Attendees of the San Diego Comic-Con were treated to a sneak peak of Halo: Nightfall. The production is “led by world class talent such as executive producer Ridley Scott, Scott Free TV President David Zucker, award-winning director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan (Battlestar Galactica, Pillars of the Earth, Heroes), and written by Paul Scheuring (A Man Apart, Prison Break).” Microsoft looks to give Halo fans something to get excited about in the time between major releases.
The latest system update for Xbox One rolled out last week, bringing with it a slew of new features. First and foremost are the Gold benefits, including Deals with …
Continuing with its stated goal of giving gamers what they’ve been asking for, Microsoft announced today that the Xbox One’s June system update will add functionality for external storage support and real names for friend identification.
Once the update arrives, Xbox One consoles will support up to two external USB 3.0 hard drives, provided the drives are at least 256 GB in size. This move will allow users to increase their storage space from the standard 500 GB available on the console’s internal drive. After plugging in a compatible drive, players will be asked if they wish to format it and given the option to make it the default device.
In addition to storing more Xbox One content simultaneously, external drive support will give gamers the ability to drop full games, downloadable content and apps onto external drives and take said drives on the go for usage on a friend’s console. Content can either be saved directly to external drives or copied over to them from the internal one. Digital content stored on external HDDs can be accessed on other consoles once the user has signed into Xbox Live. For retail games, the disc will have to be inserted in order to verify ownership.
Speaking of friends, real name support is aimed at making it easier for users to immediately identify who is who on their friends lists as those lists continue to grow up to 1,000 names in length. Microsoft is cognizant of the privacy concerns this move could potentially raise. The console holder will give each gamer the ability to choose whether all friends, some friends or no friends see their real name. Settings can be changed at any time and real names will not appear in-game.
Microsoft originally planned to support real name usage on launch day but ended up delaying the feature. Competitor Sony has supported actual names since launch on its PlayStation 4 console.
The 13th title update for Happy Wars has been released. The upgrades and changes this time around include support items, which are consumables used to hasten the progress …
This November will mark 12 years since the launch of Xbox Live, Microsoft’s online gaming service that currently boasts more than 48 million global users. Ensuring all of those Live members are constantly connected with each other and enjoying all of the service’s many features is paramount to delivering the Xbox experience gamers have come to expect. To pull it off, Microsoft has staffers working around the clock at its Xbox Live Operations Center (XOC) in Redmond, Washington, reports Total Xbox.
As part of their job function, XOC staffers respond to clear-cut problems. The majority of their time, however, is dedicated to ferreting out issues that no one knows about. Team members search for irregularities and investigate them to discover whether or not they are problems that need solving. They can’t guess at whether something is a threat to uninterrupted Xbox Live service or not; they have to know. They have to find out.
Microsoft Gaming Ninja (yes, that’s his real job title) Eric Neustadter informed Total Xbox that his team has to be ready for anything at all times. “It’s a bit like being in the fire department or police, where you have to think through what would I do in [a worst case] scenario. My boss was in the fire department for years, and he went from doing that to running services like this. In a lot of ways, it is a similar mindset.”
Redundancy is Neustadter’s go-to tool for preventing an Xbox Live doomsday scenario. “We have all the things you need to run 24/7/365, like multiple power grids connected into the campus,” he explained. “When that fails, we have diesel generators with huge tanks out there so that we can run for roughly 72 hours without power, and then we can bring in tankers with more diesel and refill the tanks while they’re running. We also have a disaster recovery site… somewhere else on a different power grid with almost all of this replicated so we can go over there and work instead.”
A post on the Xbox Wire website reveals both new and updated apps for Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
The lion’s share of the coverage details the Major League Gaming (MLG) app’s release on Xbox 360. With this app, Xbox Live Gold subscribers can view live streams of gaming tournaments, access an eSport report, as well as take in other original programming. The most recent broadcast was for the Call of Duty Championship, which included a $1 million prize for the winning team. Development of an Xbox One version is currently in progress.
Also on its way to Xbox One is MLB.TV. Previously released and refreshed on Xbox 360, users who subscribe to both Xbox Live Gold and MLB.TV premium can watch all out-of-market regular season games for the 2014 season.
Microsoft has apparently been listening to the chorus of press and gamer voices denouncing the current state of digital downloads on its next-gen Xbox One console. Xbox Community Manager Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb yesterday revealed in a Reddit thread discussing Titanfall digital download release times that his company plans to improve the situation — eventually.
