Microsoft reportedly readying cross-platform streaming music service

By on April 25, 2012 at 11:00 AM.

Microsoft reportedly readying cross-platform streaming music service

Microsoft is reportedly preparing to unveil a new streaming music service at the annual E3 conference later this year. Citing unnamed sources, The Verge reports that the new streaming service will work across several platforms including Xbox, Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS and Android, accessible through a native app or a web browser. Code-named “Woodstock,” the service is reportedly comparable to Spotify, potentially allowing users to stream unlimited music. The service will also seemingly feature deep Facebook integration and a “scan and match” cloud locker feature similar to iTunes Match. According to The Verge, the service will be part of a larger effort to shift away from Microsoft’s Zune brand. More →

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Crysis 3 teaser shows off stunning graphics, brief gameplay [video]

By on April 20, 2012 at 11:50 AM.

Crysis 3 teaser shows off stunning graphics, brief gameplay [video]

Electronic Arts and Crytek announced the highly anticipated next installment of the Crysis franchise earlier this week, and the companies have now released the first Crysis 3 teaser that includes gameplay footage. Albeit brief, the teaser reel showcases a new weapon and stunning graphics that will definitely pique gamers’ interest. “Crysis 3 is a thrilling mix of sandbox gameplay, advanced combat and hi-tech human and alien weaponry that shooter fans will love,” Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli said in a statement. “Leveraging the latest CryENGINE technology, we’re able to deliver seven unique themes that offer stunning and visually loaded gameplay experiences. We cannot wait until people get their hands on the game.” The first full trailer for Crysis 3 will be released on April 24th, and Crysis 3 Hunter Edition is already available for pre-order ahead of its release in 2013. The full teaser video can be viewed below. More →

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CryENGINE 3 gives us a glimpse at the future of gaming [video]

By on April 16, 2012 at 2:00 PM.

CryENGINE 3 gives us a glimpse at the future of gaming [video]

Devices like Apple’s iPad have shown the world that huge advances have been made in mobile gaming over the past few years. Featuring the Apple A5X processor with quad-core graphics, the third-generation iPad takes mobile video games to new heights on iOS devices, but technology blogs and the media tend to get a bit carried away in terms of comparisons between console gaming and mobile gaming. Gameplay itself paints an obvious picture, and the numbers do as well; Microsoft’s seven-year-old Xbox 360 console features floating-point performance of 240 Gflops and 500 million triangles while Apple’s brand new iPad is rated at a maximum of 7.2 Gflops and 35 million triangles. More →

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Microsoft says Xbox hacking claims are ‘unlikely’

By on April 5, 2012 at 3:05 PM.

Microsoft says Xbox hacking claims are ‘unlikely’

A report emerged last week from a security researcher claiming Microsoft’s Xbox lacked important security features that might protect owners who sell used consoles from having personal information stolen. Ashley Podhradsky of Drexel University claimed to have purchased a used Xbox console and used readily available hacking tools to recover the prior owner’s credit card number and other personal information. “Microsoft does a great job of protecting their proprietary information, but they don’t do a great job of protecting the user’s data,” Podhradsky said at the time. More →

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Sony says PlayStation 4 will launch ahead of next Xbox, report claims

By on April 3, 2012 at 8:30 AM.

Sony says PlayStation 4 will launch ahead of next Xbox, report claims

Sony is aiming to launch its next-generation PlayStation video game console ahead of rival Microsoft, a recent report claims. Microsoft’s next Xbox console — which could be an ARM-based “Xbox lite” that will launch ahead of a true Xbox 360 successor that will be released some time later — is widely expected to hit store shelves for the holidays in 2013. According to an unnamed source speaking with VG247, Sony plans to launch its PlayStation 4 console before Microsoft’s next Xbox makes a splash. “Sony are completely in the belief that they have the jump on Microsoft this time,” the source reportedly said. The anonymous source continued, “Top line publishers already know about it. Developers working with publishers – like Ubisoft, for example – already know what’s going on. They’re already working on it.” Both Sony and Microsoft are expected to unveil their next-generation consoles during the annual E3 gaming conference next year. More →

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Hackers can easily steal credit card info, other data from used Xbox consoles [update]

By on March 30, 2012 at 8:45 AM.

