As if backwards compatibility on the Xbox One wasn’t enough, Microsoft’s also going to let you stream and play those older games on Windows 10 PCs. In a private demo of the recently announced Xbox One updates, the company confirmed to Engadget that users will have access to this functionality when the new features roll out during the holiday season. (If you’re a member of the Preview Program, though, you should have access to it already.) Microsoft also revealed that Xbox 360 titles relying on the original Kinect, or any other hardware accessories, won’t work with the Xbox One. A spokesperson said the Xbox team wanted to have backwards compatibility on Xbox One from launch day, but it turned out to be a difficult task because of the different system architecture. For your sake, at least it’s here now.
Check here for everything happening at E3 2015!
[Image credit: Thomas Hawk/Flickr]
To accompany today’s news that Xbox One will soon be backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games, Ubisoft just announced that Rainbow Six: Vegas and Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 will be free for anyone that buys the latest game in the franchise, Rainbow Six: Siege. Although no one has explained exactly how this’ll work, all Xbox 360 games will need to be downloaded (rather than played by disc), so you’d assume Seige will arrive with download codes for both titles. Ubi is the second developer to announce such a deal today, as Bethesda is giving away Fallout 3 with Xbox One copies of Fallout 4. Hopefully this becomes a trend of sorts — it’d make a nice change from having to buy all those “definitive” editions, wouldn’t it?
Check here for everything happening at E3 2015!
Source: Engadget Live Blog
The Adventure Time TV show has been a huge success, but the accompanying video games rarely offer the same level of quality. Developer Vicious Cycle is hoping to change that with Adventure Time: Finn and Jake Investigations, a new 3D puzzler featuring the 12-year-old boy and magical dog. The game is being pitched as an “action-oriented twist” on the graphic adventure genre, which has been enjoying somewhat of a renaissance recently thanks to titles like Broken Age. In the new game, friends Finn and Jake are professional investigators, unravelling disappearances and other strange events in the crazy Land of Ooo. It’s the most visually impressive Adventure Time game to date (which isn’t saying much), and promises a healthy mix of puzzles and combat. If you’re interested, it’ll be landing on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, 3DS and PC this November.
Filed under: Gaming
Source: PlayStation Blog
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]