Xbox One to Ship With Faster CPU (GeekWire.com)

Not exactly a shocker here, but Xbox’s CMO announced that the Xbox Ones in full production are going to ship with faster processors. Any publicity is good publicity, right? Feels a bit cheesy and gimmicky that they’re doing this. After all, every game for the Xbox One was developed using the original ~10% less powerful CPU.

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Xbox One now in full production with improved CPU performance

xboxSo far, so good for the Xbox One.

Xbox chief marketing officer Yusef Mehdi just spoke at the Citi Global Technology Conference and said Microsoft is now in full production for the Xbox One and producing in mass with plans still on for a November 2013 launch.

About one month after improving the GPU clock speed, Mehdi added that Microsoft just made another technical boost by upgrading the CPU performance to 1.75 GHZ from 1.6 GHZ.

Mehdi wouldn’t reveal a launch date — the PlayStation 4 comes out Nov. 15 — but did say that the system is “really going to shine.”

“This will be the biggest launch we’ve ever done by a wide margin in terms of units shipped at launch,” Mehdi said.

Mehdi also had some interesting insights on the Xbox One policy reversals, the $499 price point and how the Xbox business will change with Microsoft’s big re-organization. Stay tuned for more.

Gamescom 2013: Live Streams and Product Announcements

Much like with other gamer and tech conferences around the world, Gamescom has tens of thousands of participants, all clamoring to play test their favorite upcoming games, see new tech, and be clued in on the latest product announcements from companies such as Microsoft, EA, and Sony.

Here are a few of of the livestream sites available to participate (in a long distance kinda way) in Cologne, Germany’s gamer fest, along with VG 24/7’s laundry list of what’s what and who’s who for Gamescom 2013.

Sony’s PS4 @ Gamescom

Engadget’s Coverage

IGN’s EA and Sony Coverage

EA’s Live Coverage

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It’s that time of year again, when the gaming press descends on Cologne to check out the biggest games the industry has to offer and ruin their colons with meat. Pat, Sam and I will be there all of next week to play the games, attend the showcases and speak with the developers.

To re-cap everything that we’ll be seeing at the show, I’ve compiled this handy guide to make sure you don’t miss a conference or title. (Note: we will be hosting Sony and EA’s streams in separate pages on the big day, so be sure to check back Tuesday!)

First up…

The conferences:

EA: Tuesday, August 20 – 3pm UK / 4pm Europe / 7am Pacific

We know that EA is bringing at least Titanfall, Battlefield 4, Need for Speed: The Rivals, FIFA 14 and Command & Conquer to gamescom following the publisher’s blog on the matter.

The publisher has made a bit of noise about The Sims 4, which it said will be revealed in full at gamescom, and our money is on an appearance during the EA conference itself.

We’re also expecting to hear more about Dragon Age: Inquisition at the show following its big reveal in this month’s issue of Game Informer, but we’ll find out at the show.

Sony: Tuesday, August 20 – 6pm UK / 7pm Europe / 10am Pacific

Sony has already confirmed that its gamescom event will focus on PS4, and we’re hoping to hear a solid release date for the console during the show. UPDATE: Looks like that will happen, yes.

There’s also the little matter of this rumoured PS4 and PS Vita bundle that may or may not make an appearance. Steph and I recently called round some retailers to ask if it was a real bundle and they had no clue what we were talking about, so it seems unlikely.

It seems likely that games like Killzone: Shadow Fall, inFamous: Second Son, Driveclub, The Order: 1886 will be there in some form although we can’t say for certain yet. We’re still waiting for that LittleBigPlanet 3 announcement too.

Who and what?

Microsoft: Xbox One will be the company’s big focus at gamescom and if rumours are to be believed Microsoft’s presence will yield at least one new game announcement. Gamers seem to think it’s either Crackdown 3 or Fable 4. Truth be told we have no idea yet.

Crackdown’s agility orb logo was spotted during Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal back in May and Phil Spencer has been harping on about it a lot lately. Could this be the elusive, mystery game?

Microsoft’s stance on self-publishing was also pegged for discussion during gamescom before details on the reversal were leaked ahead of time. Microsoft’s Marc Whitten confirmed that the company would issue more details on the policy in Cologne.

Were also hoping to hear more on the Xbox One release dates, which may or may not go down at some point during gamescom. With the console out before year’s end and a TGS announcement unlikely, this is the best place for Microsoft to drop a date on us.

