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Old 01-06-2009, 20:55:23   #1
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E3 2009 - MS' one-ups the Wiimote with style

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2...inment-hub.ars

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Microsoft morphing Xbox 360 into social, entertainment hub

Microsoft kicked off this year's E3 by announcing the long-expected motion camera and the arrival of Facebook, Last.fm, Twitter, and more on the Xbox 360

Microsoft is hoping to set the stage for E3 by hosting the first press conference of the show, and while the company kept the majority of its presentation dedicated to games, it's clear that Microsoft wants to turn your 360 into a full-fledged entertainment hub. Last.fm is coming to your console, free with your Gold Xbox Live Subscription. The console's video service is being relaunched as Zune Video, and it will feature 1080p content that you don't have to load—you just choose your video and watch. Facebook is coming to the service, with integration for your Xbox Live avatar and even some games, such as the upcoming Tiger Woods. Twitter is also heading to Xbox Live. The motion-sensing camera, called Natal, is real, and Microsoft showed off how it is used to control the UI for the system, explaining that now anyone can play a game. Welcome to the social.

The motion-camera, which in fact does look functionally identical to the 3DV demo we previously wrote about, allows you to control games, try on virtual clothes using your own image, and even use hand-motions to buzz in while playing game shows. Voice commands? They'll be in there. Microsoft brought Steven Spielberg onto the stage to demo the technology, and his avatar moved in real time as he controled the UI. While many called this technology a gimmick before E3, everyone seems completely impressed by what's being shown here today. This isn't waving your hands around like the Wii, this is a very immersive technology tied to a very powerful console. The game demos look promising, including the ability to simply paint on a virtual canvas with your hands and voice commands. The sense of play is very Nintendo, and that's a high compliment for Microsoft.

In a slightly creepy twist, you'll no longer have to sign into your Live account; the system will know who is playing it by your face. Peter Molyneux showed off a game called Milo, where an animated character talks to you and you can talk back. Water shows your own reflection. You can draw a picture and show it to the television, "giving it" to a character who then interacts with the image. The level of interaction looks amazing.

The show also hyped a number of games, including The Beatles: Rock Band, which confirmed three-part harmonies and the ability to download entire albums as DLC. The songs "I Saw Her Standing There," "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," "I Feel Fine," "Day Tripper," "Tax Man," "I am the Walrus," "Back in the USSR," "Octopus's Garden," "Here Comes the Sun," and "Get Back" are all confirmed. In a heart-warming twist, "All You Need is Love" will only be available via Xbox Live, and the proceeds from the song's sales will go to Doctors without Borders. All the hate from Sony fans will go directly to the comments.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr of course made a quick appearance, collected their paychecks, waved, and away they went. The star factor at this event is amazingly high.

Next up? Tony Hawk... well, hawked the new Tony Hawk: Ride, saying that it's going to feel just like riding a real skateboard; something that is sure to enrage the "why don't you just play a real guitar" set that's so vocal online. Until we have a chance to play for ourselves—and that's coming—it's easy to be skeptical about the board hardware that will come with the game. Modern Warfare 2 of course looks great and intense, as does Final Fantasy XIII, but that has as much to do with the sound system and theater as it does the games. We do know two maps for Modern Warfare 2 will hit Xbox Live first, as it seems like Microsoft getting the checkbook out was a theme of today's briefing.

Shadow Complex, an action/exploration title from Epic that's reminiscent of Metroid and Castlevania, was also shown, as was a cartoony racer called JoyRide. After that, the crowd finally got what it had been waiting for: the first details of Crackdown 2. Dead Rising 2 is exclusive to Xbox 360 and PC. Left 4 Dead 2 is likewise coming to Xbox 360 and PC. Splinter Cell Conviction? Yeah, that's exclusive to the 360, and it looks like it will feature some terrifically brutal context-sensitive kills. Forza 3 is coming in October, and if nothing else it looks like a car title that you'll want to play from the cockpit view; it's a stunning-looking game. Turn 10 makes some bold claims, as they talk about wanting to "win" the racing genre. They're clearly gunning for Gran Turismo 5 with this presentation, and the team unveiled an impressive high-definition video editor to show off your exploits on Xbox Live.

This was also the first time that footage from Halo: ODST had been shown, and it looks like the story will be told through the eyes of multiple soldiers, which seems like a smart bet. You'll be able to play the standalone expansion on September 22. That's not the end of Halo, as Halo Reach is coming in fall 2010. Of course, if you buy ODST you'll get an invite to the Halo Reach beta.

Alan Wake was shown in detail, and it looks absolutely amazing, with a heavy emphasis on using light to stay safe in the game. While sequels and more Halo may be exciting, this is what people came here for: to be turned-on by something that feels new. The game is coming in spring 2010, and is also exclusive to the Xbox 360.

