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Xbox One photo
Xbox One

External storage and real names for friends confirmed for next Xbox One update

SmartGlass experience and automatic sign-in planned as well
May 21
// Brittany Vincent
Xbox One owners rejoice! There are a number of changes coming with the next system update in June, including external storage support (which nearly everyone has been clamoring for) as well as real names with which you can ide...
SmartGlass App photo
SmartGlass App

Impressions: Dead Rising 3's SmartGlass App

Find random junk and call strangers
Nov 21
// Chris Carter
Microsoft's SmartGlass functionality kind of came and went on the Xbox 360. Very few games supported the "second screen experience" concept and if they did, it was usually something underwhelming like an interactive website. ...

Madden 25 CoachGlass may be the best way to call defense

Nov 06 // Steven Hansen
CoachGlass is an application of Microsoft's second screen SmartGlass technology, which pairs the Xbox One with tablets or phones (iOS, Android, Windows). It acts as a defensive coordinator (and only on defense does it function) for a coach -- you-- that does their own play calling. It's likely that Microsoft encouraged EA to develop something for SmartGlass, which it has been shilling valiantly. Surprisingly, however, the result is something better than Madden's traditional, conventional play calling on defense. Rather than thumbing through a few cobbled together "Ask Madden" plays or fumbling through the enormous playbook while on a time limit, CoachGlass feeds you recommendations through real-life compiled Xbox 360 stats.  If a particular defense works well against a certain offensive formation based on the personnel on the field, it will be suggested. You can easily select defenses with a quick tap, or scroll through other options, including a more comprehensive list of all plays called up to that point, including information about the result of those plays -- how many yards were gained by the offense and so on. There's some nice intuitiveness to the app. You can, for example, select a portion of field to focus on (9x9; left, middle, right; short, medium, long) and quickly get defensive plays in ready to, say, take away the short out routes I love to spam. The best thing, however, is simply that the app presents you with a lot of information in fairly digestible levels of detail. As games go on, the app will pick up tendencies of the opposing offense. You will know which players tend to be the go-to guys in certain formations or your opponents' pass versus rush tendencies on first down. A lot of these things are details a lot of us might pick up, intuitively or otherwise, but it's still helpful. It's also a lot of fun to engage with, because a lot of sports fans are giant numbers nerds. Mostly, I like the idea of EA giving the player more information to work with so they can then make informed decisions instead of picking plays that have the coolest looking play art. So unlike EA.
Madden 25 CoachGlass photo
And it's cheaper than Coach glasses
Stats run sports. Yes, we have heartwarming stories of moxie and upsets and unexpected onside kicks right after the Super Bowl halftime show and they make for great narratives, but numbers are invaluable at easily quantifying...

Project Spark photo
Project Spark

Project Spark will be truly free to play on all platforms

No Xbox Live Gold membership required
Oct 15
// Brett Makedonski
Microsoft has caught some flak in the past for releasing "free-to-play" games that still required an Xbox Live Gold membership, meaning that they most certainly weren't truly free-to-play. That won't be the case with Project ...

Dead Rising 3 endings photo
Dead Rising 3 endings

Dead Rising 3 has 6-10 endings, overtime mode

Also has the hardest difficulty mode in the series
Sep 06
// Steven Hansen
Like previous games in the franchise, Dead Rising 3 will feature multiple endings and, once you beat the game, a mode without the story's time constraints, Capcom Vancouver producer Mike Jones confirmed to OXM. Thankfully, po...
Project Spark photo
Project Spark

Project Spark closed beta coming in October

Create worlds a bit earlier than others
Aug 20
// Brett Makedonski
Project Spark is shaping up to be one of the most ambitious and creative Xbox One titles that Microsoft is currently showing off, but don't take my word for it -- you can try it out yourself.  A closed beta was jus...

