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Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Monster Year for Game Consoles

A Monster Year for Game Consoles

"The Xbox 360 has grabbed an early lead, increasing the pressure on Redmond's rivals to roll out their own redesigns. And what about the new Cell chip?

Until last November, it had been more than four years since American game players had seen a new console. The new Xbox 360 continues to fly off store shelves even after the holidays. And now the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Revolution are on the way. So it looks like 2006 could be the transition to the next generation.

Here's a primer on what to expect from the game industry in 2006:

So when can I get my hands on this new PlayStation 3?
While Sony gives the spring of 2006 as its official launch date, most analysts expect the updated console will hit store shelves in late spring or early summer in Japan, but not until November in the U.S. Sony historically likes staggered launches for game consoles, and its manufacturers are still ramping up their ability to design the advanced new chipset. When it does come out next fall, the PS3 will be just as hard to buy as the Xbox 360 was last Christmas. Citigroup's Elizabeth Osur has predicted that Sony will be able to sell roughly 900,000 PlayStation 3 units in the U.S. in 2006. Pacific Crest Securities analyst Evan Wilson says he expects about a million consoles to be available for the U.S. launch. That means a supply situation almost as tight as the one shoppers faced with the 360.

What about the Nintendo Revolution?
Nintendo hasn't announced a launch date yet, but last week, President Satoru Iwata told the Japanese press that Nintendo aimed to release its new system in the U.S. before Thanksgiving.

How are these consoles expected to sell once they're introduced?
A report released by Citigroup on Jan. 16 predicts that Xbox 360 will hold its lead and edge out the PlayStation 3 in the U.S. at the peak of the next cycle, selling an estimated 8 million units in 2008 compared with 7.1 million PlayStation 3s in that year (for a grand total of 19.8 million since launch vs. 11 million, respectively). Citigroup expects Nintendo to have sold 3.9 million Revolution systems by 2008. " [more]

Wal-Mart Opens Doors on Revolution, PS3 Sites

Wal-Mart Opens Doors on Revolution, PS3 Sites

"You know a console has to be getting closer to launch when Wal-Mart opens its product page for the item.

The killer of small town America and everything over-priced has officially launched its webpages for the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Revolution. Granted, all either page does so far is give you the specs from last year’s E3, but it’s something." [more]

3000 AD announces two new Xbox 360 titles

3000 AD announces two new Xbox 360 titles

"Known for its Battlecruiser and Universal Combat series of games, 3000 AD has jumped onto the Xbox 360 bandwagon with the announcement of two new action games.

Yes that's right, 3000 AD has sold out, the developers words not mine, and is hard at work on two titles for the Xbox 360. First up is Hostile Intent - Planetfall, an action game which stays well clear of the complex elements which were the hallmarks of the Battlecruiser and Universal Combat games. According to 3000 AD president Derek Smart we can expect "Improved graphics engines, advanced AI, massive game world and nail biting scenarios."

Smart says massive game worlds, but don't expect the same scale as found in 3000 AD's previous titles. The worlds will, however, be much larger than those traditionally found in console games. Expect scenarios to include "space and planetary excursions; first person and vehicular combat as well as a skill based progress system (e.g. from pilot to commander) through a revised campaign system."

Apparently the idea of the game is to blend the fun factor of games such as Battlefield with high-end technologies including seamless space and planetary combat." [more]
Saturday, January 28, 2006

Xtreme Enterprise Reveals Xbox 360 Faceplates

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Xtreme Enterprise Reveals Xbox 360 Faceplates

"If you haven’t heard, your Xbox 360 is fully customizable when it comes to the console or controller. Xtreme Enterprise has revealed their new line of colorful and exciting faceplates for the Xbox 360 console and controller." [more]

Analyst: 360 to maintain lead, PSP to pull ahead

Analyst: 360 to maintain lead, PSP to pull ahead

"UBS's Mike Wallace thinks Microsoft and Sony will win the next-gen console and handheld wars, predicts 3 percent spike in 2006 software sales.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usCiting the start of the next-generation console transition and the lack of a Halo 2 or San Andreas-level blockbuster, many analysts predicted game sales would shrink in 2005. And while US retailers sold $10.5 billion of combined gaming hardware and software--6 percent higher than in 2004--taken alone, software revenue did slide 3 percent, from $6.25 billion to $6.06 billion.

