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E3 Is Happening This Week

Its the week video gamers wait for all year – with birthdays and Christmas as exceptions – E3 is happening out on the west coast.

The big news is that Nintendo has already pulled a fast one by releasing a “pre-direct” video (gotta love Japanese literalness) with the company president showing off their new gaming console, the Nintendo U.

As for Sony and Microsoft, do not expect much – or anything at all – about next gen consoles.  A Playstation4 or Xbox720 are most likely a year out, but maybe one or both of them might try to squirt water on Nintendo’s week by at least sneaking something about what is in store. I won’t try and do too much predicting as there are many, far better, sites that are already doing this for you.  But there is some obvious ground to cover.

Microsoft:  Halo4.  That’s going to be the big one.  After that it will be trying to mine a game that really takes the Kinect to the next level.  Microsoft’s motion controller is very nice and very high tech, but it just hasn’t landed THAT game which captures the general public and hard core gamers alike.  There probably will be XboxLive developments, and theres some talk about a multi-platform app that will allow users to stream video content from a smartphone/tablet to the Xbox360, ala Apple’s Airplay.

Sony: The big machine has some serious work to do with Vita.  The newest handheld device is struggling in sales and Sony has a lot invested in it.  Sony will probably spend a lot of their time showing off how Vita can be a cross platform gaming device/controller in the same vein as the new Nintendo U Game pad.  While we will most likely see exciting new titles for the Playstation3, a lot of time will be spent showing off the new games coming for the Vita – giving people a reason to spend the money on the pricey device.

Games:  Look out for Call of Duty: Black Ops2, Dead Space 3, FIFA13, Star Trek: The Game – and there is a buzz that a sneak peek of Grand Theft Auto V will appear this week as well.

The outstanding Guysgirl.com will have live coverage of each of the big three’s presentations, and you should go follow her and talk games with her.

 

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A $99 Xbox? – Yes, Kinda

Xbox Live logo since 2005

It is fully expected that Microsoft will announce a Xbox360 budge package, complete with Kinect sensor and 4GB drive for only $99 starting next week.

The hitch?  You also are then tied to a monthly subscription fee of $15 for Xbox Live for two years.  Rumors are that the $15 per month will give you access to a Gold level subscription and possibly some streaming content.  There will also be an early termination fee and if you’re attempting math in your head this deal is equal to about $459 over the course of two years versus $420 if you’d just bought the $299 bundle with a two years of Gold.

Microsoft is clearly gearing up for the 360 to move well past its gaming origins and trying to make it a full service media center.  Lots of talk about a new music “Woodstock” service being rolled out later this year.  So as many ways for people to spend their money to get one, the better for Microsoft.

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New XBOX Live Dashboard *update*

**update**  It was supposed to start pushing out this morning but hadn’t at the time I’ve written this… Microsoft’s Larry Hyrb has been tweeting updates all day and you should follow him @majornelson to get the most up to the minute info..

 

Microsoft wants you to know that if you have an Xbox360, hold on, because you’re getting an update that they promise will make you feel like it’s a whole new console.

The new dashboard, rolling out on Tuesday the 6th, follows the largely loved Metro design seen in Windows Phone 7 and will be seen in the future Microsoft 8 OS.  Much of what was foretold at E3 looks to be coming with all new search functionality, including voice command search via Kinect and the idea that your Xbox360 is now more of a full time media hub than just a gaming device.

Full You Tube, Netflix, ESPN, UFC and other intrigation are all part of trying to get the user to stay on their Xbox when not playing, and watching media through it rather than another source.

There is also now cloud saving for Live users with Gold accounts that make it easy to move files and game progress from console to console, and a new game scheduling feature called, “Beacons”.  This allows the user to send out appointments to friends to pre-plan game playing times so going full nerd can be a fully co-ordinated event.

Be on the lookout starting tomorrow, and report back to me your thoughts and experiences…  I’m interested because believe it or not, I am still running an original XBOX360 from the day they went on sale, way back when.  Yup, never had the “ring of death” or any failures.  Not sure how.  But I wonder how well my 7-8 year old unit will play and perform with all of this new soft/hardware…

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