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Xbox Live

A translation of Xbox Archiv in Germany has supposedly confirmed a large Xbox Live Dashboard update to be happening at the end of May. Key among the improvements are the creation of an Xbox Live download queue and the ability to handle background downloading. The confirmation of these changes is supposed to be from Boris Schneider-Johne of Microsoft Germany. In addition to the background downloading, more updates are supposed to be scheduled, including better bandwidth management. It does seem a little strange that this update didn’t seem to get any coverage out of E3, but gamers should cross their finger in the hope that by the end of May, they should be able to download files and play games at the same time.

Read More | Xboxic.com translation of Xbox Archiv


The Xbox Media Briefing started with an amazing 3D array of the Gamertags of everyone that is here in the audience. It was absolutely stunning the way that they did this.

At the beginning of the briefing, we got a Gear of War trailer, followed by a demonstration of one of the levels. We must say - this game is drop-dead gorgeous.

Peter Moore hits the stage.

Xbox 360 has sold 5 million units faster than any console in history, as well as the iPod. Xbox Live will hit 6 million members within 12 months. As of last week, there is a 57% attach rate to Xbox Live.

We are given a look at upcoming Xbox Live Arcade games, including:

Dig Dug
Ms. Pac Man
Track and Field
Ultimate MK 3
Street Fighter II
Paper Boy

This is gonna be good stuff. All games will be updated in high definition, online multiplayer, and obviously achievements. Arcade is also creating a space for indie developers to get their new ideas across to today’s gamers.

Just announced: Lumines is hitting the Xbox 360 as an Arcade title, “Lumines Live.” The game will have licensed music from the likes of Madonna and others. Totally awesome.

We are watching a trailer of upcoming Xbox 360 titles. I am telling you, there is no difference as of now between these graphics and those of the PS3. Believe that. Smackdown vs. RAW 2007, Ninety-Nine Nights, and Gears of War look fabulous.

By holiday 2006, there will be more than 160 games available for the Xbox 360. When football season starts, Xbox 360 will be the only place to hit up Madden 2007 in next-gen format.

There is still development dedicated to the original Xbox.

Newly Announced: We are watching a trailer for what looks to be a sequel to Fable. In fact, it is! Fable 2 has just been announced, and this game looks incredible. Of course, this is a CG trailer…but the storyline looks tight.

Forza Motorsport 2: Another racing game, but these cars are fully customizable…from the engine, to the wheels, to the paint. Over 300 cars, racing up to 11 people on Xbox Live, and it will have a wireless steering wheel controller.

Other accessories include a wireless headset, and the Xbox Live Vision Camera that we leaked a few weeks ago. All three accessories will be available in Fall 2006.

Focusing on Japan, games like Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, and DOA Xtreme Volleyball 2 are hopefully going to make the Japanese appreciate the Xbox 360. Um, no they won’t.

Now viewing a trailer for Splinter Cell: Double Agent. I like the new gameplay elements, and the graphics are (again) top-notch. Even the gameplay footage. Launching in September.

Moving on to Viva Pinata. This is like a mix between Cubivore, The Sims, and a few other “do it yourself” games. In order to mate, there is a mating dance. Pretty creative. Launching in Holiday 2006.

Now we are moving on to entertainment, starting with Xbox Live Marketplace. There are over 18 million downloads since the launch, and as of tonight, there are over 1000 pieces of content. Every Xbox 360 developer has a piece of content on the Marketplace.

Xbox Live Marketplace changes the way people buy games. When Fight Night was demoed, pre-orders increased by 5x. Marketplace also provies true episodic content and opens a world of true digital entertainment. Tonight, you can download high definition show content, Gears of War Race to E3. It starts on Xbox Live, and ends next week with an MTV special.

Xbox 360 HD DVD player will be available this holiday. No price yet? What’s the deal?

I think it’s time for Halo 3…Moore is teasing us, and I think he has another tatoo. “Some guys do rubber ducks. Some guys do tatoos.” I was wrong, it’s time for Grand Theft Auto IV, which hits Xbox 360 on October 16th, 2006. He said nothing about exclusivity, but it is available on the platform on day one. Rockstar will also be providing exclusive episodic content on Xbox Live.

Moving on to Vista. The most game-friendly OS in history. Games for Windows is the new unified brand. Now showing trailer for PC game Crysis. Gameplay looked great, and it was running on Windows XP. We now change it up and take a look at DirectX 10 gaming on Windows Vista…and everyone is absolutely floored. Flight Simulator X and Crysis look photorealistic. One word here, folks: Wow. Vista is built to run games, and will be the single biggest launch in Microsoft’s history.

On to Oblivion, it sold 1.7 million copies in 3 weeks. Joint release for Xbox 360 and PC. Today they are announcing two more joint release games that will be released on both platforms, offering gamers a choice. The first is Shadowrun, which looks to provide a high-level depth of gaming. Launches with Vista in January. The other game is called Alan Wake, and it looks like a high-level survival-horror/thriller. A psychological action thriller.

Bill Gates hits the stage, and talks about Xbox 360’s global presence. By the end of June, between 5-5.5 million consoles will have been shipped.

Before others enter the marketplace, Xbox 360 will have a 10 million unit head start.

Just announced: Live Anywhere. Built-in to Vista, but will also be on cell phones, Xbox 360, etc. Have your Live account on all your devices, giving you one Gamertag that you can use across multiple platforms. Sounds like you can play games on Windows Mobile, and use your Gamertag and possibly even earn achievements. “Start a game on Xbox, continue it on the phone. Maybe schedule your Xbox to download something from your phone while you are away.” Moving from Live, to Live Anywhere.

