Xbox One sells 1million units “worldwide” on day one


Microsoft confirms that the launch of the Xbox One was the best Xbox launch for the company yet.

Xbox One

Following the big launch of the Xbox One at midnight last night, Microsoft has just happily announced that the new console sold through 1 million units across 13 markets during its first 24 hours on sale. This marks a new record for the Xbox business, the company said. Supplies are also now limited. “Xbox One is now sold out at most retailers. We are working to replenish stock as fast as possible to meet the unprecedented demand from our customers,” Microsoft said.

“We are humbled and grateful for the excitement of Xbox fans around the world,” said Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of Marketing and Strategy, Xbox. “Seeing thousands of excited fans lined up to get their Xbox One and their love for gaming was truly a special moment for everyone on the Xbox team. We are working hard to create more Xbox One consoles and look forward to fulfilling holiday gift wishes this season.”

Microsoft also mentioned some tidbits about gameplay milestones in the new games. In the last 24 hours, over 60 million zombies have been killed in Dead Rising 3, over 3.6 million miles have been driven in Forza Motorsport 5, over 7.1 million combos were put together in Killer Instinct, and over 8.5 million enemies have been defeated in Ryse: Son of Rome.

Sony’s PS4 also sold a million units in its first day, but it’s worth noting that the console still hasn’t shipped in Europe, unlike Xbox One. PS4 will launch across the pond on November 29.

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2.3 million people waiting for PS4 stock – Gamestop


Sell-through of new console already 80% higher than total number of PS3’s sold in 2006 fiscal year; Xbox One tracking 15% higher than Xbox 360 launch year

GameStop sold through its entire stock of PlayStation 4 systems as well as an extra allocation from Sony, and it still has 2.3 million people left on its “first to know” mailing list for the system. Executives with the specialty retailer updated investors of the console’s early performance in a post-earnings conference call this morning.

Joking that “It’s all about the consoles, stupid,” GameStop officers rolled through some of the early results from the PS4 launch. CFO Robert Lloyd said the company was pleased with tie ratios on PS4 goods, but declined to go into any specific numbers. As for what sold particularly well, GameStop president Tony Bartel said that PlayStation Plus subscriptions (which included two free downloadable PS4 games–Resogun and Contrast) proved to be particularly popular.

“When you look at all of the PlayStation Plus subscriptions we’ve sold in our lifetime, and we’ve been selling them for years, a full one-third of all the subscriptions we’ve sold in our lifetime were sold in the last seven days,” Bartel said.

That sort of digital goods attach rate is becoming big business for GameStop. Elsewhere in the call, the executives confirmed that internationally, customers who picked up Batman: Arkham Origins also bought the game’s season pass DLC from GameStop more than 30 percent of the time.

As for the PS4 hardware itself, the company has sold 80 percent more PS4s in one week than the total number of PS3s it sold in its 2006 fiscal year. The Xbox One also appears to be outpacing its predecessor, as GameStop’s current number of reserved systems plus its additional allocation from Microsoft already exceeds the number of Xbox 360s sold in its fiscal 2005 by 15 percent.

 

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Xbox One pad cost $100 million in R&D says Microsoft


Company tested adding everything from screens to smells before settling on current controller.

Xbox One pad

Microsoft’s Xbox One controller looks a lot like the Xbox 360 controller, but it isn’t for lack of trying. According to a multi-part VentureBeat feature, Microsoft’s research and development spend on just the controller broke into nine-digit territory.

“I don’t want to go into specifics,” Xbox GM for accessories Zulfi Alam told the site, “but it’s over $100 million for sure. Between the tooling of the device, the investments we made in process technology, and the engineering work that went into it, we invested a lot to get this thing right.”

While Microsoft was convinced the Xbox 360 was a “best in class” controller, it considered making some pretty drastic changes for the Xbox One pad. Alam and his team built prototype controllers with screens, speakers, touchpads, cameras, and even smell-emitting functionality. Ultimately, they opted against some of the features (like screens and even an embedded projector) out of battery life concerns, or because they weren’t appreciated by the core gamers Microsoft used for focus testing.

Even the modest changes that Microsoft ended up with didn’t come cheap. The company spent millions on a new button-making technology to give the letters on the pad’s face buttons a bit of extra perceived depth to stand out more clearly for people. It also spent months trying to get the new guide button just right, balancing the brightness of the backlight with different materials for the “X” logo, and weighing those results against battery consumption concerns.

“No, it’s not a drop in the bucket,” Alam said of the expense Microsoft incurred for its new controller. “For any company, when you spend that much money, you have to make sure that the output is amazing. This team bet its careers on this.”

While the $100 million price tag is considerable, the “drop in a bucket” characterization might not be so far-fetched. For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013, Microsoft reported R&D operating expenses of $10.41 billion.

 

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Xbox One Twitch streaming coming in 2014


Microsoft’s console won’t have built-in Twitch streaming at launch.

