Microsoft’s own Xbox Live homepage recently leaked some new details that we should be hearing about shortly at its annual E3 press conference in Los Angeles. According to the website, which appears to have been pulled, Microsoft will introduce Voice Search within a newly redesigned Xbox Live user interface and preview the ever-popular Halo francise’s new release, Halo 4. The website also mentioned a possible Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary edition and new titles such as Kinect Sports Season 2 and Dance Central 2. We won’t have long to wait — Microsoft’s press conference is set to kick off at 9:00 a.m. Pacific / 12:00 p.m. Eastern. More →
We’ve just seen a test handset running Windows Phone OS codenamed Mango, and even though the update won’t be available until the Fall, it brings some much needed improvements and enhancements to Microsoft’s mobile platform. OS 7.1 will also be the OS that Nokia devices running Windows Phone will launch with. Looking forward to 4G support, threads, deep social integration, voice dictation, multitasking with app resume, and much more? Check out our hands on photos in our gallery.
Microsoft on Thursday revealed its back-to-school offer for 2011, which is likely to drop students’ jaws and raise parents’ eyebrows at the same time. This year, students with a valid student ID who purchase a Windows 7 computer for $699 or more will receive a free Xbox 360 4GB video game console. “A hot new Windows 7-based PC with a free Xbox 360 is the ultimate productivity, social and entertainment package for students,” said Kathleen Hall, general manager of Windows Marketing at Microsoft, in a statement. “In one shot, with this great offer, Microsoft is giving students everything they need for a successful new school year.” We’re not sure how much the Xbox offer will help students with their school work, but it will definitely help them blow off some steam and avoid burning out while still managing to save them some money. The deal becomes available to students starting this Sunday, May 22nd. Hit the break for Microsoft’s full press release.
Microsoft has confirmed that its Windows Phone 7 platform on Friday suffered its second major outage this week. Early on Friday, users began reporting that they could not access Xbox LIVE services from their Windows Phone 7 devices. BGR had independently confirmed the issue on two separate devices, and now Microsoft has acknowledged the outage via its official Windows Phone support team Twitter account. “It’s a new issue that users are unable to access Xbox LIVE features at this time,” a Microsoft official posted to the Twitter account. Earlier this week, Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace suffered an outage that prevented users from accessing the company’s mobile app store during a scheduled maintenance that was extended due to complications. More →
The Call of Duty: Black Ops map expansion, called “Escalation,” is now available to Xbox Live subscribers. Escalation adds five new maps, including four that are available in multiplayer mode. As we noted back when the expansion was announced, the maps include a Russian Zoo, a Cuban hotel and casino, a weapons of mass destruction stockpile, and “convoy.” If you still haven’t had your fill slaying the living dead, the update also includes a new zombie experience called “Call of the Dead.” The update is available for $15, 0r 1200 MS points. We’re definitely downloading this just as soon as we get back from covering BlackBerry World. Frag out! More →
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 →
Today Microsoft’s Larry Hyrb, also known as Major Nelson, announced that Microsoft has added Netflix support to the Xbox 360 Kinect accessory. Using Kinect, you’ll be able to browse your Netflix queue by waving your hands or speaking out loud, which means you won’t have to go searching for your Xbox 360 controller just to watch a movie. Controls include the ability browse, play, pause, fast forward and rewind, and you can perform any of those actions using your voice or gestures. Hyrb said the update is available now and that Kinect users should expect to be prompted to apply the patch the next time they launch Netflix. More →
On Monday, gaming site Major Nelson wrote that Activision has revealed it will launch the next expansion pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops for Xbox 360 on May 3rd. Dubbed “Escalation,” the new downloadable content — for Xbox LIVE subscribers — will sport five new maps, including four that can be played in multiplayer mode. New maps include “Hotel,” where you’ll battle on the roof of a Cuban hotel and casino, a Russian “Zoo,” a WMD “Stockpile”, and “Convoy.” And what’s an update without some more zombies? Escalation will reportedly offer a new “Zombie experience,” with new playable characters. It’s unclear how much Escalation will cost, but we’ve already begun raiding our couch cushions for spare change. More →
