Xbox One Price Dropped by $50 for the Holidays
Ah, yes. Time to dust off that floating Xbone pic – the Big X has got some news.
Beginning next week and running all the way to January 3rd of 2015, you can snag a brand new Xbox One starting at $350. Now, that’s the price on the core model sans the Kinect. But fear not, purveyors of motion technology/accidentally broadcasting yourself nude. Every Xbox One bundle is getting $50 knocked off the price tag.
The offer is only good at participating retailers, but honestly, throw a dart and you’ll hit a store hosting the deal. Best Buy, Gamestop, Walmart, Target, Microsoft’s own Apple-a-like stores; even the brick n’ mortar-less Amazon is offering the deal.
The price drop, temporary as it may be, isn’t very surprising. The PlayStation 4, having taken advantage of Microsoft’s serious missteps even before next-gen’s launch last November, is killing it. Undercutting the PS4’s already attractive price – not just matching it – may be Microsoft’s best hope at filling homes with Xbox One’s.
The higher ground will be lost, however, if Sony announces a similar pricing initiative, but given the goodwill already earned for the console, we’re unlikely to see a massive upset this Holiday.
Microsoft’s DeLorean Could Solve Cloud Gaming’s Latency Issue
All they have to do is hop into the time travelling DeLorean they’ve rigged up, go to the future, and simply steal the solution to low-latency gaming from their hosier counterparts.
Okay, the actual news isn’t as fun. Microsoft Research has been heading up a project that targets the latency times that make conventional gaming hosted on a remote server so unbearably slow. Their egghead idea? DeLorean — a “speculative execution system” capable of masking up to 250ms of network latency over the cloud.
Combining bandwidth compression, state space subsampling and time shifting, as well as input prediction and misprediction compensat— Listen, I’m trying to say DeLorean predicts the future. It renders frames of “future possible outcomes” and sends them to you ahead of time, giving the illusion of no latency.
The research team has already tested DeLorean on two high-profile titles — Doom 3 and Fable 3. The results were terrific. Users preferred the prediction system to current means of cloud gaming. With DeLorean, all anyone would need is an internet connection and a TV. ‘Course, Microsoft wouldn’t be Microsoft if they didn’t somehow work DeLorean into their Xbox offering.
You can read Microsoft Research’s full paper on the subject here. We’re not exactly at hover car stage yet (that’s 2015, duh) but latency-free gaming is the, like, the seventh best thing down from that.
Somebody must have tasked Phil Spencer with two missions yesterday when he took to E3’s stage in Los Angeles: 1) Avoid showing off anything regarding, related to, or even remotely reminiscent of TV apps and 2) Slowly strangle anyone who dares utter the word “Kinect” while staring into their eyes as their soul fades from their body like a light dimming.
I say this because Phil made damn sure the only thing that took center stage besides camera-shy, stammering game developers was the games themselves. What ensued was probably one of the better conferences held by the company in quite some time – Microsoft wasn’t going to let Sony blacken their eye again like at last year’s event.
Below, I’ve collected (almost) every title named at the Xbox presser. Be sure to click on each game’s name to peep an accompanying trailer.
See, don’t I take care of you guys?
Next-Gen Gears of War: Sometimes Innovating Means Betrayal
“This isn’t a great way of phrasing it, but I always talk about shipping a sequel to customers as ‘managing betrayal.’”
After Microsoft bought up the rights to the Gears of War property from series curators, Epic Games, the company’s in-house development studio, Black Tusk Games, was quickly assigned the job of carrying the franchise to the Xbox One. Rod Fergusson, former production head at Epic, joins Black Tusk in keeping Gears’ cogs turning.
Though Fergusson was put in place in order to keep the fabric of Gears – it’s identity, so to speak – intact, the producer wants to stray from the familiar. “They want something new but they don’t want something so new that it doesn’t feel like what they want,” said Fergusson to OSM. “But if you put out something that’s very familiar and is the same as the game they just had, then it’s like 'I’ve already had this. This isn’t new enough.’”
Black Tusk basically wants to avoid Back to the Future Part III Syndrome. It’s a wise play. Fergusson's philosophy on how to achieve this, however, is unique. “You actually have to betray them enough to give them something new and surprising but not so much that they disconnect, and I think that is a big thing that we have to focus on.
It’s how we can innovate and bring something new to the franchise while at the same time really proving that we understand Gears - that this is the franchise that you know and love.”
Fergusson has broken down for his team which core conceits of Gears have to remain unchanged versus rusty joints in the gameplay where innovation is needed. It may be a good long while before fans endure the betrayal of change, as Phil Spencer, Xbox’s new commander-in-chief, has stated he wants to give Black Tusk all the time in the world they require to evolve Gears of War for the Xbox One.
Microsoft to Sell Kinect-less Xbox One Units in June (!)
The genesis of Microsoft’s policy on the Xbox One/Kinect 2.0 pairing began with the company announcing the console wouldn’t even function without the peripheral. Fan feedback – vehement feedback – had MS back down from that divisive decision.
But Microsoft would not relent completely, stating that the Kinect was such an integral part of their Xbox strategy, they would never sell Xbox One units without bundling the extraneous motion sensor. Well, folks, never say never, huh?
The new chief of Xbox, Phil Spencer, says that while the Kinect remains locked into their vision for the future of Xbox (“It’s an important differentiator for us”), Microsoft is responding to fans who wish to experience Xbox One only through a wireless controller.
Thusly, beginning June 9th, you’ll be able to find Xbox One units minus the Kinect on store shelves in North America and Europe, priced at $399 (or £349/399 Euros).
For me, this has been the make-or-break factor keeping me from jumping on Xbox’s next-generation. I haven’t the slightest interest in Kinect; it has potential, but we haven’t really gotten past the “swatting at air” phase of the technology. Until then, I’d like my primary form of interaction to be what’s worked since the NES: a controller.
How about you kindly gamers out there? Will you finally jump on the Xbone bandwagon now that Kinect is separate?