Game-wise we’re hoping for Dead Rising 3, Kinect Sports: Rivals, Project Spark, Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome, Killer Instinct and more, but we’ll have to wait for the gamescom’s doors to open to find out more.

Nintendo: The Japanese giant makes its return to gamescom this year with a suite of Wii U and 3DS titles on the public show floor. On Wii U Nintendo will bring, “Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, Sonic Lost World, Wii Party U, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3D World, Wii Karaoke U, Mario Kart 8.

On 3DS Nintendo will be giving fans a chance to play Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. It’s a strong showing from the company which is something of a bounce-back after last year’s no-show.

Ubisoft: While the company isn’t holding its usual conference at gamescom this year, it is promising to bring a new next-gen IP to the show. Current rumours suggest it’s Child of Light by Ubisoft Montreal. There’s also these Fighter Within domain registrations to consider.

Seeing as the publisher isn’t holding its own pre-show event, you can expect this reveal to go down at Sony’s conference. We’re none the wiser on what it is, although we can also expect showings from Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag and The Crew.

Square Enix: Final Fantasy is a big focus for Square this year. The company recently spilled details of its Gamescom 2013 showing, which will give the public plenty of hands-on and demo sessions to look forward to.

We know that Thief, Murdered: Soul Suspect, Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn, Final Fantasy X & X-2 HD Remaster, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX and Deus Ex: The Fall will be there. There’s no word on Final Fantasy 15 however.

Activison: Blizzard has confirmed it will announce something to do with Diablo 3 at the show, which we’re going to guess will be news on the first expansion or something about the PS4 build.

We’re also expecting to hear more about Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer following its big August 14 reveal and of course we’re hoping to get another glimpse of Destiny on the show floor.

Konami: Sorry Metal Gear Solid 5 fans, only Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 and PES 2014 are playable at this year’s gamescom, but that’s still something to get excited for.

Bethesda: The company has confirmed that The Elder Scrolls Online will be playable at gamescom and we wouldn’t be overly-surprised if Wolfenstein: The New Order and The Evil Within were to rear their heads at some point too.

Deep Silver: The publisher will bring it’s newly-announced MOBA Dead Island: Epidemic to Cologne, and Wasteland 2 developer inXile has confirmed it will bring the game to the show floor.

Other games we’re hoping will be at the show, but haven’t been confirmed at the time of writing:

  • Batman: Arkham Origins
  • Eve Online
  • Dark Souls 2
  • Dust 514
  • Half-Life 3 (totes jokes yo)
  • Hawken
  • Hotline Miami 2
  • Payday 2
  • Mad Max
  • Space Hulk
  • Star Citizen
  • War of the Vikings
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • World of Tanks Xbox 360
  • WWE 14

No-shows:

  • Capcom

Microsoft Backpeddles On Kinect Requirement for Xbox 360 (Kotaku.com)

Is it just me, or has Microsoft back-peddled on just about everything that made it unique from the PS4 launch? DRM was in, then out. Mandatory logging-in and gaming online at least once every 24 hours. That’s now gone. The Kinect is always on, always listening. But…you can turn it off because you thought that was creepy. And now? The Kinect is mandatory for every Xbox One to work. Except for now you can turn it off completely and it doesn’t impact any Xbox One functions. Le. Sigh.

Did Microsoft really get all of this so wrong at the start or did the “backlash” on the interwebs really scare them into changing their ways?

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Kinect No Longer Mandatory For Xbox One (But Will Still Come With It)

Another backflip? Back in May, Microsoft said that you’ll need have the motion-sensing Kinect plugged in at all times in order for your Xbox One to function, but now they’re reversing course once again.

“That said, like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in, although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor,” he said.

Asked just how “off” the Kinect can be, Whitten answered totally off.

“You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings. When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information. Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won’t work. We still support using it for IR blasting in this mode. You can turn the sensor back on at any time through settings, and if you enter into a required Kinect experience (like Kinect Sports Rivals for instance), you’ll get a message asking if you want to turn the sensor back on in order to continue.”

This is yet another entry to add to the list of stunning reversals in Xbox One policy made by Microsoft over the past few months. In June, Microsoft switched course on Xbox DRM, and they’ve flipped on all sorts of other policies since then.

UPDATE: And here’s Microsoft senior exec Albert Penello, posting on NeoGAF about the flip. (Bolded emphasis mine)

We still believe in Kinect. We aren’t interested in splitting the development base. The more demos I’ve seen, the more I’ve used it – the more impressed I am. The team feels strongly about Kinect, and I hope we’re able to prove that when you use it.

