Xbox One Setting UK Sales Records

Microsoft is certainly enjoying great success with the Xbox One thus far, with a million units sold in the first 24 hours of release. But in the U.K. alone, it’s also setting some solid records in its own right.

A retail monitoring site called Chart-Track has reported that Xbox One sales were twice as big as those recorded over the Xbox 360’s launch week years ago, with 150,000 units going out the door in just 48 hours time. In addition, the site proclaims that it’s “just a few thousand units short of beating the (Nintendo) Wii U’s total UK sales accrued since its release a year ago this week.”

It’ll be interesting to see how these sales numbers hold up over the holiday season, and if the Wii U can catch up now that its big flagship title for the season, Super Mario 3D World, is available for purchase.

Source: Computer and Video Games

Line Chat Hits 300 Million Users

Line has become a reliable message application across 230 countries, and this week it announced that it has reached a monumental number of users with the program.

At a press conference in Tokyo, the company confirmed that the app has reached 300 million registered users, which is up from the 200 million it was at four months ago. That means, in a matter of approximately 120 days, it has picked up 100 million users – nearly a million users a day. It is important to note that these are registered users, not monthly active users (MAU), so the count is probably inflated somewhat (the company previously said its MAU in Japan was 80 percent of its registered users).

Line’s CEO Akira Morikawa stated that the company has an even loftier goal in 2014, hoping to reach 500 million registered users – quite the milestone, but one that’s definitely in reach since it’s “accelerating exponentially.” Line said global downloads across all its games exceed 220 million, and game-related payments account for 60 percent of its revenue (Line is now bringing in nearly $100 million in revenue a quarter).

The company also stated that markets where the service isn’t exactly thriving, including the U.S., aren’t the focus of growth at the moment, as “It is necessary that users understand the value of our service first.” Still, the option to offer more options to expand its services isn’t out of the question.

Source: TechCrunch

Next Steps For Next Gen

Years of work by Microsoft, Sony and many publishers and development studios have resulted in two very successful launches for the new next-generation consoles, the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Does that mean the industry can relax and watch the installed base grow by leaps and bounds while sales and profits grow along with the base If that’s what you think, you need to take a reality check. The hard work needs to continue, and it will not get easier — and success is not assured.

First of all, let’s look at the picture for the next several months. Supply of new consoles will likely be constrained until sometime in the first quarter, and possibly beyond. Certainly it’s possible to ramp production faster, but the cost is high — and neither Sony nor Microsoft wants to build production lines and massive inventory that turns out not to be needed. Right now production is being fine-tuned, and chip yields are increasing. There will be manufacturing problems, hardware and software issues to overcome (the PS4 pulsing blue line and the Xbox One’s disc munching, for example, though both appear to affect only a small number of users).

Eventually, manufacturing will cease to be an issue. — then the fun really begins. The second quarter of 2014 will show us how strong ongoing demand will be for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Will there be great software to kick sales higher Or will this wait until the summer or the fall Typically we don’t see the very best titles on new hardware until the developers have gone through at least one cycle, and tools get better. Here it should be faster due to the familiar architecture and generally better tools. Already we’ve seen some impressive titles on the schedule for next year, like The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt, Watch Dogs, Titanfall, Destiny, and many more. However, we’re still not sure of the release dates are even if the titles will live up to the early buzz.

It’s around the first quarter that the essential reality of new consoles will really settle in for the majority of the market. November, December and perhaps January are all about capturing the hardest of the hardcore fans. These are people who love being the first to own the new hardware, and they’re willing to put up with flaws, omissions, and a relative shortage of software. One important fact about both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 that hasn’t really come into play yet is the lack of backwards compatibility. That’s really not important to the hardcore fan, but to someone who has a big library of existing games they love and perhaps not a lot of money to spend on new software as well as a new console, it’s a big issue. Those are the very people who are the next wave of next-gen console buyers.

Marketing’s got its work cut out for it. It’s not just putting out good messaging about the next-gen consoles, it’s about identifying the barriers to sale and trying to lower or remove them. We already know Sony is likely to provide some form of backwards compatibilty with old PlayStation games through Gaikai, and Microsoft has hinted at similar possibilities. That sounds good, but even if the technology works great it doesn’t help the existing console owner with a library of games. Neither Sony or Microsoft is likely to stream games for free, at least not for all of them all the time. How could you verify that a user already purchased a given game for a previous console

There may be an answer, though it will require some work to arrange. Perhaps you could let users bring their old disc into GameStop and turn it in to get a code (and store credit ) that would allow them to stream it on their new next-gen console. This would remove a big barrier to next-gen console adoption, if it could be arranged.

That’s just part of the sort of thing marketing must consider when moving into the next phase of the next-gen console adoption. Ultimately, we all have to remember that it’s really all about the games. Without that you have a very expensive Netflix streaming device, and maybe a few other features (like Skype on the Xbox One) that are pretty cool, but probably don’t justify a sale for most people. Microsoft and Sony need to keep adding great features to their systems, of course, to extend the list of reasons why people would want to buy the console. The best selling point, though, will be as many must-have games as possible. Encouraging indie developers as well as mainstream publishers is an important part of the strategy for both companies, and they would do well to keep pushing that.

