special gift” during their birthday month (the prize is only worth $0.25 and is likely an Avatar item). Champion-level Gamerscores between 10,000 and 24,999 will be rewarded the special gift and 1% rebate on Xbox Live Marketplace purchases every month. And lastly, gamers with Gamerscores of 25,000 and higher qualify for Legend status, which includes everything Champion players get, but instead of a 1% rebate, they’ll get a 2% rebate every month. The Xbox Live Rewards program is only available for Gold members, so Silver members are out of luck. Now get out there and start unlocking those game achievements and boosting that Gamerscore! Xbox 360 gamers can sign up for the Xbox Live Rewards program here. More →