Do you remember at the 2012 Video Game Awards when an intriguing trailer by the name of “The Phantom Pain” from Moby Dick Studios premiered to much fanfare? Well it turns out that the mysterious title is actually the next installment in the Metal Gear franchise from Konami. At the Game Developers Conference this week, Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima of Kojima Productions revealed Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain with a brand new nearly six-minute trailer that includes cinematic cutscenes and a more extensive look at Snake’s next adventure. Previously Kojima announced another MSG game in development called Ground Zeroes but according to a recent tweet GZ will serve as a prequel to TFP with a potential to ship on the same disc as TFP:
“Ground Zeroes” is a prologue of “MGSV”. 9 years after that event will be “The Phantom Pain”. MGSV is constructed w/ prologue and main game “TPP”. The game play demo I presented today is the opening of “TPP” which is tutorial that starts from crawling.
MGSV takes advantage of Kojima’s new FOX Engine and the game is confirmed to hit the current generation of platforms including Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. No word if the game will make the leap to next-gen consoles such as the PS4 and the next Xbox.
Now, there are reports that Snake will not be voiced by David Hayter, the voice actor who has played the franchise’s protagonist since the beginning in all English-language versions of the MGS titles. In an interview with GameTrailers, Kojima explained it like this: “What we’re trying to accomplish is [to] recreate the Metal Gear series. It’s a new type of Metal Gear game and we wanted to have this reflected in the voice actor as well.” But for fans this pill is surely hard to swallow. David Hayter is Snake, just as Steve Downes is Master Chief in Halo.
There’s no release date in sight yet, but feast your eyes on the next Metal Gear Solid. Like all things Kojima, it’s candy for the eyes.
It feels like eons ago when video game developer Hideo Kojima debuted his Metal Gear spinoff game Metal Gear Rising at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo. The slice-and-dice action game starring cyborg ninja Raiden is been in development for awhile and even saw a name change to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Kojima Productions failed to get the ball rolling, a deal was struck to have Platinum Games (Bayonetta) take over the reins and develop the game. Kojima’s team still remained heavily involved with the making of the title, however, as the game’s producer. Revengeance, which takes place four years after the events that occurred in MGS 4: Guns of the Patriots, retains Metal Gear DNA even though it plans to tell self-contained plot. Gamers can get a sense of the gameplay when a demo releases in one week on January 22. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance finally ships for Xbox 360 and PS3 in the U.S. on February 19. Preorder today.
Now sit back, relax, and hit play to watch the latest trailer for Revengeance, edited by Hideo Kojima himself. Like all of Kojima’s efforts this trailer is stunningly cinematic with gorgeous cutscenes and equally engaging gameplay.
On November 15, 2002 Microsoft turned on Xbox LIVE and over the past ten years what began as a multiplayer service for video gamers has evolved into an entertainment service that provides not only live multiplayer gameplay around the world but also a hub for the latest in movies, TV, music, and sports. Microsoft took a gamble when they charged gamers to pay a yearly fee for an online subscription; after ten years of supporting blockbuster games and other entertainment outlets it turns out that the price of admission was well worth it.
Here are some fun facts about LIVE Microsoft is sharing today:
- Initially available to U.S. and Canadian Xbox players, the service is now available in 41 countries and territories around the world.
- In the 10 years of LIVE, nearly 14.5 billion Achievements have been unlocked worldwide, accumulating a total combined Gamerscore of more than 270 billion.
- This year we had an average of 9.4 million people a week using multi-player gaming on Xbox LIVE.
- During the week of Nov. 6 through Nov. 13, our members spent more time on Xbox LIVE (gaming and watching entertainment) than any other week in the history of our service: a total of 442 million hours.
- Halo 4, which broke entertainment industry numbers, resulted in the LIVE community unlocking 43 million achievements in just the first five days of gameplay.