Next-gen consoles aren’t just about raw graphics power; that’s nice but it’s not going to provide a really different gaming experience. The real advances will come with things like changing business models, massively multiplayer gaming, design innovation, cloud computing, social gaming features (like streaming) and second-screen integration. We’re already starting to see this happen in games like Destiny and The Division, and we need to see more of this to keep gamers from wandering off to other platforms.

The challenge for Sony and Microsoft is to keep pushing on system-level improvements to enable these sorts of innovative designs, and to continue to reduce their bureaucracy and barriers to get more games on their platforms. Next-gen consoles need to take advantage of all the things the modern connected world has to offer and integrate that into a gaming-centric environment where there are no barriers to fun. Next-gen consoles have the potential to take the best of other platforms and connect it to gamers — let’s hope Sony and Microsoft make that happen.

Black Friday Video Game Deals Aplenty

Black Friday isn’t too far off now, and various retailers will be offering bargains as soon as 5 PM on Thanksgiving night. Those looking to buy great video game deals for loved ones may want to pay attention to some specific deals, which we’ve happily highlighted below.

Amazon: Bundles are the name of the game with this website, as it’s offering an Xbox 360 250 GB Holiday Value Bundle with Halo 4 and Tomb Raider, or a 250 GB PlayStation 3 system with The Last of Us and Batman: Arkham Origins for $199 apiece

Wal-Mart: This national chain has a few great bundles as well, including the Xbox 360 4 GB for $99, the PlayStation 3 12 GB model for $149, the 2DS (red or blue) for $99 or the aforementioned Last of Us/Batman: Arkham Origins PS3 system bundle for $199.

Target: If you want a 3DS XL, this is the place to get it, as Target will have it for $149.99 for a limited time. You can also pick up an Xbox 360 Kinect Bundle with Kinect Sports and Kinect Adventures, along with a free month of Xbox Live gold, for $199. The PlayStation 3 Last of Us/Batman: Arkham Origins bundle will be available here as well.

GameStop: Various deals will be available through this retail chain, including a Skylanders Swap Force Wii U bundle with a backpack and a $25 GameStop gift card for $299.99; a PS Vita Walking Dead bundle for $199.99, and a PlayStation 3 Pulse Headset for $79.99, but only on Friday.

Toys ‘R Us: The toy chain will have plenty of deals, including the Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon 3DS system bundle for $150, the Sega Genesis Classic Game Console w/80 built-in games for $29.99, and the Skylanders Swap Force Wii U pack for $259.99.

Best Buy: Last but certainly not least, Best Buy will have doorbusters aplenty, including an Xbox 360 250 GB bundle with Tomb Raider, Darksiders 2, Halo 4 and Batman: Arkham City for $189.99, a Wii U bundle with Nintendo Land and 2 Wii remotes for $319.97, and deals on Turtle Beach headsets for $34.99 apiece.

Source: IGN

New Kinect For Windows

With the Xbox One launched and now in stores, Microsoft can’t think of a better time to get developers behind its new motion-sensitive Kinect device, which is also being prepared for Windows next year.

The company announced this past week that it has shipped out developer preview kits by the “thousands,”, including proper software to support Windows. Many signed up to take part of the program, even putting down the $399 for the hardware.

The device is capable of a number of features, including voice and motion control. The software also contains a new SDK that will work specifically with Windows programs.

Developers who take part will also receive another Kinect For Windows device once the hardware is finalized, which is expected to be sometime next year.

Source: TechCrunch

Sony Congratulates Xbox Too

It looks like PlayStations answer to Xbox’s viral tweet was doled out on Friday. Although the success of this tweet was not nearly as big as the impressions Xbox created, 5k favorites and 7.2k retweets is nothing to sneeze at.

The next-gen console makers have something in common– executing very smart social media tactics.


Xbox One’s ‘Variety And Limitless Creativity’

To millions of Xbox gamers, Larry Hryb is known as “Major Nelson,” but the Microsoft exec plays an important role at the company beyond being a public figurehead. Hryb is the Director of Xbox Programming, which allows him to use his direct access to an active Xbox community to try to deliver what they’re looking for in video game and entertainment experiences. After a rough start at its pre-E3 and E3 press conferences this summer, Hyrb did a ton of damage control with the public and has been out front in relaying Microsoft’s revisions in policy with next gen. Hryb has been crisscrossing the country leading up to the launch of Xbox One, speaking with gamers at conventions, at retail locations and at other events. The [a]list daily caught up with him to discuss what the next generation of Xbox will deliver in this exclusive interview.

What do you feel will define the next generation of games beyond better visuals?