We also have a ton of privacy settings to allow people to turn off the camera, or microphones, or put it in a state just for “Xbox On” and IR blasting – there will be a lot of user control for that.

The thing we all understood, and hence this change, is that there are some scenarios where people just may not be comfortable. We wanted people to be 100% comfortable, so we allow the sensor to be unplugged. And clearly the “it dropped” scenario is possible.

The most obvious thing is watching a DVD/BD, or streaming a movie, or HDMI pass-through, your experience isn’t impacted (except you miss voice and IR blasting)

There is no “gotcha”, but obviously, if there is a game that REQUIRES Kinect (like Rivals), or something where Kinect IS the experience (like Skype), those won’t work.

That said, for people who have privacy concerns there are user control settings, which we believe are great.

Xbox One’s Kinect Used in Many Ways (Xbox.com)

Xbox Ones’ new Kinect is 10x more powerful than its predecessor. That’s a pretty extraordinary leap in less than three years. The Xbox news blog post goes on to outline some of the features the MS Cloud will offer along with some possibilities of a second screen.

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How Game Creators are Using the Power of Xbox One

Xbox One will usher in a new generation of games, and at Comic-Con International: San Diego, developers from some of the most celebrated gaming studios in the world gathered to show fans how they’re doing just that. Featuring talent from Rare, Ltd., Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft Studios and Capcom Vancouver, the panel focused on how teams are leveraging the unique abilities of the console to create experiences that enhance and evolve the way games are played.

Advanced Graphical Fidelity

A new generation console means new generation graphics fueled by faster, more powerful hardware.

Josh Bridge, Executive Producer on “Dead Rising 3,” used their vision of a nightmarish zombie apocalypse to demonstrate the level of visual fidelity that the Xbox One allows them to achieve. Zombies can be dismembered with anatomically gruesome realism. Each shard of broken glass is governed by its own set of physics and will react differently depending on how you smash through a window. The vast sandbox world of Los Perdidos is larger than “Dead Rising” and “Dead Rising 2” combined, and is populated with detailed buildings that can be fully explored.

And of course, “Dead Rising 3” is capable of supporting hordes of zombies on screen at a single time – a far cry from the handful that pushed the Xbox 360 to its limits last generation.

“One of the big things we wanted to do with the Xbox One’s increased horsepower was to push the reality of the world and make it more believable and tense,” said Bridge. “Zombies are the enemy this time, so why not make it look good?”

A More Powerful Kinect

According to Nick Burton, New Technology Development Lead at Rare, Ltd. working on “Kinect Sports Rivals,” Xbox One’s Kinect sensor has ten times the power of its predecessor. It can register a fingertip from three meters away, a feat that was impossible last generation, and its wider field of tracking means it can register more players and at closer distances.

“Kinect Sports Rivals” is using Kinect’s advanced technology to provide a new layer of precision and depth of mastery. No longer will vague gestures be enough to secure victory – every subtle movement is registered in-game and impacts performance. How hard you twist your wrist while revving the throttle of a jet ski affects its acceleration and your exact hand placement can mean the difference between success and failure in rock climbing.

Rare is also developing brand-new gameplay features, like “Kinect Sports Rivals’” Champions. If you stand or sit in front of the new Kinect sensor, it can capture your facial structure, hair, skin color, body composition and even expression, and build a remarkably accurate virtual athlete – your Champion – in seconds.

The new Kinect can also make basic gaming tasks more convenient. For instance, Ken Lobb, Creative Director at Microsoft Studios and one of the founders of the original “Killer Instinct,” explained how Kinect’s ability to identify players makes switching profiles and preferences on Xbox One seamless.

In fighting games, players like to map their buttons all over the controller, Lobb explained. So when playing “Killer Instinct,” once you make a profile and set your preferred button configuration, Kinect will instantly recognize when you’re holding the controller and map the buttons accordingly, even if it’s in the middle of a match.

“It seems kind of simple,” said Lobb, “but its super awesome once you see it in play.”

Gameplay Enhanced by the Cloud

The future of online gaming on Xbox One will be better than ever. As Xbox’s Major Nelson previously shared, matchmaking will be faster and smarter, factoring in numerous variables, such as player reputation, spoken language and skill, to ensure you’re consistently paired with players who fit your preferred style of play.  If you’re tearing up the competition in “Killer Instinct,” you’ll be pitted against only the best. If you enjoy racing against aggressive players in “Forza Motorsport 5,” future matches will be tailored accordingly.