In an open letter to Xbox LIVE members, Microsoft’s Marc Witten shared his enthusiasm about the service and how far it’s come. “Over the last 10 years you’ve helped us define LIVE as the best place to play online and the definitive online gaming experience for two generations of Xbox consoles, and you’ve helped us evolve LIVE into a full entertainment service, delivering amazing games, sports, movies, TV and music,” he said. “If the last 10 years is any indication of what’s possible in the next 10 years, imagine the innovation yet to come,” he continued. “One thing is for sure – we will continue to offer some of the best entertainment, from premium games, sports, TV, movies, web to music. To the members who’ve been with us since the beginning – I sincerely thank you, both for your support and your feedback. And for those of you that have just become members, a very warm welcome.”
To celebrate Xbox LIVE’s 10 year anniversary, Microsoft is offering special deals on Xbox LIVE Arcade games and you can win a custom-designed Xbox 360 console. Head over to the anniversary portal for more.
This Tuesday Halo 4 releases for Xbox 360 and a new trilogy forges on. In the original trilogy developer Bungie introduced us to the iconic Master Chief and we controlled the super-solider as he discovered the Halo Array and the Ark, crippled the alien alliance known as the Covenant, and battled the parasitic Flood. After going on to release a prequel to Halo 3 designated ODST and a prequel to Halo: Combat Evolved with Halo: Reach, Bungie handed the franchise’s reigns to a new developer, 343 Industries. Halo 4 brings us back into control of the Chief, and we find him just where we left him at the end of Halo 3 in 2007; he’s aboard the UNSC ship Forward Unto Dawn, floating in space drifting toward a mysterious Forerunner planet called Requiem. Chief’s last words were delivered to Cortana, his AI companion, and they were, “Wake me, when you need me.” Halo 4, in addition to providing addicting online multiplayer modes, will delve deeper into the franchise’s mythology as Master Chief inadvertently crash lands on a Forerunner planet infested with Covenant, Forerunner technology, and, according to the game’s marketing, “an ancient evil awakens.” And on top of that, there’s something wrong with Cortana; she is going “rampant” (or insane) because she is operating beyond her natural lifespan.
Excited yet? Let me give you a boost…
Leading up to the release of Halo 4, Microsoft Studios and 343 Industries developed a five-part live-action web series set in the Halo universe. Forward Unto Dawn follows a group of freshman cadets at the UNSC’s Corbulo Academy of Military Science and places particular focus on troubled cadet Thomas Lasky. The story takes fans to the beginning of the Human/Covenant war and it seamlessly weaves into where things kick off in Halo 4. The series is a bold journey into the Halo universe and it tells a compelling story worth investing your time in, especially if you’re a fan of the franchise. The acting and special effects are surprisingly effective, and in addition to amping you up for the new game it will also make you wish a Halo miniseries a la HBO’s Band of Brothers was made. Forward Unto Dawn can be viewed online at Machinima or on your console via the Halo Waypoint app.
Halo 4 is being sold in various forms; there’s the regular copy ($60), the limited edition copy ($100), it’s bundled in a Halo-themed 320GB console package ($350), and there’s a Halo-themed wireless controller ($60). Want a read more before jumping in? IGN gives a glowing review. Watch the launch trailer after the break. (Click here for more…)
Last week Microsoft began rolling out a dashboard update for Xbox 360. In addition to Internet Explorer and Xbox Music, the update also prepped the console for Xbox SmartGlass. Unveiled at this year’s E3 press conference, SmartGlass enables users to interact with their Xboxes via smartphones and tablets. The most basic feature of SmartGlass allows you to control the Xbox dashboard, media playback, and the browser using your mobile wireless devices. The technology’s real potential lies in its second screen experiences. For example, after queuing up a movie on your tablet, you can resume its playback on your HDTV. When the movie is playing on your TV, your tablet will provide related content including the actors starring in the film and this gives you the opportunity to discover other movies they are in. In addition to providing related content for movies and TV shows, a second screen experience can also keep you up to date on the latest sports stats, player bios, and breaking news in real-time while you’re watching ESPN, NBA GameTime, or UFC through your Xbox. Beyond entertainment, developers will start to integrate SmartGlass into their games. For example, in Harmonix’s Dance Central 3 you can queue up the next track on your phone or tablet while a current song is being played. Expect the selection of second screen experiences to grow as time goes on.