Hackers can easily steal credit card info, other data from used Xbox consoles [update]

Using nothing more than a few common tools, hackers can reportedly recover credit card numbers and other personal information from used Xbox 360 consoles even after they have been restored to factory settings. Researchers at Drexel University say they have successfully recovered sensitive personal data from a used Xbox console, and they claim Microsoft is doing a disservice to users by not taking precautions to secure their data. “Microsoft does a great job of protecting their proprietary information,” researcher Ashley Podhradsky told Kotaku in an interview. “But they don’t do a great job of protecting the user’s data.” In order to avoid potential data theft, Podhradsky recommends users remove the hard drives from their consoles and wipe them while connected to a PC using special software. The Drexel researcher warns that not taking this precaution could have serious consequences. “A lot of [modders and hackers] already know how to do all this,” she said. “Anyone can freely download a lot of this software, essentially pick up a discarded game console, and have someone’s identity.”

UPDATE: Microsoft contacted BGR via email with a statement regarding Kotaku’s report, which can be read below in its entirety. More →

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Comcast deals blow to net neutrality, says own video service is exempt from bandwidth caps

By on March 29, 2012 at 1:20 PM.

Comcast deals blow to net neutrality, says own video service is exempt from bandwidth caps

Cable network operator and Internet service provider Comcast reportedly confirmed earlier this week that it would give its own video streaming service a huge advantage over rival services like Netflix. Showing blatant disregard for net neutrality principles, Comcast said this week that its video streaming service Xfinity will be exempt from the 250GB bandwidth cap it foists on subscribers, Raw Story reports. Movies and TV shows streamed using rival services such as Netflix and Hulu will still apply toward users’ monthly bandwidth caps. Microsoft announced earlier this week that Comcast’s Xfinity service was launching on its popular Xbox 360 video game and home entertainment console, and heavy users on Comcast’s network now have a clear reason to choose Xfinity over any of the dozens of rival streaming services supported by the Xbox. More →

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Next-generation Xbox will not block used games, GameStop CEO says

By on March 26, 2012 at 4:15 PM.

Next-generation Xbox will not block used games, GameStop CEO says

Rumors that Microsoft’s next-generation video game console might somehow block owners from playing used games began swirling earlier this year, and gamers around the world cringed. Of course the rumor had much more significant implications for video game vendors like GameStop, and the company’s chief executive Paul Raines addressed the issue during its earnings call last week. “We think it’s unlikely that there would be that next-gen console because the model simply hasn’t been proven to work,” Raines said according to Digital Times.” Remember that used video games have a residual value. Remember that GameStop generates $1.2 billion of trade credits around the world with out used games model. So consider taking used games out of that, you’d have to find new ways to sell the games, and our partners at the console companies have great relationships with us.” GameStop accounted for between 60% and 70% of first-week video game sales as of 2010 according to ADVFN. More →

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ARM-based Xbox ‘lite’ coming in 2013, Xbox 360 successor later, insider claims

By on March 22, 2012 at 11:15 AM.

ARM-based Xbox ‘lite’ coming in 2013, Xbox 360 successor later, insider claims

Microsoft had intended to unveil its next-generation Xbox console during the annual E3 conference this year according to a BGR source, but it now looks as though that won’t happen — the company has gone on record in stating, “we can confirm that there will be no talk of new Xbox hardware at E3 or anytime soon.” According to “MS Nerd,” an insider with a good track record of leaking unannounced information regarding Microsoft’s plans, the Redmond-based company is currently working on not one but two Xbox consoles that will launch in the coming years. Read on for more. More →

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Microsoft patent suggests eyewear integration for Xbox, Windows Phone

By on March 19, 2012 at 10:45 PM.