We are given a demo of how this all might work. This stuff is going to be a big deal - we will have a video up later this evening. For now, know that Xbox Live’s experience will be fully realized on mobile phones, Windows Vista, and the Xbox 360.

I think it’s now Halo time. The crowd is going nuts. Halo 3 looks insane. The storyline will rock…but everyone wants to see multiplayer. It’s coming in 2007.

Xbox LiveMicrosoft’s free Xbox Live Gold week for E3 has started. From Monday, May 8, 12:01AM PST through Sunday, May 14, at 11:59PM PST, all Xbox Live Silver members will be able to play online and make use of the Xbox Live Gold features. In addition, Microsoft will be dropping some exclusive E3 content in the form of game trailers and demos, and will be hosting a number of giveaways and contests. Of course, since the last dashboard update didn’t include the ability to download files in the background, gamers trying to access the new content won’t be able to game at the same time. But still, there should be a lot of great insider content available on Xbox Live that gamers wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere.

Read More | Xbox.com

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My Xbox Messages

Microsoft’s Xbox Live service is back online, and with it comes some new features. While there is no dashboard upgrade (which was confirmed to be the case earlier,) there are some changes on Xbox.com. So, gamers with Xbox Live still don’t have the ability to download in the background, but now Gold members can send and receive text messages on the Xbox.com community site. Silver members can receive messages, and block messages, but not send. Voice messaging is not yet supported. Gamers without Xbox Live accounts can see some screen shots of the new interface in Major Nelson’s Flickr account.

Read More | Xbox.com
Read More | Interface screenshots via Major Nelson

MLB 2K6For those gamers with MLB 2K6 on the Xbox 360, a patch has been made available via Xbox Live. Anyone with an Xbox Live Silver or Gold account will be able to download the patch, and users should see a “Title Update” available upon inserting their MLB 2K6 game disc. According to 2K Sports, this was an issue with the HD cache corrupting when users turned off the machine while playing a game, and the issue impacted less than 10% of the user base. There have been mixed reports of success in the 2KSports forums, but some people who still had freezing issues post-patch were able to fix their problem by deleting their downloaded content and starting clean, so it looks like the “uninstall-reinstall” fix so common in the PC world has come to the console world. 2K Sports has not provided information on an alternate method of obtaining the patch for those gamers with an Xbox 360 and no network connection.

Read More | 2K Sports Patch Announcement

While perusing through our Xbox 360 debug unit, we came across something interesting - it looks like UNO will be the first game to support the Xbox 360 camera accessory that we know will be coming at some point. We figured we would record a short video showing the camera settings in UNO, for your viewing pleasure. Of course, if you prefer straight images, we have those too - after the jump.

Click to continue reading UNO Will Support Xbox 360 Camera

Xbox 360 LogoMicrosoft’s E3 coverage started officially with launch of their Xbox.com E3 2006 mini-site. Currently available on the site are a “year in review” retrospective, and a few interviews, including one with Peter Moore. Moore’s interview, particularly, gives some insight into what messaging gamers might expect in the upcoming E3 Expo. He start’s by touting the recent success of Elder Scrolls: Oblivion: “To follow up as quickly ... with a roleplaying game like The Elder Scrolls® IV: Oblivion™...only four and a half months after launch, is a huge achievement.” Of course, Oblivion was originally scheduled to be a launch title, so “only” slipping the release date twice is still somewhat of an achievement.

Moore also touts the upcoming game titles, 150 - 200 in the next 12 - 18 months, quite respectable. Since Nintendo is talking about reaching out to different audiences, Moore also pumps up Rare’s Viva Piñata, where gamers must “...attract all 60 unique piñatas.” Apparently, you have to catch them all. The Xbox Live Arcade gets some support as another method to attrach casual gamers. The two games that get mentioned are Joust and Geometry Wars. It does seem a little odd that the big Live Arcade titles are the same ones that are present at launch, and four plus months later there isn’t another game that captures the same success.

On the plus side, there should be a bunch of exclusive E3 content available on the Xbox Live Marketplace during the expo, so gamers can look forward to that. Moore also looks to the future of MMORPGs, hoping for a Snow Crash like environment, of course, brought to the world by Microsoft.

Updates on the site will accelerate as E3 approaches, and gamers with an RSS reader can add the feed for the site to keep pace.

Read More | Xbox E3 2006 Coverage
Read More | Peter Moore Interview

2K Sports has posted yet another update in their forums, and they currently have a fix for the MLB 2K6 freezing issue on the Xbox 360 in compliance testing at Microsoft. When the update passes acceptance testing, it should become available as an auto update for all Xbox Live Silver and Gold customers. Other methods of obtaining the patch have not yet been announced, so those users without network-connected Xbox 360 consoles may have to wait a bit longer for an official fix.

Read More | Official 2K Sports Forums

Phantasy Star Universe

Sega announced today that the latest game in the Phantasy Star series, Phantasy Star Universe will be available this Fall for the Xbox 360, as well as the previously announced PS2 and PC versions. The press release drops a few more details about the game, including what appears to be a solo mode with a more fully developed story than the previous versions. No word on whether PC, PS2, and Xbox 360 users will be able to play against each other, and it looks like the new release still won’t have a large persistent world, but will rather follow the meet up and mission structure of the previous games.

Full Press Release after the jump.

Click to continue reading Sega Announces Phantasy Star Universe for Xbox 360

OblivionMajor Nelson recently posted that the Orrery quest for Elder Scrolls: Oblivion is now available on Xbox Live for a low 150 points. The backlash has already started over in the official Oblivion forums for the game; people that have downloaded the additional quest complain that this add-on is less valuable than the previous horse armor premium content. Gamers impatient for the gameplay patch from Bethesda are also questioning the priorities of the developers.

Read More | MajorNelson.com
Read More | Official Oblivion Forums