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Microsoft is launching its Xbox One console in 28 new countries this month, where it started off in Chile and Columbia yesterday. Tomorrow sees the launch of the Xbox One in Japan, while China receives it on September 23 and Russia three days later on September 26.
September 16 is a big day for Xbox, where the Xbox One launches in 16 new countries. The launch of the Xbox One in China is a big deal, as it is the first time that a console made outside of China has launched in the country, with the Chinese government banning foreign consoles sales in the country over the last 14 years. Microsoft has a full list of dates and countries for the Xbox One launch, which are:
- 9/2: Chile and Colombia
- 9/4: Japan
- 9/5: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates
- 9/15: Israel
- 9/23: Hong Kong, India, Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan
- 9/23: China
- 9/26: Russia
We've been expecting this update for the Xbox One for a while now, but it's finally rolling out to users across the world, and will continue to do so over the coming days.
The new update for the Xbox One includes a new media player app, which will bring file support for MKV (which is a very big deal), animated GIFs, and DNLA support by the end of the year. We will also have new party features, new SmartGlass features, an option to boot directly to the TV, and much more. The full list of updates can be found in the full story.
Microsoft will release a standalone Kinect for the Xbox One on October 7 and it will cost $149 with a free copy of Dance Central Spotlight included. The game title will be released in September and will only cost $10. It seems surprising that Microsoft has decided to release the Kinect as a standalone product with such a high price tag, but there will be wiggle room to see if consumers are willing to spend that much for it.
Some have wondered how important the Kinect is for Microsoft's long-term strategy, as the company released a $400 Xbox One bundle in June that didn't include it. However, Microsoft said it saw "increased demand" for the pricier $500 Xbox One bundle that did include the Kinect.
It's a good idea for Microsoft to introduce the Kinect as a standalone option, as gamers will be able to pick one up if they don't already own one - a standalone PC version of the Kinect was made available in July for $200, popular among PC enthusiasts and researchers.
The Sony PlayStation 4 is a more powerful game console and has outsold the Microsoft Xbox One worldwide since both consoles launched in late 2013. However, developers are supporting both platforms as the console war is far from over - and 4A Games, makers of the Metro video game series, says Microsoft is increasingly improving its efforts.
The Xbox One's GPU is able to perform well, but sometimes only if the CPU is idle - and the CPU won't perform well only if the GPU is idle, as Microsoft is facing ESRAM problems.
"Microsoft is not sleeping, really," said Oles Shishkovstov, 4A Games CTO, in an interview with GameSpot. "Each [Xbox Development Kit] that has been released both before and after the Xbox One launch has brought faster and faster draw-calls to the table. They added tons of features just to work around limitations of the DX11 API model. They even made a DX12/GNM style do-it-yourself API available - although we didn't ship with it on Redux due to time constraints."
The Sony PlayStation 4 has a comfortable lead over rival game consoles such as the Microsoft Xbox One and Nintendo Wii U - and about one-third of current PS4 owners are former Xbox 360 and Wii console owners, not PS3 owners. As previous console wars have indicated, Sony cannot become complacent with its current lead, as there is plenty of time for Microsoft to claw its way back into the fight.
Launching the PS4 for $399, which was $100 less than the Xbox One starting price, was an important first step for Sony late last year. However, it was Sony's quick ability to capitalize on Microsoft's problems with the Xbox One that greatly helped sell the PS4, both in the United States and across the world.
Even with the success of the PS4, there are still active arguments about which game console will dominate the next-generation console war long-term. Although the PS4 has the current sales lead, developers are being drawn back to the PC and less titles are being released for the Xbox One, PS4 and PC, let alone including Nintendo in the mix.
Microsoft has decided to pull the plug on the $500 Titanfall Xbox One bundle that featured an Xbox One game console, Kinect, one month of Xbox Live Gold, and a copy of Titanfall. The bundle only went on sale in March but Titanfall - while the best-selling Xbox One game title - didn't wow gaming fans the way it was expected to.
