Plex has more than its share of fans thanks to its powerful and versatile streaming media capabilities. If you’ve got a video file (regardless of how you obtained it) there’s a good chance Plex can play it. And play it anywhere — on your Roku, on your tablet, you smartphone, and now on your Xbox. Starting tomorrow Plex Pass subscribers will be able to pull up their Plex library on their Xbox One. And soon enough Xbox 360 compatibility will be added as well. If you’re not a subscriber you’ll be able to buy the Xbox apps for a one time fee (how much remains to be seen, but probably around $4.99) after the preview period ends. This is also the first time that Plex has been available on a game console, at least as a native app. You could pull in video to your Xbox over DLNA, but this is much easier and cleaner. And yes, you can control your library with voice controls or gestures thanks to Kinect support.
One of the biggest hassles of upgrading to a new gaming console is that by and large almost all of the accessories and peripherals you bought for the previous one are incompatible. High-end racing-wheel outfit Fanatec isn’t going to leave Xbox gamers high and dry, though. The outfit’s recently announced that it’ll soon release a “Fanatec wheel base” that allows you to plug in its existing lines of pricey Xbox 360 racing wheels, shifters and pedal sets into it and use them with Microsoft’s newest gaming system. The outfit’s also apparently closed a licensing deal with Redmond to bring new racing gear to the Xbox One as well. Considering the newly released Forza Horizon 2 and the upcoming The Crew and Project Cars, this should all be good news to virtual gearheads. Here’s to hoping a company steps up and does something similar for PlayStation 4 owners soon, too.
Source: Fanatec (Facebook)
Fancy yourself a master of the Sonic Screwdriver? Well, in a few days you can put those skills to the test… in Minecraft, that is. Whether you’re a timelord fanperson or a Dalek-sympathizer, you’ll be able to show it off once the Doctor Who skin pack hits the Xbox 360 version of the pixely build-your-own-adventure on Friday. As if you needed another reason to look forward to this weekend, yeah? PlayXBLA (Microsoft’s official blog for Xbox Live Arcade news) still doesn’t mention any word of an Xbox One release, but considering that the company recently paid $2.5 billion for the game’s developer, Mojang, we expect to hear it break the, ahem, silence on that soon.
Simply put, Doctor Who and Minecraft are two worldwide sensations, each extremely popular in their own entertainment category. Thus, it just kind of makes sense to bring the two together. Thankfully for those of you who are into both, Microsoft and the BBC have partnered up to do exactly that, by way of digital downloadable content for Minecraft on the Xbox 360. Starting next month, players will have access to character packs from Doctor Who, including skins of The Doctor himself, his companions and his mad enemies — all from throughout the show’s entire history, not only from most recent seasons. No word yet on if this also applies to the upcoming Xbox One edition of Minecraft, but it wouldn’t surprise us if that was the case.
Don’t worry, that green hue around Yahoo Screen’s gills isn’t seasickness, Marissa Mayer’s video service is just taking on the color of its newest platform, the Xbox 360. That’s right, as soon as the sixth season of Community debuts (or other original content, whichever comes first), you’ll be able to watch it via Microsoft’s last-gen gaming console. Until that happens, well, there’s always some 38 years of Saturday Night Live clips to peruse — assuming you haven’t burned through them all on your AppleTV or Roku already.
Source: Yahoo Screen
If you’ve pondered buying an Xbox One but have felt a sense of loyalty to your Xbox 360, Microsoft is very keen to help you make the switch. As spotted by user BeforeU on NeoGAF, the company is running a new promotion that gifts its “very best customers” with a $75 promotional code if they buy an Xbox One or any Xbox One bundle. It appears that not everyone is eligible for the offer, with Microsoft only targeting a subset of Xbox 360 owners across the US ahead of its July 31st deadline. However, there’s no word on whether the promotion will come to other countries. To find out if you qualify, turn on your Xbox 360 and make sure it’s connected to Xbox Live. If you’ve been selected, you can order a (full-priced) console from any retailer and Microsoft will credit your Xbox account with $75, as long as you redeem your voucher code by October 15th. That’ll cover you for at least one Xbox One game like Destiny, ensuring your game collection gets off to a good start.