Currently the Xbox SmartGlass mobile app is only available for Windows 8 and its coming to Windows Phone 8 after that launches next week. Microsoft promises to release the app (it will update the existing ”My Xbox Live” app) for iOS and Android users in the coming weeks. Jump after the break to watch a walkthrough.
Update: Xbox SmartGlass for Android is now available in the Google Play store. Have at it!
Flip on your Xbox 360 today and you might find an update waiting for you to download and install. Microsoft releases updates to its video game console every fall and spring, and we’re well into October so this refresh shouldn’t come as a giant surprise. Nor should most of its features since the most prominent ones were highlighted at this year’s E3. But let’s recap. With nearly every update comes a refreshed dashboard with user interface tweaks; overall the design and layout largely remain the same, but you’ll notice that each hub now houses more tiles. Some of them are tailored to your gaming habits, recent activity, and content ratings, while others are merely advertisements. You can create a personalized folder of “pinned” items; you can pin your favorite games, movies, TV shows, and music to an easy-to-access destination on the dashboard. Bing search has been enhanced to allow for search by genre; for example, you can speak to your Kinect and say “Xbox, Bing sci-fi” and related content will show up. And last but not least there’s the introduction of Internet Explorer; Xbox nabs a web browser. Where’s Xbox SmartGlass? Microsoft is holding off on the second-screen experience until Windows 8 launches; when it does users will be able to control their consoles via tablets and smartphones and interact with content in new ways. (Learn more about SmartGlass here.)
Here’s how the rollout will work, according to Xbox’s Major Nelson. “To ensure a stable release, this will be a gradual deployment across subscribers and regions over the course of the next week. Our initial deployment will reach approximately three million consoles worldwide, with additional users being updated over the course of a couple weeks.” So there you go.
Announced separately from this fall’s dashboard update is the rollout of Xbox Music. With Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 on the horizon, Microsoft wants to forget the Zune era and start anew with a cloud-based music service that extends across the desktop/tablet OS, the phone OS, and the home console. Currently Xbox Music is available on Xbox 360. Users will notice a newly branded destination to browse, stream, and download music. In the Music hub there’s an Xbox Music tile that takes you to Microsoft’s collection of 30 million songs. To access the content, users must sign up for an Xbox Music Pass that goes for $9.99/month or $99.90/year. With the Pass, you can stream individual songs and full-length albums, ad-free. A free 30-day trial is offered if you feel so inclined to dip your toe.
When Windows 8 ships later this month on October 26, Xbox Music will be the destination for music consumption from Microsoft there, too. Unlike 360 owners, desktop/tablet users will have free unlimited, ad-supported access to the music database. Purchase an Xbox Music Pass and the ads go bye-bye; and also with the Pass, you’ll be able to save songs for offline listening. A feature called Smart DJ allows you to personalize a radio station based on your favorite artists. Since Xbox Music is a cloud-based service, your entire music collection (including playlists and Smart DJ data) is synced across devices including your desktop/tablet, phone, and console. Start streaming a song on your Xbox, pause it, and continue exactly where you left off on your tablet. You get the idea. Feel the urge to download a song for keeps? Purchase it in the Xbox Music Store, available on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.
Speaking of Microsoft’s phone OS, Xbox Music will begin to rollout to WP8 devices as they ship after the OS’ release later this month. Xbox 360′s rules apply to WP8 devices–an Xbox Music Pass is required to access streaming content. To reiterate, free ad-supported streaming is only available to Win8 users. Microsoft notes that they plan to expand the service to other platforms (think Android, iOS) sometime in the future.