Sony’s Playstation 4 can already stream gameplay to viewers around the world over Twitch and although Microsoft has announced that a Twitch app will be available on Xbox One at launch, Twitch streaming from the console won’t be available until the first half of 2014. The Twitch app can be downloaded by Xbox Live Gold members and will include Xbox One media achievements.

“We know the ability to instantly broadcast gameplay is something the gaming community is excited about, and we are too,” said the company on its Xbox Wire news site. “We are working to ensure the initial Twitch on Xbox One broadcasting experience meets the expectations of the Twitch community, so while this feature won’t be available right away, we’ll let you know as soon as it is ready. Our goal is to deliver it during the first part of 2014.”

Xbox One owners will still be able to share their video via the Xbox One Game DVR and Upload Studio, which can upload gameplay clips to Xbox Live or Microsoft’s cloud-based SkyDrive service. Once on SkyDrive, the game clips – which will be 720p mp4 files – can be downloaded for editing or upload to another video service.

 

 

Muted reviews for Xbox One’s first titles


Critical Consensus: Micro-transactions raise suspicions from reviewers; Dead Rising 3 leads the pack of new reviews

If it’s true that exclusive games are the key influencer behind console purchase decisions then Microsoft’s Xbox One should be on stronger ground than Sony’s PlayStation 4. This is a system launching with a few more exclusives than Sony’s disappointing three titles – not least Turn 10’s Forza Motorsport 5, a racing game that can sit in pole position by default now that Evolution’s Driveclub has been delayed from launch.

Today, the embargoes lift on some of those launch titles -although not Forza or Ryse: Son of Rome – ahead of the console’s global release on Friday, allowing Microsoft to grab back some of the limelight that Sony hogged for its US launch last week. Let’s look at those reviews now,.

Dead Rising 3

Capcom’s latest zombie killer has a brief window to make a good impression with critics and consumers, but according to Eurogamer’s 7/10 review, the game doesn’t do a good job straight out the gate. “The first minutes of the game are some of its worst, as pixels crawl along the jagged edges of road signs while canned shots of the surroundings strain to set the scene against the weight of slowdown,” says editor in chief Tom Bramwell. “You never escape Dead Rising 3’s technical shortcomings, particularly the slowdown, but once you make it out of this freeway tunnel and into Los Perdidos proper, at least you do stop worrying about them.”

“You never escape Dead Rising 3’s technical shortcomings, particularly the slowdown… but at least you do stop worrying about them”

Eurogamer

From there gameplay is “dumb fun” as in previous Dead Rising games, where players carve through the undead with increasingly outlandish weapons. As fun as that is, Bramwell finds the humour lacking and the frat house gags tiresome, but he also has bigger issues with the lack of surprises. “Dead Rising 3 isn’t as funny, then, and it also feels like there’s less to discover… survivors send you on rote fetch quests, there are little high-score rampages to go on, and you feel directed by duty rather than curiosity.”

US site Polygon may score Dead Rising with something similar to Eurogamer, opting for 7.5 out of 10, but it seems to be seeing a different game. “Dead Rising 3 is an impressive technical achievement for the brand-new Xbox One,” it begins. “Dead Rising 3’s core technology is astounding – hundreds of enemy characters are onscreen at once, itching to eat your face. And the game performs well in most situations, save for the odd texture glitch. But load times were often ponderous”

Writer Danielle Riendeau acknowledges that the game is problematic as much as it is fun, stating: “Playing Dead Rising 3 can be a schizophrenic experience – I was angry at the game whenever it required precision from me – precision that the controls just wouldn’t support. But I was thoroughly enjoying myself whenever it let me run amok and get creative with weapons and vehicles. It’s a game with great ideas and intermittently poor execution.”

There are also issues raised with stereotypes in the game – the days are long gone where reviewers will ignore the immature, crude and offensive characters poorly written by childish developers.

Dead Rising 3.

Destructoid was the site with the most gushing of reviews for Dead Rising 3, awarding it a 9/10 score, with writer Chris Carter claiming, “Dead Rising 3 is the first game I’ve seen that really harnesses the power of next-gen consoles. Oh, and it’s also a phenomenal game as well.”

“For a second, I thought it was a cutscene, but then the game gave me control and expected me to make my way through a giant sea of zombies to reach the first objective. It was completely unreal, and I was sold on the engine almost immediately. For the first time in a videogame, I really felt like I was in a zombie apocalypse.”

Carter doesn’t have a problem with the writing in the game either, “the cast is a bit more well rounded this time around, as there’s a good mix of walking campy caricatures, and actual characters,” and he finds a lot of fun in the co-op gameplay, before summing the whole experience up as “a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won’t cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.”

Killer Instinct

You can’t get much more hardcore than a one-on-one fighting game, and you won’t find a subject matter that raises temperatures amongst the gaming community as quickly as micro-transactions. Killer Instinct is both, so this game really is an outlier for a new business model on a brand new games console.

“Clearly it’s nothing that wouldn’t have been possible on older technology. In fact, strip away the particles and there’s little to Killer Instinct that feels new”

Edge Online

Edge goes straight in with a 7/10 score, noting that this is a fighter with a well-designed mechanic. “Yet as thoughtfully put together as the combo system is, clearly it’s nothing that wouldn’t have been possible on older technology. In fact, strip away the particles and there’s little to Killer Instinct that feels new.”