Now, more and more analysts are beginning to predict what 2006 has in store for the game market. The latest expert to join the chorus is Mike Wallace, the lead game analyst at the Wall Street investment firm UBS. "We expect US software sales to grow 3 percent in 2006 (up from a 3 percent sales decline in 2005)," he said in his most recent report. "This is up from our prior view of flat sales in 2006, with the year-over-year increase mainly due to 2005 being weaker than expected."

Wallace believes the increase will be fueled by the debut of the second and third next-generation consoles. "The launch of Sony's PlayStation 3 console later this year, along with the launch of Nintendo's Revolution console, should represent the official start of the new cycle," he said. He also agreed that the PS3 will miss its previously announced spring launch window and will go on sale across the Pacific first. "We think a summer launch [in Japan] is more likely, with the US and Europe launches still expected in Q4," he said." [more]

Clover Studios Interested in Nintendo Revolution

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Clover Studios Interested in Nintendo Revolution

"In a recent interview with Jeux-France, Clover Studio's President Atsushi Inaba discussed the development house's most recent Viewtiful Joe offerings as well as Nintendo's next-generation console, code-named the Nintendo Revolution.

What do you think about the Nintendo Revolution? Do you think that a Viewtiful Joe game could work with this console?

Atsushi Inaba: It is clear that we are really interested in the Nintendo Revolution, so we hope to create a game for this console. Now, if the Viewtiful Joe characters and the Viewtiful Joe world fit well wih the specs of this hardware, then we could indeed create a Viewtiful Joe game on Nintendo Revolution. But if it doesn't fit, we will try to make the best game that we can on Nintendo Revolution." [more]
Friday, January 27, 2006

New Nintendo Revolution Game? | NintendoRevolution.Ca -

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New Nintendo Revolution Game?

"Could these be images of possible weapons details for a Nintendo Revolution game?

As of now, there are very, very few games that have been announced for the Nintendo Revolution. The list can basically be counted on one hand, at least the games that have been made official, that is. Most of them are from Nintendo, as expected, but even these games have almost no details provided on what they will be like. In fact, most appear to be simple remakes of current-gen Nintendo games. Not very “revolutionary,” yet, that is." [more]
Thursday, January 26, 2006

Microsoft Profits Up 5% On Xbox, Database Sales

Microsoft Profits Up 5% On Xbox, Database Sales:

"Microsoft posted a 5% gain in profits and the highest quarterly sales in its history, in the midst of a series of high-profile product launches the company is counting on to revive its underperforming stock.

The world's largest software company on Thursday reported that revenue for its second quarter ended Dec. 31 rose 9% to $11.84 billion--a quarterly record for the company, but still short of its forecast of $11.9 billion to $12 billion in sales. Net income rose 5% to $3.65 billion, or 34 cents per share. Sales of Microsoft's new SQL Server 2005 database software and Xbox 360 video game console boosted results. But operating income fell 2% to $4.66 billion, reflecting higher sales, marketing, and development expenses associated with the new product launches.

Shares of Microsoft (Nasdaq--MSFT) rose during after-hours trading following the report. The shares closed regular trading Thursday up 10 cents, or 0.38%, at $26.50. Microsoft shares have underperformed the major stock indices for the past three years. And a 7% rise in the shares' price since the company's last earnings report in October trails an 8% increase in the S&P Information Technology index.

During a conference call with analysts Thursday, Microsoft chief financial officer Chris Liddell called the company's servers and tools division a 'highlight' of the second quarter. Sales of SQL Server increased more than 20%, outpacing the overall database market, and adoption of the new product has been faster than the company expected, he said. The launch of the Xbox console during the quarter also lifted sales. The releases are part of a string of more than a dozen new products Microsoft plans to ship before the end of this year. During the second half of the calendar year, Microsoft plans to release Windows Vista, the next version of its flagship PC operating system, and a new version of its cash-cow Office suite.

But questions remain about the company's ability to capitalize on PC sales growth, meet demand for the Xbox, and build its Internet businesses. Liddell said PC unit sales grew between 11% and 13% during Microsoft's second quarter, and the company expects 12% to 14% growth during the fiscal year which ends in June. The positive estimate follows Intel's report last week of soft PC demand. But faster growth in emerging markets than in the United States, Europe, and Japan, and stronger sales of lower-priced home versions of Windows compared with business versions mean Microsoft has collected less money on the software bundled with each machine. This week, Microsoft said it would release additional source code for its Windows server operating system to comply with an antitrust ruling by the European Union.