However, being connected to the Internet on Xbox One is not just about playing with other gamers anymore. In “Forza Motorsport 5” Turn 10 Studios will use the Internet to aggregate race data from players all around the world to breed a new type of opponent that consistently learns and evolves – Drivatar.

“It [Drivatar] watches the way you play and the cloud [Xbox Live] takes all this data and data from the entire community and builds an opponent with no set or finite number of variables,” said Dan Greenawalt, Creative Director on “Forza Motorsport 5.” “It creates variables based on what it saw the community do and trains your Drivatar to drive just the way you do.”

Sharing your favorite gaming moments with friends is an experience that Xbox One is bringing to life with Game DVR and Upload Studio. Whether you’re online or off, your Xbox One can record your most epic gameplay moments, so when you nail that game-winning headshot you’ll automatically have that footage available to edit into a highlight reel.

At EVO 2013, one fan went undefeated for hours in “Killer Instinct” until at long last the best player on the “Killer Instinct” development team was able to defeat them. Using Game DVR, they were able to record the best parts of the highly competitive set of three matches. With Upload Studio, they were able to quickly turn it into a stylized video clip that could be shown off locally, like during a panel at Comic-Con, or broadcast through Xbox Live for the world to see.

If you want to share gameplay footage immediately without editing it, Xbox One also supports that. Simply say “Xbox record” at any time and the console will record what happens next for you to send to your friends or upload to the Internet.

The Possibilities with an Enhanced Second Screen

In “Dead Rising 3,” the Xbox SmartGlass Companion is integrated in both the gameplay and fiction. Nick Ramos, the game’s lead character, will discover a transmitter that will allow an in-game character to actually call you on your real-life mobile device with information, advice and even unique missions. Alternately, you can also use SmartGlass to set waypoints, view maps and call in military aid, like weapon drops and deadly airstrikes.

“You don’t have to use it, but it adds a lot,” said Josh Bridge. For example, the team found that Xbox SmartGlass opens up the possibility of two-screen couch co-op. While playing “Dead Rising 3” in the Capcom Vancouver office, Bridge’s colleagues would often pick up his mobile device and assist him with navigating through the city or finding new weapons.

“Ryse: Son of Rome” showcased a different way to use Xbox SmartGlass. Microsoft Studios and Crytek are creating an Xbox SmartGlass Companion that mirrors the game’s user interface and lets players manage every aspect of their “Ryse: Son of Rome” experience on their mobile device.  Whether it’s comparing stats or watching Achievement guides, customizing your multiplayer character, or reading the latest community updates, everything is accessible through your mobile device by tapping into Xbox SmartGlass.

Justin Robey, Producer on “Ryse: Son of Rome,” also revealed that multiplayer games in “Ryse: Son of Rome” can be set up using Xbox SmartGlass, even while playing a different title. If you’re playing “Dead Rising 3,” you can use Xbox SmartGlass to begin matchmaking in “Ryse: Son of Rome,” so your multiplayer session will be ready and waiting without ever having to take a break from the action.

From powerful hardware that can bring worlds to life, to the gameplay enhancing possibilities of Xbox SmartGlass, the features discussed at Comic-Con and more are available to all developers working on Xbox One titles. They are fundamental parts of the Xbox One tool box, and as games like “Ryse: Son of Rome,” “Forza Motorsport 5,” “Dead Rising 3,” “Killer Instinct” and others have shown, developers are already taking advantage of these opportunities to create gaming experiences unlike anything seen before.

Xbox One launches this November.  A release date, said Major Nelson, will be revealed later this summer.

IGN’s Best of E3 2013 Awards

IGN has not only provided their list of game winners in 25 categories for E3 2013, but also provided a number of runners-up and then listed every single game that was in contention for the award. Needless to say, it’s a VERY long list (covers five pages on their site). I’ve truncated that substantially and posted only the winners so this version of the article doesn’t require scrolling for 10 minutes to reach the end. You can head over here for the original, much more expanded list of nominees and such.

(By the way, IGN’s list is quite different from what TenTonHammer put together for their list of winners. I think you’d be surprised at the differences.)

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The most important gaming event of the year is now. Who won it?

WINNER: TitanFall Of all the games on display at E3, none said “next-gen” as loudly and clearly as Titanfall. Respawn Entertainment’s debut demo showcased the chaotic possibility of what players can do, rather than simply teasing the potential of what it may be. It’s beautiful, creative, and could upend the shooter landscape. For that, it’s IGN’s best-in-show.

