Microsoft’s Shane Kim Says Natal Is About “Winning” This Generation”

Shane Kim.Microsoft’s XBox 360 Corporate VP Shane Kim recently sat down with OXM to talk about Project Natal and the future of the 360 platform. According to Kim, Natal is more than just a cool peripheral, it’s how Microsoft plans to bring “hundreds of millions” of gamers to platform and eventually win this generation.

Kim is aware, as is the rest of the world, that Natal seems on the outside like a response to Nintendo’s Wii, the console that’s actually winning the generation so far. He claims that’s not what Natal’s about, but that’s a hard sell. “This is about unlocking the potential and breaking down all the barriers that remain that prevent people who are intimidated or feel awkward with a controller in their hand – anything that prevents them from jumping in and having a great time with Xbox 360 and Xbox Live,” Kim said.

Kim’s sending a pretty clear message. The “barriers that remain” are obviously the things Nintendo didn’t do, which are the same things Kim thinks will help Natal win. You can read the rest of the interview over at OXM.

Best Buy Offers Half Off A 360 Game When You Buy Another

Best Buy.This week Best Buy is showing 360 gamers some love by offering half off one game when you buy another. As always with this sort of deal there is a limited list of titles available, but that list includes big hits like Halo 3 and Fable 2.

Oddly enough, you’ll notice Modern Warfare 2 is on the list, even though the qualifications say you can only choose from titles currently in stock. I highly doubt this promo will be running until November, when the game is set to release, but maybe you can pick up a pre-order on the cheap.

Best Buy has not issued a closing date for the sale, but I wouldn’t take my chances, especially you’re thinking about the new Call of Duty. I know several stores around here have already sold out of their pre-orders, and most are nearly out of the Prestige Edition as well.

Halo: ODST Drops Early In France

Halo 3: ODST screenshot.Last week Microsoft claimed 9t had a “very small breach in [its] distribution process,” which led to the early release of Halo 3: ODST to a few French retailers. Rumor says less than a hundred copies of the game were released, most of which were legitimately purchased, though some may have been acquired illegally.

Microsoft was pretty even-keeled about the situation. The company released a statement that said, “We are also investigating Xbox Live accounts that show activity related to Halo 3: ODST and will take action against those we believe have procured copies of the game illegitimately.” There was some understandable confusion since several players actually paid for the game at a licensed Microsoft retailer. Xbox’s Stephen Toulouse was click to clear things up via his Twitter page. “Clarity on the ODST thing. We will not be banning legitimate customers from Xbox LIVE who play early,” wrote Toulouse, the current Head of Policy and Enforcement for Xbox Live.

Since the leak, Microsoft has been making its way around the internet, pulling videos for copyright infringement and attempting to keep the game’s intimate details away from the eyes of the ravenous horde. You can get Halo 3: ODST when it officially launches on September 22nd.

Champions Online Delayed By Microsoft

Champions Online.If you were hoping to kick back with your Xbox 360 and do a little arch-nemesis stomping, you’ll have to talk to Microsoft. Cryptic, who develops the new superhero MMO, says Redmond is the only thing standing between you and playing Champions over Xbox live.

According to Cryptic CCO Jack Emmert, Microsoft is taking its sweet time with the process. “It just takes time for the big beast known as Microsoft to get moving,” said Emmert. “It’s as baffling to developers as it is to everyone else.”

Every other MMO initially intended for the Xbox 360 has failed to make it to print, save for that Final Fantasy XI port. Cryptic still thinks Champions will see release on the console, but they have no clue when. We heard the same thing with regard to Age of Conan and you can see (or not see) how that turned out.

Source: VG247

Get More Monkey Island For Wii On Monday

Tales of Monkey IslandMonday marks the release of Chapter 2 in the revamped Tales of Monkey Island series, The Siege of Spinner Cay. This next installment continues the often hilarious adventures of Guybrush Threepwood and his search for love and acceptance.

The game has been out for PC for several weeks now, which is still a shorter release gap than with Chapter 1. As with the original, Chapter 2 will run you 1,000 Wii Points. For some strange reason, Telltale is also encouraging you to consider buying an SD card from Amazon. It’s a strange plug to see in a press release but hey, who doesn’t love a little ad money.

Just so we’re clear, the 31st is an American release date only. As the press release mentions, the European version is imminent but as of yet undated.

Reading Material: Joystiq Interview With Xbox’s Aaron Greenberg

Xbox's Aaron Greenberg.I’m starting this column as a way to transfer the interesting and entertaining articles I get to read most of the day to you guys. These are mostly articles that I can’t appropriately rehash here without some pretty serious plagiarism and a lot of extra time I simply don’t have.

This week’s entry comes courtesy of Joystiq and Xbox’s Aaron Greenberg. Greenberg sat down with Joystiq this week to discuss the rollout of Microsoft’s new Xbox 360 price structure. The interview is long, so don’t get in there unless you’ve got some time free to do a good bit of reading.