Project Spark has all the tools to be successful

Jun 11 // Brett Makedonski
The only suspect aspect of Project Spark is what you actually do with these worlds. There's some sort of quick adventure mode that allows the player to jump into a pre-made setting where only minimal choices need to be made. It looked like you could use your custom worlds to create gameplay for, but I didn't get to see that. Community seems like it'll serve as one of the most crucial facets for Project Spark. The install base will be able to upload whatever they create, such as minigames, for everyone else to play. Once players have these, they can make any sort of changes to their version of it in order to optimize fun. It sounds like the developers are kind of banking on routinely interacting with the community to achieve this. Whether the plan has long-term legs remains to be seen. It may not be a triple-A type of endeavor for Microsoft, but Project Spark looks like it has a lot of creative potential. I'm not necessarily the audience-base that it's looking to serve, but it should definitely strike a resounding chord with some people. I know that it has the tools to accomplish it; it just needs to guide players to use them in the right way.
Project Spark Preview photo
How it ultimately uses those tools remains to be seen
One of the more ambitious looking games that Microsoft had on display as part of its press conference and showcase event was Project Spark. Serving as an obvious attempt to capture the sect of the audience that loves Mi...

Xbox One  photo
Xbox One

Twitch integrated with Xbox One for instant broadcasts

SmartGlass for Ryse and video editing showcased
Jun 10
// Jordan Devore
Microsoft demonstrated the "next-generation" SmartGlass during its E3 2013 press conference. The tech allows plays to start a single-player game, set up multiplayer, look at Achievements, and more from their mobile device. Ry...

Project Spark shows off multiplayer world building

Kinect-enabled with SmartGlass
Jun 10
// Jason Cabral
Project Spark is bringing a huge open universe of creativity to Xbox One players. With the Kinect enabled voice controls, along with terraforming made easier with the use of SmartGlass, Project Spark is looking to make a big splash with its user-generated content. No word yet as to a release date, but those worlds sure look pretty!
Xbox SmartGlass photo
Xbox SmartGlass

SmartGlass on Xbox One

Native part of Xbox One
May 21
// Fraser Brown
Xbox SmartGlass, revealed at E3 last year, has been announced as a native part of Microsoft's Xbox One by Marc Whitten today. Apparently the companion screen app has already been downloaded over 10 million times for Xbox 360....
Ninja Gaiden smartglass photo
Ninja Gaiden smartglass

Ninja Gaiden 3 on 360 will feature Smartglass integration

Syncronize YouTube videos
Mar 01
// Chris Carter
Tecmo Koei has confirmed that in addition to the new content that was added to the Wii U version of Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, the Xbox 360 version of the game will be getting Smartglass support. Basically, this version of...

Forza Horizon devs talk up the coming content

Moar cars!
Nov 16
// Conrad Zimmerman
The creative and community teams working on Forza Horizon are featured in this latest development diary, where they discuss what fans of the game have to look forward to with coming downloadable content. They also pimp the game's integration with Microsoft Smartglass and then call out gamers to compete with them in races.

Xbox SmartGlass launch on Oct 26, supports Forza Horizon

Handful of games supported at launch
Oct 23
// Dale North
SmatGlass lets your phone or tablet become the most connected remote control ever. Or, in games, turns it into a second screen. All this functionality goes live on October 26, alongside the launch of Windows 8, Windows RT and...