“A better digital experience is on the roadmap.” wrote Hryb. “Preloads, unlock by time zone etc. are all things we want to roll out for Xbox One. Those features are simply not available yet.”
Some Xbox One owners residing in timezones running ahead of Pacific Standard Time have expressed their dismay at having to wait until the clock strikes midnight on the West Coast prior to being able to download Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall onto their consoles. The game will not be available digitally until the wee hours of the morning for many, while it can be purchased at brick and mortar retail stores at 12:01 am local time at participating midnight release stores throughout North America.
In addition, the Xbox One does not provide gamers with the option to pre-purchase and pre-download games to their consoles over Xbox Live, a feature that’s been made available for games on rival digital distribution platforms such as Steam, Origin and the PlayStation Network. Microsoft temporarily displayed a message on Titanfall‘s Xbox Games Store stating that the ability to pre-download would be made available for the game, but it removed the message shortly after and stated that it was posted in error.
Hryb stated in yesterday’s Reddit thread that there is currently no time frame available for when the Xbox One’s digital experience will be upgraded to include pre-downloading and other heavily requested features. He said that the public will learn more about the new digital experience “as soon as [Microsoft has] the proper story to tell.”
This isn’t a new argument; it’s been made before. Chances are high that you’ve made it yourself once or twice. Recent events, however, warrant revisiting it. Microsoft teased us all last week with a feature that the Xbox One should have had at launch. It told us that we’d all have the ability to do on Xbox One what we’ve enjoyed doing on digital distribution platforms like Steam and Origin for years: pre-purchase and pre-download a game prior to its release. Then, in a move that felt like some sort of cruel joke, Microsoft took it all back.
“Whoops, our bad. Sorry if you got excited, but we’re not actually going to let you do that thing we said we’d let you do that we know you want us to let you do,” Microsoft said in a statement after removing the pre-download option for first-person shooter Titanfall.
OK, no, it didn’t actually say that — but it might as well have. Here’s what Microsoft actually told told Polygon of its blunder: “The pre-purchase offer page was posted in error. We apologize for any confusion.”
The Xbox.com page for Titanfall, which releases on March 11, temporarily had the digital pre-download option that has been so conspicuously absent from digital Xbox purchase pages to date. It was quickly removed, and now Microsoft is apologizing for dangling that carrot out there before yanking it back and locking it away. Polygon captured the official explanation for how pre-downloading on Xbox would work before Microsoft “fixed the glitch.”
Pre-purchase: You will be charged the full price immediately for this pre-purchase. Xbox One game expected to release on March 11th, 2014. You may download the game from Xbox Live before then, but it will not be playable until after 12:01 AM PST on the release date in your country.
For a brief time, at least, it looked like gaming digitally on Xbox was now going to be a little bit more like gaming digitally on PC. It looked like it was going to have something that has become so commonplace in PC gaming that it’s no longer a value-added feature; it’s an expected part of the service that is taken for granted. Unfortunately, unlike those freewheeling distributors of digital PC games, Microsoft has interests other than its own to consider.
There was a time when playing a single-player game meant playing alone and playing a multiplayer game meant mandatory exposure to the (often annoying or offensive) thoughts of random players on the other end of Xbox Live. That time ended during the last console generation thanks to an Xbox Live feature that caused many to pick Xbox 360 over PlayStation 3 as their choice system for multiplatform games: party chat.
The introduction of party chat to the Xbox Live equation was a game changer. No longer did the desire to play an online multiplayer game mean that players would — almost without fail — be subjected to nonstop barrages of insults streaming into their ears from other players. No longer was getting into a game with friends and communicating with them while playing a hassle. No longer was it necessary to remember to inform friends how cool that single-player game you were playing was and why it was so cool after you played it. Up to seven of your friends were now right there with you in a party, and nobody else was getting in the door without you first putting their name on the guest list. You now had your own private party, and damn if it wasn’t fun.
So improved is the party chat experience over the only option that preceded it (chatting with random individuals) that I now refuse to play online multiplayer games without first entering into a private party. Even when no one on my friends list is available to play I still start my own private party, just to keep the cacophony of the internet’s worst amateur comedians and trash talkers out of my ears. The multiplayer experience is exponentially improved thanks to Xbox Live party chat, and, until very recently, no other home console has been able to compete with it.