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 →
Announced at E3, Xbox Music is Microsoft’s (MSFT) own subscription-based music service that will rival the likes of Spotify. A new online leak for an update to the Xbox 360’s dashboard in the U.K. has prematurely revealed that Xbox Music will be priced at £8.99 for a monthly pass and £89.90 for an annual pass. It’s speculated that Microsoft will launch Xbox Music in the U.S. with the same prices as its current Zune Music Pass service: $10 per month or $100 for a yearly pass. Another leak from NeoGAF also suggests that a free, ad-supported version of Xbox Music will also launch alongside the subscription service that will allow cross-platform playlist syncing between Xbox 360, Windows 8 PCs and Windows Phone 8 smartphones. Xbox Music is slated for a launch this fall and will replace Zune Music Pass. Microsoft says the service will have a library of 30 million tracks.
With 40 million users on Xbox Live, Microsoft (MSFT) is reportedly preparing to create original video programming to be distributed on the Xbox 360, according to a report from The New York Times. The report states that Microsoft has hired ex-CBS TV executive Nancy Tellem to “oversee a Microsoft production studio based in Los Angeles that will create both traditional ‘linear’ programming and interactive programming that fuses video and gamelike content.” It’s not immediately clear what the latter would be like, but something along 1 vs. 100 comes to mind. It’s also possible “video and gamelike content” could be referring to the company’s upcoming SmartGlass initiative that will use tablets and smartphones as secondary screens alongside TV content. As it stands now, Xbox Live only delivers videos from standard content providers.
Despite fears of video games sales slumping due to the lack of new consoles, Microsoft’s (MSFT) seven-year-old Xbox 360 continues to be the No.1 selling console in the U.S. for the 20th consecutive month, according to NPD Group. The data reveals 193,000 Xbox 360 systems were sold in August giving Microsoft’s console a lofty 48% share of the U.S. console gaming market. In addition to holding the top spot for hardware, five out of the top-10 selling games in the U.S. last month were Xbox 360 titles: Call of Duty: Black Ops, Darksiders II, NCAA Football 13, Sleeping Dogs, and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. NPD gathers that retail spending on the Xbox 360 topped out at $196 million and expects this holiday’s strong lineup of titles including Halo 4, Forza Horizon, Dance Central 3, Fable: The Journey, Kinect Sesame Street TV, Kinect Nat Geo TV and enhancement features such as SmartGlass to keep the Xbox 360 as the frontrunner for the current console generation. More →
Barnes & Noble has taken to personally debunking the rumor that it will be in any way involved in Microsoft’s mystery news today. Although speculation ran rampant over the weekend that Microsoft would be releasing a tablet in collaboration with the bookseller, a company spokesman today told Benzinga that it has nothing to do with the rumored Microsoft tablet. Without Barnes & Noble in the mix, speculation on the new tablet shifts to how it will integrate with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gaming console. CNET, for one, reports on rumors that the new tablet will double as an Xbox controller that will “include an ARM processor from Texas Instruments for ‘Kinect workloads,’ as well as custom IBM engine for ‘scale out.’ ” More →
Microsoft is planning to launch interactive ads on its Xbox 360 streaming services that will rival television networks. The software giant has signed on Toyota, Unilever and Samsung Mobile to offer its new “NUads,” The Los Angeles Times reported. The advertisements will debut this fall and will be found on Microsoft’s Xbox video apps, including those offered by ESPN, TMZ, NBC News and UFC. The first iteration of NUads will let users vote in response to different questions. For instance, Toyota will ask users what other devices they would like to see “reinvented” the way the company has “reinvented” some of its auto models. Users will be able to respond through the Xbox controller or voice and hand gestures with the Kinect. Toyota will then have access to the data and demographic information. Microsoft’s general manager of entertainment and advertising for the Xbox Live online service, Ross Honey, said the company plans to charge a “premium” compared with typical commercial rates. “There have been interactive ads on the Web before, but the beauty of it is that we’re bringing that to the TV,” he said. “It’s a substantially more valuable ad product.” More →