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  • Xbox 360 News

    by Published on February 6th, 2013 23:53
    1. Categories:
    2. Xbox 360 News,
    3. PS4

    You’ve got to admire Microsoft’s bravery. News that its next Xbox could shut out the second-hand games market has caused strong reactions across social media today, and it has impacted upon the real world too. GameStop’s share price took a dent following the publication of our story earlier this afternoon.If our sources are correct (and we’re confident they are), Microsoft has made the move that publishers and developers have been asking for. Microsoft’s next Xbox will do what Steam and the App Store have been doing for years, and very successfully, too – a download-first, one profile, one purchase, one storefront system. Overnight, it’ll stop GameStop and GAME from selling on games without a penny heading back to its publisher, let alone its creator.In recent years, online passes have allowed publishers to recoup some of the cost of maintaining servers for online play, but they have always been something of a half-measure. With the next Xbox, Microsoft could go all the way.The key differences between Steam, the App Store and the next iteration of Xbox Live are in pricing and that ‘always-on’ detail. There’s good reason no-one really cares that you can’t trade in Steam and App Store games – often, they’re so cheap it barely seems worth the bother. One can easily call into question whether download-first next-gen games will actually be any cheaper because they skip costly manufacturing and distribution processes. One would expect they won’t be. On first impressions, Microsoft is taking a huge risk in cutting out a second-hand games ecosystem which keeps gaming affordable and its players interested in the box under their television.But it is worth remembering that in adopting this download-first policy, Microsoft is free from existing pricing models. One can easily imagine premium prices for those titles deemed still worthy of a retail release. Service-based subscriptions for bigger, costlier games will play a part, too, and middle and lower tier games will sell further down the pricing scale. And let’s not forget free-to-play.Microsoft has also, rather more sensibly, surmised that the kind of consumer happy to pay for a next-generation console is going to have a decent internet connection. It is not a portable device; there’s little harm in keeping the next Xbox connected, as long as the next iteration of Xbox Live is implemented in the right way. Past experiences with always-on services have been disappointing – just ask Ubisoft and Blizzard – but that’s current generation technology. Microsoft must take note of its contemporaries’ mistakes and make its always-on Xbox service as unobtrusive as it can.

    by Published on February 6th, 2013 13:48
    1. Categories:
    2. Xbox 360 News

    Activation codes to prevent sale of second-hand games and new Kinect to ship alongside console, claim sources

    Microsoft’s next Xbox will require a constant internet connection to work, according to a report.
    Sources “with first-hand experience of Microsoft’s next-generation console" told Edgethat a new version of Xbox Live would play an “integral” role in the new console, suggesting digital distribution will play a bit part for the hardware.

    It was also claimed that a new version of Kinect would ship alongside the console, and that games for the new hardware would be manufactured on 50gb Blu-Ray discs.
    The sources said that each disc will come with its own activation code, meaning only the initial user can install and play the game. This effectively stops the ability for users to sell or buy second-hand games.
    As also previously reported, the next Xbox’s specs are said to feature an AM eight-core x64 1.6ghz CPU, 8gb of DDR3 RAM and D3D11.x 800mhz graphics.

    by Published on February 4th, 2013 22:59
    1. Categories:
    2. Xbox 360 News
    Article Preview

    The last week, we published a poll and you chose to know more about the GPU of Durango. Wishes come true. We have splitted the articled in three pages, don’t forget to read the whole work. [Note: There are two more pages with lots of details at the link.]

    A better view of Durango’s GPU capabilities and performance.

    Durango brings the enhanced capabilities of a modern Direct3D 11 GPU to the console space. The Durango GPU is a departure from previous console generations both in raw performance and in structure.

    The following table describes expected performance of the Durango GPU. Bear in mind that the table is based only on hardware specifications, not on actual hardware running actual code. For many reasons, theoretical peak performance can be difficult or impossible to achieve with real-world processing loads.

    Virtual Addressing

    All GPU memory accesses on Durango use virtual addresses, and therefore pass through a translation table before being resolved to physical addresses. This layer of indirection solves the problem of resource memory fragmentation in hardware—a single resource can now occupy several noncontiguous pages of physical memory without penalty.

