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Microsoft unveils Xbox One console

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[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TP_E6Bn6fWM]Xbox One Unveil Video - YouTube[/ame]


Microsoft unveils Xbox One console


Microsoft has unveiled the Xbox One which will go on sale later this year. The next-generation console was shown off alongside a new Kinect sensor and a redesigned gamepad.


The US firm described the voice and gesture-controlled machine as an "all-in-one" system offering games, live TV, movies and music. The firm's Entertainment and Devices Division accounted for $9.6bn (£6.3bn) worth of sales in Microsoft's last financial year.


That only represented about 13% of its total revenue for the period - but one analyst said the importance of this launch should not be underestimated. "Microsoft is very strong in business software and the enterprise cloud business, but its consumer businesses are facing tremendous challenges: PCs are declining rapidly and Windows Phone handsets have only a fraction of the market shares of rivals," said Jia Wu from consultants Strategy Analytics.


"Xbox represents Microsoft's core strategy in the consumer entertainment market, especially after it sold its Mediaroom video distribution business to Ericsson earlier this year. This is also the unique asset which Microsoft has that can differentiate itself from Apple, Google and several of the other large tech companies."


Microsoft's decision to show off its new hardware in the opening minutes of its presentation sharply contrasted with Sony's PlayStation 4 press conference in February when the Japanese company decided not to reveal the look of its machine - a move that was mocked by some commentators.


Despite earlier speculation, Microsoft's machine does not require an always-on internet connection and will run second-hand games - the firm told the BBC it would provide more details about this "in the coming weeks".


The Xbox One sees Microsoft add a Blu-ray drive and Skype functionality to its console, incorporate vibrating feedback into its gamepad's triggers, and upgrade the Kinect camera's sensor to 1080p high definition resolution. It said the new Kinect would be better at analysing body movements, allowing users to more accurately control games characters and navigate other entertainment options.


"When you're exercising, it can read your heartbeat," claimed the firm. New tools will also allow users to record and edit gameplay so clips can be easily uploaded to the web.


EA Sports was first to announce new titles for the machine revealing Fifa 14, Madden NFL 25, NBA Live 14 and the fighting game UFC would all launch on the platform within the next 12 months using a new games engine called Ignite. It said the new machine allowed it to carry out four times as many calculations a second as the Xbox 360 and 10 times more "animation depth and detail".


Microsoft Studios also revealed that Forza Motorsports 5 - the latest in its own racing car franchise - would be available when the console launched. The division added that it planned to release 15 games within the console's first year, eight of which would be new franchises.


Activision also provided a first look at the next title in its Call of Duty series - Ghosts. It will use a new games engine to take advantage of the Xbox One's improved graphics capabilities, offering more detailed textures for human skin and other features. The title will also be released on rival platforms.


French publisher Ubisoft was not part of the launch, but took the opportunity to announce that two games in development - Watch Dogs and Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag - would be available for the Xbox One before the end of 2013.


The company's chief executive, Yves Guillemot, said he was excited by the opportunities offered by the machine's improved specifications. "We believe it will reinvigorate the industry," he told the BBC. "There's a huge step up in graphics and there's a big step up in terms of memory as well.


"It will take time to take full advantage of the machines because we'll have to learn how to best optimise the technology - but even from the beginning you will see a huge difference between a game on the two different generations."


Much of the presentation was dedicated to the console's non-gaming features including its ability to make video calls; trigger live TV and online movies by voice command; and run several progams simultaneously without any apparent drop-off in performance. Time was also given to promote an upcoming live-action television series based on Microsoft's Halo games franchise which movie director Steven Spielberg is working on. The firm said tie-in interactive content would be offered exclusively to the Xbox One.


"Where Nintendo's approach to next-gen gaming seems to ignore the need to share time with television and other forms of entertainment, and Sony's approach seems willing to share the space, Microsoft's vision is to so blur the line between different forms of entertainment that switching from game to television or movie watching will be as simply as flipping between television channels," said Brian Crecente, news editor at games site Polygon.