Greenberg was gracious enough to cover everything from basic competitive strategies for dealing with Sony to holiday release titles to services destined for Xbox Live glory. Of interest to most of you will probalby be Greenberg’s take on Hulu or Amazon Unbox coming to the 360. He says seeking those sorts of services is akin to, “asking out a really hot chick on a date, they don’t all say yes.” Sorry gamers, Hulu is just out of your league. Why don’t you stick to what you know, like paying for your television content the Microsoft way.

The rest of the interview is a good way to catch up if you’ve been on a desert island for some time now. It’s like a survey course in recent Xboxian history. Hit the link below for the full article.

Source: Joystiq

Amazon Germany Lists 250GB Xbox 360 Elite

Amazon Germany shows 250GB Xbox 360 Elite.Since Sony announced the PS3 Slim, Microsoft has been fighting to gain some press coverage, and it’s a fight they intend to win. In the latest Redmond leak, an Engadget tipster found a 250GB Xbox 360 Elite bundled with two controllers and Forza 3 (which you’ll recall also isn’t out yet), all for €280.

The bundle, which translates to about $400, is a pretty sweet deal. Granted, you no longer get that HDMI cable, but you will get two controllers and what looks to be a great game along with some extra hard drive space. Honestly, the hard drive space doesn’t thrill me. Sure, it’s nice for adding movies and downloading games, but this is something Microsoft should have done years ago.

The best news of it all may be that some intrepid hackers will find new ways to use the extra space. If you aren’t aware, the current 360 hardware only allows connections from the specific size hard drives Microsoft sells. It is possible to hack together your own HDD, but you’re maxed out at 120GB, which is truly pathetic. Though doubtful, the update could mean Microsoft has lifted that restriction.

Source: Engadget

Facebook And Twitter Only For Xbox Live Gold Members

Twitter on Xbox 360.Microsoft surprised me yesterday when they announced that Facebook and Twitter on the Xbox 360 would only be available to Xbox Live Gold members. Maybe surprised isn’t the word. My first thought was, ‘of course.’ But then I had to wonder, why?

Why only Gold members? Sure, it adds yet another reason to throw down the $50/year subscription fee, which is pretty minimal cost for the value you get as a regular player. Adding social services to Xbox Live falls in line with the “entertainment hub for your home” strategy that Microsoft has been pushing, so why not make the services free? It may not get more subscribers, but it has the potential to sell more consoles.

I think it’s safe to say that the average Silver member would probably remain Silver even after the two services become available. After all, these are the uber-casual, the people you probably couldn’t entice to sign up with free ice cream. Pitching these services to those people won’t make one bit of difference.

There are plenty of other reasons to try to charge money for this stuff, but the Xbox Live subscription fee is so minimal, and the cash likely already designated to other aspects of their business, that Microsoft would probably see more total value from making the services free. It may not be a ton more, but you’d almost certainly have more people with a controller in hand more often. Isn’t that the dream, after all?

No HDMI Cable = Flexibility For Consumers

HDMI cableSo spaketh Microsoft’s Chris Lewis to, so let it be true. But wait that’s not true. That’s like the opposite of flexibility. That’s imposing choice on consumers who may not want to spend $30 on an HDMI cable at Best Buy or wherever else they buy their gaming hardware.

But let’s be fair. Let the man’s words speak for themselves. “We wanted to get the Elite pricing to a figure that is acceptable for consumers so they have the option of a premium console gaming experience. Removing the HMDI cable gives the flexibility to consumers who can then decide which type of cable they want for their specific gaming and TV screen set-up,” said Lewis. You know, that still sounds like the opposite of flexibility.

Let’s pick this one apart, shall we? First, Lewis suggests that the HDMI cable may have been part of the cost of the Elite Xbox 360. HDMI cables are like $4, and as someone who has used the $50 version alongside the $4, I can’t tell a difference in quality. He goes on to suggest that not giving you cables means you have flexibility in your standard of video quality. I don’t know about you, but when I bring home a new toy, I like to play with it. Maybe I just don’t plan ahead as well as Mr. Lewis, but if I’ve just purchased an HD capable system, I want it in HD. I don’t want to run out to hastily buy a new cable because I just can’t wait (and believe me, I can’t wait).

As flimsy as the statement may be, it doesn’t lead us to the real reason Microsoft dropped the cable. It’s not cost. It just flat out isn’t. So why? And why no more component cable?

Microsoft Officially Confirms 360 Price Cut

Xbox 360 Pro and Elite.Yes it was one of the worst kept secrets in gaming industry of late, but Microsoft has finally officially confirmed the price cuts for both the Elite and Pro Xbox 360 systems. Of course the Pro version is going the way of the Dodo, which is to say straight to extinction after dropping the price by $50.

Microsoft was making the rounds, telling most major news outlets today that they were officially confirming every single rumor. They were even fairly good natured about it. The rep that contacted Ars Technica said, “We’re going to shock you if you’ve been either traveling for a long time, or you don’t read your own site.”

As for the change to the Elite, which if you don’t know means it no longer includes an HDMI cable nor component cables, the Microsoft rep told Ars, “According to our research, most of the customers who bought the Elite weren’t using the HDMI. We’ve removed it, and passed it on as part of our price savings.” Lucky us! They’re passing along that $3 savings. Wow. Thanks Microsoft. Now I can never say you didn’t give me anything.

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