Sega’s beta program for Phantasy Star Universe on the Xbox 360 was initially supposed to end yesterday, October 18th. However, with Sega’s delays in getting the beta into the waiting public, and then the scheduled maintenance for Xbox Live running longer than intended, the beta has been extended through October 21st. While the download is no longer available, gamers that have the beta will be able to play until the end of the week.
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Xbox 360 users with an Xbox Live Gold account will be able to participate in Sega’s upcoming open beta test for Phantasy Star Universe on October 11. Sega’s official Phantasy Star Universe site has the details of the open beta. The test itself will run from October 11th through October 18th, and will let users experience some of the online multiplayer functionality of the game. According to the site, the beta will be available on the Xbox Live Marketplace sometime between October 11th and October 12th.
The Xbox 360 version of Phantasy Star Universe should hit stores on the same date as the PC and Playstation 2 versions, October 24th. Xbox 360 users will have their own servers; while PC and Playstation 2 users will be able to interact with each other online, Xbox 360 users will only be able to see other players with the Xbox 360 version of the game. For the final version of Phantasy Star Universe, Xbox 360 owners with either a Silver or Gold account will be able to play online. Phantasy Star Universe will cost $9.99 per month to play. Hopefully the online beta will help Sega avoid the server meltdowns that plagued the Japanese launch of the Playstation 2 and PC versions.
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A forum post from Blizzard’s official World of Warcraft site indicates that the company is laying the groundwork for the first external closed beta testing for their upcoming expansion pack, Burning Crusade. According to the post, selection criteria included past PTR contest winners and BlizzCon attendees, but Blizzard is looking for a wide demographic for their first phase of beta testing. Future beta opportunities will expand this group in the future, but to finally have word that Blizzard is opening up the new content to external users is a great indication of progress towards a final release.
According to a report on PSO-World, Sega’s launch of their latest in the Phantasy Star series, Phantasy Star Universe has been rescheduled for October. The game went on sale this past weekend, but server problems have forced Sega to pull the Japanese game servers offline as of September 3. Sega has issued an apology letter to gamers, and stated that 30-day free trials will be reset when the game re-launches. In PSO-World’s translation of the letter, Sega will re-open the Network Mode Service on September 6. During September, Sega will be trying to troubleshoot and fix any issues with the online service. On October 1, Sega plans to have the service fully back online, and all free trials will start counting down on that date. Hopefully, Sega can work through their problems quickly; the game is scheduled to ship in the US on October 24, 2006 for the PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 2.
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For anyone not currently running a build of Windows Vista, the new Internet Explorer 7 RC1 has been released for your personal enjoyment. This version automatically uninstalls any previous versions of Internet Explorer, so you don’t have to, including older IE7 betas. Even better, it will detect add-ons that might be incompatible or have stability issues, allowing you to get an update if available. With the Release Candidate being made available, we can expect no more major changes to IE7 until after it ships. Vista users can expect an update to Internet Explorer 7+ when the Vista RC drops. Internet Explorer 7 RC1 is compatible with Windows XP SP2, Windows XP x64, and Windows Server 2003 SP1.