Variety and limitless creativity. Our vision for Xbox One is to build a platform that allows creators of all sizes — from development teams of hundreds to a team of one — to bring their ideas and passions to life. Xbox One will be the home of exclusive blockbuster new IP like Ryse: Son of Rome and Titanfall, some of the most popular franchises in gaming like Forza Motorsport 5, Dead Rising 3 and Halo, and captivating new experiences and indie games like Project Spark and Below. Powered by amazing exclusive next-generation features like the cloud, Kinect, SmartGlass, Upload Studio, Game DVR, Smart Match and more, there’s no limit to the kinds of games and experiences you’ll find on Xbox One.

What role will exclusive games play for Xbox One as the next generation console battle evolves over the coming years?

Exclusive games and experiences are one of the biggest reasons for someone to choose Xbox One. We have more titles in development now than at any other time in Xbox history, including new IP, heralded blockbuster franchises and indies. Games like Titanfall, Dead Rising 3, Sunset Overdrive, Forza Motorsport 5, Quantum Break, Project Spark and Below take full advantage of exclusive platform features like the cloud, Kinect, SmartGlass and Xbox Live to fully demonstrate how Xbox One makes games better. We’re also working with the best third party developers and publishers in the world to create unique and compelling games for Xbox One because we truly believe that games are what matter most.

What role do you see original exclusive entertainment on Xbox One like the Halo television series playing in the entertainment landscape today, given the success we’ve seen with Netflix originals like Arrested Development and House of Cards and Warner Bros’ success with Mortal Kombat Legacy?

Xbox One was designed for the living room of today and the next decade. We looked not only at our vision for what a future gaming console could be, but also at usage trends and how gamers and non-gamers alike interact with their entertainment content. We then built a system that is made to evolve with the changing gaming landscape, including how and where people play games. The TV remains the premier screen for today’s consumer, and Xbox One starts there, integrating all your favorite entertainment, the TV you already have, and the mobile devices you already own.

How has the evolving gaming landscape with mobile and free to play’s growth impacted the design and development of Xbox One?

Sunset Overdrive

Xbox SmartGlass is a free app you can download for most iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Windows 8 devices, and instantly turns your mobile device into an intelligent second screen so you can experience your Xbox One games, music, movies, TV shows and sports in all new interactive ways. We’re proud to have great free-to-play games for Xbox Live Gold members today on Xbox 360 such as the smash-hit World of Tanks, and we’re very excited to bring some of the biggest next generation titles into the free-to-play program on Xbox One.

What opportunities does SmartGlass open up for Xbox One entertainment?

Our vision for entertainment starts in the living room but it also integrates with smart devices you already own. We’ve seen innovative second-screen experiences created from entertainment partners on Xbox 360 for TV, movies, sports and more. With SmartGlass built in from the beginning there is a deeper level of integration with Xbox One. More devices, more control of your console and new ways to navigate. You can be on the go, hear about a movie or TV show, and queue up content by pinning it and saving it for later. Xbox SmartGlass also lets you manage your TV set-top box and Blu-ray, and search the OneGuide without interrupting your current activity.

What type of development support and innovation do you believe having the Kinect in every box will have on Xbox One games?

We believe in Kinect and its ability to revolutionize the way people interact with their games and entertainment. Putting Kinect in every box allows all Xbox One users to experience its power. It also becomes a fundamental part of every system sold. When game developers, content creators and entertainment partners can count on Kinect as a part of every Xbox One, an entire world of new experiences becomes possible.

Xbox was discontinued after Xbox 360 launched. What are your plans for Xbox 360 after Xbox One launches?

We launched an updated design for Xbox 360 to more closely resemble the design of Xbox One and we will continue to sell and support Xbox 360 after Xbox One launches. We look forward to a bright future for Xbox 360, as our best-selling console only gets better. The world’s brightest creators are continuing to bring imaginative new titles to Xbox 360 including exclusives like World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, as well as blockbuster games like Call of Duty: Ghosts, Grand Theft Auto V, Battlefield 4 and Madden NFL 25.

What did you learn from Xbox 360 gamers that you’ve applied to Xbox One when it comes to the entertainment functionality?

We know that gamers don’t want to choose between their games and entertainment. So we wanted to fuse our new gaming OS with an entertainment OS so you get the best of both worlds in one device. For example, with Snap on Xbox One you don’t have to choose between watching your favorite TV show and playing your favorite game — you can do both at the same time or choose from a wide selection of entertainment experiences while you wait for your game to fill.

Jessica Chastain In Texting Short

Scripted Content is the latest installment of the company’s new video series Vogue Original Shorts, and this one deals with a light hearted situation where a man happens across Jessica Chastain. The social media moment isn’t spontaneous but it’s easy to imagine the situation happening.

Lightning Returns And Dazzles

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is out now in Japan, and Square Enix’s American branch is releasing a new trailer to make the wait until February 11, 2014 seem less bad. Check out the varied landscapes, various costumes for Lightning and the whole cast of returning character’s from the previous two entries.