A look at Dance Central 3's SmartGlass companion app

Oct 15 // Steven Hansen
Dance Central 3’s Smart Glass companion app can be used to usurp the Kinect for a host of functions. Most notably, it can be used, even while people are dancing, to queue up new songs to play. Playing these sorts of games in a busy, party-style environment is always a bit of a drag when you hit that lull between songs and the next person up is scrolling through every single title to find what they want to play, so this is a rather nice way to circumvent all of that. Those stationed in front of the TV screen will see the next queued up song on and have the ability to play it or skip to the next track, so if a nefarious rabble-rouser decides to queue up twenty “Macarenas,” you’re not obligated to play through them all before finding where they hid the phone or tablet. Unless you want to. I hope it’s stuck in your head now. Organizing playlists is the main draw, since it keeps people dancing and away from having to try and navigate the Kinect menus (particularly as nights wear on and that becomes more of a challenge in and of itself), but there are a few other functions the app can provide. You can alter certain gameplay parameters with it, choosing whether to play full or abridged versions of selected tracks. Additionally, you can scroll through songs available for purchase and place them in your cart before buying them through the 360, as well as check out your progress on challenges, view leaderboards, and connect with Facebook to view and share the pictures the Kinect occasionally takes of you making a fool of yourself. You can also manage fitness goals, setting how many you are aiming to burn in a given stretch of time. The free app works with existing Windows tablets and phones, formatting itself a bit differently on either, but effectively functioning the same. If you’re planning to play Dance Central 3 in the party-style environment it’s so good for, or even if you want to make playlist for yourself to keep your boogie flowing smoothly, this Smart Glass app has its uses.
Surprsingly useful boogie facilitator
I was having a hard time remembering whether or not Smart Glass is cool, because I feel like I haven’t been primed on the application since Microsoft’s E3 conference -- I’ve already forgotten most of the nea...


SmartGlass-required Xbox 360 games a possibility

Jun 29
// Allistair Pinsof
Though Microsoft is lenient with its policy toward Kinect developers, I was surprised when Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer told me that Xbox 360 games requiring smart phones/tablets could be a possibility with SmartGlass....