In review: your Xbox is about to be injected with new life, and Microsoft is ready to take on the likes of Apple, Amazon, and Spotify with the launch of their very own cloud-based music streaming service and storefront. If you’ve got an Xbox, you can explore Microsoft’s new offerings today; for the rest of you it will come baked in Windows 8 when it releases in just over a week.
Halo 4 lands November 4, and to celebrate the start of a new trilogy from developer 343 Industries Microsoft is coming out with a limited edition Halo themed Xbox 360 console decked out in a grey-and-blue hue. $400 will net you the 320GB console, two Halo themed wireless controllers, a wired headset, a standard edition copy of Halo 4, and tokens for exclusive in-game and avatar marketplace DLC. What is typically a green glow around the console’s power button and the controller’s Xbox button is replaced by a blue glow to match the overall color scheme. Also, the console features in-game sound effects that can be heard when you turn the console on and press the disc eject button. If you want a slice of the Halo hardware without putting down four Benjamins you can opt to get the wireless controller that will sell standalone at $60 that same day. Get your preorder on at Amazon today. Soak it all up in the gallery below.
[Via Major Nelson]
While you wait with bated breath for Xbox SmartGlass to release on your portable devices, enjoy the next best thing which is a significant update to the My Xbox Live companion app for iOS and Android. Most significantly, the 1.5 update turns your iPhone into a remote control complete with directional arrows and the ABXY buttons. These are solely used to navigate your Xbox Dashboard and controlling media playback, not for playing games. A new section called Discover lets you browse new entertainment content and beam it to your Xbox. Also, you can now access a quick list of your most recent console activity. All of these aforementioned features work on Windows Phone and iPhone only. For the iPad retina display support has been added. And for Android users this is their first taste of the app. Get your download on here: iOS / Android
[Via Major Nelson]
With no new hardware releasing this year, Microsoft made sure to focus squarely on games and new experiences powered by Xbox 360. It was announced that this year the company’s seven year old console went from being the #1 selling game machine in North America to being the best selling console in the world. And with everything that Microsoft showed off at their E3 press conference this year, you’d be remiss to think that they’ll lose the crown anytime soon.
Before jumping into the exciting software titles Microsoft has in store for gamers in the not-so-distant future, let’s dive into the most talked about announcement coming out of their presser: Xbox SmartGlass. Leading up to E3, a rumor leaked that Microsoft was cooking up a new Xbox feature that would work similarly to AirPlay from Apple; one could wirelessly beam video content from a smartphone or tablet to the big screen TV in your living room. The leak became official at Microsoft’s briefing, but it would be proven that Xbox SmartGlass offers so much more than Apple’s AirPlay beaming. Real world examples follow. Start watching a movie on your tablet and with one click transfer it to your TV. As the movie is resumes on the big screen, your tablet doesn’t remain idle; instead it provides relavant content to what’s being played on your TV. Say you’re watching Sherlock Holmes; while it’s playing on the TV you can use your tablet to delve into the movie’s synopsis, cast, bonus features, and other content that pertains to the movie.
A neat feature, it still might not stimulate your appetite for SmartGlass. This will. Hop onto HBO GO and watch an episode of Game of Thrones. Through the power of SmartGlass you can follow the story that unfolds on the TV using your tablet as a guide through Westeros. In real time SmartGlass will help you keep up with the large cast of characters and goings-on with an expansive interactive map of Westeros. Microsoft is working close with content providers to bring these kind of experiences to Xbox, so this is only the tip of the iceberg.
In additional to expanding the world of movies and TV, SmartGlass will serve as a gaming controller of sorts to enhance gameplay for compatible titles. In Madden, for example, SmartGlass transforms your tablet into a playbook and allows you to create and execute routes using an innovative, touch-based interface. Will you be able to take control of Master Chief in Halo 4? Definitely not, but Microsoft showed off another way SmartGlass can enhance even the most hardcore games they offer. In Halo 4, Halo Waypoint data can be unlocked in-game and later accessed on your smartphone. Stuff like that. Again, Microsoft is spearheading the SmartGlass initiative, and soon we’ll see what game developers can think up to enhance their experiences by making them more interactive across multiple screens.