WINNER: TitanFall Titanfall is the Xbox One’s killer app, at this point. Its use of cloud processing allows for competitive multiplayer that features the spectacular style of a single-player campaign, fills the world with A.I. ripe to mine for XP, and more ways to get through a multiplayer match than almost anything we’ve seen — especially on a console.

WINNER: Infamous: Second Son Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack are undeniably fun to play, but it’s Infamous: Second Son that truly stood out among the PS4-exclusive pack. The promise of Second Son – being a superhero in an open-world sandbox – is much like the first two Infamous games, but its new protagonist, Delsin Rowe, really promises to be a game changer (pardon the pun). The game also looks beautiful and totes motion-captured cutscenes, a first for Sony-owned Sucker Punch, and something that will allow them to elevate their storytelling.

WINNER: Super Smash Bros. Wii U Despite the hilarity of Super Mario 3D World or the depth and strategy of Pikmin 3,Super Smash Bros. for Wii U immediately stole our hearts once Masahiro Sakurai did a live, on-stage battle between Mega Man and Mario. We couldn’t technically play the game ourselves, but seeing that fight made us realize that nothing between now and that murky 2014 release date truly mattered. We’ll put on our Mario Cat Suits. We’ll help Donkey Kong fight Vikings. We’ll race with our hovering karts. But thanks to some brilliant trailers and new information, we just want to see how the Wii Fit Trainer will keep up with Link, or the Animal Crossing Villager will manage to KO Samus Aran.

WINNER: TitanFall PC gamers who grew up playing Starsiege Tribes and MechWarrior will find a lot to love about Respawn’s new multiplayer shooter. But it’s not just all nostalgia. The fresh design and fantastic next-gen graphics are sure to earn this game a spot on your hard drive. Just watching one of those giant Titans scoop up a tiny human pilot is enough to get us excited.

WINNER: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds At a glance, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a carbon copy of A Link to the Past, albeit with a more 3D visual treatment. Yet things are not as simple as they seem, and while the overworld of this sequel seems to be a carbon copy of its predecessor, the simple addition of the hieroglyph ability is enough to flip the proverbial ‘Zelda table.’ Suddenly off-limit areas are accessible, and barred windows might as well be open doorways. Though not as evident in the open fields of Hyrule, just five minutes in a dungeon reveals the potential of this new Zelda game. It’s that kind of brilliant mechanic, combined with classic, top-down Zelda gameplay, that has us craving for more.

WINNER: Killzone: Mercenary PlayStation Vita gamers are desperate for a competent first-person shooter, and by the look of it, they’re about to get what they want when Killzone: Mercenary launches in a few months. Mercenary’s three modes – Campaign, Contracts and Online – all gel with one another to create a compelling ecosystem worth exploring, and since a Sony-controlled studio is making the game, chances are this game will understand Vita’s capabilities and limitations better than others.

WINNER: Batman: Arkham Origins This prequel is built upon the foundation Rocksteady laid down in Batman: Arkham City, but the way its enhancements tantalized us at E3 proves we’re not nearly sick of Batman’s open-world crimefighting adventures yet. New more difficult enemy types, random street crimes that you can choose to intervene in, and an intriguing new detective system that allows you to reconstruct events to identify the perpetrator all make Arkham Origins stand apart.

WINNER: Rain Rain is a gorgeous example of what makes the PSN ecosystem so special. Told in a storybook format, Rain is a charming adventure game that stars an invisible boy wandering through a rain-filled city while searching for a mysterious girl. He can only be seen as he steps into the rain, and this mechanic creates brilliant puzzles that grow progressively more complicated as he progresses. Rain is a creative, truly unique work of art and a beautiful way for Sony to say goodbye to this generation.

WINNER: Deus Ex: The Fall Deus Ex: The Fall is the real deal, and it feels great. It offers all the same dirty futuristic open-world exploration found in Human Revolution, now in the palm of your hand. The Fall is compromise-free and demands your attention. Get ready to read more fake office emails, but now on your real tablet.

WINNER: Watch Dogs GTA5 is going to be tough to beat this year, but seeing Watch Dogs’ high-speed chases through its extremely detailed open-world version of Chicago reminded us of what its next-gen edge can deliver. Aiden Pearce has some good moves on foot, too – and not just his ability to hack people’s cell phones and find their porn stash. The E3 demo showed him use bullet-time gunplay and deliver some brutal baton beatings that show some tricks Ubisoft picked up making Assassin’s Creed games.

