Reviews have begun to trickle out ahead of the Xbox One's official launch tomorrow as the next-generation console wars begin in earnest. Polygon
points out the console's bland and relatively (by Xbox 360 standards) large design, though that extra girth helps create a much quieter console. Ars Technica
argues that Microsoft falls well short of their promise of a broadband-fueled living room revolution, but does a lot of things right if you can ignore the quirks. The Verge
notes the Xbox One is "not particularly easy to set up" and the new Kinect is a little temperamental, but lauds the console's launch lineup. Are you an early adopter?
Sony turned a few heads earlier this month during their Gamescom conference PS4 presentation, stating that the company would be entering into "strategic partnerships" with European broadband companies Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Virgin Media and Ono. What do these exclusive partnerships entail?
At around the 57:50 minute mark of the presentation
, Sony notes that customers of these ISP partners will enjoy certain promotional perks, including a "range of broadband packages" as well as "reserved parts of the pipe for gaming."
Details are nonexistent beyond this statement, or on whether this idea will extend into the United States.
Comcast appears to be adding a new wrinkle to the company's X1 set top box: games. Jeff Baumgartner at Multichannel News
has noticed that Comcast is testing a new service that will use EA's Origin game service to stream games to the X1. While the Xfinity iPad app description page
insists the service offers "console quality games," we're probably talking about more casual fare, the likes of which won't have Nintendo, Microsoft or Sony losing sleep anytime soon. Comcast says their X1 is currently in around 53% of markets
, and the company is working on their X2 platform
which will add cloud-storage to the mix.
For as long as most of you can probably remember, your ISP's terms of service has prohibited you from running a server, given the more intensive bandwidth demands. Ryan Single directs our attention to one Kansas City resident who filed a complaint with the FCC
insisting that Google Fiber's ban on running your own servers is a network neutrality violation.
A few weeks ago Microsoft surprisingly but thankfully backtracked on a lot of the heavy-handed DRM
they had planned for the Xbox One, including tight restrictions on game sales and loans, and a complete ban on game rentals. Now a small group of gamers want Microsoft to backtrack on their backtrack.
The Xbox One may suck quite a bit less now that the company has backed off restrictive DRM
, but the console may still raise the bar for annoying snoopvertising. If you recall, Microsoft was one of several companies
to patent the idea of using set-top device embedded cameras to watch people in living rooms, then use that data for targeted advertising purposes. A Technical Account Manager for Xbox LIVE Advertising tells StickTwiddlers.com
the Xbox One takes ads to a whole new level, and the dashboard was designed specifically with targeted advertising in mind:
Kinect could detect how many users are in the room and could serve advertisements aimed at families, groups, or individuals. Additional information from your Xbox LIVE account could also influence these by using metrics such as your gender, age, location, media habits and more, and Microsoft are very aware of the potential around this.
The ad exec proceeds to insist that Microsoft doesn't yet receive all of the biometric data collected by the Kinect sensor (like heart rate and current mood), but with consumer protections on this front being virtually nonexistent -- it seems like only a matter of time before your Xbox One starts selling you antidepressants and ice cream when you're down.
Microsoft appears to have backed away from their rather absurd and draconian DRM policies
for their upcoming Xbox One console. According to a blog post
by the company, the company will be backing away from the console's previous "online check in every 24 hours" requirement, as well as lifting many of the restrictions on used games.
Microsoft recently alienated a huge portion of their customer base
by proudly proclaiming that their new Xbox One game console would be rife with all manner of DRM restrictions, ranging from the inability to normally trade games -- to a ban on game rentals. Showing a certain tone deafness to consumer concerns, Microsoft's Xbox boss Don Mattrick proclaimed that if users don't like the fact the Xbox One makes you check in online once every twenty four hours, they can buy Microsoft's old console instead
"...until you use it, it's really hard to understand what all the advantages are." For those who don't have an Internet connection--Mattrick brought up an example of a person living on a submarine--he pointed out that the Xbox 360 is not going away anytime soon.