[Image credit: BeforeU, NeoGAF]
The format war. Over the last few decades it has played out across various forms of tech — AC vs DC, VHS vs. Beta — usually with fierce battle lines drawn and millions or even billions of dollars at stake. Recently, none have burned so brightly as the battle of HD DVD vs. Blu-ray (read our blow-by-blow retrospective here). And it brought all the classic elements: Sides were divided between titans of the industry, led by Sony pressing the Blu-ray side and Toshiba backing HD DVD, with the PS3 and Xbox 360 ready to serve with as trojan horses. As if the the stakes weren’t high enough already, the specter of an oncoming internet streaming winter loomed like Game of Throne’s army of White Walkers. So what really happened, and who won in the end?
Looking back to 2005, HDTVs were finally available everywhere, but not everyone had one yet. A study by Leichtman Research Group would put the adoption rate at about 12 percent by the end of the year, and Nintendo even declined to make an HD-ready version of its new game system, the Wii. It was nearly impossible to buy movies in high definition, with cable or satellite broadcasts left as the only easy option. DVD player-based upscaling promised to make movies look better on HDTVs, but couldn’t quite compare with the resolution of the real thing. There was a light on the horizon, however: Sony and Microsoft were both ready to place calculated bets on the “HD Era” of gaming, and the PS3 would even arrive with a Blu-ray player built-in. Microsoft stuck with plain DVDs, but promised an HD DVD add-on for the future.
The consoles’ arrival turned out to to be particularly welcome too. The first dedicated players to ship were crudely designed, made from left-over laptop parts, slow, glitchy and retailed for around $500 (HD DVD) or $1,000 (Blu-ray). At the time, concerns over DRM like the “Image Constraint Token” that could block HD playback on TVs without copyright protected HDMI jacks ruled the day and we weren’t sure 50GB Blu-ray discs would actually appear — neither issue amounted to much. In time, the players got better and cheaper, and after a while, it was actually normal to see new movies released on HD formats alongside DVDs. In the end, Sony’s Blu-ray format eventually prevailed and is still going strong as we speak. But the path to that victory was a costly one for Sony.
The Competitors: Sony vs. Toshiba
On one side, Sony promised its Blu-ray format could handle capacity (50GB) and even interactivity (BD-J) that we’d never seen before. While Toshiba claimed HD DVD could make up the gap in capacity (30GB max) and technology by being cheaper and easier to manufacture with plants that were already making DVDs. As for content, major studio support weighed heavily in Blu-ray’s favor, whereas only Universal stood in favor of HD DVD. I hedged my bets by purchasing both the HD DVD add-on for the Xbox 360 (it was bundled with Heroes season one — a decision I stand by), and a PS3. Considering the content advantage, it’s really no surprise that HD DVD failed as the only viable alternative was some sort of hybrid push that incorporated Blu-ray. That was a gap both LG and Samsung tried and failed to close with hybrid players. Warner Bros. considered making a play for the space with expensive dual-sided discs, but never actually put them on sale.
And the winner is…
Once Warner Bros. dropped support for HD DVD on the eve of CES 2008, the war was over. Sony had successfully pushed Blu-ray into millions of homes with its PS3 trojan horse; this, despite trailing Xbox 360 and Wii in sales during the early days of the console war. Effectively, it was Sony’s decision to make HD discs standard for the PS3, as opposed to an optional add-on, that led to a hardware gap HD DVD could never surmount. Add in the overwhelming studio support on the Blu-ray side, and it’s clear in retrospect that only stubbornness (and a few contractual obligations) kept things going as long as they did. Toshiba threw in the towel just over a month after Warner Bros.’ CES announcement, and the fledgling HD DVD library was rendered obsolete; now mere collector’s items for a scant few.
