Microsoft is Sticking Around[xbox360] [xbox]
Speaking to Reuters today, Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates confirmed that regardless of whether the Xbox 360 achieves the number one market share position in the video game world, a title currently held by Sony, Microsoft is in the gaming business for the long term, noting that "we learned a lot in the first round." Indeed, toppling Sony from its peak is a formidable goal, given that the company currently holds a massive 70% of the console market.
"In terms of how we've balanced technology in the machine, we feel certain we've done a better job than Sony," Gates said. "You won't really know that until a year from now, when people are talking about how the games on our machines compare to the games on Sony's machines." It's probably worth noting that a year from now, Xbox 360 developers will have had a year's worth more time acclimating themselves with the development environment of the 360 than PS3 developers will have had with their machine--assuming, of course, the PS3 ships during 2006 and not 2007 as some have speculated.
In its bid to break into the gaming world, Microsoft's home and entertainment division has famously spent almost $5 billion on the Xbox, and though revenues are growing the group is still posting losses. Of course, Microsoft can afford to be less thrifty than its major competitors--most divisions of Sony (with one notable exception being its PlayStation family) are losing money, and Nintendo is purely a gaming company, without other divisions to fall back on. However, Gates said that, "It's not about spending at this point," rather it is about the games. After his notorious May declaration that PS3's launch would be combatted with the anticipated but unconfirmed Halo 3, however, he now declines to name a specific killer app.
Approaching the 360's Zero Hour[xbox360]
Microsoft's official Xbox 360 launch party, Zero Hour, is currently in full swing in Palmdale, California. The event houses a few thousand gamers who are getting the chance to try out the Xbox 360 launch titles as well as a few anticipated upcoming games. GameSpot is reporting from the event, mainly describing the entrance procedure and look of the event. Gamers received free Xbox 360 memory cards, and some received free Xbox Live Gold subscription cards. Most notably, they will also get the chance to purchase an Xbox 360 a little early, when the Best Buy representatives in attendance put the consoles on sale at 9:00 PM PST.
Next Generation is also present at the event, giving a look at gamers' reactions to actual games. Interestingly, Next Generation found reactions to launch titles such as Perfect Dark Zero (X360), Project Gotham Racing (X360), and Kameo: Elements of Power (X360) to be on the whole less than jubilant. It was the upcoming titles that seemed to impress showgoers the most. Epic's Gears of War (X360), which has become Microsoft's next-gen flagship and designer CliffyB its next-gen poster boy, drew the biggest crowd. Q Entertainment's Dynasty Warriors-esque Ninety Nine Nights (X360) also received quite positive feedback from those who tried it out. Next Generation also notes that Final Fantasy XI (PS2, X360, PC) drew a bit of a crowd, possibly due to the novelty of Square Enix's MMO appearing on the 360.
J Allard is Totally Stoked![xbox360]
"Xbox Vice President and Chief XNA Architect J Allard is so stoked about the launch of Xbox 360, we can't get him to put down the controller!" Well, he might put it down long enough to go biking in an extreme fashion, as evidenced by the photograph on the page from which that quote is sourced. But not tomorrow! Tomorrow, Xbox Vice President and Chief XNA Architect J Allard will be playing Bizarre's Project Gotham Racing 3 (X360) and Rare's Perfect Dark Zero (X360) all day long, and if you happen to be placed into a random game with HiroProtagonist, that means you're playing with XVP&CXAJA himself! Should this occur and your trembling fingers become fit enough to type, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "GWF J Allard" and proudly proclaim that you played with the one and only Architect, upon which I have it on good authority that you will win "some very exclusive schwag."
Rockstar London Opening for Business
Gamasutra reports that Rockstar Games will be opening up a new game development studio in London, where the company already maintains offices. The new dev house will almost assuredly be called Rockstar London, in the tradition of Rockstar San Diego (Midnight Club), Rockstar Toronto (The Warriors), Rockstar Vancouver (Bully), Rockstar Vienna (Rockstar's Xbox ports), Rockstar Leeds (GTA: Liberty City Stories), and of course Rockstar North (GTA proper). No details on any current projects for the new studio have been released.
Infinium Labs, home of the ever elusive yet doggedly persistent Phantom console, has announced that recent CEO appointee Kevin Bachus has left Infinium to pursue other directions. Bachus is mainly known in the gaming world for being on Microsoft's original Xbox team, helping to bring the machine to market. It was somewhat of a surprise when he signed on with Infinium, a company coming rather frequently under fire for possibly not even existing. Bachus joined in December 2003 as president and COO, and was named CEO this past August. Replacing Bachus is, fittingly enough, a former executive from Microsoft's biggest competitor in the gaming world. Greg Koler, a founding exec of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe and until now head of Infinium's European division, will inherit Bachus' recently vacated position.
The oft-delayed Phantom Gaming Services is currently slated to launch in mid-2006, which if true may ensure it faces some stiff competition from Sony and Nintendo, both of whom plan to launch their next generation consoles in mid to late 2006.
DOA Film Goes Live Next Fall[xbox360] [xbox]
Following a bidding war last week, Dimension Films has obtained the distribution license for the Dead or Alive film adaptation. The movie, being directed by noted action choreographer Corey Yuen, is currently in post-production and slated to hit North American theatres in Fall 2006. Yuen has worked on many Hong Kong action pictures as an actor, choreographer, and director, and is best known to Western audiences for his contributions to The Transporter and its sequel, X-Men, Romeo Must Die, and Lethal Weapon 4. The film features Devon Aoki (Sin City), Derek Boyer in his first role that's not Himself in TV special World's Strongest Man, Sara Carter (Final Destination 2), Jaime Pressly (The Karate Dog), Collin Chou (The Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions), Robin Shou (Mortal Kombat), Steve Howey (Reba), Kane Kosugi (Street Fighter Alpha), and others.
GameSpot spends some time with Microsoft's Peter Moore regarding the Xbox 360 launch.
IGN checks out Rare's Perfect Dark Zero (X360).
Movies: Super Mario Strikers (GCN).
Movies: Shadow the Hedgehog (PS2, Xbox, GCN).
Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]
Ice Climber for the NES. "Lots of friendships were ruined playing this game as you jumped too high and made your partner/opponent fall off the screen for his last life." (submitted by mrchoda)