    Virtual addresses can target pages in main RAM or ESRAM, or can be unmapped. Shader reads and writes to unmapped pages return well-defined results, including optional error codes, rather than crashing the GPU. This facility is important for support of tiled resources, which are only partially resident in physical memory


    Durango has no video memory (VRAM) in the traditional sense, but the GPU does contain 32 MB of fast embedded SRAM (ESRAM). ESRAM on Durango is free from many of the restrictions that affect EDRAM on Xbox 360. Durango supports the following scenarios:
    • Texturing from ESRAM
    • Rendering to surfaces in main RAM
    • Read back from render targets without performing a resolve (in certain cases)

    The difference in throughput between ESRAM and main RAM is moderate: 102.4 GB/sec versus 68 GB/sec. The advantages of ESRAM are lower latency and lack of contention from other memory clients—for instance the CPU, I/O, and display output. Low latency is particularly important for sustaining peak performance of the color blocks (CBs) and depth blocks (DBs).
    Local Shared Memory and Global Shared Memory

    Each shader core of the Durango GPU contains a 64-KB buffer of local shared memory (LSM). The LSM supplies scratch space for compute shader threadgroups. The LSM is also used implicitly for various purposes. The shader compiler can choose to allocate temporary arrays there, spill data from registers, or cache data that arrives from external memory. The LSM facilitates passing data from one pipeline stage to another (interpolants, patch control points, tessellation factors, stream out, etc.). In some cases, this usage implies that successive pipeline stages are restricted to run on the same SC.

    The GPU also contains a single 64-KB buffer of global shared memory (GSM). The GSM contains temporary data referenced by an entire draw call. It is also used implicitly to enforce synchronization barriers, and to properly order accesses to Direct3D 11 append and consume buffers. The GSM is capable of acting as a destination for shader export, so the driver can choose to locate small render targets there for efficiency.

    Durango has a two stage caching system, depicted below.

    by Published on January 7th, 2013 20:40
    1. Categories:
    2. PS3 News,
    3. Xbox 360 News

    The console sector is at a crossroads, and a look at the numbers behind Xbox 360 and PS3 make for uncomfortable reading.
    According to numbers presented by former EA and Sony man Ben Cousins on Kotaku, between them Xbox 360 and PS3 have left an $8bn black hole in the coffers of Microsoft and Sony.
    Specifically, using financial reports from the pair it is claimed that despite its tremendous success, Xbox 360 has cost Microsoft a total of $2.996bn. The news is even worse for Sony, with PS3 having registered a total loss for the company of $4.951bn.
    Microsoft was open about its willingness to throw its money at Xbox when it made its first foray into console gaming in 2002. But ten years down the line and so severely out of pocket, that appetite can surely last for only so long.
    Cousins uses the data to argue that consoles as we know it are nearing extinction.
    “What I think will probably happen is that, as smartphones and tablets continue to get more and more powerful (and they are increasing in power faster than any other class of device), and as more and more publishers start to actively target those ‘mainstream console gamers’ with mobile games, more and more of those people will gradually move their gaming hours and dollars away from console gaming to their mobile devices,” he stated.
    “Without this huge group of people buying consoles or console games, the console platform holders will no longer be able to make enough money to justify developing, marketing and manufacturing the devices.
    “It doesn't matter that there will ‘always be a market for consoles’ among the hardcore, because the console model as we know it relies so much on the money from the ‘mainstream console gamers’.
    “In the future, I see gaming as having two main markets: A) Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets will serve the biggest market—covering kids, casual gamers and the mainstream console people. B) The core and ultra-core gamers would be served by PC gaming, which will be smaller than mobile, but that will continue to grow.
    “Many of the old-school PC gamers I know that moved to playing games on Xbox over the last 10 years are coming back to PC because of free-to-play and indie games, controller and TV support, as well as incredible digital distribution on platforms like Steam.”
    Indeed, the 2013 arrival of Valve’s Steambox and, to a lesser extent, dedicated Android platforms like the Nvdia Shield, any new console launches are going to find themselves up against far sterner competition than either Microsoft or Sony would likely of envisaged when they began designing their machines.
    by Published on January 6th, 2013 20:28
    1. Categories:
    2. Xbox 360 News

    You'll soon be able to take your Xbox Live account to a new country
    Microsoft will soon allow users to transfer their Xbox Live accounts between regions with a shorter turnaround time, anonymous sources have toldNeowin. Currently, the process can take up to six weeks, during which a user is completely locked out of their account.
    The pilot program only allows holders to migrate their accounts once every three months. Your gamer tag, achievements, Gold subscription time, and Microsoft points will all move with the migration.
    Certain services are region-locked, meaning apps related to those services won't transfer over. Your Lovefilm app won't be coming to the United States with you. Neowin also states that the new Xbox Music subscriptions will also not survive the transition and remaining time will not be refunded.
    There's no word on when Microsoft will actually launch the new process.


    by Published on January 3rd, 2013 20:54
    1. Categories:
    2. Xbox 360 News
    Article Preview