"More importantly, it is lining up to make its system the one through which all entertainment happens. If it manages to pull it off, the Xbox One could become the one jumping off point for all forms of entertainment."


News of a five-year deal with the US's National Football League - which will allow sports fans to call up statistics, video replays and information about what live events mean for their fantasy teams - may also appeal to Microsoft's domestic audience.


However, it did not discuss whether it was pursuing similar tie-ups for consumers overseas. Microsoft is planning to launch its new console at a time when many video games makers are trying to reduce costs. Electronic Arts, Square Enix and Activision Blizzard are among firms which have announced layoffs over the past couple of months.


But the updated machines may put the companies under fresh strain. Games engine developer Epic has warned that if studios want to take full advantage of the advances in graphics power that will be available, then their design costs could be double what they were when the Xbox 360 and PS3 launched.


"The additional rendering capabilities of these consoles will demand larger budgets for the marquee high-end games," said Lewis Ward, video games analyst at tech research firm IDC. "That creates a risky proposition for developers. But the costs are going to be mitigated to an extent - studios have said it will be easier to make games on next-gen platforms because they're going to be closer to the development environments that are common on the PC side."


Mr Ward was referring to the fact that Microsoft has decided to power its machine with an eight-core x86-based CPU (central processing unit) made by AMD rather than continue with IBM's PowerPC technology. The move means its console will run off a chip that is similar to those found in most PCs.


[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCTrpSFksqU]New Xbox One -- Design: Exclusive WIRED Video - YouTube[/ame]



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I've watched the whole unveiling, but it wasn't really special. They didn't showed any gameplay footage, so I can't say if the XboX One is better than the Playstation 4. I just wait till they're on sale and I can test them!

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Xbox One pre-owned games may require fee payment



The Xbox One, unveiled on Tuesday, will go on sale before the end of the year


Xbox One pre-owned games may require fee payment


Microsoft faces a backlash from some gamers after it emerged the company may charge a fee to play pre-owned games on its new Xbox One console.


It would also mean borrowing a game from a friend will require a payment to play, possibly the full price. Microsoft has said gamers will be able to trade their used games online - but refused to give more details. Microsoft's director of programming, Larry Hryb, admitted there had been some "confusion" around the policy.


An official Xbox support account on Twitter had initially told fans that no fee would be needed for used games, but a later comment from Mr Hryb sought to clarify the situation. He wrote on his blog: "While there have been many potential scenarios discussed, today we have only confirmed that we designed Xbox One to enable our customers to trade in and resell games at retail. "Beyond that, we have not confirmed any specific scenarios."


He added that gamers could bring their games to a friends' house to play without paying a fee - but only if the game's owner is signed in to the Xbox Live account with which it is registered. If the player wanted to lend the game to that friend, a fee would be required in order to play the title on a different Xbox Live profile.


The company advises against the sharing of Xbox Live account details with other people, and only one gamer can be signed in on a single profile at any one time. Speaking to games news website Kotaku, Microsoft's corporate vice president, Phil Harrison, said the company would soon announce further plans for pre-owned games.


"We will have a solution - we're not talking about it today - for you to be able to trade your previously played games online," he said. The move will mean Microsoft is able to gain control of what is a massively profitable market in pre-owned games across the world.


Possible models for Microsoft could include allowing gamers to relinquish their ownership of a game in order to receive discounts on new titles bought through the Xbox Live store. This may prove popular with sports games that have yearly updates, with fans often trading in the old version to get money off the latest edition - a process that traditionally required a physical retailer that would pocket any profits on re-sales.


"This is mainly a question of control," said Ed Barton, director of digital media at research firm Strategy Analytics. "The margin on second-hand games is enormous, and the games industry has always been a little bit annoyed that it's a few retailers that dominate the market for games."


The move could have a damaging effect on shops who rely on pre-owned sales not only to turn profit in their own right, but to also spur sales of new titles. "The retailers could quite fairly say that around 70% of the value of pre-owned games is subsequently spent on new games," Mr Barton added. "There's a fair point that the trade-in business is pretty significant in driving new games sales. It remains to be seen whether that process will still continue."


