An Xbox Live Arcade release of the splendid Torchlight and the opportunity to hold eerie chat shows with your friends Live Avatars via Kinect are amongst the goodies revealed yesterday by Microsoft at the ongoing 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show.
Torchlight will arrive as part of Microsoft's 'House Party' event on Xbox Live Arcade, which will see five big releases over five weeks. The others will be Ubisoft's revamped Beyond Good & Evil HD, Contra prequel Hard Corps: Uprising, Microsoft's Full House Poker and PopCap's Bejeweled Blitz Live. It all kicks off on February 16 with Hard Corps.
In Kinect news, Microsoft announced that the motion-sensing Xbox 360 controller sold over eight million sensors--doubtless including those in console bundles--within its first sixty days. The company had initially predicted sales of five million for the period.
MS also revealed new Kinect-enabled features for Xbox Live Gold members coming this spring, including Avatar Kinect, a virtual chatroom which lets users take control of their Xbox Avatar using Kinect. You can also record your own shows and upload them online.
Kinect gesture control support for Netflix and Hulu Plus is also coming in spring.
Here's a peek at Avatar Kinect:
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Back on the numbers game, MS revealed that over fifty million Xbox 360s have been sold worlwide, while there are thirty million Xbox Live members.
Despite Microsoft's realisation last year that it needs "to step up" its PC gaming efforts, it touted a very light PC lineup at CES--the free-to-play Age of Empires Online and Fable 3. While MS said that AoEO is slated to launch this spring, it neglected to give a release window beyond "2011" for the PC port of Lionhead's RPG, which has been delayed indefinitely since August 2010. Somehow, we're not surprised by this poor showing.
Don't worry, though, reports are circulating that gaming will be a big focus for Windows 8 and surely Microsoft won't let us down again.
A Windows Phone 7 games lineup was also detailed, including Pro Evolution Soccer and Pac-Man titles, Full House Poker, a Fable 3 tie-in game and a versions of the Xbox 360 retro arcade Game Room.
Here's what a Microsoft press release had to say about its games lineups, including a few details on what's new to the XBLA version of Torchlight:
Xbox LIVE Arcade is home to some of the most innovative and fun downloadable games at a great value on Xbox 360. Kicking off on February 16 with "Hard Corps Uprising" (KONAMI), the second annual Xbox LIVE Arcade House Party will deliver five weeks of the best games of the season available to instantly download and play, including "Full House Poker," a new interactive game that features an inventive and exciting live poker game show called Texas Heat and companion Windows Phone 7 game.
The House Party title line-up includes:
- "Full House Poker" (Microsoft Game Studios - Xbox/Krome Studios - Windows Phone 7): In the world's capital for card playing, Microsoft is unveiling "Full House Poker." Compete against your Xbox LIVE friends on Xbox 360 and build your bank roll on the go with a companion game on Windows Phone 7. Play a quick two-player game for some lightning action, join a big 30-player tournament, or play a round of Texas Heat, our live poker game show where you play with thousands of players worldwide and have 30 minutes to bluff, bet, and raise your way to the final table!
- "Bejeweled Blitz Live" (PopCap Games): Take on friends in the brilliant gem-matching action of Bejeweled Blitz Live! Choose your favorite playing style - Classic or Twist - and rocket up the leaderboards! Battle your way to the top in the all-new 16-player Party mode over Xbox LIVE.
- "Beyond Good & Evil" (Ubisoft): Now you can experience the thrill of the fan-favorite "Beyond Good & Evil" on Xbox LIVE in full HD. Enter the futuristic world of year 2435, a world full of deception, where nothing is as it seems and exposing the truth is the only hope of restoring freedom. Play as action-reporter Jade and capture the truth using stealth, force, and wits against a government that deceived you in this action-adventure game with elements of puzzle-solving and stealth-based games.
