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The Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 game consoles are selling extremely well - but that doesn't necessarily mean everyone is happy. Carl Ledbetter, who was project manager behind the Xbox One's physical design, recently responded against criticism of the Xbox One's bulkiness.
While the Xbox One is heavier and bigger than the Xbox 360 - at a time when consumers seemingly want to see more hardware packed into streamlined designs - Ledbetter understands not everyone will be happy when a console is released. He explained the growing pains - and what is done to overcome certain hardware design barriers that many people seem to take for granted.
"Everybody gets frustrated, because what we want is for everything to be wafer thin, not get hot and just be a snap to put together," Ledbetter said. "But the reality is that there are very real issues around cooling when you're pushing some number of watts in the processor, therefore the thing has to have some size to it. There's always an interesting dynamic between engineering and design, and constraints around performance.
Microsoft doesn't want Xbox 360 and Xbox One gamers to wait until Black Friday and Cyber Monday to begin shopping for Christmas. The pre-Black Friday offering is available now until Monday, December 1.
Game titles ranging from Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Red Dead Redemption, Forza Motorsport 5, and Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition are available, along with numerous other game titles.
Xbox 360 and Xbox One game console deals kick into effect later this week, along with controllers, Xbox Live memberships, and Xbox Video deals launching soon.
Sony received harsh criticism from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and it looks like some PlayStation Vita gamers will receive money back. Sony promised "game-changing" features that simply weren't true, so the FTC made the Japanese electronics company stop making those claims.
Also in the agreement, Sony will provide gamers with a $25 refund - or $50 games voucher - and put Sony, its ad agency Deutsch LA, and other companies on notice that it is watching.
The problem specifically mentioned the Vita "cross-platform" gaming features so gamers can link their PlayStation 3 or 4 game console to the Vita - being able to pause game play on the Vita and resume while using a console.
It has been a fantastic year for console gaming, with the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 both racking up great sales since launching in late 2013. The PS4 has outsold the Xbox One all year, but it appears Microsoft is beginning to close ground, due to a recent price cut.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer applauded both Microsoft and rival company Sony: "This 1st year has been incredible. Great launch for 2 consoles, exciting competition & great games. Thanks for all the support and feedback," Spencer said on Twitter. He also offered the PS4 additional praise: "Those Sony peeps had a great first year."
There have been 13.5 million PS4 units sold, while Microsoft has racked up 10 million Xbox One units sold since launch.
It appears Microsoft Xbox Live was not compromised after all, despite the "DerpTrolling" group saying they had stolen more than 1,000 Windows Live usernames and passwords.
"We immediately investigated reports regarding some Microsoft Accounts including Windows Live and Hotmail and can confirm that no Microsoft site or service was compromised," Microsoft told GameSpot. "Microsoft takes account security and privacy seriously. Should we identify any specific account at risk for any reason, we will take action to protect the account."
To stay better defended, Microsoft also recommended users create strong passwords, change their passwords frequently, and don't use the same passwords for multiple websites and services.
Sony is aiming for 1080p at 60FPS for PlanetSide 2 when it lands on the PlayStation 4, but this might be a hard task thanks to the constraints of the Accelerated Processing Unit, or APU, inside of the PS4.
Sony Online Entertainment, the developer behind the game, is having some trouble with the CPU side of the APU. The team is trying to get more on-screen action happening, while maintaining the 60FPS frame rate, but the CPU is the bottleneck. PlanetSide 2 will be released onto the PS4 next month, with the developer doing some last minute tweaks to get the game hitting 1080p at 60FPS.
The Creative Director on the project, Matt Higby, talked with Eurogamer that the game is constantly being optimized, with the real bottlenecks in the development process being on the CPU side of the PS4s APU, and not its GPU. He said that the GPU side of the AMD-powered APU isn't getting hit as badly, with the GPU handling the graphical side of things well, but the CPU is dragging its heels with the frame rate and the amount of on-screen activity. Higby said: "Our real bottlenecks are on the CPU side. From a graphical fidelity perspective, people will be impressed with what they see on the PS4. That's always one of those things people are skeptical about. I see every time we post an article like this I always get called out: 'haha, it's bullshit he's saying it's going to look as good.' It really does".
It looks like console gamers are having fun with the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4, as both next-generation game consoles outpace their predecessors. Since both consoles launched in November 2013, both consoles have a 73 percent higher installation base, than the Xbox 360 and PS3 over the first year of introduction for both consoles.
As the United States economy continues to recover, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo hope to see gamers spend more on gaming hardware - and new game titles - as hardware companies, game developers, and retailers are finding success.
During its Q3 financial earnings call, GameStop reported new hardware sales rise 147.4 percent, with thanks largely to the Xbox One and PS4. The gaming market is very much alive and well, and with numerous anticipated game launches in 2015, gamers will have plenty of new titles to choose from.
The Nintendo Wii U game console has been available for two years, but with the upcoming launch of Super Smash Bros., Nintendo hopes to see a higher sales boost. Since launching Mario Kart 8 in May, there have been more than 1.1 million Wii U consoles sold - and as consumers have extra cash to spend ahead of Christmas, Nintendo wants shoppers to spend.
Nintendo has taken a few different public shots against Microsoft and Sony in recent weeks, trying to remind shoppers the company has products for them to consider. Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime shrugged off the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 game consoles, saying the two platforms have too much overlapping shared content.
He also said the Wii U provides a better value than both consoles, despite recent price cuts that have made the console gaming market extremely competitive.
Microsoft Xbox One console owners will finally have access to the HBO Go app, available to HBO subscribers, with voice and gesture controls supported. The new app is now arriving for US HBO subscribers, and the voice and gesture controls will allow console owners to access the entire HBO catalog using a hand gesture or voice instructions.
"Xbox is one of our subscribers' favorite ways to access HBO Go and its incredible breadth of award-winning programming," said Jeff Dallesandro, HBO VP of digital domestic network distribution. "Now, Xbox One users can get in on the action and Kinect with the very best HBO series and films on this innovative, state-of-the-art device."
There are a wide variety of apps available for the Xbox One, including rival apps from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus - ensuring entertainment apps are available in the living room is an important role for Microsoft, Sony and set-top box manufacturers.
Black Friday is only one week away, and Sony is cranking up the marketing machine to win over potential PlayStation 4 customers. The company's new video promo states the PS4 is the "best place to play," a claim Microsoft previously said of its Xbox One game console.
The video shows game footage from Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto V and Destiny, along with promoting the PS4's sports games, including Madden NFL 15, NBA 2K15, FLB 14: The Show, and FIFA 15.
The PS4 has easily outsold the Xbox One since both consoles launched late last year - but a recent Xbox One price cut has indicated Microsoft hasn't lost all hope - and the 2014 Christmas shopping season will present a fierce battle.