One research company said UK retailers would likely take a hit if pre-owned sales drop. "Pre-owned games made up 15% of High Street game sales in the past 24 weeks, and if they are totally blocked from the Xbox One we are likely to see High Street game sales revenue drop by 4% in the long term," said Fiona Keenan from Kantar Worldpanel. "Relatively cheap pre-owned games have helped High Street stores retain customers where they might have otherwise shifted their spending online."


Sony, which will show off the PlayStation 4 at next month's E3 event in Los Angeles, has remained fairly tight-lipped on their plans for dealing with pre-owned games. Its worldwide studios president, Shuhei Yoshida, told news site Eurogamer used games would not be "blocked" on the console, but would not specify whether there would be a fee for using pre-owned titles.


Mr Barton said Sony could use the situation to gain a considerable competitive advantage over its rival. "If Sony doesn't follow suit, I think for a reasonable proportion of the gaming market, this will be a big plus for the PlayStation console."


Also keeping a close eye on the pre-owned debate will be games developers and publishers, who may be able to boost their earnings through Microsoft's plans. But Richard Wilson, chief executive of UK games industry trade association Tiga, said that the debate was almost irrelevant. He argued that eventually all games sales will be purely digital, rather than bought via physical media. "So many consumers are playing digitally, the question of lending a game to your mate is not really an issue," he told the BBC. "More important for many developers are what Microsoft's plans are for independent developers, at E3."


E3, the largest trade event in the video games calendar, takes place in Los Angeles next month.



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I've been a loyal Xbox fan for about 3 years but now if I'm going to buy a next gen console I think it'll have to be the PS4.

Props to Microsoft though, they actually made the Wii U look like a slightly more appealing console.

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Microsoft U-turn in Xbox One games row



Gamers had reacted angrily to Microsoft's policies


Microsoft U-turn in Xbox One games row


Microsoft has made a dramatic U-turn over its decision to impose restrictions on pre-owned titles on its new Xbox One console.


The company had said it would restrict the free trade of pre-owned games, and that an internet connection was required to play all titles. But following gamers' anger, Microsoft said it would drop the policies.


Microsoft interactive president Don Mattrick said the company had "heard loud and clear" from its customers. "You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc," Mr Mattrick said in a statement posted online.


"The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world."


The statement, which was for some time inaccessible due to heavy traffic, went on to backtrack fully on the controversial aspects of their DRM - digital rights management - plans:


"An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games - after a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24-hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360. Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today - there will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360."



The rules apply to games bought as physical discs only, and do not affect games downloaded via the online Xbox store. "While we believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content," Mr Mattrick said. "We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds."


However, there will be something of a trade-off for gamers. Microsoft had planned to allow customers to "trade" downloaded games online in exchange for money off new titles. The change of stance means that gamers will no longer be able to do this - something gamers may regret in the future, one analyst suggested.


"It could be a case of 'you asked for too much, and you got what you asked for'," said Brian Blau from Gartner. "But I think it's a good thing if Microsoft are listening to their potential customers and responding to them. The fact they have this technology means they can always bring it back at a future point in time."


Questions over the handling of pre-owned games was an unexpected talking point at last week's E3 conference - the largest games industry event in the calendar.


Sony took the opportunity during its press conference to make a direct attack on Microsoft's policy. "PS4 will not impose any new restrictions on your use of PS4 game discs," said Jack Tretton, boss of Sony Computer Entertainment America, drawing cheers from some attendees.


For Microsoft, it means a second high-profile U-turn in short succession. Last month, it told Windows 8 users that it would be bringing back the iconic "Start" button to its operating system, having previously dropped it from its redesign.



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Wow, this was a pretty unexpected turn of events. Congratulations to Microsoft to actually listening to their fans for once! (although they probably only did it because of the lack of Xbox One pre-orders :rolleyes:)

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Eh. They had the chance to defend their policies but they simply had no positive answers to support Xbox One for the questions. I think some of the features were fairly nifty but a bit ahead of it's time in terms of the support for it.

Now people are going on about how Microsoft don't have creative integrity and just want $$$ though

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