Microsoft patent suggests eyewear integration for Xbox, Windows Phone

A new Microsoft patent published recently by the United States Patent and Trademark Office revealed that the company is working on two types of headsets for its Xbox and Windows Phone platforms, PatentBolt reported on Monday. The first unit resembles an aviation-type helmet and is aimed at Xbox gamers, while the second looks like a pair of sunglasses for use with smartphones and other future devices. The software giant states that a compact display system can be integrated into goggles, a helmet or other eyewear, enabling the wearer to view images from a computer, media player or other electronic device. Since the human eye can’t focus on images less than a few centimeters away, however, Microsoft’s headsets will have the ability to virtually project an image.

More →

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Microsoft: No new Xbox hardware this year

By on March 16, 2012 at 9:05 PM.

Microsoft: No new Xbox hardware this year

Microsoft has confirmed that the successor to the Xbox 360 will not be announced at the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo. “While we appreciate all the interest in our long-range plans for the future, we can confirm that there will be no talk of new Xbox hardware at E3 or anytime soon,” the company said in a statement to Kotaku on Thursday. “For us, 2012 is all about Xbox 360-and it’s the best year ever for Xbox 360. The console is coming off its biggest year ever-a year in which Xbox outsold all other consoles worldwide.” The next-generation Xbox is rumored to be six times more powerful than the current Xbox 360. It has been reported that the console will be equipped with a GPU based on ATI’s Radeon HD 6670 and should offer support for 3D technology, 1080p HD output, multiple displays and DirectX 11. It is also possible that Microsoft’s next-generation system may use online downloads and swappable solid state cards rather than a traditional disc drive. More →

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New Sonic game showcases Xbox, Windows Phone integration [video]

By on March 16, 2012 at 7:35 PM.

New Sonic game showcases Xbox, Windows Phone integration [video]

Microsoft first discussed its “three screens and a cloud” gaming strategy in 2009, describing a scenario that could carry a single video game across a TV screen, a PC and a smartphone. Now, nearly three years later, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II counts itself among the first games to showcase this exciting integration. Owners of an Xbox 360 and a Windows Phone will be able to start a game on one device, pause, and pick up on the other device exactly where they left off. “One of the cool things about it is that the Windows Mobile 7 [sic] and the Xbox are going to be able to work in tandem in ways that are completely new,” Digital Grand Manager for Sonic 4: Episode II Ken Balough told Official Xbox Magazine in an interview. “So when you pick up the Windows Mobile 7 and you’ll be able to play Sonic Episode II, save it, stop, boot up your Xbox 360 and pick up right where you left off. And that’s a really cool thing Microsoft has going between the devices and I’m a huge fan of it.” The video interview with Balough follows below, and the conversation pertaining to the Xbox and Windows Phone can be heard shortly after the 4-minute mark. More →

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Video game sales continue to slide in February, Xbox still top console

By on March 9, 2012 at 11:00 PM.

Video game sales continue to slide in February, Xbox still top console

The video game industry continued to struggle in the United States last month as sales slid yet again according to market research firm The NPD Group. After dropping 34% year-over-year to $750.6 million in January, total video game hardware, software and accessory sales in the U.S. dipped to $1.06 billion in February, down 20% from the same period in 2011. Hardware sales dropped 18% to $381.4 million, software sales declined 23% to $464.4 million and accessory sales were down 16% to $215.2 million. “Outside of new physical retail sales, we estimate that the consumer spend on other methods to acquire content including used games, full game and add-on content downloads, social network games, mobile games, rentals and subscriptions accounted for an additional $550 – $600 million in sales, which would bring total content spend across both retail and these other spend methods to $1.0B-$1.1B for February,” NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier said. “Our official quarterly estimate of the total Q1 2012 consumer spend in these areas will be released in our Q1 Games Market Dynamics: U.S. report in June.” Frazier noted that Microsoft’s Xbox was the best-selling hardware platform in February for the seventh straight month. NPD’s list of the top-10 best-selling software titles in February follows below. More →

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