When Microsoft opened their initial sign-up for the Halo 3 multiplayer beta, the form was swamped with gamers hoping to get access online. Now, the company has announced two new ways of getting into the upcoming beta release. First, the company has confirmed that those people buying Crackdown will be able to download the multiplayer beta upon release. Those gamers not willing to pony up the cash to get the game and access will have an alternate method; Microsoft’s “Rule of Three” program. Starting in February, gamers that qualify on Xbox Live and are among the first 13,333 Halo 2 players that register on the official Halo 3 website will also have access to the beta. One would also expect that there will be other promotions in the future to get into the test program as well.
The full press release continues after the jump.
Microsoft’s Xbox Live matchmaking service went down for about six hours today; the first reports starting appearing at around 5:30 PM Pacific Time, and Major Nelson reported that the service was fixed at around 11:30 PM Pacific. During the outage, gamers would have a hard time connecting to the Live service and could not get into online games. Supposedly, voice chat and achievements were still working during the outage, but gamers looking at playing the single player campaign in Gears of War needed to disconnect their Ethernet connections to play. While outages like this are frustrating, Microsoft’s Major Nelson was able to keep gamers abreast of the situation through his blog; hopefully he will be able to share some post-mortem insight into the outage.
Read More | Major Nelson
Major Nelson, Microsoft’s Larry Hryb, has updated his blog with the top Video Marketplace downloads for the week of December 10th through the 17th. The list doesn’t include absolute numbers, so one can’t really judge how popular the service is overall, but the selections making up the top ten are interesting to say the least.
The top movie downloads are Mission Impossible III, followed by Nacho Libre; both are only available in SD format. This may somewhat act as a gauge of the adoption rate of HD displays with Xbox 360 owners, or people may just not want to spend the extra time downloading the HD content. Other oddities are some of the movies on the list; Poseidon makes the top ten, which received generally unfavorable reviews and had a particularly weak opening weekend in May. Also on the list is The Lake House, a remake of a romantic Korean film that also got relatively poor reviews. The film choices may somewhat reflect the limited movie availability yet on Xbox Live.
The television choices seem to skew more towards the stereotypical Xbox core user, with titles like South Park, Enterprise, and Chappelle’s Show on the list. Again, since no total download numbers are released, the service’s popularity can’t really be determined, but the mix of titles gives some interesting insights into the users of the service.
Read More | Major Nelson
This week there was a lack of actual in game content available through the marketplace so I’ll focus on game and movie videos & trailers. Hopefully some good free content will be released as we move towards Christmas. I’ll keep my eyes open and make sure it’s posted as it becomes available. In the meantime check out this weeks free content. Enjoy!
College Hoops 2K7 – Rated E - 2006 – 961.64MB
Splinter Cell Double Agent (Single Player) – Rated M – - 2006 – 505.86MB
RoboBlitz (Arcade) – Rated E10+ - 2006 – 49.32MB
GAME VIDEOS & TRAILERS
Halo3 1st TV Commercial – Rated : NR - 2006
SD - 480p – 14.07MB
HD - 720p - 48.21MB
Battlestations : Midway War Machines Trailer : Rated T - 2006
SD - 480p – 15.46MB
HD - 720p – 73.70MB
Bionicle Heroes Trailer I : Rated E10+ - 2006
SD - 480p – 13.07MB
HD - 720p – 74.07MB
Eragon : Making of Trailer – Rated T - 2006
Unknown format – 126.54MB
Eragon : Director and Designer Interview Trailer – Rated T - 2006
Unknown Format – 160.01MB
MOVIE CLIPS & TRAILERS
Eragon Trailer I : 1 Minute – Rated G - 2006
SD - 480p Widescreen – 23MB
HD - 720p Widescreen – 83MB
Eragon Trailer II : 2 minutes – Rated G - 2006
SD - 480p Widescreen – 33MB
HD - 720p Widescreen – 120MB
Transformers Teaser Trailer : 1 Minute – Rated PG-13 (2007)
SD - 480p Widescreen – 25MB
HD - 720p Widescreen – 86MB
Tenacious D : The Pick of Destiny : 2 Minutes – NR - 2006
SD - 480p Widescreen – 32MB
Song of the Heart : (from Happy Feet soundtrack) – 3 Minutes – NR - 2006
SD - 480p Widescreen – 34MB
Hold Me Down : (from Motion City soundtrack) 4 Minutes – Rated Explicit - 2005
SD - 480p Widescreen – 47MB
Bad Religion : Los Angeles Is Burning : 3 Minutes – NR – 2004
SD - 480p Fullscreen – 38MB
Matchbook Romance : Monsters : 4 Minutes – NR - 2006
SD - 480p Widescreen – 45MB
This one is from our friends over at Krunker, who decided to go through the horrific pain and agony (in our opinion) of downloading the huge video files available on the Xbox 360 Video Marketplace onto the miniscule Xbox 360 hard drive. They report back with their full review of the service, which they see as one of the beginnings of an Xbox 360 - Zune relationship:
The new Xbox Video Marketplace is a small step in the right direction for the Xbox 360. The initial release is underwhelming and some of the restrictions annoying, but the service introduction clearly lays out the infrastructure and ground work for a bigger service down the road - one that will most likely bridge us to the Zune as well.
A small step in the right direction - we agree there - but come on Microsoft. You guys created Windows Media Video, and it streams incredibly well on PCs. Why can’t you use the same technology on the Xbox 360? Don’t you think users would much rather have instant-on access to these shows and movies rather than having to wait hours for a download to complete? Contemplate that, please, and get back to us. Thanks.
