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Microsoft has something to cheer about after the company saw strong year-over-year sales for the Xbox 360 game console, with the next-generation Xbox One also posting strong sales figures. The company sold 7.4 million Xbox 360 and Xbox One game consoles during the holiday shopping season, as Microsoft competes with the Sony PlayStation 4 in the game console market.
In addition, the Microsoft Surface line of tablets saw revenue double, reaching $893 million from the previous quarter, as the company continues to try and invade the mobile market. Overall device revenue increased a massive 68 percent, reaching $4.73 billion, outpacing investor estimates.
However, Microsoft is still dealing with Windows revenue shrinking, as consumers and business users still waffle about embracing Windows 8/8.1, which will be a continued battle. The company once dominated software sales offering its products on CDs and DVDs, but expanding to the cloud - and increasing hardware sales - has continued to be a slippery slope for the tech giant.
CVG has spoken with an EA source who is giving out quite the damning report, that "Nintendo was dead to us very quickly" after it had released its Wii U console.
The same source said that EA felt that the Wii U was becoming a console for kids IP, and that the studio wasn't willing to bring future core titles to the platform. The EA source stated: "Nintendo was dead to us very quickly. It became a kids IP platform and we don't really make games for kids. That was pretty true across the other labels too. Even the Mass Effect title on Wii U, which was a solid effort, could never do big business, and EA like Activision is only focused on games that can be big franchises".
Microsoft has confirmed PC users will need a special version of the Kinect, as the Xbox One edition won't ship with a USB adapter so it can be connected to a PC. Instead, Microsoft made sure to include a proprietary connector unable to connect into a PC, and there are no immediate plans to release an adapter.
"The Kinect for Xbox One Sensor will not have an adapter that allows it to plug into a computer," a Microsoft spokesperson told tech journalists. "... the new generation Kinect for Windows sensor will connect to computers using a standard USB3 port. The new generation Kinect for Windows sensor will be a fully tested, licensed, and supported Kinect experience on Windows."
The original Xbox 360 Kinect shipped with an adapter so the system could plug into a regular USB port or use power from a power outlet - and hackers were able to turn the adapter into a tool to test out the Kinect's power - as it was a cheaper 3D camera than other alternatives.
It's an interesting move from Microsoft, as the company wants Windows-based developers to use the Kinect for next-generation, third party programs.
You might pick up your Xbox One console and just use it, not thinking about the months and years Microsoft worked on its final design, but we're hearing that the company worked on 75 prototype designs before choosing the final design of its next-gen console.
Microsoft designer Carl Ledbetter revealed that the company went through 75 prototype designs before settling on the final design. There were over 100 prototypes of the Kinect, and around 200 for the controller itself. The development team reportedly spent considerable amounts of time striking a balance between the familiar Xbox design, and the desire for an always-on media hub, according to Ledbetter.
The launch of the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 game consoles helped drive U.S. video game hardware sales 28 percent in December 2013, according to research firm NPD Group.
"Increases in December hardware sales were caused by continued strong sales of the new Xbox One and PS4, driving console hardware sales up over 50% compared to December 2012,"said Liam Callahan, NPD Group analyst, in a statement.
Both the PC and console gaming markets are lucrative, and it's no surprise to hear Microsoft and Sony benefitted from console releases in late 2013. Although hardware sales saw a boost in December, video game software dropped 17 percent, but still collected $1.31 billion in sales during December.
The NPD Group has released its numbers for December, where we see Microsoft sold 908,000 of its Xbox One consoles for the month. This achievement should be noted, as it puts the Xbox One as the number one selling console in the US for December.
Xbox 360 units sold well in the month, too, with 643,000 units sold. This had the Xbox 360 take the #3 spot in the US for console sales, giving the PlayStation 4 the #2 spot. We know the PS4 is selling well, and that Nintendo had the highest selling console for 2013 with its portable 3DS.
There were more than 9.7 million Sony PlayStation 4 video games sold to support the impressive 4.2 million consoles sold before the end of December 2013. Sony officials "couldn't be more thrilled" with the early success of the PS4, and it will be a great battle to see the PS4 compete with Microsoft's Xbox One game console.
The global demand for the PS4 is outpacing the Xbox 360, as Microsoft finds success in the U.S. market, while overseas shoppers tend to jump onboard with Sony. Both Microsoft and Sony will battle to control the next-generation gaming market, though it looks like Sony has the initial international upper hand.
Video games were on full display during the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), where Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo showed off their latest product innovations. Sony's PlayStation Now streaming game service, which is scheduled for launch this summer, will be a cloud-based game streaming service for PS4 gamers.
We saw a tease of twelve Steam Machines at CES 2014, but according to Marc Whitten, the Xbox Chief Product Officer, he isn't worried about Steam Machines taking over gamers' living rooms.
During an interview with Engadget at CES, Whitten said he's "not sweating" over Valve's push into the living room, stating that "there's room for both." Whitten continued: "I personally don't know how to think about Steam Machines yet. I'm not knocking it or whatever. I continue to think that PC gaming - the sort of uber configuration and I can change everything and I can mod - that's an important thing and there's a lot of people that wanna do that."
Whitten did add that when a device is in the living room, gamers want to be instantly entertained. He said that gamers don't want to fiddle with settings or anything else, where he wrapped up with: "When you get into that living room environment, you don't want to spend any of your brain cells doing anything but being entertained. I don't want to work on it; I don't want to feel like I have to know how it works. I would like to be blowing things up now, or watching a thing now. That's the fundamental thing that you want to do."
The Sony PlayStation 4 game console has reportedly racked up more than 4.2 million units sold worldwide since launch time in mid-to-late November to most major markets. Early last month, Sony said it sold 2.1 million units worldwide, with the company clearly having a successful 2013 Christmas shopping season.
"The momentum of the PS4 system keeps getting stronger, and we couldn't be more thrilled gamers worldwide are enjoying the incredibly immersive gaming experiences along with deep social capabilities and entertainment provided by our network," said Andrew House, Sony Computer Entertainment President and CEO, in a statement. "After a remarkable launch, we look forward to bringing even more exciting content and continuing to explore the power of the PS4 system by adding new features and services, including PlayStation Now, in 2014."
Meanwhile, the Xbox One reportedly sold 3 million units to close out 2013, as Microsoft is reportedly proud of the console's early success. Xbox One should outsell the PS4 in the United States, while the Japanese company is able to cater better to international gamers. More gamers want to use a single device in the living room, so the ability to support streaming content, social media, and more robust software is common.
Microsoft Studios' boss, Phil Spencer, spoke with OXM, stating that the company spun the idea around the office of an all-digital "purely disc-less console" right up to the middle of last year - months before the Xbox One was released to the public.
He explained: "Obviously, after the announcement and E3, there was some feedback about what people wanted to change. There was a real discussion about whether we should have an optical disc drive in Xbox One or if we could get away with a purely disc-less console, but when you start looking at bandwidth and game size, it does create issues. So we decided - which I think was the right decision - to go with the Blu-ray drive and give the people an easy way to install a lot of content. From some of those original thoughts, you saw a lot of us really focusing on the digital ecosystem you see on other devices - thinking of and building around that."
I think it would've been an interesting move, but for gamers with slow Internet connections (like myself) it would've caused even more pain.