While not an exclusive, Hideo Kojima revealed that Metal Gear Solid Rising is coming to the Xbox 360. This is Microsoft chipping away at the empire that was Sony, bringing yet another title that used to be known only on PlayStation platforms to the Xbox.

The conclusion? Microsoft has set the bar amazingly high for everyone else. Natal looks incredible, although it will take some real-world experience before we can completely believe the claims made by the presentation. The number of exclusives and well-loved properties is likewise impressive, although gamers are already voicing their anger at a sequel to Left 4 Dead being released so soon after the first game. In one swoop, however, Microsoft has revealed exciting exclusives, hyped games with exclusive or timed content on its system, given Xbox Live new life, and has perhaps even put the Wii on the technological defensive. That's from a stage show, however, and the question remains: how much of this will feel this real—and this good—once we get our hands on it?
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Old 01-06-2009, 21:43:57   #2
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blah blah the future of social interactive entertainment (yes, again) blah blah yet more molyneux bullshit blah blah blah woohoo more derivative sequels blah fucking blah
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Old 02-06-2009, 07:58:04   #3
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Problem with these demos is you never find out if any of it's any fun.
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Old 02-06-2009, 11:15:09   #4
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I may have said this exact same thing about the Wiimote, but I'm not sure this Natal thing will have much practical value in anything for than casual gaming.

So, yeah, it's probably just like the Wiimote.
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Old 02-06-2009, 12:13:09   #5
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The X-Box doesn't have the "anyone can use it!" association that the Wii does to attract casual gamers. Sure it's brilliant marketing from Nintendo, the Wii isn't any easier to use, but still they've built that up. Pushing into that market isn't about having the hardware it's about convincing users.
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Old 02-06-2009, 12:32:32   #6
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having recently returned to using the 360 as the main media playing device in the living room because my ps3 broke, i have to say i've come to re-appreciate what a nice bit of kit it is.

the recent announcement about accessing Sky channels through it was very welcome too
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Old 02-06-2009, 12:36:40   #7
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the natal looks really interesting.
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Old 02-06-2009, 12:46:24   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by King_Ghidra View Post
having recently returned to using the 360 as the main media playing device in the living room because my ps3 broke, i have to say i've come to re-appreciate what a nice bit of kit it is.

the recent announcement about accessing Sky channels through it was very welcome too
Interested to hear more feedback on that because I have actually been considering getting one as a cheapish media centre (that we can also play games on).

The PS3 is too expensive to justify for that purpose, and don't really need blu-ray when we already watch all our films on HD on Sky anyway.

Last edited by Funko; 02-06-2009 at 12:50:32.
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Old 02-06-2009, 20:36:19   #9
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Sony just announced their motion controller.

It literally looks like a child's magic wand, complete with the glowing orb at the end of the stick.

And it doesn't seem to introduce any new functionality not already in Wii MotionPlus.
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Old 03-06-2009, 09:53:36   #10
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Originally Posted by Funko View Post
Interested to hear more feedback on that because I have actually been considering getting one as a cheapish media centre (that we can also play games on).

The PS3 is too expensive to justify for that purpose, and don't really need blu-ray when we already watch all our films on HD on Sky anyway.
I currently have the 360 sitting under the tv and serving media off my pc via wireless

for this purpose i find the general navigation and accessibility of it far better than the ps3 was. mine is a bog standard non-hacked 360 and it plays anything divx or xvid or avi or whatever, plus all my mp3's no problem.

we watch dvd's on it in high def via a vga cable into my lcd tv. there is a proper hd unit for the 360 but this works fine for me.

since i started using it i pretty much forgot my ps3 exists
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Old 03-06-2009, 11:54:13   #11
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The gaming press seems kinda excited about Sony's press conference yesterday. They demo'd some cool games. Much better than Nintendo's. That shit was lame.
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Old 03-06-2009, 12:03:13   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by King_Ghidra View Post
I currently have the 360 sitting under the tv and serving media off my pc via wireless

for this purpose i find the general navigation and accessibility of it far better than the ps3 was. mine is a bog standard non-hacked 360 and it plays anything divx or xvid or avi or whatever, plus all my mp3's no problem.

we watch dvd's on it in high def via a vga cable into my lcd tv. there is a proper hd unit for the 360 but this works fine for me.