- "Hard Corps Uprising" (KONAMI): Thrilling retro run-and-gun action is back with a vengeance in "Hard Corps: Uprising," a new 2D side scroller developed by ARC System Works that pays homage to classic Konami action series. Play as the soldier Bahamut as he begins to write his legend in this prequel to "Contra: Hard Corps."
- "Torchlight" (Runic Games/Microsoft): A highly-regarded PC game with over 800,000 units sold to date, "Torchlight" is now coming to Xbox LIVE! Combat is more exciting with revamped controls and mechanics, new armor and quests! There's even an exclusive new pet for your character. Send a select goodie or two to your friends on LIVE to share the fun for the first time.
2011 is the year to rule on your Windows PC, with the return of two epic franchises from Microsoft Game Studios. Choose your destiny as hero or villain on your way to leading your own kingdom in "Fable III," and manage a living, persistent online empire in "Age of Empires Online." Both games will be available to play in the Microsoft booth on the CES show floor.
- "Age of Empires Online." Marrying fresh features with classic RTS gameplay, "Age of Empires Online" pays tribute to the iconic "Age of Empires" series while incorporating a new look, feel and approach that appeals to long-time fans, newcomers and everyone in between. Currently in closed beta, "Age of Empires Online" launches in spring 2011.
- "Fable III." Pioneered from the ground up to provide the most action-packed online experience, "Fable III" redefines co-op gaming as we know it. Two heroes are now free to get married, raise children, start a business and rule together in co-op play, only on Xbox LIVE and Games for Windows - LIVE.
Windows Phone 7
Windows Phone 7 is the only mobile platform with Xbox LIVE games, letting you collect Achievements, build your Gamerscore and check in with your Xbox LIVE friends on the go. CES attendees are invited to experience the latest Xbox LIVE games for Windows Phone 7, including exclusive titles from Microsoft Game Studios, on the show floor in the Microsoft booth:
- "Fable III: Coin Golf" (Microsoft Game Studios): The best-selling "Fable" franchise is coming exclusively to Windows Phone 7. "Fable: Coin Golf" combines the fun of traditional British pub games with the logic of modern puzzle games to create a rich and entertaining "Fable III" companion experience, allowing players to earn gold and unlock new skills and abilities that can be transferred back to "Fable III" for Xbox 360 and the PC.
- "Game Room" (Microsoft Game Studios): Relive the glory days of the arcade with six classic coin-op games in "Game Room" - "Centipede," "Asteroids Deluxe," "Shao-Lin's Road," "Time Pilot," "Lunar Lander" and "Pitfall." A shared "Game Room" profile and global leaderboards let you track your medals and top scores across the phone, PC and Xbox 360.
- "Full House Poker" (Microsoft Game Studios): The mobile companion to the Xbox LIVE Arcade game, "Full House Poker" on Windows Phone 7 lets you build your bankroll and unlock awards on the go. Enjoy Single Player Pro takedown, standard and tournament-style single player games against up to five virtual opponents in the first Windows Phone 7 title to let you play as your actual Avatar.
- "PAC-MAN" (NAMCO Bandai Games Inc.): The world famous arcade classic returns in this faithful rendition for Windows Phone 7! Direct PAC-MAN using the standard flick-to-change-directions method, or try out the virtual-analog "PAC-PAD" controls, new for Windows Phone 7. Munch fruits, chomp dots, and earn Achievements while avoiding capture by Blinky and his fellow ghosts.
- "Pro Evolution Soccer" (KONAMI): The unrivalled and award-winning soccer simulation is entering its first season on Windows Phone 7! Experience incredible gameplay, stunning graphics and the most advanced team and player AI on the market, all while comparing your skills with friends and rivals around the world on Xbox LIVE leaderboards.
- "Pocket God" (ngmoco): In this absolutely adorable and slightly twisted game, you rule a small island nation inhabited by itty bitty pygmies. Now, you can let the little pygmies live happily ever after, OR you can kill them in a countless number of hysterical and entertaining ways, boosting your Gamerscore with exclusive Achievements along the way.