The price of success
So to the victor goes the spoils, right? Not quite. While Sony’s Blu-ray format prevailed, it never quite turned into the cash cow its backers originally predicted. Blu-ray still hasn’t unseated DVD as the primary physical movie delivery format, and it’s being squeezed out of relevance on the other end by the rise of video on-demand and streaming. This year Sony took a $240 million hit because of “demand for physical media contracting faster than expected,” something that’s not helping its ongoing attempts to dig out of a massive financial hole. It could be worse though, as Toshiba is suffering the indignity of selling Blu-ray players of its own and facing the same declining PC and TV sales that have hit and crippled Sony.
LG and Samsung took a different approach to the format war with (token) attempts to support both sides, and by shifting focus to mobile, have seen significant growth. Microsoft failed to see the HDi interactive tech it contributed to HD DVD catch on, but its Xbox 360 led the video game console sales charts for years — and never once, despite many rumors, appeared with an internal HD DVD drive. Microsoft also jumped on the Netflix streaming fad early in 2008 before even the PS3 and Wii scored access. Now, the Xbox One plays games and movies alike from Blu-ray discs, to go along with cable TV hooks and streaming apps, and it’s almost not weird.
Despite years of rumors it would jump into the format war, Apple never did, and never has. It ran the other way, largely ditching support for optical discs on its machines and to this day, it still doesn’t make a Blu-ray drive for Macs. Its iTunes video on-demand store is a leader in digital movie sales, and the Apple TV hockey puck has ridden a rising tide for streaming boxes to sales of over $1 billion last year. Internet movie services and connected devices are rising rapidly in popularity, with Netflix topping 40 million subscribers and Google’s Chromecast dongle selling “millions” of units.
Sony’s win has its benefits though, and company has definitely turned things around with the PlayStation 4. The console hasn’t ushered in a new format, but it’s enjoying a sales lead that continues to grow. The PS4′s also built with an eye to the future: Sony’s hosting a beta program (PlayStation Now) for streaming games and promising an internet-delivered TV service later this year adding to its Blu-ray movie playback and healthy suite of streaming video apps.
Blu-ray isn’t ready to be written off either, as disc sales continue to grow slowly, and studios pack in digital copies to increase their appeal. The advent of Ultra HD could also be a bonus, as execs have told us a spec bump is being discussed.
So what did we — the consumers who actually buy all this stuff — get?
Unfortunately, the format war separated content for exclusives and caused studios to stagger movie rollouts. Partially as a result even now, some classics (or cult classics) are either still unavailable in HD or are just hitting shelves. Also, copy protection is both as tight as ever, and as ineffective. Movies are consistently available as rips at or before their disc release. And even the PS4 requires a workaround just to enable video capture for games, among other DRM headaches. While schemes like digital copies and Ultraviolet have provided some portability, promised features (managed copy) have never arrived and moving content beyond the disc is still far more complicated than it should be.
On the other hand, we were promised a movie experience at home that finally truly rivaled what’s available in theaters, and I think that bar has been met. The streaming push is bringing set-top boxes that support more than one service, but that doesn’t mean the days of the video format war are over, they’ve just changed battlegrounds. Every delivery service (i.e., Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, cable TV) has its own exclusive content, and it’s nearly impossible to get them all in one place — with the amount of money at risk, it seems we’ll never learn a different way to do this.
[Image credit: Gary Gardiner/Bloomberg via Getty Images, ASSOCIATED PRESS, Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, ASSOCIATED PRESS, BUILT Images / Alamy]
Many looked at Titanfall as being the first tentpole game for the Xbox One, but how many people actually bought it? It turns out 925,000 units were sold through for the quarter, according to publisher Electronic Arts’ latest earnings call. Unfortunately, Chief Operating Officer Peter Moore was citing NPD numbers and those don’t include digital sales, and thus copies bought via EA’s Origin PC service or from the Xbox One’s dashboard don’t factor into that tally. The Xbox 360 version? It’s “off to a great start,” but Moore didn’t go into specifics. Back in April, the NPD reported that the mech game was a top-seller for March and the second-best performing game for the Xbox One — seeing hard numbers gives a better picture for how well gaming is doing on the new consoles. While Titanfall‘s numbers are impressive, it’s worth remembering that Infamous: Second Son sold more than that on a single platform (Titanfall’s numbers combined the PC and Xbox One sales) in nine days, both physically and via digitally distributed copies.