WINNER: TitanFall At an E3 where most other shooters played it safe, Titanfall took a risk to say “We know you want more from your shooters, so here’s something familiar enough that you know how to play it, but different enough to throw you off your game.” This isn’t just Call of Duty with robots. The Titans are not a gimmick. Jetpacks, wall-running, sci-fi weaponry, and robots to pilot give you plenty of new ways to play a fast-paced online action game.

WINNER: Super Smash Bros. Smash Bros. trailers are always spectacular events for Nintendo fans and gamers in general as they manage to feel both familiar and packed with surprises. But nobody could have guessed the rush (no pun intended) of nostalgic joy that hit the moment Mega Man took to the screen to knock around his opponents with vintage boss weapons and signature moves. We can’t wait to see which characters show up next in this fantastic looking fighting game.

WINNER: The Division The most stunningly detailed recreation of New York City you’ve ever seen is the backdrop for an always-connected action-RPG where survival meets open-world freedom. We were blown away by the interweaving of action, role-playing, and massively multiplayer systems and can’t wait to see what other mysteries lurk in the post-pandemic Big Apple.

WINNER: EVE-VR on Oculus Rift Developer CCP Games made it very clear before we donned our Oculus Rift prototype headset that the “game” we were about to play would never be released. It’s a tech demo. But holy &^#$ what a tech demo it was. Space dogfighting with headtracking and immersion like you’ve never experienced. You look down and you can see your own body. But it’s not your body! WHAAAAAAAAAAAT!

WINNER: New HD Oculus Rift The aforementioned EVE-VR demo for Oculus Rift is on the current version of the virtual reality headset. And as life-changing an experience as it was, it was a tad blurry because the screens were “only” 720p. But elsewhere at E3, a 1080p version of the device lurked. And it could change everything. Wow.

WINNER: Sony slams Microsoft over used games and always online

The PlayStation faithful had gotten used to, in recent years, a sort of blundering approach to Sony’s communication. For all of the amazing studios making great games for PlayStation platforms, Sony always managed to trip over itself. 2013 – and the roll-out of PlayStation 4 – has been very, very different. It all came to a head when Sony fired salvo after salvo at Microsoft during its press conference, impressing the gaming world and forcing Microsoft, in turn, to change its DRM, always-online tune.

WINNER: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U This epic clash of famous franchises would have easily outclassed its competition alone, but with Smash Bros. coming to Wii U and 3DS, and the addition of awesome fan favorites like Mega Man, the Animal Crossing boy and the bizarrely funny Yoga Instructor from Wii Fit, this looks like the best (set of!) Smash Bros. we’ve ever seen

WINNER: Rayman Legends Building on 2011’s excellent Rayman Origins, Legends includes dozens of beautifully imagined, seemingly hand painted platforming worlds to hop, bop and slap your friends around in. Throw in giant boss battles and the brand new music stages that have you running for your life to insanely deranged covers of classic rock and pop anthems and you’ve got the best platforming game of the show, easily.

WINNER: The Elder Scrolls Online Playing solo adventures in the world of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is fantastic, but one of the most requested features is the ability to play together with (or against) friends in Tamriel. The Elder Scrolls Online is built around that idea, and especially now that it has the series’ signature option of first or third-person perspective, it that idea is more exciting than ever. And because it’s designed for next-generation consoles and PC, the graphics look great!

WINNER: Madden NFL 25 After starting from scratch at the beginning of this console generation, the venerable Madden series has evolved into a powerhouse of a football sim, with nuanced on-field gameplay complemented by TV-like presentation. Madden NFL 25 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, however, takes all of that to new heights. We saw it, we played it, and we like where the next generation of video game football is heading.

WINNER: Scribblenauts Unmasked Scribblenauts’ usual sandbox puzzles where you can literally write in your own solutions gets a super-powered makeover in Scribblenauts Unmasked. Think you know the DC Universe? Prove it by typing in any – and we mean ANY – DC hero, villain, or gizmo you can think of and he, she, or it will pop up onscreen to help or hinder your progress. Want to see Ma Hunkel (the golden-age Red Tornado) sock Darkseid in the jaw? We can practically guarantee you’ll never see that match-up in any other game.

WINNER: Total War: Rome 2 The original Rome is still the best game in the Total War series and this year’s update looks to take all the lessons the studio learned over the past decade to make an even better sequel. From building projects along the frontier, to assassinating your rivals in the Forum, to marching at the head of massive army of legionnaires, Rome 2 is the strategy game for all would-be Caesars.

