Happy 10th Anniversary Xbox!

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Today marks the 10th Anniversary of Microsoft’s Xbox, the console that launched a revolution and raised the stakes in the ongoing war between the gaming giants. To many, most especially its biggest fans, the Xbox brand has proven to be a worthwhile gamble on the part of Microsoft and a tremendous success in ousting rival Sony from the top spot and standing firm in its place as a serious challenger for billions of gaming dollars.

Halo became the killer app that would go on to become a multi-billiion dollar franchise. Western developers would make dramatic splashes through its hardware expanding on what players should expect from a console. Titles such as Bethesda’s Morrowind and BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic would help set the kind of foundations that would eventually propel these and other Western developers into superstardom. And when the Xbox 360 hit, fans only wanted more and Microsoft obliged – though RRODs were far less appreciated. Yet that didn’t even slow the Xbox juggernaut from rolling ahead on multiple social fronts.

Business site, Gurufocus, notes that CFO Kevin McCarthy has stated in a recent conference that its Xbox Live service now boasts over thirty million plus subscribers. Xbox Live was introduced in 2002.

In October, Yahoo reported on Microsoft’s quarterly report revealing that over 57.6 million Xbox 360s have been sold worldwide and remained the “top selling” console in the United States, a place it has held for nine months straight.

With Netflix and a host of other social tools introduced to the console since its inception and building on the Live model begun with the first Xbox, Microsoft’s foray into a high-stakes arena strewn with dramatic risks and billions of dollars has evidently paid off.

Helping to celebrate this anniversary, Xbox Live users get a free avatar prop up until this Saturday. Also, Venture Beat’s Dean Takahashi (Opening the Xbox: Inside Microsoft’s Plan to Unleash an Entertainment Revolution) has written up a two part piece on Microsoft’s Xbox journey from the first console and into today’s market with the 360.

It’s a remarkable success story that has propped the software company up as a member of the worldwide console triumvirate alongside Sony and Nintendo. As for what the next ten years will do for gaming, who can say? But one thing’s for certain – Microsoft’s Xbox will do everything it can to be there in making it happen.

Review: Assassin’s Creed – Brotherhood

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Brotherhood isn’t some ‘multiplayer only’ experiment: the kind of game where it wants to rely on only one online trick to convince customers to part with their hard-earned money because it uses ‘multiplayer’ like a magic word.

When Ubisoft began to talk up Brotherhood in the past year, it was hard to ignore how much of a tease they were making of its multiplayer but not so much of its single-player. The reason, it turns out, is because the single-player is alive and well and needs no introduction.
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A New Experience on your Xbox

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Have you logged into Xbox Live today? If you did, you would have gotten the update to the dashboard which changes how it looks and likely gets it ready for Kinect’s big retail debut this week. But there are a few more things that it adds on that go beyond looks alone.

It also adds ESPN, improved Zune offerings, and streamlines a few things such as connecting to a wireless network or take new snapshots with your avatar. I’ve been tooling around with it for awhile and its not bad, though I also looked at what Gamasutra had pointed out with Indie Games. It’s a little puzzling why Microsoft decided to define Indie Games as a Specialty Shop – because that’s where it’s at now – instead of under the more intuitive header of Games & Demos.

The download only takes a few minutes – at least outside of peak hours – and after it’s done, you’re ready to go.

Xbox Live online support ending for Xbox originals

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“Originals” as in the games that were made for the first Xbox according to this open letter from Xbox Live’s general manager, Marc Whitten. From the announcement, it sounds like this is being done in order to pave the way for more positive changes in moving forward with Xbox Live as a whole on the Xbox 360 and those changes simply weren’t compatible with what was leftover from the old Xbox.

You’ll still be able to play a majority of your old Xbox games on the Xbox 360, but forget about any multiplayer support that you might have enjoyed with them particularly if you’re still hooked on Halo 2. On April 15th, it all ends, so get in as many of those online match ups as you can with your favorite classics before it’s over.

And as big as Halo 2 is, Bungie’s also planning to mourn the passing of an era in their own way with plenty of gaming goodness on April 14th, so be sure to keep an eye on their site for the latest news on how that’s going to go down.

Review: Rogue Warrior

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I remember reading about Rogue Warrior in 2006. Its fictional premise of a crack team of special forces operators dropped into North Korea and then forced to fight their way back to friendly lines when all hell breaks loose sounded like a great idea at the time. It would boast four-player co-op, a map maker for online action, and up to 24 players online. It’s the kind of stuff co-op gamers and online warriors have dreams about.

The game is also based in spirit on the autobiographical book of the same name by Richard “Dick” Marcinko whose name appears on the title of the game; a real-life former SEAL who founded special operations units SEAL Team Six and Red Cell. This is a guy whose military history is filled with the kind of covert stuff that had made our Cold War enemies cry frozen tears while asleep in Siberia. So I had to wonder that with such a rich history to draw from and a larger-than-life figure to work with, how the game could turn out to be worse than some of the fiction already out there.
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Review: Halo Wars

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Ensemble Studios helped to lead the RTS revolution since their first game, Age of Empires, in 1997, and the following entries into the series would continue transforming the often arcane rules of tactical warfare into a language that spoke to every level of player with a healthy dose of history. It would become one of the most influential approaches to the genre in recent times. Unfortunately, history also tends to repeat itself in the worst way possible.
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Dead Rising 2

Capcom is in the works for a sequel to Dead Rising and partnering with Blue Castle Games from Canada.

“Dead Rising 2 is set several years after the infamous zombie invasion of Willamette. Unfortunately, the zombie virus was not contained at the conclusion of Dead Rising, spreading unchecked throughout the United States and Dead Rising 2 depicts a country where zombie outbreaks continue to strike.”

Expect Dead Rising 2 for the PS3, Xbox and for the PC. No dates of release yet but we’ll keep you posted. For now enjoy some gratuitous zombie violence to hold you over.

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