    Razer's Onza Xbox 360 controller is very, very nice. Sure, it's got an unbelievably long, non-detachable wire sticking out of it, but its build quality is top notch and its ultra-clicky face buttons are a pleasure to use. In the company's second Xbox 360 controller -- the Sabertooth -- Razer's focusing on the tournament gaming crowd rather than simply outfitting its Onza with "Tournament Edition" specs. That aside, the Sabertooth retains the quality we've come to expect from Razer products. Oh, and that crazy long wire is thankfully detachable!
    It's apparent from first glance that the Sabertooth is intended as such, given the six extra (programmable) buttons found on the shoulders and back of the controller, and the tiny OLED screen found along the bottom (allowing for the programming of said buttons). Considering that a regular Xbox 360 controller comprises 12 (!!) buttons not counting the d-pad, adding another six and an OLED screen is ... intense, to say the least. While we didn't have occasion to test the programmability, we can definitively say that the Sabertooth's other functions are just as solid as with the Onza. The analog sticks are as good or better than a standard Xbox 360 controller, the d-pad is an improvement over the Onza (which was already an improvement over the dismal d-pad included on most Xbox 360 controllers), and the triggers / shoulder buttons are appropriately springy and responsive. There's even a silly backlight for several face buttons, should you be playing video games in a cave (you can opt to turn off the backlight, too -- we certainly did).

    by Published on January 3rd, 2013 20:45
    1. Categories:
    2. Xbox 360 News

    The fist shot in the next-gen console battle has seemingly been fired.
    Microsoft’s community voice Major Nelson has, without any hint of explanation, gone live with a countdown on his blogthat leads up to E3. The only text included is thus: “And it’s on…”
    Having at one stage planned an E3 2012 reveal for its new console, strong sales of Xbox 360 (particularly in North America) saw Microsoft decide to give its machine another year.
    However, a terrible year for the core games industry has highlighted the folly of this move and both Microsoft and Sony are expected to reveal their next-gen machines this year.
    Microsoft has now laid its first card on the table by effectively announcing an E3 reveal. The question now is whether Sony will take the bait and lift the lid on its machine pre-June.
    “And it’s on” indeed.

    by Published on January 3rd, 2013 19:58
    1. Categories:
    2. Xbox 360 News

    'And it's on' says Larry Hryb as timer counts the days till E3 2013

    Microsoft’s Larry ‘Major Nelson’ Hryb has begun a countdown to E3 2013 on his blog potentially teasing the announcement of the next Xbox.
    Hryb, who acts as Microsoft’s community voice and is director of Xbox programming at the company, has not given any explanation for the countdown which clocks the milliseconds till the event, but simply uses the phrase “and it’s on”.

    The next Xbox, codenamed Durango, has been expected for some time, and many believe 2013 will be the year Microsoft makes its move publicly into the next generation of consoles.
    E3 2013 will take place on June 11th, 158 days from now, at the LA convention centre in the US.
    Microsoft had been tipped to announce their new console at last year’s expo, but no such reveal was forthcoming. Sony has also yet to unveil the PS4, although dev kits are rumoured to have been shipped to studios.

    by Published on December 19th, 2012 00:05
    1. Categories:
    2. Xbox 360 News

    A host of new Xbox Live apps came online for Gold subscribers today, including Vimeo and AOL On. Vimeo users will have the ability to share videos through Xbox Live and Facebook, but the new app may also be preparation for the official launch of the streaming site's pay-to-view service, available to all Vimeo Pro members in early 2013. AOL On also brings its library of over 380,000 videos, including content fromHuffPost Entertainment, Reuters, CNET, Moviefone,Entertainment Tonight and yours truly. Lastly, Verizon FiOSusers will now see 75 channels on Xbox Live, including 49 new additions such as AMC HD and NFL Network. All apps can be controlled via Kinect voice and gestures, though you may need more than zombie-like reflexes to flip to the Walking Dead.

    by Published on December 19th, 2012 00:01
    1. Categories:
    2. Xbox 360 News

    The US military and Microsoft are trying to simplify therapy for injured soldiers



    Microsoft and the United States Air Force are testing the Kinect as part of a home therapy physical suite program for injured soldiers. Microsoft will also be discussing the project with Army's Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center, according to reporting by Defense News. The Kinect hardware is partnered with Infostrat's ReMotion360 physical therapy software.
    “Microsoft is committing R&D and marketing resources to ensure that the [Defense Department] community is aware of the capabilities of the product, as well as the breadth of our partner community, which includes the system integrators,” said Microsoft director of public sector solutions Phil West. “The targeted scenarios include therapy-related functions, but they also span training and simulation, interactive user interfaces, and so on.”
    The project is part of Microsoft's efforts to use the Kinect outside of the consumer market, with focuses on enterprise and public sector utilization. Other defense-related organizations, including Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, Army Medicine, the Navy's Bureau of Medicine, Lockheed Martin, SAIC and CACI, have looked at the inexpensive motion-tracking capabilities of the Kinect for different purposes.
    Microsoft is also looking into using the Kinect to connect post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers with group therapy sessions.
    “They can use avatars, which allows anonymity, but also allows for representatives who are therapists or licensed psychiatrists to connect with them,” West said. “Therapists can say, 'I know who you are because I have your case file. No one else in the room has to see in your face.' It gives a way to engage and talk through problems while preserving anonymity.”