How $250 could still be too much for a Wii U

Jun 13 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
If you are reading this, there is a good chance that you understand the Wii U. You know that it is the next console from Nintendo, a full-fledged follow-up to the Wii. But there are a lot of people who do not know, and this is mostly Nintendo's fault. With the Wii Balance board and WiiMotion+, Nintendo set a precedent that may very well come back to bite them. But it's not just Nintendo this time. The entire industry has moved towards a potentially confusing sense of iteration. Both Sony and Microsoft have put out new peripherals which completely change the way players interact with them and are continuing to do so (which I will delve into more in a bit). Then there is the name. Logically, "Wii U" should denote something entirely different, but that is no longer the way the market works. Peripherals like Kinect and PlayStation Move have pushed basic naming conventions out of the way, replacing them with vague names that are related to but not indicative of any specific console. It's not "PlayStation 3 Move," for example, even though it's only compatible with the PS3. Microsoft did the same thing -- there's no such thing as an "Xbox 360 Kinect." A couple of months ago, I got together with a friend I hadn't seen in a while, and of course we talked about videogames. I told him that I was excited for the Wii U, and he said he was too, though he wondered when Nintendo was going to announce another console. I had essentially the same conversation with another person not too long after. And these are people who play videogames. They aren't parents who are just trying to make their children happy. They actively want a Wii U, but they have a fundamental misunderstanding of what it is. I expect that when shoppers see Wii U GamePads in Target and Walmart this Christmas season, they will wonder why it doesn't work with the Wii that they already have.  [Preface: I don't think that either SmartGlass or the Vita/PS3 connections will be utilized properly in the long run (despite what Ubisoft may think). Of the two companies, I expect more out of Microsoft, because its insistence of forcing Kinect into everything it can shows a level of commitment to its products that Sony simply does not have. I will also not be discussing the price implications of SmartGlass or the Vita either. This is simply about their feature sets, how they could affect public perception, and subsequently, how they could affect the success or failure of the Wii U.] The most compelling PS Vita commercial I have ever seen is the one in which some guy is playing MLB 2K12 on his PS3 when he realizes he has to leave for work. So what does he do? He grabs his Vita and picks up right where he left off. It's a cool ad (even though the narrator is obnoxious), and it highlights a pretty awesome feature. The Wii U has something similar but not quite as good. No one actually knows how far away a GamePad can be from the Wii U base, because no one has played with a wireless GamePad. Nintendo usually does a pretty good job with its range of wireless functionality, so there's a good chance you'll get to the bathroom, but it's not likely you'll make it to your car. Then there's the multi-touch issue. Although Nintendo hasn't come out and said it, it's likely that the GamePad uses a resistive touchscreen versus a capacitive one, and that is a bold move in this day and age. Although resistive touchscreens are inferior (and have been largely removed from the market thanks to smartphones and tablets using capacitive technology), Nintendo has been using the technology for years now (both the DS and 3DS have them), but this is different. People already complain about the forced use of a stylus on a DS or 3DS, but the touch screens are so small that finger use verges on impractical. That is not the case here. The GamePad has a 6.2" screen, which is, in a word, huge. The PS Vita screen is more than a diagonal inch smaller than the GamePad screen, but it is far more functional. There's also SmartGlass, which can be potentially utilized by the majority of smartphones and tablets available on the market today. For example, I have a Droid Razr MAXX. It has a 4.3" screen. It's significantly smaller than the screen on the GamePad, but it still has multi-touch. What of the larger scale? I don't currently have a tablet, but that's mostly because I'm waiting for Google to announce the sub-$200 Nexus tablet at Google I/O later this month. When that happens, I am likely to pick one of those up, and then I will also have a 7" screen which is far more capable than the GamePad's. When compared to the Vita or to smartphones, the GamePad only has the size of its screen to keep it worthwhile. Compared to a tablet, it loses on all counts. Where SmartGlass also wins is with battery life. Nintendo has rated the GamePad's playtime at somewhere between three and five hours of battery life per charge, which is in line with the Vita's, but it pales in comparison to many phones or tablets. SmartGlass is very different from the GamePad because it is purely accessory. It can't be used to control games in the same way that the GamePad can, but it turns out that the GamePad isn't always necessary either. In Chad's preview of Pikmin 3, he used the GamePad solely as a map, controlling the game with a Wiimote/Nunchuck combo. In that scenario, a tablet or smartphone would have been just as effective at conveying the information. Perhaps even more so, because it would have had better touchscreen functionality and would have been purely screen, foregoing the in-this-case-unnecessary buttons and sticks. I want to point out those last two sentences. Not because they're brilliantly written or anything, but because they highlight how the Wii U could easily benefit from multi-touch, despite what Reggie says. In a world where there is a single Wii U controller, I understand and could probably accept arguments in favor of single-touch systems. With your hands on all of the buttons all the time, multi-touch functionality on the the screen in the center isn't quite as necessary. I would still argue that it would be beneficial, but I wouldn't fight so hard. As it stands, though, it's not just the GamePad, so the GamePad is officially an accessory. There is one particular gesture that has always solidified the usefulness of multi-touch to me, and that is the pinch-to-zoom. The ability to resize things on the fly is helpful in pretty much any situation, but it's especially useful when navigating maps. Now imagine you're playing Pikmin 3. With the ability to easily scroll around and pinch-to-zoom, you now have significantly improved control over what you can see offscreen. It wouldn't be the most convenient thing ever, because your hands are taken up by the Wiimote and Nunchuck, but if there were a game that was Wiimote only, then even that problem would disappear, and a multi-touch screen would become the completely usable and a superior option for people who wanted it. On the most basic level, that is what multi-touch could allow that would make it a worthwhile feature and why the GamePad should support it. Does it need it? Not necessarily, but the competition has it, so the GamePad will seem dated by comparison