Sony's Playstation 4 press announcement at E3 last night was in stark contrast to Microsoft's recent announcement that their Xbox One would come layered with all manner of DRM
to tightly control the sale of games, while (for now) banning outright the rental of them. Microsoft also annoyed users by announcing the Xbox One needed to check in online at least once a day -- or even entirely offline titles simply won't function.
Microsoft has released more details on the DRM embedded in the Xbox One
to stop piracy, and the reality is almost-but-not-quite as bad as most of the worrisome leaks predicted. According to Microsoft, the new Xbox One is a revolution in cloud computing, TV watching and gaming, but the changes will all come at a very steep price tag for consumers (in more than just the literal sense).
A new joint study by Aalborg University, Northeastern University, and the Copenhagen Business School has found that piracy of video games on BitTorrent networks has been unsurprisingly over-stated by industry
. The study analyzed a the BitTorrent trading of some 173 different computer games across 14 different gaming platforms over a three-month period between 2010 and 2011. "First and foremost, P2P game piracy is extraordinarily prevalent and geographically distributed [at least it was during the period analyzed]," said the researchers. "However, the numbers in our investigation suggest that previously reported magnitudes in game piracy are too high." The full study is available here
The last few months have seen several developer and insider leaks
across several outlets
claiming the next Xbox will require an "always on" broadband connection as a way to counter both piracy and used game sales. Needless to say the rumors angered a lot of possible customers with the botched launches of Diablo 3 and SimCity (both requiring always-on connections) freshly in mind.
Rumors surrounding the next Xbox suggest that the game console may require a constantly running broadband connection to function -- in addition to banning used games. Leaked screenshots
of an Xbox Development Kit (XDK) for Microsoft's next-generation console (currently code-named "Durago") strongly suggest that game installations to the hard drive will be mandatory, after which "play from the optical drive will not be supported."
The last few round of rumors have collectively suggested that Microsoft could be cooking up some incredibly dumb new ideas for their new console:
An installable game requirement backs up claims that Microsoft is developing an anti-used games system that requires activation codes for 50GB-capacity Blu-ray discs.
Apple, Sony, Microsoft, Google; there have been no limit of companies eager to disrupt the pay TV ecosystem, though every one of them have run face first into licensing restrictions imposed by a pay TV sector that very much doesn't want to be disrupted. That doesn't seem to stop the tech press from getting blindly bubbly and enthusiastic every time another company says they're going to try. story continues..
Nintendo's launch of their new Wii U game console this week was marred somewhat by the fact that new users were greeted with a 1 GB firmware update right out of the box. Worse, if interrupted, some users are reporting
that an interrupted firmware update can result in a bricked (inoperable) game console.
Time Warner Cable's "six strikes" anti-piracy measures won't include the filtering of any websites, Broadband Reports
has learned. The six strikes plan, scheduled to launch later this year, will vary from ISP to ISP -- with Verizon last week acknowledging they'll be throttling repeat offenders
to an as-yet-unspecified speed.
In addition to the suite of changes coming to Google TV
, Google now says that GoogleTV embedded LG televisions will also come with embedded OnLive gaming functionality. According to an announcement
, this is the first time the software has been embedded in televisions, allowing users to stream top-shelf games without a physical console. From the press release:
With the OnLive Wireless Controller (available at onlive.com/controller), LG G2 TV owners in the United States can go to the Premium Apps menu on their TVs and play hundreds of video games on demand. The OnLive catalog includes games from more than 80 publishers, with everything from blockbuster new releases to classic franchises to family-friendly sports, racing and action-adventure games.
Granted this may not be such a big deal when you consider that that recent data shows that around 50% of connected TVs aren't connected
-- in large part because users just want their TVs to be TVs, with more-easily replaceable DVRs, game consoles, and Roku-esque devices doing the heavy lifting. There's also the question of how long OnLive will survive after their recent fishy smelling financial chicanery
, which resulted in most of the staff being fired without severance (though some were rehired).
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