Microsoft Restructuring Details Official, And What It Means for The X1’s Future

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Earlier this month Don Mattrick left  his post as head of the Xbox hardware division in Microsoft for a gaming company named Zygna. Rumors reported that this was due to the impending changes and restructuring of the organization internally. Well early this morning CEO Steve Ballmer sent an email to his staff titled “One Microsoft,” in which he details the new way the company will function.The company will be now be split into a number of divisions starting from Engineering, Marketing, Business Development and Evangelism, Advanced Strategy and Research, Finance, HR, Legal, and Operations. Within engineering there will be four units: Operating Systems, Applications and Services, Cloud and Enterprise, and Devices and Studios. This is key because it is the engineering department that the Xbox One “X1” is developed in along with all properties related to that.

Mr. Ballmer’s vision for Microsoft has directly effected  the X1. Whether it is for the better or worse remains to be seen but here is what we know so far. The former Xbox divison has now been split in half and will be teams working separately on different aspects of the system. Terry Myerson, formerly head of Windows Phone, will head the Operating System unit, which includes the Xbox One’s core functions of the machine. With Don Mattrick’s leave, Julie Larson-Green is now in charge of hardware (Devices and Studios), which includes the Xbox One’s apps and so forth. Lastly, this new restructure puts Skype head Tony Bates in charge of developer relations with third parties and outside companies.

Now how does all of this business talk effect you as the gamer, and more specifically the launch day buyer of an X1. It is my belief that this is a move for the better. However it will only be for the better if all the heads of each division can work cooperatively. Terry Myerson is a well accomplished figure in the tech world and clearly has a proven success record. Starting his own web software company at 21 years old and continuing to be a true talent right up until this past year while overseeing the Windows phone he has helped the Nokia Lumia 520 become one of the most successful selling cell phones on the market today. And this is the man who will be supervising the X1’s core operating units of the console.

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Julie Larson will be the one replacing Don Matrrick’s old post as head of  hardware. She was formerly head of the Windows division after replacing the man responsible for bungling up Windows 8 this past November. Mrs. Larson is known for her communication skills and ability to work well with others, uniting people, which helped her create and oversee Office 2007 “still one of their highest rated offices to date”. She is also rumored to be the next CEO of Microsoft following Steve Ballmer’s departure in the coming years.

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Lastly you have Tony Bates now in charge of developer relations. I honestly cant think of a better person to be in charge of connecting with outside companies and developing relationships than the former CEO of Skype. A company known for connecting people around our globe. Before Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011 they had a base of about 170 million users, post Microsoft acquisition they are now at a record base of 1 billion users. Clearly there relationship has been beneficial and most likely will continue to be as Bates will now be responsible for helping the X1 post launch and beyond.

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In closing with all of this talent focusing on different aspects of one console, the cards are all in their favor. Brilliant minds coming together for one cause, and that is creating, and promoting the success of a piece of technology. This console will be debuting in an already mass populated gaming and media market. However if cooperation is not achieved then the possibilities for failure are also great. You can be the judge for yourself on how you feel the outcome will be, and how this impacts the industry, or whether this changes your mind a purchase of an X1 this November. For more news stay tuned folks.

First Ever GTA V Gameplay Trailer

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Just released is the first ever gameplay footage of Rockstar’s GTA V, take a look and sound off below!

Xbox One Scraps Always Online, Used Games Now Allowed

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Don Mattrick just posted on the Xbox website an article that goes toward fans of all Microsoft and gaming products. After much fire from their online policy of having to connect once every 24 hours and the lack of sharing used games, they have backpedaled on their original vision. Stating that they’ve been listening to many comments all over and how many were displeased with their approach, here’s what has changed for the upcoming Xbox One:

  • An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
  • Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.

What do you guys think? Sound off in the comments below!

Microsoft Confirms Their 2 Free Game Policy and They’re Actually Free!

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Well finally, there has been some good PR news for Microsoft this month. Today, Larry Hyrb discussed exactly how their new Xbox Live free game program would differ from their clearly inspired PlayStation counterpart. Starting next month, those who are signed up for Xbox Live will be receiving two free digital games for the Xbox 360. Sounds very familiar to Sony’s PS Plus program right? Wrong, the terrific difference with Microsoft’s program is that gamers will actually get to “really” own the two free games. In other words, they will not have to pay to rent them month to month as in Sony’s subscription. Basically, once your Xbox Gold membership expires, your downloadable free games will not be locked. Gamers will be able to play those free titles forever, regardless of your Gold subscription status. Assassins Creed 2 and Halo 3 will be the first two free titles.

