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Adam Creighton, Computer and Video Gaming (Subscribe)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Backwards compatibility? Bill on Xbox 360. Partnerships of note.

  1. Xbox 360 backwards compatible?
  2. Bill Gates talks up Microsoft and the next Xbox
  3. Recent Microsoft partnerships of note
  4. Next-Gen games of note
  5. Nintendo going 3D?
  6. New Releases


  1. Xbox 360 backwards compatible?

    • A few week's ago, I mentioned CNN's Game-Over column. Specifically, I told folks to check out Chris Morris's article, "A wish list for Xbox 2", which contained (among other things), the insightful comment about the technical difficulty of backwards compatibility: "Gamers don't care, though. They just want it done."
    • Well, according to this week's GameSpot Rumor Control, "numerous Xbox Live users reported they were sent a survey that explicitly stated they will be able 'to play against gamers who are on Live through Xbox 2--as long as they are playing a current-generation Xbox game.'"

  2. Bill Gates talks up Microsoft and the next Xbox

    • Microsoft chairman Bill Gates sounded off recently at a Society of American Business Editors and Writers meeting. Gates said the goal of the first Xbox was to show Microsoft was legitimate in the industry, but the goal in the next generation is to be an equal cometitor (with Sony) the industry.
    • During the meeting, Gates said the next Xbox will indeed be a home's media hub, and will sport an OS akin to a reduced version of Windows Media Center.
    • Also, Gates apparently let slip confirmation the next Xbox is shipping this year. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Gates said, "What will the year of high-definition be? This year, because we're going to ship this next Xbox."

  3. Recent Microsoft partnerships of note

    • Limelight Networks -- Limelight Networks announced Microsoft has signed them to be the content delivery network for Xbox Live. The press release says, "Xbox Live will utilize Limelight Networks' technology and high-performance distributed network to provide on-demand games and other multimedia content", which is interesting, since it sounds like hosting of the games themselves will remain within Microsoft (with some unfortunate exceptions, like Electronic Arts hosting their Xbox live titles in a sub-par way). The reference to "on-demand games" is interesting, because it speaks to MS maybe getting serious about things like their half-hearted Xbox Live Arcade implemention. Limelight's gotta be feeling pretty good -- they're also the also the content provider for Valve Software's Steam service, IFILM, and the upcoming Phantom console (I'm not even going to link to that marketing fiasco).
    • Samsung -- Microsoft has taken a big step in putting their money where their mouth is in the upcoming "HD Era" they say they're ushering in with the Xbox 360. In a recently signed partnership with Samsung Electronics, the companies will put over 25,000 Samsung high-definition televisions in Microsoft Xbox retail kiosk locations around the world. Pretty cool, but the crux is what the kiosk locations do. Just like the breaking factor in showcase Microsoft Windows Media Center PCs, the retailers generally screw up the display, leaving really broken or otherwise functionless kiosks unaddressed. I've seen this at virtually all Best Buys, Circuit Citys, GameStops, EBGames, Walmarts, Hastings, and Fry's Electronics, to name a few. Of slightly cooler gamer news on this front is Samsung will be pairing a new 23" Samsung LCD TV (LNR238W) at retail with the new Xbox console. Samsung and Microsoft have a longstanding partnership, which is particularly appropos given Samsung and Sony's competition in the electronics space.
    • Showtime -- This summer, Showtime and Microsoft are launching an aggressive promotional campaign, where new Showtime subscribers get free Xbox games and Xbox Live starter kits. The campaign links premium TV, videogames (in about half of US households), and cable/satellite affiliates. Under the promotion, new Showtime subscribers get either two free games, or one free game and an Xbox Live starter kit -- including headset and 12-month subsciption. The promotion starts this month and runs through the summer. Given Microsoft and Showtime are touting "two distinct offers, each valued at $100 or more", I'm curious to see what the games are, and whether the game that comes with the Xbox Live option is different than the pack-in for the retail version (Crimson Skies).

  4. Next-Gen games of note

    • Will Huxley redefine online gaming? It certainly has that potential. The Webzen Inc. mixes MMO with FPS, promising support for 100 simultaneous player battles, and 5,000 players per server. In addition, the "outcome of each battle is directly linked to the survival of the characters [sic] entire race", the Huxley world is persistent, your character is constantly growing in skills, requiring changes in gameplay styles for yourself and your competitor. As an aside, I actually chatted with the Webzen folks at last year's Austin Game Conference.
    • Epic's Gears of War -- That site just seems to keep on giving. Recently, it looks like leaked picts have shown up indicating Epic Games may indeed by doing a game with new IP, using the Unreal Technology Engine 3.0, as an Xbox 360 launch title. A year later, the Unreal 3.0tech demo from the 2004 E3 is still mind-boggling, so it would be great to see it as an Xbox-exclusive. Besides, Microsoft recently announced the technology is the engine of choice for their first-party development from Microsoft Game Studios.

  5. Nintendo going 3D?

    • More Nintendo Revolution rumors. This time, the rumor is Nintendo's next console will feature some sort of stereoscopic projection. That could be cool, and we may or may not get more details at this year's E3, since the Revolution is supposed to be a no-show.

  6. New Releases (May)

    • 5/1/2005

      • Still Life

    • 5/3/2005

      • Pariah
      • Forza Motorsport

    • 5/5/2005

      • Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith

    • 5/15/2005

      • Virtual Pool: Tournament Edition

    • 5/17/2005

      • Sid Meier's Pirates!
      • Outlaw Tennis

    • 5/23/2005

      • Madagascar

    • 5/24/2005

      • Classified: The Sentinel Crisis

    • 5/31/2005

      • Advent Rising
      • Digimon World 4

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SOURCES:,,,, IGN, GameInformer, Official XBox Magazine, CNN,, and others.


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