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Texas Hold 'em Xbox 360 Screenshot

Just in case you forgot, starting tonight at 1AM Pacific time and for the next 48 hours, you will be able to download Texas Hold ‘em from the Xbox Live Arcade. After that, you have to pay 800 MS points and admit that you were a lame gamer that didn’t check Playfeed often enough. 😉

One of the cooler features in this release is the “Persistent Bankroll”, a system which should keep the betting fairly realistic:

Your virtual bankroll is tied to your gamertag and keeps a running tally of your chip count. If you lose all of your chips in a poker game, you’ll have to play lower stakes buy-in games to make back your stack and earn your way to the big tables.

This should be a great chance for all of those frugal gamers out there to break into the XBLA scene!

Read More | Xbox Official News


Mad Catz Arcade Stick for Xbox 360“Give me your poor retro gamers, your d-pad using masses yearning to breath the freedom of an arcade joystick,” says Mad Catz… or at least that’s what I thought they said. Responding to the complaints of Pac Man and Frogger fans everywhere, Mad Catz will be releasing the “Xbox Live Arcade Stick”, or at least that’s what this image - found briefly in EB Games’ product listings and then promptly removed - would seem to imply. The design replaces one of the analog sticks on the original 360 controller with a large joystick, alleviating some of the problems gamers have been complaining about with the XBLA titles.

Still, there’s a lot about this design that doesn’t make sense. For starters, having the joystick in the top left corner of the controller means that you’re probably going to have to super-glue this thing to the floor to keep it from banging around. And with Street Fighter II recently released on Live Arcade, one would also wonder why Mad Catz didn’t have the foresight to move some of the trigger buttons onto the face of the controller, giving us the old 6-button fighter lovin’. In fact there’s no real indication of where the shoulder buttons even went! Frankly, if someone could just work out the wiring to get a SNES Super Advantage working on a 360, I’d be happier.

Rumor is this unit will drop for $49.99 and will be bundled with some Live Arcade games, and more details are expected later this month. Personally, I’ll be waiting for some reviews before running out to buy this puppy.

Read More | Joystiq.com

Xbox Live Texas Hold 'EmMicrosoft has announced that the upcoming release of their Texas Hold ‘em game will be available free of charge for 48 hours. Starting Wednesday, August 23, at 1:00 AM Pacific Time, through Friday, August 25, Xbox Live Gold and Silver members will be able to download the Live game at no cost; after this time, the price goes up to 800 Marketplace points. Microsoft is touting a special “persistent bankroll” for the game; players won’t be able to magically reset their chip count, so this should hopefully add more of an incentive for players to play “correctly.” Additional features include 8 player online play and three different gameplay modes.

Microsoft also took the opportunity to pimp their future releases, including a Cloning Clyde picture pack for 100 points, and two new classic arcade releases from Konami, Time Pilot and Scramble for 400 points each.

The full press release continues below.

Click to continue reading Xbox Live Texas Hold ‘Em Free For 48 Hours

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Xbox Live Marketplace

As a part of Gamefest 2006, Microsoft has released some of the statistics driving Xbox Live Marketplace and their lessons learned over the past year. 1up reports on the details. Touting the availability of demos as drivers of game sales, Microsoft reported that 40% of the downloaders of the demo version of EA’s Fight Night Round 3 eventually purchased the game. It is hard to really judge the success of the demo as a sales driver, though. 60% of the people that downloaded the demo still did not purchase the game; of the remaining 40% one can not really say how many downloaders would have bought the game anyway.

Microsoft also outlined the top download categories on the Marketplace service. Demos lead, with trailers second and Arcade titles third. Not surprisingly, free content seems to be the biggest draw. 80% of Xbox 360 owners have downloaded a file from the Xbox Live Marketplace, but only 25% have used Marketplace Points. This seems to be a shockingly low number. The Points packaging price points may have something to do with this, there may be a lack of interest in the paid content available, or security might be a concern. Certainly, some of the paid content providers like Activision have seen benefits to their bottom line, but bottom line adoption rates need to rise. Microsoft also stressed that the timing of releases will have a lot to do with their success. Overall, for the first year in implementation, Microsoft’s Marketplace seems to be gaining adopters. It will be interesting to see if Sony and Nintendo can learn from Microsoft’s implementation for their download services.

Read More | 1up

Live Arcade

By this time next year, all the major console manufacturers will have some kind of online marketplace for downloadable content. Both the Playstation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii will have something similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Live Marketplace so that gamers can download (and pay for) additional content and games. Microsoft, of course, led the way with the Xbox Live Arcade, where gamers can purchase inexpensive downloadable games for the Xbox 360. Like most digital download services, content comes with some kind of digital rights management (DRM) attached.

The goal of DRM is to allow legitimate users access to their content, but prevent “unauthorized” use, like copying or hacking. However, one gamer recently got bit by this when he had to send his Xbox 360 in for repair, as reported on the Paraesthesia blog. Travis Illig used the Xbox Live Arcade service like many users might. There were two profiles on his machine, one for him and one for a friend. Both would buy different Xbox Live Arcade games, and both could play each other’s downloaded content.

Eventually, he had to get his Xbox 360 repaired, and when the new machine came back, Travis could play his downloaded games, but not those purchased with the other profile, unless the other profile was signed in first (we talked about this month’s ago on The Bleeding Edge.) Xbox Live Arcade games apparently are tied to both the console and the profile in use when the game was authorized; this wouldn’t be that much of a problem in normal use. Since the “repaired” Xbox 360 was effectively a new machine, this changed things. Microsoft also locks people from re-purchasing games through a profile if it detects that the user has played the game before, so a simple repurchase wouldn’t fix things. One would guess that this would be in place to prevent duplicating authorized game content, but the net effect is that to re-authorize the content for all users on the machine, a user has to create a new profile and then re-buy the content.