Movies, TV, games. What else will SmartGlass affect on Xbox? It will (at long last) enable Internet browsing on the console. Internet Explorer is coming to Xbox, and SmartGlass allows you to scroll and pinch-to-zoom on-screen content. Using Kinect you’ll also be able to control the web browser with your voice. SmartGlass also gives you the ability to navigate the Xbox dashboard using your fingers, in addition to your voice (Kinect) and a traditional controller.
Xbox’s Marc Whitten summed it up best when he closed the segment like this: SmartGlass is ”when devices work together to immerse you in entertainment.” He also went on to make a great point. You already own the devices that will make SmartGlass a possibility: smartphones, tablets, PCs. There is no need to purchase an additional controller, peripheral or console (looking at you, Nintendo) to make a second screen experience a reality. The SmartGlass companion app will be compatible with Windows 8 PCs, tablets and phones, as well as devices powered by iOS and Android. There is one catch, however. If you’re planning on beaming content from portable devices to the TV, said content must be purchased and rented from within Microsoft’s ecosystem, i.e. the Xbox Video storefront. With that said, Xbox SmartGlass is coming to Xbox, Windows 8, and the other aforementioned mobile platforms this fall.
Other announcements made at Microsoft’s press conference include: (Click here for more…)
The long-awaited return of Master Chief is almost here. Halo 4 is so close you can
taste it preorder it. This week Microsoft fleshed out the $100 “Limited Edition” package that will go on sale alongside the standard $60 version of Halo 4 when it hits shelves November 6. Forty extra bucks will get you the following: War Games Map Pack (early access to “three future competitive multiplayer map packs, each including three locations”); Specializations (early access to “six Specializations to achieve higher ranks in your Spartan career and new unlockable customization options”); UNSC Infinity Briefing Packet (“includes an armor customization schematic, a blueprint of the massive ship itself, and insight into what it means to be one of humanity’s finest warriors: the Spartan-IVs”); and bonus digital content available through Xbox Live including unique armor and weapon skins, an exclusive in-game emblem, Avatar props, and an extended 90-minute version of the live-action digital series Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn (it provides “an enthralling backstory leading up to the events of Halo 4). Preorder your UNSC-engraved Halo 4 Limited Edition package today. Image of the LE case and PR after the break.
Oh, and how awesome is the official Halo 4 game box art that’s pasted above? Watch it come alive after the break.
At last, Microsoft has set a date for the return of Xbox’s hero Master Chief. Halo 4 drops November 6, 2012. In a press release (in full after the break) Microsoft and new game developer 343 Industries spilled some details on franchise’s long-awaited comeback. “Set four years after the events in “Halo 3,” Master Chief returns to confront his destiny and face an ancient evil that threatens the fate of the entire universe,” reads the release. “”Halo 3,” the biggest consumer product launch of all time when it released in 2007, concluded the original game trilogy, but left many unanswered questions around the fates of the series’ beloved hero, the Master Chief, and his artificial intelligence companion, Cortana. On Nov. 6, fans will experience the next chapter of the iconic franchise.”
Microsoft’s Phil Spencer is quoted: “We are beginning a new saga with ‘Halo 4′ and embarking on a journey that will encompass the next decade of ‘Halo’ games and experiences. Millions of fans worldwide have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to step back into the boots of Master Chief, and, with ‘Halo 4′ leading the charge, we’re confident 2012 will be the most successful year in Xbox history.”
It still hasn’t been determined what or who exactly John-117 will battle against in the next-gen first person shooter, but whatever it is I’m amped. Unless it’s The Flood again, cuz that would suck. Other Halo factoids… orignal game composer Marty O’Donnell is out (what a bummer!) and former Massive Attack member Neil Davidge has taken over the important role. Orchestrator Matt Dunkley explained to Edge: “We respect absolutely what [O'Donnell] did, and obviously these iconic themes are very close to gamers’ hearts. So we all listened to what he’d done, and I think you’ll always be on a hiding to nothing if you’re trying to pastiche that. Instead, we wanted to take that to another level. Hopefully the Halo fans will see that we’re being respectful, but we’ve also taken it somewhere else, and maybe onto a higher plane. If you’re always trying to reference back, you’re not creating new things.”
