Microsoft Portable is "Coming Zune"[xbox] [xbox360]
Via an article in Billboard.com and a Flash-based website entitled "Coming Zune," Microsoft has finally acknowledged its not-at-all-secret handheld device, codenamed Argo and officially dubbed Zune. As expected, it will be a line of portables rather than a single product. While the first device will be a subscription-based music player, but further iterations could very well play videos--and video games. The Argo project has been headed up by Xbox co-founder J Allard and a cavalcade of other notable Microsft executives, including several from the Xbox team.
Zune is expected to reach stores this year.
PSP at Comic-Con[psp]
Sony held a presentation during Comic-Con on Friday entitled "PSP University." There was little new information given, with the main goal of the hour-long affair to trumpet various PSP successes and upcoming games and initiatives. Here's a rundown:
- 120 games are currently available for PSP, with over 200 by the end of 2006.
- There are currently over 350 UMD movies and TV shows available. Sony Pictures and Fox still have UMD products in the works.
- Sony stated that in the United States, PSP is about a million units ahead of Nintendo DS, though a representative admitted that DS Lite had a particularly strong debut showing.
- Sony Connect is working on bringing more downloadable video content to PSP, but must first devise a sufficient copy protection method.
- PSP firmware version 2.80 will be released next Thursday and will include RSS video support. Sony strongly encourages keeping the system up to date with the latest upgrades.
- The Greatest Hits program will come to PSP next Tuesday, making certain games available for $19.99 in the US. Those titles will be Ape Escape: On the Loose, ATV Offroad Fury: Blazin' Trails, Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee, Twisted Metal: Head On, and WipeOut Pure.
- Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories has been the most successful PSP title, followed by Madden NFL 06, then SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo.
- Sony may at some point revise certain aspects of PSP, including its speakers and analog nub. However, there are no plans to modify the d-pad.
- Sony has no plans to modify the text entry system for PSP, or to release a keyboard peripheral. However, it is possible that a third party will release a keyboard at some point.
- Sony is looking into the possibility of a video output solution for the system, but ultimately it is up to Sony's Japanese operation.
- According to Sony, the most wanted feature among fans for PSP is functionality with PS3. Thus, PSP will serve as some kind of remote control for PS3. The next most wanted feature is PlayStation games on PSP, which the company has announced will be coming. Fans also requested a camera peripheral, which will be coming this fall. The company is not yet allowed to divulge the camera's megapixel count.
- A Sony representative shared the company's stance on homebrew development: "Overall it's frowned on. Our tech guys have gotten madder and madder lately, and it does void your warranty."
LucasArts Addresses Wii at Comic-Con[ps3] [xbox360] [nintendo]
LucasArts held a Star Wars-oriented presentation during Comic-Con on Friday. Responding to a question as to whether the publisher would be working on Nintendo's upcoming Wii console, a company representative pointed out that the Wii controller bears some similarities to a lightsaber. He noted that LucasArts will be supporting all three next generation consoles.
Microsoft Hits 360 Shipment Target[xbox360]
According to Microsoft's fourth fiscal quarter reports, the company met its self-imposed target of five million Xbox 360 units shipped worldwide by the end of June. That number breaks down to approximately 3.3M in North America, 1.3M in Europe, and 400,000 in Asia. It is unclear how many machines have been sold to consumers. To follow up on its mid-year target, Microsoft noted in a financial conference call that it plans to ship 10M units worldwide by the end of 2006, with 13-15M units shipped worldwide by the end of June 2007.
Despite Xbox 360's strong performance, Microsoft's Home and Entertainment Division, the headquarters of Xbox, has seen a significant increase in financial losses due to the costs of launching a new system as well as the per-unit loss on Xbox and Xbox 360 hardware. Division revenues on hardware and games were up an impressive 94% to $1.14B, but that came at a price. Operating losses were also on the rise, up 106% year over year to a hefty $414M. Microsoft hopes to achieve division profitability by the end of Xbox 360's life cycle as hardware manufacturing costs go down and the company sees continued profits from game sales.
Animal Crossing Gifts "R" Us[ds]
Nintendo announced this week that retail chain Toys "R" Us will be holding "Free Download Week" from July 23-29. During that time, Animal Crossing: Wild World owners can bring their Nintendo DS systems into Toys "R" Us stores to wirelessly download six exclusive in-game gifts. The gifts will be themed around the Mushroom Kingdom from the Mario franchise. They include the 1-up mushroom, Starman star, pipe, question box, and others, and can be used to decorate players' houses.
Atari Puts Brakes on Test Drive Unlimited Design Contest[ps2] [xbox360] [psp]
Atari has ended its "Do You Want to be a Car Designer?" contest for Eden Studios' upcoming racer Test Drive Unlimited (PS2, X360, PSP, PC). Winner David Sichtermann will have his vehicle, which concept art shows in various states of transformation, featured in the game when it ships later this year. Sichtermann will also receive a $2,500 prize for his efforts.
IGN has a developer diary with Backbone Entertainment's Sara Guinness on the upcoming MechAssault: Phantom War (NDS).
GameSpot tries out an import copy of Atlus' Persona 3 (PS2).
GameSpot previews Volition's Saint's Row (X360).
IGN checks out the first three games from Nintendo's Bit Generations (GBA) line: Boundish, Dotstream, and Dialhex.
Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]
Battle Royale for the Turbo Grafx-16. "I was totally jealous of my buddy when he got this campy wrestling game... it was hilarious to make that green dude run into his opponent with his head down and arms flailing." (submitted by Guava D)