WINNER: The Crew Remember the cheese-tastic, supercar-filled fun of 1980s film Cannonball Run? Or more recently, the unfulfilled potential of Need for Speed: The Run?The Crew looks to finally make a cross-country racing game a reality, with an always-connected driving experience that lets you roll with crews and challenge other clubs while visiting over 1,000 landmarks recreated in the game world, from the Grand Canyon to Miami’s South Beach. We played it, and it’s every bit as fun as it sounds.

WINNER: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Stunningly beautiful and almost impossibly huge, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was IGN’s readers’ pick for the best game of E3 2013 – and for good reason. The morally ambiguous Geralt faces monsters, both supernatural and human, in an intricately detailed open world that dwarfs that of The Witcher 2. Looking for a game that will really push the limits of your PS4, Xbox One, or high-end PC? You just found it.

Xbox One: Major Policy Reversal for Authentication, Game Trading

For those of you who followed the Xbox One (and subsequent PS4) launch at E3 2013 last week, you know audiences were literally providing standing ovations for the PS4 only. The Xbox One policies were viewed across the board as extremely restrictive and anti-competitive (even GameStop was concerned about their used game policies). Well, in a somewhat expected turn of events, MS reverses their decisions on both of those policies. Read below to find out more.

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Microsoft has changed its policies regarding Xbox One’s internet requirements, used game restrictions and more.

Contrary to the details announced earlier this monthMicrosoft has now confirmed news originally reported on Giant Bomb that Xbox One will not require an internet connection to play offline games or need to check in every 24 hours; instead, internet will only be required when initially setting up the console.

“After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again,” Microsoft wrote. “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.”

Like on Xbox 360, “playing disc based games will require that the disc be in the tray.”

I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One.

Xbox One will also no longer restrict used games, and will instead allow discs to be exchanged in the same way they are on Xbox 360. There will be no additional restrictions for trade-ins or lending games to friends. The system is also no longer be region locked and all downloaded games will function the same way whether your console is connected or not.

“Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback,” Microsoft’s Don Mattrick wrote. “I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One. You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. 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.”

In addition to being available in retail stores, Xbox One games will still be available for download on day one and will be playable on any Xbox One console.

“These changes will impact some of the scenarios we previously announced for Xbox One,” Mattrick noted. “The sharing of games will work as it does today, you will simply share the disc. Downloaded titles cannot be shared or resold.”

“We appreciate your passion, support and willingness to challenge the assumptions of digital licensing and connectivity,” Mattrick concluded. “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. We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds.”

Microsoft’s decision follows mass confusion following the announcement of Xbox One in May. At E3 last week, Sony announced similar policies for PlayStation 4, which will not require an internet connection or periodic authentication and does not restrict used games.

Xbox One is currently available for pre-order from various retailers. For more information on the console, including every confirmed game so far, see our Xbox One wiki.

Original IGN.com Article

Xbox One: All Announced Games Thus Far (IGN.com)

This wiki will continue to be updated over the next few years, but for now at least you can head over to IGN and see the list of nearly 50 games already announced!

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List of Confirmed Xbox One Games

These games were confirmed to be next-gen Xbox games at the Xbox announcement on May 21, 2013. At the Xbox One announcement Microsoft claimed to have 15 Xbox One exclusive games in its first year, with 8 of those being new franchises. [1]

Game Developer Release Date
Assassin’s Creed 4 [2] Ubisoft Montreal TBA
Battlefield 4 [3] EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) TBA
Below Capybara TBA
Call of Duty: Ghosts [4] Infinity Ward 11.5.2013 [5]
The Crew Ubisoft Reflections TBA
Crimson Dragon Grounding TBA
D4 Swery TBA
Dead Rising 3 Capcom Q4 2013
Destiny [6] Bungie TBA
The Division Massive TBA
Dragon Age Inquisition BioWare Fall 2014
Dying Light [7] Techland TBA
Elder Scrolls Online Bethesda/Zenimax TBA
Fantasia: Music Evolved[8] Harmonix TBA
FIFA Soccer 14 [9] EA TBA
Final Fantasy XV Square-Enix TBA
Forza Motorsport 5 [10] Turn 10 TBA
Halo for Xbox One 343 Studios TBA
Just Dance 2014 Ubisoft TBA
Killer Instinct Double Helix TBA
Kinect Sports Rivals [11] Rare TBA
Kingdom Hearts 3 Square-Enix TBA
LocoCycle [12] Twisted Pixel TBA
Madden 25 [13] EA TBA
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Kojima Productions TBA
Minecraft [14] Mojang TBA
Mirror’s Edge EA DICE When it’s ready
NBA 2K14 Visual Concepts November 2013 [15]
NBA Live 14 [16] EA TBA
Need for Speed Rivals [17] EA TBA
Peggle 2 PopCap TBA
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare PopCap TBA
Project Spark TBA
Quantum Break [18] Remedy Entertainment TBA
Rabbids Invasion
Ryse Crytek TBA
Skylanders Swap Force[19] Vicarious Visions TBA
Star Wars Battlefront TBA
Sunset Overdrive Insomniac Games TBA
Thief [20] Eidos Studios Montreal TBA
Titanfall Respawn TBA [21]
Trials Fusion TBA
EA Sports UFC [22] EA TBA
Watch Dogs [23] Ubisoft TBA
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt CD Projekt Red TBA
Wolfenstein: The New Order MachineGames TBA
Zoo Tycoon [24] Blue Fang TBA
Zumba Fitness World Party Majesco TBA