Jump after the break to get a behind the scenes look at the audio composition behind the game as well as soundtrack samples. In somewhat related news, 343 Industries invited late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien to their studio; watch the fun unfold after the break. Below, concept art.
November 6, are you here yet?
If you’ve been thinking about upgrading your Xbox 360 controllers or adding an additional one to the mix, I highly recommend you opt for one of these brand spankin’ new chrome models. Microsoft is branding them the Xbox 360 Special Edition Chrome Series Wireless Controllers and they will come in hues of red, silver, and blue when they hit the market mid-May at $54.99 each. The chrome controllers feature the “transforming D-pad” that Microsoft introduced in the matte silver version back in August 2010. Check ‘em out in the gallery below and let the oos and ahhs commence. Heck, even the packaging is drool-worthy.
On Tuesday Microsoft launched three new video apps on Xbox 360: HBO GO, Comcast Xfinity TV, and MLB.tv. All three apps require that you be a subscriber to each of their respective services, obviously. With HBO GO, Xbox owners can now access every episode of every season of HBO’s most popular programming like Game of Thrones and The Sopranos. If you’re a Comcast subscriber, you can now view on-demand content via your console. And MLB.tv gives sports fans yet another way to stream live every out-of-market regular season game in HD with features like split-screen, a mini guide, and a personalized My Teams page. These apps come baked with Kinect integration, meaning you can put the controller down and use gestures and your voice to control the menus and playback. If you’ve got an Xbox 360, turn it on and download these video apps for free today. Game of Thrones returns to HBO for a second season tomorrow night, so this just might be the best way to catch up quick.
In related news, Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi told the LA Times that Xbox owners are spending more time with the “video game” console to watch video and listen to music than play games. “What we’re seeing is that people are turning on the Xbox to play games and then keeping it on afterwards to get other types of entertainment,” he said. With Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, Verizon FIOS and now HBO GO, Xfinity TV, and MLB.tv, the term “video game console” is starting to get blurry as “entertainment hub” starts to come into view, at least in regards to Microsoft’s Xbox brand.
Jump after the break to watch the new video apps in action.
Disney’s masthead Mickey is back in a sequel to the 2010 Wii exclusive Epic Mickey. Video game developer Warren Spector and his Junction Point Studios are hard at work on Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, refining the gameplay and aesthetics of the original. Fans of Epic Mickey will notice two key differences here: one, Mickey will have a trusty sidekick in the the sequel and it’s Oswald!; two, the game will release for Wii as well as the Xbox 360 and PS3, so gamers can now fully explore the grim but vibrant Wasteland in hi-def on the next-gen consoles. It has been confirmed that Epic Mickey 2 will be compatible with PlayStation Move accessories, however there are no plans to make use of Xbox’s Kinect. Check out the epic trailer above!
EM2 is expected to release this fall, and a 3DS companion game called Epic Mickey 2: Power of Illusion is on its way, too. Eye the box art after the break, as well as a video featuring Spector talking about the upcoming game. (Click here for more…)
Star Wars fans and gamers alike have been waiting patiently for Microsoft to stamp an official release date for the movie themed hardware and software bundle. Well, the time has finally come. According to Xbox Live’s Major Nelson, the bundle–which includes an R2-D2-themed Xbox 360 console with custom sounds, a C-3PO-themed golden wireless controller, a white Kinect sensor, a 320GB HDD, a wired headset, and copies of Star Wars Kinect and Kinect Adventures–launches into the marketplace this spring on April 3. It is being valued at $449.99 and can be preordered today at Amazon and Gamestop. Take a gander at the sleek packaging above and mark your calendars appropriately.