Read More | Krunker
We are going to start bringing you the free content available on the Xbox Live Marketplace on the regular, thanks to long-time Playfeed reader munkyxtc. Let’s not waste any time, and jump right in.
Available in: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States
- Viva Pinata Maximum Candiosity Gamer Picture (2 days only, expires Dec 4th)
- Burger King Games Picture Pack (US & Canada Only)
- Test Drive Unlimited : New Vehicles: (All XBL Regions/Requires in game currency)
- Lexus IS 350 Chevy Corvette C1 1957
- NCAA 07: Alternate Uniforms: (Courtesy of Coca-Cola)
- Big 10, Pac 10, Notre Dame
- Big East, Conf. USA
- SEC, Mtn. West
- Big 12, WAC
- Madden 07 – Throwback Uniforms: (Courtesy of Sprint)
- AFC East Throwback Uniforms
- AFC North Throwback Uniforms
- AFC South Throwback Uniforms
- AFC West Throwback Uniforms
- NFC East Throwback Uniforms
- NFC North Throwback Uniforms
- NFC South Throwback Uniforms
- NFC West Throwback Uniforms
Microsoft has just announced that gamers will be able to sign up to participate in the Halo 3 multiplayer beta on Monday, December 4. On that day, people will be able to sign up for the beta by going to www.halo3.com; those gamers selected will get exclusive access to the pre-release code some time around spring of 2007. The sign-up is tied to the debut of a new CGI-rendered trailer for the game set to air on ESPN’s Monday Night Football between 5:50 and 6:20 p.m. PST.
Read More | Gamerscoreblog
GamesIndustry.biz recently interviewed Viva Piñata developer Rare, and in some published excerpts, the company claims that it is still on the fence in regards to downloadable content. Viva Piñata’s collection-based gameplay would seem to make the game ideal for future downloads, but Rare is balancing developing add-ons versus creation of a whole new game. Part of Rare’s hesitance seems to be tied to the relative lack of success that they have had with previous downloadable releases. Realistically, though, the additional content that Rare has offered has been pretty marginal. The company’s Kameo Power Pack really only offered new game modes, and nothing particularly compelling. Other game companies have been trumpeting the virtues of downloadable content; Activision and Ubisoft have been happy with the success of their expansions for Call of Duty and Ghost Recon, and Electronic Arts has been going crazy for paid content, so it is odd to see a company with such close ties to Microsoft not buying into the business model.
Read More | GamesIndustry.biz
A number of users have reported problems with Microsoft’s new television and movie downloads on the Xbox Live Marketplace. Gamers have had issues with download speeds and incomplete downloads, and incorrect charges. Microsoft’s Larry Hryb, via the Major Nelson blog, has announced that the company is working hard at fixing the issues, and will work with consumers to get refunds for content as appropriate. Microsoft claims that the extremely high number of downloads caused issues with the service; while it can be difficult to project how many users may hit the service, certainly things should have been designed to the point where incomplete or failed downloads would result in false charges on an account. Hopefully, Microsoft will resolve the issues quickly for those gamers affected.
Read More | Major Nelson
Alright Xbox 360 owners, with the launch of the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii around the corner, Microsoft is doing what they can to make the Xbox 360 look just a tad more impressive this holiday season. Tomorrow the Xbox team is releasing the second major dashboard upgrade since the release of the Xbox 360 last year, in the Fall System Update. Some of the more impressive additions are 1080p output for both movies and games, and the ability to stream video (WMV only, though) from any PC running Windows Media Player 11 or Windows Media Connect. Here is a list of all the new goods:
Expanded HD Display and Video Playback Options:
- With 1080p resolution, gamers now have the ability to enjoy both game and video content in the best HD resolution currently available.
- Expanded video playback options increase the ways gamers can enjoy video content on Xbox 360. It is now possible to stream WMV video from a Windows PC running Windows Media Player 11 or Windows Media Connect.
- Gamers can now play video files from data CDs and DVDs, as well as from storage devices like USB 2.0 flash drives and Xbox 360 Memory Units.
- Xbox 360 will support 50hz HDTV display modes, providing viewers greater choice in how they watch DVD and HD DVD content.
Xbox Live Arcade Enhancements:
- Keeping up to date on Xbox Live Arcade games is now even more convenient with the ability to automatically download newly released Xbox Live Arcade trial games. This eliminates the need to manually search for new downloads on Xbox Live Marketplace each time a new game trial is released.
- Fast enumeration of games: you’ll see the games in your Xbox Live Arcade collection appear almost instantly. Get in and play right away.
- With so many games to choose from, Xbox Live Arcade added new sorting options such as “Recently Played” and “By Category.” These enhancements make managing Xbox Live Arcade collections faster and easier than ever.
- A new expanded Friends Leaderboard within Xbox Live Arcade allows gamers to compare themselves directly against their friends and view leaderboard details of their top 10 friends.
- A new expanded Achievements View within Xbox Live Arcade lets gamers view their full Achievement details for their Xbox Live Arcade games including descriptions, icons, allotted Gamerscore and more, right from the Xbox Live Arcade dashboard interface.
- The “Play Now” launch feature has been streamlined. Selecting “Play Now” after downloading a game in Xbox Live Marketplace now bypasses Xbox Live Arcade and takes you directly to the game.
- Xbox Live Arcade now offers a “Tell a Friend” feature. Select this option from the game info screen to send any friend on your friends list a message telling them about the Xbox Live Arcade game.
- Amateur game designers will be able to test and play the games they create using XNA Game Studio Express on their Xbox 360 systems when it launches later this year (separate download and subscription required).
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