It will be years before we know how capable the Wii U truly is. As of right now, we can assume that it is at least on par with the current generation of consoles, maybe a little worse in some areas and a little better in others. But let's say it is absolutely more powerful than either the Xbox 360 or PS3 (and by the end of its cycle, I have no doubt that it will put visual powerhouses like Uncharted 3 to shame). Whatever it is, it may or may not run the Unreal Engine 4, and although some form of Square Enix's Luminous Studio engine will run on the system, it probably won't be the one that showcased that incredible tech demo. What's more important, though, is that neither of those things, whether the system can take advantage of them or not, will be available at launch. This holiday season will be incredibly important for the Wii U. It is likely to be Nintendo's one shot at being the only "next-gen" console in town. It needs to wow people, and it probably won't. Some of the demos showed off at this year's E3 on high-end PCs were really mind-blowing stuff, and most of that is stuff that the Wii U will never be able to reach. It's possible (though unlikely) that not even the Xbox 720 or the Orbis (or whatever they are called) will reach quite that level of fidelity, given the costs that likely went into building those machines. But the Wii U definitely won't. Even if the Wii U versions of Arkham Asylum, Darksiders II, Assassin's Creed III, etc. look better, it won't be by leaps and bounds. Seeing the games side by side on the demo kiosks in GameStop won't convince anybody who already has an Xbox 360 or PS3 that they need to buy another console, and when the time comes that the difference would be truly noticeable, the Wii U will be up against much more powerful competition. When the Wii came out, $250 was an amazingly low price. The PS3 had come out only two days earlier at twice that or more, and the Xbox 360 was still selling for $400. Visually, it didn't quite compare, but it offered something different and cheap. The Xbox was already dead at the time, and the PlayStation 2, although very cheap, had left the limelight. But Sony and Microsoft are sticking to their guns right now. Microsoft announced SmartGlass and Sony announced that book thing it will have forgotten about by Tokyo Game Show. The companies are going to continue to push their consoles for at least another year, and Nintendo will have to fight against that. When the Xbox 360 released, it ushered in the HD era. Its cost was justified by its promise of visuals beyond anything console gamers had ever dreamed. Nintendo will not have that advantage. Depending on how intensely marketed SmartGlass and the PS3/Vita crossplay are, consumers won't see Nintendo's built-in advantage either. So it comes down to price. And again, the assumption is the Wii U is out at $250! All of that new technology for a low, low price. It sounds perfect, but it doesn't have the momentum, thanks to Microsoft. The $99 Xbox is not a good deal, but it looks like it is. Thanks to cell phone plans, consumers are used to paying more in the long run for something deeply discounted on the front end. They see a $99 Xbox 360 with Kinect and they don't necessarily realize that they will need a larger hard drive or that they could get Xbox Live for much cheaper if they do a little digging. All they see is a $99 Xbox 360. It will be interesting to see if the cellphone-esque payment method works out for Microsoft and whether or not we could be seeing the same thing with its follow-up console. But what's important is that next to $99, everything looks expensive. Even $250. The PlayStation 3, on the other hand, starts at $250 for the 160GB model. But as happens every single holiday season, you can be sure that it will be $250 for the 160GB model and two games, probably both winners of some notable awards. As it stands, Amazon has two 320GB PS3 bundles, one with Uncharted 3 and the other with Modern Warfare 3, each retailing for $300. It's not hard to imagine both games being put in the same box with a smaller hard drive, cementing $250 as a price for a console with multiple games. Nintendo Land has the potential to be a good pack-in (if it is one), but it's not Call of Duty. And since we're finally on the topic of videogames... I don't go to brick-and-mortar game stores very often. I buy most of my console games from Amazon because it's cheaper and I'm lazy. But the other day, I went into one and saw something amazing: a used copy of Crackdown was $2.99. Seriously. Three dollars. For an absolutely awesome experience. Dead Rising and Devil May Cry 4 are now $5. Splinter Cell: Conviction, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Halo 3, and Halo 3: ODST are $10 each. All of those games? $53. Cheaper than the price of basically any new Xbox 360/PS3 game, and likely cheaper than Wii U games, which will probably hit the $60 mark. Even if they stay at $50, though, cut out Devil May Cry 4 and you still get six great games for $48. Yeah, they're old. All of them have sequels out or on the way, but so what? When you get into the $20 category, your options expand dramatically. The same is true for the PS3. People looking to buy a console this holiday season will see a wall of $50-$60 games, and right next to it will be a wall of games as low as $3. There is a grey area, however, thanks to the Wii U's backwards compatibility. Nintendo has the best track record for backwards compatibility of any company out there, and it seems to be continuing the trend. Although the Wii U won't play GameCube games, it will have complete compatibility with all Wii games. That is a really cool feature, but it's not a system-selling feature. A Wii can be had for $150 nowadays, and that's with a game packed in. Plopping down the extra $100 to take advantage of cheap legacy games makes no sense, especially since the Wii U will not upscale Wii games. But even that has some caveats, because Nintendo games practically never drop in price. There is the Nintendo Selects series, which has some amazing games, but then there's New Super Mario Bros. Wii. I bought that game back in November of 2009, but it's still $40 on Amazon and $50 new at GameStop, so that grey area I was talking about becomes a little bit darker. The Wii had some excellent third-party games which can be purchased very cheaply, but they tend not to be the ones that appeal to large audiences. And they certainly aren't games people will buy a Wii U to play. Nintendo has a tough road ahead. What they showed at E3 this year is pretty cool, and I think it has a lot of potential. But so did the Wii, and only a handful of companies ever figured out how to take advantage of it. I, as a member of the Nintendo-relatively-faithful, want nothing more than to see the Wii U succeed and allow Nintendo to continue as both a hardware and software manufacturer. And I think it probably will, at least to some degree. Even though the gaming industry in 2012 is much different than it was in 2006, Nintendo's old-fashioned way of doing things with the 3DS seem to have worked out well enough for them, at least in the wake of the price drop. As far as the market was concerned, $250 was too much for a 3DS but perfect for a Wii. Would it be perfect for a Wii U? Maybe not.