[Via Major Nelson]
Gamers, are you ready for dat new New Xbox Experience? Today Microsoft is lifting the veil on the latest dashboard user interface for Xbox 360. And this one’s a doozy. Besides an entirely new “Metro” look to match Windows Phone’s and Windows 8′s skins, the refreshed dashboard introduces expanded voice control with Kinect, Bing voice search, YouTube, enhanced Facebook sharing capabilities, cloud storage, beacons, updated parental controls, and customized applications for televisions, movies, internet videos, sports and music. Starting today, EPIX and TODAY (MSNBC) join Netflix, Hulu Plus, ESPN, and Zune for video offerings in the United States. Later this month, Crackle, iHeartRadio, MSNBC.com, TMZ, UFC, Verizon FiOS TV, VEVO, and Vudo join in on the fun. And in early 2012, CinemaNow, HBO GO, MLB.TV, and Xfinity On Demand will become available to use on Xbox 360s. Soon, Microsoft’s four-year-old console is going to transform into a viable destination for nearly all of your entertainment needs. With all of these options to watch TV and movies and listen to music, playing games will suddenly become a just a part of what Xbox 360 is all about. Add in some refined Kinect voice and motion support and you’ll finally get a taste of what living in the future is really like. This dashboard update is certainly something to be excited about. Get your download on today by simply booting up your Internet-connected 360.
In related news, Microsoft has also outed the Xbox Companion app for Windows Phone users. The free app allows you to search the Xbox catalog for movies, TV shows, music, games, and apps right on your phone and view detailed content information. You can even pair your phone to your console and beam purchased content from one device to the other. Content playing from your 360 can be controlled via your phone (play, pause, rewind, fast-forward), and you can navigate the new dash using your phone’s touchscreen instead of a controller if you so desire. Download the free Companion app today.
Update: Microsoft has decided to share the wealth and offer a similar companion app for iOS users. iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch owners running iOS 4.3 or higher can install My Xbox LIVE. The free app allows you to log into your Xbox LIVE account to read and send messages to friends, manage your friends list, read and edit your full profile, customize your avatar, and view and compare your achievement progress with friends. Sadly, you won’t be able to search the Xbox catelog–this biggie is only available for Windows Phones for obvious reasons. Download the iOS edition at the App Store.
Before the fall dashboard updates arrives to Internet-connected Xbox 360s, Microsoft flipped the switch on updating its Xbox website. The homepage has been revamped to feature content in the “Metro”-style layout that is coming to Xbox and with Windows 8. The “My Xbox” section of the website has been renamed “Social” and this is the new destination where gamers will go to login to their Xbox Live profiles away from the their consoles. The updated Xbox Live portal is organized in four categories. Home gives gamers a quick glimpse at their recent activity, their friends’ recent activity, online friends, messages, Xbox Live events and related news. Friends provides a list of all your Xbox Live friends, online and off. In Messages you can read and send messages to your friends. And in the Activity section you can view your recent activity, out of your friends who recently played the games you did, and you can view all of your played games, achievements, and gamerscore information. Also in this section you can set Beacons, a marker that notifies your friends that you want to play a certain game with them. You can have up to three Beacons active at a time, and you can add custom descriptions. For example, you can set a Beacon for Halo 3 and add a description like “Let’s play from 7-10 PM.” No matter where you navigate in Social, your avatar will follow you, as will links to view your account, redeem codes, add Microsoft Points, view your Download Queue, and visit your profile. In addition to updating the My Xbox section of the site, Xbox Live members can now browse, preview, and download media such as movies and TV shows in a browser and this content will be attached to your Live account; this means that all downloaded media can be viewed on any PC, Xbox 360, and Windows Phone that your Live account is connected to. Check out the new Social portal at Xbox.com right now!