Component shortages have constrained Microsoft's ability to deliver enough Xbox consoles to meet demand; the company shipped 2.5 million units to retailers during the quarter, compared with its previous forecast of 2.75 million to 3 million units.

And revenue from Microsoft's MSN division was little changed from a year ago. Microsoft's test versions of new Internet ad-serving software it's developing are having "a dampening effect on revenue from search," said Liddell.

Microsoft is counting on new releases of its Internet products for growth. On Wednesday, Microsoft said it's formed a "live labs" applied research group to speed new Internet technologies to market. The group, headed by Microsoft technical fellow Gary Flake, will prototype and release emerging technologies in areas including multimedia Web searching, machine learning, distributed computing, and data mining, the company said.

Microsoft on Thursday also provided financial guidance for the rest of its fiscal year. For the third quarter ending March 31, Microsoft forecast revenue of $10.9 billion to $11.2 billion, and operating income of $4.5 billion to $4.6 billion. For the fiscal year ending June 30, the company said it would post operating income of $17.9 billion to $18.3 billion, on $44 billion to $44.5 billion in sales." [more]

Xbox 360 Feb' Preview Announced

Xbox 360 Feb' Preview Announced

"Microsoft says more than 1000 Xbox 360's will be demonstrated in retail stores from February 2006, paired up to high-definition Samsung plasma displays.

It couldn't provide an exact preview release date or comprehensive list of participating stores, but said that all the usual major suspects - read Harvey Norman, Electronics Boutique etc - will provide the action, which will have to tide folks over until the official 2 March 2006 release date.

Game titles for the demonstration units will include Project Gotham Racing 3, Kameo: Elements of Power, Peter Jackson's King Kong and NBA Live 06.

Punters are "Encouraged to familiarise themselves with the new features of the console, such as the console navigation blades and multimedia functionality". Doubt they'll need to be asked twice." [more]

Comment: Sony's Real War Begins

Comment: Sony's Real War Begins

"Could Sony be planning to surprise everyone with its PlayStation 3 plans? With the introduction of Blu-ray, and the next generation games market up or grabs, the company is getting ready for the fight of its life. Colin Campbell looks at Sony's big conundrum...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usFor the most up-to-date game industry news and analysis, join the thousands of game industry professionals who read Next-Gen.Biz every weekday morning.

Image Rumor is that an announcement is due some time in the next eight weeks. Of course, a rumor in the game industry carries about as much value as an Albanian supermarket voucher. Next Generation merely reports the existence of the rumor; we're in no hurry to win Gamespot's dreaded 'Bogus' rating in its excellent Rumor report.

But we will take the opportunity to ponder this puzzler; what the hell is Sony up to? Let's speculate.

First things first

Sony's ultra-high level Destination PlayStation conference is due to take place in Florida at the end of February.

Only senior publishing and retail executives will be invited. Between games of golf and fruity fine wines, they'll be hearing some of Sony's master-plan to shape not just the future of the game industry, but the future of media consumption as a whole." [more]
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

RR Contest: Nintendo Revolution Dream Game Concept

RR Contest: Nintendo Revolution Dream Game Concept

"Revolution Report, in conjunction with tech reporting site Philoneist, introduces the Nintendo Revolution Dream Game Concept Competition. We're encouraging our well-informed readers, who know about the next-generation Nintendo controller, to let their creative juices flow and craft a unique game idea along with a cool, innovative control scheme.

One lucky winner will receive a $50 gift certificate AND will be included as a guest speaker on the Revolution Report podcast.

Here are the contest details:
Submit a well-written and cogent description of your game idea that takes advantage of in-game 3D movement made possible by Nintendo's Revolution controller. It can feature an existing franchise or have entirely new characters. You may also create mockup peripherals to add to the controller, but need to be explained in detail. You can use franchises that haven't appeared on a Nintendo home system - Halo, Grand Theft Auto, etc. Anything goes, but remember you need to convince other people why your game idea would be more fun to play." [more]

How can I stream media to my Xbox 360 from my Windows XP machine?

How can I stream media to my Xbox 360 from my Windows XP machine?

"A. The Xbox 360 has Windows Media Extender technology built-in, which means it can read music, pictures, video and even television from your Windows Media Center 2005 PC or music and pictures from a regular XP (Professional Edition or Home Edition) Service Pack 2 (SP2) or later machine.

To stream media from a Windows Media Center 2005 PC to a Xbox 360 you must install the Update Rollup 2 for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005..." [more]
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