The Xbox One’s Pre-Order Premium Edition Bonuses

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Microsoft has just released some juicy details regarding the pre-order bonuses of the Xbox One (X1). Those who start pre-ordering today until availability ends will receive quite a bountiful prize. The premium “Day One” edition of the Xbox One will include a second controller (which will be a limited edition controller), a token code to unlock Day One achievement, a premium packaging, and custom decal. In addition, there will also be exclusive DLC available for a few of the big triple AAA exclusives announced yesterday. Ryse: Son of Rome will get an exclusive multiplayer map and sword with bonus attributes. Forza Motorsport 5 – Access to four cars tuned to the top of their class. Kinect Sports Rivals – Exclusive sporting equipment that separates your Champion from the rest of the world. Dead Rising 3 – Exclusive Frank West and Chuck Greene Tribute Packs with bonus attributes. This premium edition will be available to those who reserve the console at specific retailers such as Best Buy and Amazon, among others.

Microsoft notes that this will only be available in limited quantities. For those who want to save money by getting an extra controller, as well as a slew of other great swag, reserve yours today. Lastly, the most interesting aspect is the addition of a “Day One achievement”. The X1 will now have system level rewards available that sometimes will no longer just revolve around games. Meaning you could possibly get an achievement just for going into certain apps on your console, or watching a certain amount of Netflix movies, etc. For Achievement hunters, this will truly be a tantalizing thing. For more news on anything E3, stay tuned to GamersXtreme!

Microsoft’s E3 2013 Press Conference Live Blog

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Worried you might not be able to watch Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference live on June 10th at 12:30 pm EST? No worries, we’ve got you covered here on Gamers Xtreme! We’ll be live blogging the whole event and you, as the community, will be able to interact with us throughout the whole conference! The blog is also “mobile” friendly so for those of you with smartphones, you’ll be able to still catch every minute of the conference through your phone. Enter your “e-mail address” below to be reminded of when the event is about to go live and get involved with E3!

Xbox Blog Clarifies Used Games Sales, Always Online Requirements, and More

titleMicrosoft have finally given definitive responses to some of the fallout from their Xbox One reveal last month. Reading through their blog gleans a lot of answers which may shape the perception they receive going into E3 next week.

First, any Microsoft-published games will be able to be traded into retailers and given to friends for no extra cost. However, third-party publishers will be given the choice to opt-in or -out of this practice, meaning that you may be stuck with a third-party game after you purchase it. These publishers will have to work out the business details with participating retailers, and they will have the option of charging an extra fee to the consumer when buying a used game. Additionally, anyone can play any games on your Xbox One console whether or not you’re logged in. It will also be possible to share your entire game library with up to 10 famiily members on any Xbox One console.

It’s also possible to give your disc based games to a friend, but there are two restrictions on that: they  must have been on your friends list for at least 30 days, and you can only give a game in this way once; after it’s done, the person you gave the game to cannot transfer it to another friend. Also, this does not extend to game rental services such as GameFly; the Xbox One will feature no rental ability at first, but Microsoft plan to “explore” new possibilities after launch.
The Xbox One will be a nearly always-on experience, with some stiff restrictions for offline play. The console is designed to run in a low-powered background state when not in use, meaning that it can use your broadband connection to download content like patches when you’re not playing, ensuring your games and apps are always up to date when you go to access them. However, to maintain this functionality, the Xbox One will need to access their servers to “verify if system, application, or game updates are needed and to see if you have acquired new games, or resold, traded in, or given your game to a friend.” This places a restriction on the console; you’re able to play offline on your own console up to 24 hours from your last “check in”, or for up to one hour on another Xbox One other than your own. After that, you will lose access to your content until you connect to the internet again, though live TV and DVD/Blu-Ray movies will still be available. Also, disc and digital games will be released on the same day, and a disc works as the fastest option for installing of games, but this will not enable owners to work around the always-online rule.

Finally, Microsoft addressed privacy concerns with the Kinect peripheral, stressing that information will not be made available outside of your own console, and users will have full control over when and what the Kinect sensor is able to record. These options are presented when the user launches the Xbox One for the first time and is completely customizable, going so far as to only allow the “Xbox On” and “Xbox Off” commands, and even these can be disabled. However, some games will require Kinect functionality, so the device will need to be enabled when playing these games. Regardless, Microsoft stressed that no information will ever be recorded and sent to a third party.