Microsoft was at least willing to give Travis a credit to repurchase the games, but issues like these highlight some of the problems users will encounter as publishers push the consumer to pure downloaded content.

Update: Microsoft’s Ben Salem from the Xbox Dev Team discusses the issue here.

Read More | Paraesthesia via Boing Boing

Pac-Man Live ArcadeAfter 25 years of devouring ghosts on systems incapable of churning out high-definition graphics and surround sound, Pac-Man has finally arrived on the Xbox 360 as part of Xbox Live Arcade Wednesdays. The download will run you 400 points, and contains over 250 levels, along with orignal music and sound effects. Microsoft is pimping that the game has high definition grahics, but let’s not kid ourselves, you won’t be blown away here. Leaderboards and acheivements round out this offering. We know - you can play Pac-Man for free just about anywhere else. If you find today’s release a bit lackluster, just know that next week you will finally get your hands on Texas Hold’em Poker. Of course, since poker isn’t my thang, I am looking straight into next month, awaiting Lumines Live with baited breath…

DescriptionThe latest issue of the Official Xbox Magazine has the upcoming schedule of game releases on Xbox Live Arcade. According to Ars Technica, the next series of games and their associated release dates will be:

August 9: Pac-Man
August 16: Texas Hold ‘em
August 23: Time Pilot
August 30: Scramble
September 6: Lumines Live!

Pac-Man, while popular, probably won’t endanger the record set by Street Fighter II’ Hyperfighting for sales, but should be a reasonably decent classic game title. At the very least, the conversion should be much less challenging than the Capcom fighter. Texas Hold ‘em might be interesting online. It is a little disappointing that Microsoft decided not to offer the game for free, and the ultimate price point has yet to be revealed. A couple of Konami classics in Time Pilot and Scramble hit next. Gamers will get Lumines Live just a couple of months before Lumines 2 for the PSP hits the United States. Depending on the pricing and the implementation of online play, Lumines has the opportunity to be another big seller on Microsoft’s Xbox Live service.

Read More | Ars Technica

Street Fighter II LiveSo, Capcom’s Street Fighter II’ Hyperfighting has hit Xbox Live, and so far, gamer response could be considered mixed at best. Numerous complaints have hit the Internet both via blog posts and the official Xbox forums. Some gamers have reported horrible lag in the game, while others say that while they have experienced a few problems, most of the time the gameplay is smooth. Others have slammed the insane difficulty of single player mode, singling out the computer AI for Ryu as being particularly cheap. According to some, quarter match has worked sporadically, and some gamers have seen the game crash in quick match and custom match modes.

The hardcore Street Fighter fans are even less pleased. In a post titled “Capcom Screws Everyone Again,” gamer Jared Rea slams the game. The version of Hyperfighting that is on Live is not arcade perfect, and with the technology available in the Xbox 360, it should be. Rea blames both Microsoft and Capcom. Microsoft gets blame for passing the game through certification with all of the online bugs present. Capcom’s responsibility lies in giving development of the title to Sensory Sweep; while having one of Capcom’s in-house development teams work on the game would not necessarily ensure a better experience, the version on Xbox Live apparently has glaring gameplay bugs.

Feedback on the game is still early; there is still hope that a later patch could fix some of the online lag and matching issues. But if the accusations of inaccurate gameplay are correct, this will certainly dissuade the hard core Street Fighter crowd.

Read More | 1up

Street Fighter IIRumors of Street Fighter II coming to Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade first hit in January; according to reports at the time, the game was supposed to hit the service early this year. Finally, on August 2, Street Fighter II’ Hyper Fighting will be available for 800 Microsoft Marketplace Points, approximately $10. The game, of course, will offer a host of online features and achievements, along with the typical leaderboard functionality. Quick match or custom match online game selection will be available, along with a new “quarter match.” The quarter match mode will simulate the old days of gaming back when Street Fighter II dominated the arcades; virtual “quarters” are used to determine who will fight the winner of each match. Hopefully, the time spent leading up to the release will have been used effectively to reduce lag and gamers will be transported back to the days when they actually had to be in the same room as their opponent.

Read More | Gamerscoreblog

Rumored Xbox 360 BundleMicrosoft may be happy with the position they’re in—current counts have the Xbox 360 at about 5 million consoles sold, and the PlayStation 3 seems to be a bad press magnet recently—but that doesn’t mean they’re not taking the competition seriously. While up until this point Microsoft has denied that they will drop prices to compete with the PS3, speculation and rumors have been circulating that the 360 might start coming with bundled games and/or Xbox Live credits at the same $299/$399 price point.

Ars Technica, one of the more trustworthy blogs, points to “reliable sources” saying that a new 360 bundle may include Project Gotham Racing 3, a free 3-month Xbox Live Gold account, and 1250 Live Marketplace credits along with the current $399 Xbox 360. The value of the add-ons would total roughly $85 retail, but in the end this probably costs Microsoft very little (especially since PGR 3 is published by MS). If true, it’s probably quite a smart move by Microsoft - by introducing more folks to their online features for free, MS stands to make a lot more off of Xbox 360 owners. Plus they’ll be able to brag about a > 60% connect rate to Xbox Live.

Read More | Ars Technica