Instead of a Titanfall bundle, gamers can choose a $500 bundle that has an Xbox One, Kinect, and a free copy of Forza Motorsport 5. Furthermore, the company will introduce a $399 Madden NFL 15 bundle on August 26, with a $399 Sunset Overdrive bundle planned for October 28. Gamers seem more excited for the 1TYB Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Xbox One bundle that will be available in November.
"Titanfall bundle is done," said Phil Spencer, Microsoft Xbox head, in a Tweet responding to fans.
With only nine months on the market, Sony has sold over 10 million PlayStation 4 consoles - a number that is far beyond most people's predictions on Sony's fourth-generation console. Sony's Worldwide Studios for Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., Shuhei Yoshida, sat down with Eurogamer for a chat, where he had some interesting things to say.
Yoshida was asked about the 10 million PS4s sold milestone, where he said: "The 10m sell through in the first nine months is well beyond what we had hoped for. As you know, we have struggled to keep up with demand of PS4 for so many months. It was hard to find and purchase PS4. Now we are able to supply units so in every territory I believe you can find PS4. So we just managed to catch up with demand".
"It's just beyond our imagination. We are so happy. But I for one am a bit nervous because we do not completely understand what's happening. You need to understand why your products are selling well so you can plan for the future, right? It defied the conventional thinking. Lots of people thought the dedicated game hardware might not be needed going forward, but still lots of people are very excited. When you see the new games coming out and being announced this E3 and Gamescom, I think there's a good enough reason for a gamer to believe this is something worth investing in."
Both Microsoft and Sony were reportedly running some game demos at Gamescom 2014 using powerful custom-built PCs to display console games. Live game demonstrations of "Ori" and "Blind Forest" crashed to the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system, and the PCs appear to be powered by NVIDIA instead of AMD GPUs, according to reports.
It's not uncommon for game studios, even when promoting console games, to use PCs to help enhance the demonstration experience for attendees. However, even if the game is available on all next-generation consoles and the PC, gamers will often call out the studio if graphics and gameplay don't replicate what was originally shown to them.
During public demoes, companies are tasked with providing lightning-fast gameplay mixed with pretty graphics to entice gamers and media. It seems both companies have been caught doing this over the past few years, eager to demonstrate their latest and greatest console games - but using PCs instead of their own products to get the job done.
It can't be sitting well with Microsoft that for most of the last generation of game consoles it was by far tops with the Xbox 360 leaving Nintendo and Sony far behind in sales. Things have completely turned around for Microsoft with new generation consoles seeing the Sony PS4 continuing to dominate the sales charts.
The latest numbers for the gaming market are in for the month of July and Sony lead the sales charts with the PS4 being the most popular game system for the month. Microsoft didn't offer sales numbers, which may leave some gamers thinking the numbers were too terrible to talk about. Sony was tops in the game console sales war for the seventh month in a row.
Sony says that it has now sold 10 million PS4 units to customers. Nintendo is even bragging about sales gains with its Wii U racking up a 60% sales increase compared to the same seven months of 2013. Nintendo can thank Mario Kart 8 for the sales boost. The Xbox One is expected to be outselling the Wii U by a small margin, but with no numbers from Microsoft how small a margin is unknown.
If you have been holding gout on buying a new Xbox One game console, you might want to consider getting one of these new bundles that Microsoft has unveiled. A white version of the Xbox One will available for the average consumer to buy. That white version was previously only for Microsoft employees.
The white console is available today with the Kinect and on October 28, you can buy it with no Kinect for $399. The second bundle is the more interesting one and it is a Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare edition of the console.
It has a specially designed console with black, gray, and yellow graphics. It will also be the first Xbox One to feature 1 TB of storage, which is twice the storage currently available. The game console will land on November 3 without Kinect with a copy of the game for $499.