Addressing these issues has set a perceptioni for Microsoft going into E3 next week, so tune in with us on June 10th and 11th as we live blog details coming straight out of E3 2013.

Join Our Live Blog and Stream of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo’s E3 Conferences

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The ultimate time to be a gamer is fast approaching and it’s always an exciting time of the year. E3 2013 is just days away and we’ll be surely seeing some great stuff, whether it be the PS4, Xbox One and the upcoming games for the Wii U. This is now our third year covering E3 and like the previous years, we will have the same format. We will be live blogging and streaming Microsoft’s and Sony’s conferences on Monday, June 10th, followed by Nintendo’s E3 Direct on Tuesday, June 11th. The live blog will be open for everyone to participate in, share your thoughts in, and also interact with polls that we’ll be posting for the viewers!

  • Microsoft’s E3 Conference – 6/10/13 @ 12pm EST

 

  • Sony’s E3 Conference – 6/10/13 @ 9pm EST

 

  • Nintendo Direct E3 Conference – 6/11/13 @ 10am EST

 

To also add to it, we will be having a live stream of the conferences going on alongside the blog, so you can watch the whole thing and pitch your thoughts in as well. Sign up to those e-mail reminders above and we look forward to seeing you all there!

Microsoft’s Major Nelson: “We need to do better in terms of being clear”

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The Xbox One was official revealed two weeks ago today, and it seems many of us are still unclear on a wide range of the console’s aspects.

One Redditor took it upon himself to compile a list of aspects of the Xbox One that he (and presumably, many others) are still in the dark about and need more information on. Larry Hryb, Director of Programming for Xbox Live and better known by his Gamer Tag “Major Nelson”, took the opportunity to address the post directly and seems to be aware of the issues with the Xbox One’s reveal.

“Thx for your note. I am working on clearing some things up – there is no doubt we need to do better in terms of being clear.”

Hopefully, Microsoft plan to not only give gamers more to like about the upcoming console at this year’s E3, but to finally put some sort of explanation on the more negatively-perceived aspects of the Xbox One, chief among them the console’s built-in “used game fee”. Some industry members are already put off by it and it’s up to Microsoft to set the record straight, otherwise they may possibly lose a lot of ground to Sony and the upcoming PS4.

Stick with us on June 10th and 11th as we live blog the E3 2013 conference.

Publisher Says Developers Should Get Cut of “Used Game Tax” on Xbox One, Pushes for Quality

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One of the more controvertial announcements coming out regarding the Xbox One earlier this month was the imposing of a sort of “used game tax”, requiring purchasers of used Xbox One games to pay an activation fee to Microsoft to even make a used game playable on their console. Apparently, not everyone in the gaming industry is so keen on the idea. The intent seems to be to force people to buy new copies of games, thereby increasing sales while still being able to get a cut from those who get their games used. The problem? This money goes to Microsoft, not the developer.

So it’s refreshing to hear that Take-Two Interactive CEO Strass Zelnick believes, rightfully so, that the publishers and developers should get a cut of this used game tax and isn’t content to stand by Microsoft’s plan. The purchasing of used games really hits them the hardest, so it only makes sense that they should get a return on that investment, not just Microsoft. He had this to say at a recent online conference held by Gamespot:

“There’s no question that if Microsoft has figured out a way to tax used games, then we should get paid, too. It’s hard to imagine why they should and we shouldn’t.”

However, Zelnick isn’t content to let the status quo stand either. While so many publishers and developers are content to release a faulty, buggy product to make a quick buck, Zelnick proposes a different solution:

“Our view about used games has been, as opposed to whining or figuring out ways to punish the consumer for buying used games, we’ve figured out we better delight the consumer,” he said. “Let’s push up our quality, which you’ve seen in our Metacritic scores, and then let’s make sure to give people DLC, often free, three or four weeks out – which is the time you’re at risk for them trading in their game.”

“If you can keep the game in consumer’s hands for eight weeks, you almost don’t care anymore about used game sales, because it’s the first eight weeks that really nail you.”

In an age where many game developers and publishers have turned a passion into a cash cow, it’s nice to see a gaming executive take a more sincere, hard-working tone. While Microsoft’s solution to revenue loss due to used game sales may (or may not) get the job done, we’ll have to wait and see how the game industry at large reacts to the deployment of their plan.

No word has been given yet if Sony has a similar plan for the PS4.