[Via Xbox Forums]
The ESPN app on Xbox Live is getting its first major update since it launched last summer. The dashboard can be customized to feature your favorite sports teams so fans can see a daily feed of news and highlights from those specific teams; the addition of the ESPN BottomLine keeps fans in the know with breaking news and score updates; a Mini Guide can be called up from the bottom of the screen to give fans a preview and quick access to personalized sports content; and Reminders and Live Alerts can be set. Two new features that stand out are Split Screen and Voice Control with Kinect. Fans can watch two events at once (i.e. watch ESPN3.com live events on both screens or a live event on one while catching up on ESPN.com news and highlights on the other) and they can navigate through the Content Guide, skip to the next highlight, or play, pause, and rewind plays through voice control.
Remember that access to ESPN3.com live events is only available to customers of an affiliated service provider; if you’ve got that and you’re an Xbox LIVE Gold Member you’re set! Screenshots below, demo videos and full PR after the break.
According to Xbox LIVE’s Major Nelson, all shiny Xbox 360 consoles are being phased out. Here’s the news straight from the horse’s mouth:
We are actively transitioning all our Xbox 360 S consoles to a matte finish. The consoles will start to arrive in stores over the coming weeks, so if you really love the idea of a glossy console don’t wait much longer.
And there you have it. ‘Tis a sad day for fans of the glossy sheen. Major Nelson goes on to assure gamers, however, that future Limited Edition consoles such as the upcoming Gears of War 3-themed console might just bring back the glossy look from time to time. But if you’re in the market for a standard shiny black Xbox 360, today’s the day to order up.
Let’s start with the coolest bit of news straight from Redmond. Microsoft is pushing out a Star Wars-themed Xbox 360 bundle to celebrate to release of Star Wars Kinect. The Xbox 360 Limited Edition Kinect Star Wars bundle includes an R2-D2-themed Xbox 360 console with custom sounds, a C-3PO-themed golden wireless controller, a white Kinect sensor, a 320GB HDD, a wired headset, and copies of Star Wars Kinect and Kinect Adventures. The bundle’s price: $449.99. It’s available for preorder today, comes out this fall.
Next up is the Xbox 360 Wireless Headset with Bluetooth. The sleek new headset connects to the Xbox through the console’s standard radio frequencies, and since it packs Bluetooth functionality it can double as a regular old BT headset and pair with your mobile phone and computer. The communication device goes on sale early November 2011 and will cost $59.99. Jump after the break to watch Major Nelson give a quick tour of the packaging.
Also announced was the Xbox 360 Media Remote. Media playback controls include play/pause, skip forward, fast forward, skip back, fast back, and display to control DVD, CD, or streamed media. The TV controls include power on/off, volume up/down, mute and TV input. The Xbox 360 Media Remote’s menu navigation controls include A, B, X, Y buttons, D-pad navigation, back and select. Live TV, if provided on the Xbox 360 by your TV service provider, can also be controlled with the remote. It’ll cost $19.99 when it comes out alongside the wireless headset this November.
And last, but certainly not least, is Avatar Kinect. Explains Microsoft: “Avatar Kinect is a new social entertainment experience that brings your avatar to life. Avatar Kinect captures your facial expressions and voice so when you smile, nod or speak, your avatar does the same. Invite up to seven friends to join you in 24 imaginative virtual stages – discuss the latest celebrity gossip or news on the Talk Show Stage, try out your hysterical comedy routine on the Performance Stage, or wager who will win the big game in the Sports Party Stage.” The experience gets even more social as the Kinect sensor can record your sessions and you can upload them to KinectShare.com, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. After the break you’ll find a short video demonstrating the software’s abilities.
Also out is Kinect Sparkler, a fun Kinectified app that “transforms simple finger painting into an aerial light show” using advanced finger tracking. Kinect Avatar and Kinect Sparkler are out now; the former is free to all Xbox LIVE Gold members (it is unlocked for all Xbox LIVE members (Free or Gold) to enjoy from 7/25 to 9/8) and the latter costs 240 Microsoft Points. Both can be found in Kinect Fun Labs section in Xbox LIVE.