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 →
Microsoft is slowly pushing original Xbox owners to upgrade to the Xbox 360. The software giant discontinued the original Xbox in late 2008 and officially stopped supporting the aging console in March 2009. In a final effort to encourage folks to upgrade, Microsoft has announced that it will be pulling the plug on Xbox Live for all original Xbox consoles and Xbox-compatible games starting April 15th. Folks that are stuck in the early 2000’s still playing Halo 2 will have two good months of retro game playing left before their connection goes dead and they must either make the long-avoided jump to the Xbox 360 or be forced to play their multiplayer games in isolation. When that time of crisis inevitably comes, prepare yourself to pack away that Xbox for posterity sake, trade in that copy of Blood Wake for Bioshock 2 and step into the next generation of gaming. Big Daddy promises that you won’t be disappointed. More →
The idea of integrating Xbox LIVE into Windows Mobile has been bouncing around since Steve Ballmer’s CES 2009 keynote where he and his associates showed off Windows 7, Windows Mobile and the new Xbox Experience and promised that “Microsoft will connect your entertainment experience.” That pie in the sky dream was not realized in 2009 but a job posting at Microsoft suggests that the idea has not been forgotten. Recently, Microsoft is seeking a Principle Program Manager to “bring Xbox LIVE enabled games to Windows Mobile” and is someone who “will focus specifically on what makes gaming experiences “LIVE Enabled” through aspects such as avatar integration, social interactions, and multi-screen experiences”. Xbox LIVE integration may be the ace up Microsoft’s sleeve and may help bolster Windows Mobile’s position as a consumer oriented device.
[Via Gizmodo] More →
Its official, folks. The Zune HD is real and is slated to drop this fall. All the rumored specs are here – 3.3 inch 480 x 272 OLED capacitive touchscreen display, built-in HD Radio receiver, HD output (requires an optional dock), Wi-Fi, integrated web browser, multitouch support and Xbox LIVE integration. Attendees at E3 will get the first look at the Xbox LIVE integration in what Microsoft calls “a game-changing entertainment experience”. Sounds sweet and may turn out to be the one item that differentiates it from the competition. Hit the jump for the full press release.
Amazon announced today that it has added a dedicated Xbox LIVE store to its myriad of electronic storefronts. This latest partnership allows customers to purchase Xbox LIVE Arcade games, subscription cards and Microsoft points directly from Amazon. Customers who purchase Xbox LIVE content from Amazon will be provided with a digitally-delivered code that they can redeem via their own console or give as a gift to an Xbox 360 owner. The ability to give a select Xbox LIVE Arcade game as a gift is a feature unique to Amazon’s store — previously, all Xbox LIVE Arcade games had to be purchased through an Xbox 360 console which made it difficult for a non-gamer to give such a gift. The Xbox LIVE store also features Amazon’s typical recommendation system and online customer reviews. Check it out and let us know what you think.