No Internet Connection? MS Doubles Down: “Get a 360 Instead” (CNET.com)

For better or worse, MS doesn’t appear to be backing down in the least on its new Xbox One policy of forcing players to register their games online daily. While that seems a bit elitist and rude, the Xbox 360 isn’t going anywhere and still has new, exclusive games being developed for it. I guess eight year old consoles are still “state of the art”. If the 360 is still great, is that even less of a reason to move to the next gen Xbox One console?

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Microsoft exec on Xbox One: No Internet? Get an Xbox 360

Amid the hoopla over the new One, an Xbox executive reminds people without Internet connectivity that the venerable 360 is still available.

Bummed out because the Xbox One requires an Internet connection? Microsoft has some advice for you: stick with an Xbox 360.

In an interview with Spike TV at the E3 show Tuesday, Xbox executive Don Mattrick responded to the complaints about the Xbox One’s demand for an Internet connection. Mattrick described the $499 Xbox One, coming in November, as “a future-proof choice,” saying that a console designed to be used online offers certain advantages, such as the ability to link games and entertainment.

And for those people without Internet access?

“Fortunately we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity,” Mattrick said. “It’s called Xbox 360.”

The interviewer then chimed in, saying “So stick with 360, that’s your message…?” To which Mattrick responded, “Well, if you have zero access to the Internet, that [360] is an offline device.” Citing one unusual example, the Xbox exec said he read a blog comment from someone who serves on a nuclear sub.

“I don’t even know what it means to be on a nuclear sub,” Mattrick said. “But I’ve got to imagine that it’s not easy to get an Internet connection.”

Mattrick makes a valid point here. Sometimes you have to sacrifice backward compatibility to stretch the envelope with new products. And it’s not as if the Xbox 360 is going away. Microsoft has promised to continue to invest in its current console. On Tuesday, the company even launched a new Xbox 360 with a design mimicking that of the Xbox One.

Original CNET Article

Xbox One: Preorder on Amazon.com

Well, that was quick. Within hours after the announcement of the November launch, Amazon’s pre-order page is ready to go! You, too, can pre-order for just $499.99 in the US. Unfortunately for UK and European gamers, they’ll have to shuck out a few hundred dollars more.

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Xbox One Console – Day One Edition

This item will be released on November 30, 2013.
Pre-order now.
See details. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
  • Xbox One – Day One Console includes a limited edition controller, token code to unlock Day One achievement, premium packaging, and decal.
  • Kinect is included with every Xbox One. Completely reengineered to be more precise, responsive and intuitive with unparalleled voice, vision and motion technology
  • The console is driven by a powerful combination of CPU, GPU and 8GB of RAM, governed by an innovative OS architecture, to deliver power, speed and agility
  • Only Xbox One unleashes the vast and scalable power of the cloud for your games, entertainment and apps with Xbox Live
  • With Xbox One, you can quickly jump from TV to movies to music to a game

Amazon’s Pre-Order Page

E3 2013: Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Announcement (Gamespot.com)

Watching the E3 coverage of Plants vs. Zombies, I thought it looked completely silly and like a ton of fun! I’ll definitely be following this game more closely in the near future.

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Electronic Arts today announced Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, an all-new third-person multiplayer action game. The announcement came as part of EA’s E3 2013 media briefing.

 

The game will launch first on Xbox One, followed by a release for the Xbox 360. It is powered by the Frostbite 3 game engine, which also is behind games like Battlefield 4 and Need for Speed: Rivals.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare first surfaced via images leaked out of the Los Angeles Convention Center yesterday.

Original Gamespot.com Article

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