Here comes Microsoft’s XBox For Your Living Room …

June 5, 2012

Here comes Microsoft’s XBox — The Xbox 360 is getting a little smarter.

Bummer …. Windows 8 tablets will work with SmartGlass, but there currently aren’t any plans to make the service work with older Windows 7 tablets.

Microsoft Corp. kicked off the Electronic Entertainment Expo on Monday by unveiling new software called Xbox SmartGlass that will allow Xbox 360 users to stream and share content across smartphones, tablets and TVs. It also announced that it was bringing its Internet Explorer browser to the console this fall.

‘‘Internet Explorer coupled with the power of Xbox will, for the first time, deliver a fast, fluid, intuitive Web experience in the living room,’’ said Xbox Live corporate vice president Marc Whitten.

SmartGlass was demonstrated in several ways, turning a smartphone into a remote control used to surf the Web on a TV and utilizing a tablet as a way to display information about games, TV shows and movies that were simultaneously being played on a TV. Microsoft said the app would be available later this year for Windows phones, Windows 8 and ‘‘other portable devices.’’

The feature is similar to the Wii U from Nintendo Co. The upcoming high-definition console will feature a touchscreen controller, which Nintendo announced Sunday would be called the Wii U GamePad. The controller provides different methods and perspectives to interact and play games on screen, as well as the ability to play games and browse the Web without the TV.

When it came to games, Microsoft used its E3 event to hype new installments of ‘‘Halo’’ and ‘‘Forza’’ and reveal new ‘‘Gears of War’’ and ‘‘Dance Central’’ editions, as well the completely new titles ‘‘Ascend: New Gods,’’ ‘’LocoCycle’’ and ‘‘Matter’’ from ‘‘Pirates of the Caribbean’’ director-producer Gore Verbinski.

Microsoft’s flashy E3 press conference featured a few celebrity appearances. Usher performed ‘‘Scream’’ with several backup dancers to promote his collaboration on the choreography game ‘‘Dance Central 3,’’ Joe Montana made calls for ‘‘Madden NFL 13’’ using the camera-based Kinect system’s voice-recognition capabilities and ‘‘South Park’’ creators Matt Parker and Trey Stone introduced their game, ‘‘South Park: The Stick of Truth.’’

‘‘How many times have you been watching an episode of ‘South Park’ and thought, ‘I’d like to watch this on my television, while hooked into my mobile device, which is being controlled by my tablet device, which is hooked into my oven — all while sitting in the refrigerator,’’ joked Parker. ‘‘Well, we’re not doing that. We’re just doing this game.’’

Microsoft said its voice-recognition ability for Kinect would be available in 12 more countries, and that it secured 35 new partnerships with the likes of the NBA, NHL, Univision and Viacom Inc. to provide content on Xbox 360. The company also announced it was launching a new online music service called Xbox Music.

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Living Room To Living Room

June 5, 2012

Japan’s Nintendo said it will launch a social and content network dubbed Miiverse for its n e w Wii U games console, as it plays catch-up with rivals such as Sony and hopes an online strategy will bolster hardware sales in an industry under fire from smartphones and tablets.

New Wii U Game Pad Controller

The online strategy, unveiled on Monday in a webcast by Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, is similar to that of Sony and Apple Inc, though analysts raised concerns that Nintendo, the world’s leading game console maker, is late to online gaming, and will have to work hard to gain ground.

Above — Nintendo Direct Pre E3 2012 video

“Nintendo is falling behind its rivals in the online gaming area. The idea of entering the field is good, but the question is whether the company can generate profits,” said Hajime Nakajima, a wholesale trader at Iwai Cosmo Securities.

Shown for the first time a year ago, the Wii U console has received a frosty reception from investors worried that the hardware will struggle to find buyers in a $78.5 billion industry that is a target for mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad. Mobile games on those devices already account for $8.5 billion of the gaming market.

“Some people may wonder if Wii U is a simple evolution of Wii or something completely different. I think maybe the best answer is both,” Iwata said in his webcast ahead of the E3 videogame industry trade show in Los Angeles, where he will unveil the launch version of the Wii U.

The addition of Miiverse suggests Nintendo – which began in 1889 making playing cards in the back streets of Kyoto before gaining prominence as the creator of the “Super Mario” franchise – may be relying on online content on its Nintendo Network and social networking to underpin hardware sales.

ONLINE CATCH-UP

Iwata has been slower than others to take on online social and content delivery platforms, and has a lot of ground to make up to catch up with the millions of subscribers plugged into PlayStation 3’s network, iTunes and Microsoft Corp’s Xbox.

In his webcast, Iwata showed off a video chat function and functions to allow users to message and share pictures and other content. “Not only can it connect people in a better way within the same living room, but it also connects people (from) living room to living room in a much more compelling way,” he said.


Nintendo And Sony Rethink Unpopular SOPA Bill

December 31, 2011

A quiet update to the list of Stop Online Piract Act supporters (PDF) has shown that Nintendo and Sony have backed away from the proposed bill. Both were originally endorsing the bill as of November but quietly removed themselves from the list sometime in the past month. Neither has acknowledged the change in attitude.

Game developer EA has also dropped its SOPA support.

All three have an interest in curbing piracy of their games. They may have withdrawn support after seeing the full consequences of the bill, which could see site taken down or blocked if even just a small portion of its content was deemed illegal. As drafted, it would also compromise Internet security by taking apart the DNSSEC initiative the US government has wanted to prevent domain name poisoning attacks.


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