“Sure, it runs at 60fps, but so do its 360 and PS3 equivalents, and it does so only in 720p. Character models whiff of the previous generation – Jago’s hairdo is supposed to be spiky, but not jaggy – and stage backgrounds similarly fail to make a compelling case for Xbox One’s processing power. One mountain range backdrop looks disappointingly flat, but even the more enclosed stages are let down by drab, low-detail scenery,” writes the reviewer.

Although IGN notes that the game has “only six characters – it’s hard not to feel a bit limited by that,” it rolls out an 8.4 score and is impressed by the attention Double Helix has heaped on the game, making a tough genre accessible to noobs.

Killer Instinct.

“The sad truth about fighting games is that much of what makes playing them against others interesting is usually kept obscured,” writes Vince Ingenito. “Killer Instinct succeeds enormously at exposing all of that information to players of all skill levels.

“Not only is its combat system flashy and well thought out, it’s well explained too, thanks to its powerful training tools, and what is easily the most complete guide to terminology and tactics ever assembled in a fighting game. Though it lacks an arcade mode or a full-sized character roster, Killer Instinct delivers where it counts.”

Joystiq’s review of Killer Instinct highlights the problems with reviewing a game that isn’t finished yet, let alone one where different price points get you different levels of access to content. “Right now, there’s little else aside from training, survival and online modes. There isn’t a story mode or an arcade mode, though the latter is promised for the future,” writes David Hinkle in his ⅗ review.

“As it stands, Killer Instinct is a streamlined fighter designed as a far-reaching modular experience, which highlights one of its key problems: a dearth of content.”

But like IGN’s review, Hinkle points to the accessibility of the game overriding the lack of content. “This makes Killer Instinct a delight to play and a uniquely enticing proposition to fighting aficionados and genre novices alike. And even though it’s mostly about big, flashy combos, Killer Instinct doesn’t make you feel helpless when you’re the one being pummeled,” he says.

If the rest of the unreleased game is this good and the developer holds out on the delivery promise, Killer Instinct may grow to be much better received.

Crimson Dragon

On-rails shooter Crimson Dragon is as close to Panzer Dragoon or Child of Eden as 2013 gets, but it has an unwelcome addition of micro-transactions that don’t sit well with OXM reviewer Jon Blyth.

“In an unexpected, and entirely unwelcome move, Crimson Dragon seems to have taken a lot of design leads from free-to-play games,” he writes in a 6/10 review. “You pay credits to perform tougher missions, a counter-intuitive form of employment that’s crying out for a Dragon Riders Union strike ballot. It’s also a little too reminiscent of F2P ‘energy’ mechanics for our liking.”

“In an unexpected, and entirely unwelcome move, Crimson Dragon seems to have taken a lot of design leads from free-to-play games”

OXM

The game is fun when it lets the player indulge in the power fantasy, but when it feels unnessarily unfair and then dangles the ability to buy your way to end of a level, it leaves a nasty taste, says Blyth. “When you’re beset, besieged, and bullied by streams of incoming missiles, you feel cheated rather than challenged, and the beckoning gem shop makes the process feel dirty.”

Ben Reeves at GameInformer also has problems with Crimson Dragon, mainly because it tries to innovate in a genre that barely any developers have given any care or attention to in the past ten years, and had fudged controls that were originally designed for Kinect.

“Crimson Dragon tries to mix up the repetitive shooting with sequences where you collect gold beacons, but these moments are about as exciting as flying through a series of rings,” he writes in a 6/10 review.

“Levels occasionally open up and allow you to fly around the environment, but I constantly felt like I was fighting the camera throughout these sequences, and the dragons are so sluggish that there is no thrill to flying. I was actually happy every time the game limited my controls to the rails.”

Reeves says he’s a fan of the original Panzer Dragoon series, but even he admits that after the nostalgia “it doesn’t hold a candle to its precursors that came out decades ago.”

Crimson Dragon.

Chris Carter of Destructoid highlights the in-game micro-transactions, but although he doesn’t like the idea of them, he also doesn’t have a problem with the way they’re implemented in Crimson Dragon.

“Like Ryse and Powershot Golf, Crimson Dragon unfortunately employs a micro-transaction option to buy more currency. But! It’s mostly inoffensive, because you can just buy everything through gameplay,” he writes in an 8/10 review.

“I don’t like that this system is in place in the slightest, but I never once felt like I had to pay money. Instead, I was inspired to level up my dragons through normal gameplay, and simply improve my skills.”

And despite the uncomfortable micro-transactions, Carter is happy with the end gaming result. “As a massive fan of the Panzer series, I was worried that this wouldn’t quite honor it, but thre’s plenty here for gamers who have been longing for an entry since 2003’s Orta,” he says. “There are some mechanical problems, but any old-school rail shooter fan will be able to handle them.”

 

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