Source: Electronic Arts
The current-gen console wars may be tilting in Sony’s favor with its PlayStation 4, but once upon a very recent time (i.e., the previous console generation), Microsoft had a big early lead. When the company released its Xbox 360 back in 2005, the console had a considerable head start on the competition, beating Sony’s PlayStation 3 launch by a full year. There were, however, intrinsic pitfalls in rushing the 360 out to market so fast; hardware problems Microsoft paid for dearly.
The Xbox 360′s November 2005 launch was highly anticipated, with thousands of gamers (several Engadget editors among them) braving late hours and cold weather to snag one. Unfortunately for those eager gamers, Microsoft’s haste to meet holiday deadlines resulted in limited stock levels, leaving many shoppers empty-handed and disappointed. On top of that, a significant portion of this initial run — about 3 percent, according to Microsoft — was afflicted with the “red ring of death,” a dreaded, scarlet indicator that signaled a defunct, or “bricked” console. That production hiccup meant a good deal of early adopters had to spend those first days on the phone with customer support instead of playing their new 360s. Microsoft eventually responded to the crisis and made an effort to smooth out those issues with extended warranties, software updates and revised production runs.
Early hardware issues aside, the Xbox 360 was regarded by many as a beautiful thing, with a slimmer and more streamlined build than that of its hulking predecessor. Its gamepad even went on to become a high-water mark for controller design, setting a standard that’s been emulated by many third-party companies since. And it’s still the go-to for many PC gamers to this day. The 360′s also credited with popularizing online multiplayer for console gaming with Xbox Live. That service, which debuted on the original Xbox, benefitted tremendously from Microsoft’s earlier dalliance with online gaming and, of course, the 360′s robust install base.
Limited onboard storage capacity, however, certainly discouraged wanton spending on digital games. The Premium Edition of the Xbox 360 came with a 20GB hard drive, making it the preferred option for most consumers. The cheaper Core version didn’t have a hard drive at all, although for $100, gamers could purchase a 20GB add-on HDD. Without it, however, they couldn’t download much content or play last-gen Xbox games. As the years went by, Microsoft released new 360 models with larger-capacity drives to accommodate the growing file size of games and gamers’ appetite for downloads.
It didn’t take long for Microsoft to garner gamers’ loyalty with the Xbox 360. In its first three years on the market, the 360 effectively surpassed the original Xbox’s lifetime sales with over 30 million units sold. That number then rose to 80 million units by 2008 and got another boost with the Kinect’s release in 2010. Thanks to that monstrous install base, new games continue to arrive for the console to this day; games that are also seeing simultaneous release on next-gen consoles.
Microsoft may be passing the torch to its shiny and new Xbox One, but regardless, sales numbers for the 360 remain strong. In March of this year, over 100,000 units were sold. In fact, the Xbox 360′s been handily beating Nintendo’s struggling Wii U for 25 months straight. Not bad for a nearly 9-year-old console, eh?
Did you own an Xbox 360? Add it to your Engadget profile as a device you had (or still have) and join the discussion to reminisce or share photos of your device with other like-minded gadget fans.
Due to a lack of backwards compatibility, upgrading to new-gen systems like the Xbox One and PS4 has meant mostly leaving your old games and the progress made in them behind, but not in this case. Phil Spencer, the new leader over at Xbox, announced tonight that Minecraft on Xbox One will be able to transfer saves from its Xbox 360 version, so whatever you’ve already built will come with you. He didn’t drop any other details on exactly how the move will work, but mentioned it is the product of cooperation between Microsoft and the game’s developer, Mojang, while promising more news soon.
After months of teaming up with Mojang, we can confirm that Minecraft X360 Edition will save transfer to Xbox One Edition…more news soon!
- Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) April 25, 2014
Source: Phil Spencer (Twitter)