We learned a lot about the Wii U at E3 this year, but we didn't learn what is likely to be the defining factor in its success or failure: the price. Recent rumors from reliable sources price it in the $400 range, which could ...

E3: Ascend: New Gods has a long way to go

Jun 10 // Patrick Hancock
One of the first things that caught most peoples' attention from the trailer was the idea of asynchronous multiplayer. In fact, that term seemed to be used frequently throughout the show this year. Ascend: New Gods has a bit of a Demon Souls aspect to it, allowing you to see ghosts of other players and what they're doing if you're in the same area they are. The interesting bit is that these other players can both help or hurt you. Anyone can place a shrine down in the area that will transport into someone else's world and can give them a buff to things like strength or health. They can also banish enemies from their world and into yours if they want to grief you instead. This is one of the core elements of Ascend: New Gods, but I barely got to play around with it during the brief demo at E3. As you kill things and level up, you'll be getting experience and gold, allowing you to buy abilities and items to customize your character however you'd like. There will be a "prestige" mechanic in the game as well, allowing you to sacrifice your character to the gods and start a new one. However, in Ascend, your prestiged character doesn't just go away; your character will invade another player's world and act as an aggressive AI opponent. This makes the idea of prestiging (oh god, how is that a verb) more than just boasting rights and actually useful instead. Another not-yet-implemented feature is the use of Microsoft's new toy, SmartGlass. While Signal Studios isn't completely sure on just how exactly SmartGlass will be used (or they just wouldn't tell me), it will be used to display some extra information such as the world map. It sounds like Ascend: New Gods is looking to include a lot of neat features in the full game, but I didn't get to demo most of them, except the gifting/griefing system which was still a bit shallow at this stage. The graphics don't do anything for me and neither does the initial combat mechanics, but the ideas behind the game might have some weight once implemented. Ascend: New Gods will be on my to-watch list, but as of now, I can't say I'm really looking forward to this one.

When Ascend: New Gods was announced, the trailer didn't do a great job of getting many people excited. The boring fantasy setting and rather dreary visuals combined with action-heavy gameplay sounds like something that was ju...


The Microsoft press conference was a decent showing. There may not have been any crazy new announcements, but the conference itself was entertaining and well-paced. A solid, if not spectacular, briefing. Also, I may have kind...


Microsoft has today announced Xbox Smart Glass, a new bit of tech that will "transform the devices you already own and love." Smart Glass is, essentially, a feature that allows all your entertainment systems to communicate an...

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