since i started using it i pretty much forgot my ps3 exists
Great. Thanks!
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Old 03-06-2009, 13:04:42   #13
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we use our 360 as our default dvd player. you will be able to stream hd movies through your 360 soon. if you bother to join up to the online 360 thingy.
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Old 03-06-2009, 13:53:18   #14
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btw funko, one thing to mention, it doesn't have built in wireless either. that's not a problem for me because i have it directly cabled into the router, but it might be an issue for you.
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Old 03-06-2009, 14:18:10   #15
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No, that's cool. It'd be in short cable range of router anyway.
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Old 03-06-2009, 14:19:49   #16
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It is a bit shit not having it built in though.
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Old 05-06-2009, 15:01:06   #17
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So, NATAL summary = fancy Eye Toy Play rip-off.
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Old 05-06-2009, 23:05:47   #18
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Yes, just like how an airplane is a ripoff of a kite, and a car is a ripoff of a horse-drawn carriage.
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Old 06-06-2009, 07:42:27   #19
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But surely anything that Molyneux hypes up as being a radical reinvention of gaming is always a gimmicky pile of crap.
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Old 06-06-2009, 07:44:56   #20
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I do love how Nintendo have been totally wtfpwned at E3, though. As dumb as all this motion capture stuff is, the MS and Sony technology is clearly years more advanced than the Wii Motion Plus. And what the hell is up with that Wii Vitality thing? I thought that was a spoof when I first saw clips of it.
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Old 11-06-2009, 08:58:55   #21
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Nintendo deliberately chose not to push technological boundaries with the Wii, and they aren't targeting the same market so we'd expect that.

The vast majority of Wii owners don't give a shit whether the Microsoft or Sony consoles have much better hardware. I'm sure Nintendo don't give a shit about being wtfpwned at E3 as long as their sales continue as they have been.
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Old 11-06-2009, 13:55:41   #22
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The problem is going to be that the market is getting flooded, and only promises to get more flooded, by all kinds of strange peripherals and add ons and controllers and blah. Consumers aren't going to keep shelling out money for wands, Pluses, cameras, guitars, drums, boards, skateboards, etc, etc, etc forever.
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Old 11-06-2009, 15:44:21   #23
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Nintendo deliberately chose not to push technological boundaries with the Wii, and they aren't targeting the same market so we'd expect that.

The vast majority of Wii owners don't give a shit whether the Microsoft or Sony consoles have much better hardware. I'm sure Nintendo don't give a shit about being wtfpwned at E3 as long as their sales continue as they have been.
You obviously haven't been paying attention. Wii sales are down 40% year over year the past few months.
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Old 11-06-2009, 16:27:05   #24
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Has that slowed them to the speed of 360 and PS3 sales?
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Old 11-06-2009, 16:30:01   #25
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Might mean the new colours will finally be released soon.
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Old 12-06-2009, 00:49:36   #26
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Has that slowed them to the speed of 360 and PS3 sales?
Just about. 360 sales are up, Wii sales are way, way down, PS3 sales are down.
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Old 12-06-2009, 18:25:51   #27
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Speak of the devil. May 2009 US console sales are out:

May 2008 vs May 2009:
Wii 675.1K - 289.5K -57%
PS3 208.7K - 131K -37%
360 186.6K - 175K -6%

Wii sales down 57%, 360 sales down 6%.

The Wii is getting closer and closer to 360 sales each month. At this rate, in a matter of months the 360 will be outselling the Wii.
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Old 12-06-2009, 19:29:01   #28
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Well, "at this rate" it won't be too long before nobody is selling any consoles at all, so I'm not sure how extrapolating those rates of change forward results in good news for anybody.
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Old 12-06-2009, 23:40:32   #29
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Well, "at this rate" it won't be too long before nobody is selling any consoles at all, so I'm not sure how extrapolating those rates of change forward results in good news for anybody.
Not true. 360 has been up year over year for a long time. This is the first month in a long while they're down, and it's only 6%.

PS3 and Wii are struggling in the economy, comparatively, and the 360 is doing fine.

Xbox 360 sales are up 22% so far in 2009 vs 2008. PS3 and Wii are both down significantly.
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Old 15-06-2009, 08:09:00   #30
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The 360 have been cutting prices though, it's now attractively priced enough for me to be thinking about getting one. Not surprised their sales are going up TBH.
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Old 15-06-2009, 13:20:39   #31
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The 360's last pricecut was what, almost a year ago?
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Old 15-06-2009, 14:09:40   #32
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Must be due another one.

It's now cheaper than the Wii for even the 60Gb model, much more powerful but still can't outsell it. Crazy.
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Old 15-06-2009, 15:50:27   #33
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It's not cheaper with the 60GB model here. Only the Arcade unit is cheaper here (by $50 US).

360's not due a pricecut. Wii and PS3 are. Problem for PS3 is if it cuts its price by even $50 it'll cost them $500M at least, and they're not in a fiscally comfortable situation. Still losing money as is.
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Old 15-06-2009, 15:59:45   #34
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Yeah, that was my point. If Wii sales finally dropping we might see new colours and/or a price cut.
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