Industry watcher NPD Group says sales of video game software in the U.S. declined by 5% year-over-year in January 2011, totaling $576 million. Console sales were down 8% to $324 million. On the back of continued strong sales of the Microsoft Kinect and PlayStation Move motion-based controllers, sales of video games accessories increased 6% year-over-year to $235 million. The only console to see growth in January was Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which sold 381,000 units — a 14.1% increase year-over-year. NPD ranked January’s software title sales as follows:
- Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision Blizzard) – Xbox 360, PS3, Wi, DS, PC
- Just Dance 2 (Ubisoft) – Wii
- Dead Space 2 (Electronic Arts) – Xbox 360, PS3, PC
- Little Big Planet 2 (Sony) – PS3
- Zumba Fitness: Join the Party (Majesco) – Wii, Xbox 360, PS3
- NBA 2K11 (Take-Two Interactive) – Xbox 360, PS3, PSP, Wii, PS2, PC
- Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (Ubisoft) – Xbox 360, PS3
- Dance Central (MTV Games) – Xbox 360
- Michael Jackson The Experience (Ubisoft) – Wii, DS, PSP
- DC Universe Online: The Next Legend Is You (Sony) – PS3, PC
Overall, the U.S. gaming industry took in $1.14 billion excluding PC sales — a 4% slide versus the same month in 2010.
Sony Ericsson’s just-announced Xperia Play is set to bring an amazing gaming experience to Android fans around the world, but mobile gamers might want to think twice before signing those two-year contracts. In fact, we hope you’re sitting down, gaming fans, because Microsoft on Monday demonstrated some pretty impressive forthcoming Windows Phone 7 features at Mobile World Congress. The demo, which is just the tip of the iceberg, shows us what might happen when Windows Phone 7 meets Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and the ever popular Kinect motion-based controller. The results, though exhausting, look pretty amazing. Hit the jump for Microsoft’s demo video and while it definitely looks awesome, don’t get too excited just yet — Microsoft notes that this is just a technology demo and gives no real indication of when we might see integration of this caliber. More →
Following concerns that Windows Phone 7 wouldn’t have enough titles support to satisfy the new wave of app-hungry smartphone users, Microsoft confirmed Monday that developer support has exceeded expectations. In a post on The Windows Phone Developer Blog, Microsoft’s Todd Brix announced that the Windows Marketplace for Mobile is now home to approximately 2,000 apps and games compatible with Windows Phone 7 devices. The figure is nearly double the company’s target, which was set last month. Microsoft also announced that the Marketplace is fully open to app submissions, and that it currently has 13,000 registered Windows Phone 7 developers. Windows Phone 7, which launched Monday in the U.S., is Microsoft’s attempt to reclaim consumer interest in its smartphones. Continued developer support is one of several keys to the success of the platform, and Microsoft certainly has an uphill battle ahead of it considering the massive app war chests held by Apple and Google. More →
According to analyst estimates, Microsoft’s Xbox Live premium gaming service may generate over $1 billion in revenue for the fiscal year that ended on June 30th. Much of this revenue is coming from Xbox Live Gold members who pony up cash for additional content like game add-ons, avatars, and movies. Microsoft was uncharacteristically forthcoming about its Xbox Live memberships and confirmed that over half of its Xbox Live members pay for the premium Gold service at an average price tag of $50 per year. Though it still plays second fiddle to the Nintendo Wii in total console sales, this is good news for Microsoft’s gaming division and bodes well for the upcoming launch of its Kinect motion controller. More →
At $49.99 per year, a subscription to Xbox Live Gold isn’t all that bad of a deal — unless you compare it to the newly announced Xbox Live Gold Family Pack. Starting in November, $99.99 a year will give up to four users access to all of the perks that the single user membership offers. You know, great stuff like multiplayer gaming, a Zune Pass, Netflix streaming, video chat and 3,500 live sporting events from ESPN. Hit the jump to check out the press release. More →