Xbox Live Arcade is a dead platform downloading. Microsoft's designated home for small and inexpensive downloadable video games will not make the jump to the next generation. When the Xbox One releases later this year, all of its video games will live in the same space. The nearly nine-years-old Xbox Live Arcade might continue to exist on the Xbox 360 and slowly fade away during the transitional year(s), or Microsoft might quickly yank it like a Band-Aid through a dashboard update. In either case, XBLA has been read its last rights.
One day soon, gamers everywhere will turn on their Xboxes and find all available games under an aptly named Games section of the dashboard. It's tempting to read this move as another case of Microsoft pushing independent developers farther away from the green glow of the Xbox spotlight. It's tempting to assume that the new dashboard will shine that light even brighter on big-budget game releases and multimedia options, and that may well end up being the case. However, some indies, believe it or not, actually enjoy working with Microsoft. Additionally, Microsoft's Phil Spencer told Eurogamer that he feels the new layout, which includes a recommendation system, will "solve fantastically some of the challenges that independent developers face, particularly around discovery and connecting their game to an audience, by some of the platform features we have in the machine itself."
We'll have to check back in a few years into the Xbox One's life to verify whether or not Spencer spoke truly — but no one wants to wait that long. So here and now, what does the elimination of Xbox Live Arcade mean? Will it continue the Flight of the Indies? Or will it better a system that obviously has more than a few kinks and bring back the downtrodden and departed?
Yesterday, Microsoft pulled back the curtain on its next-generation home game console. Dubbed "Xbox One," the machine will hit retail shelves at an unannounced date later this year. With E3 right around the corner, Microsoft held back much of its next-generation software, among other things. Still, much was shown and discussed during the console holder's presentation, and XBLAFans has more than a few feelings towards it all. Read on to find out how we're feeling about the Xbox One's look, TV and Kinect focus, lack of game announcements and more.
Nick Santangelo: Let's start with the obvious. Microsoft came right out and showed the new controller, Kinect sensor and console. Sony of course showed its PlayStation 4 controller back in February but not the console, so that was a pretty big departure. Were you guys happy to see what the box actually looks like? Does that matter to you? Did you like the hardware design?
Ryan Thompson: I thought the design was excellent. I especially enjoyed the textured analog sticks on the controller, which are taking a beat from the MLG Pro Controller, it seems.
Shawn Saris: It was nice to see. It looks like what I had expected. They kept it pretty straightforward, although it does seem a little bland, more like a cable box and not a console full of power.
Shawn Ryan: It's a bit boxy, but I personally love how it looks. I don't mind the size either. The controller looks like a great evolution of the 360 design, and to me it just looks "next-gen."
Ryan Thompson: "Like a cable box" is an excellent observation. (Editor's note: Perhaps "like an alarm clock" is a more apt comparison.)
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After years of waiting and speculating on the part of gamers and the press, Microsoft President of Interactive Entertainment Business Don Mattrick today unveiled the company's next-generation console, the Xbox One, at an event broadcast live from Microsoft's Redmond, WA campus. The new console, which will launch worldwide later this year, is the successor to Microsoft's Xbox 360 console, which launched in November of 2005. The Xbox One is Microsoft's third home video game console, with the original Xbox having been launched in November 2001.
In a stark contrast from competitor Sony's PlayStation 4 unveiling, Microsoft showed the world what the Xbox One console (pictured above), controller and Kinect sensor looked like almost immediately at the start of the event. All three piees of hardware are primarily black, with the Xbox One and Kinect sensor having hard rectangular shapes. The new controller appears similar in shape to the old one, but has an improved d-pad, triggers and more. Microsoft promised that there are 40 design innovations in the new controller.
Though much of the show failed to focus on actual games, Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios, revealed that Microsoft is working on more than a dozen Xbox One games. "We have more titles in development now than in any other time in Xbox history," said Spencer. "I'm proud to announce that Microsoft Studios plans to release 15 new games in the first year of Xbox One." Spencer stated that eight of those titles are brand new franchises.
Tomorrow at 10 am PDT, Microsoft will likely tell us all some things we already know. The Xbox creator will also tell us plenty that we don't already know. Some rumors will probably be proven true, others false. New games and features will be discussed and, in some cases, shown. Ultimately, the curtain is going to fall on Microsoft's event before the public hears everything it wants to hear. Microsoft is only going to tease us, with a more complete showing of all its console plans for the years ahead not coming until the console holder's traditional pre-E3 media briefing on June 10.
But tomorrow we will know something we don't know today. We'll know something about what direction Microsoft plans to steer the Xbox brand in over the course of the next generation. Sitting here right now, I can honestly say that I know nothing more than any other gamer who's followed the supposed leaks over the past few years knows about what we're going to see tomorrow. Rather than make educated guesses about what might be shown tomorrow and at E3, XBLAFans is following up last week's look at how developers feel about XBLA as it currently stands by having them speak about where they want to see it go in the next generation.
During PAX East this past March, we cornered six game developers and asked them one question: If you could change any one thing or add any one feature to the next-generation version of Xbox Live Arcade, what would it be?
Dead Space's Isaac Clarke once had to drill into his own eyeball in order to survive a ship infested with mutated freaks. Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad of Assassin's Creed fame was made to part with a portion of one of his fingers in order to join the Levantine Brotherhood of Assassins. Tomb Raider's Lara Croft once had the misfortune of falling onto a piece of sharpened rebar that pierced her midsection — and all she was trying to do was go for a nice little exploratory boat ride. And that's not even mentioning the myriad scores of locust soldiers that have found themselves on the wrong end of Marcus Fenix's trusty chainsaw or colossal boots over the years.
You don't hear any of them complaining about having to endure those, shall we way, slightly disagreeable circumstances, though, do you? That's because those mere flesh wounds were nothing when compared to the great tragedy of our time: working with a certain platform holder to release your independent studio's game on Xbox Live Arcade. I shudder at the very thought.
If you've followed Xbox Live Arcade over the past several years here and on other sites, then you already know of what I speak. There lives in Redmond, Washington a great beast, massive in size with glowing red-ringed eyes of fury. It is a devious creature hellbent on tricking those smaller than it into believing they're partners, only to turn on them in their hour of need, stomping down on their hopes and dreams harder than Fenix has brought down his boots on so many locust heads. Such disdain does this gluttonous monstrosity have for the smaller creatures roaming the forest of the game industry, that it is more than happy to sacrifice its own interests if it means snuffing out the light of those cowering under its great shadow.
So evil is this…Wait. Isn't this getting just a little out of hand? Is Microsoft really that terrible of a company? Does it truly care nothing for the needs of independent game developers? Is its thirst for video game console dominance so insatiable that it doesn't mind torpedoing its, um, pursuit of video game console dominance so long as it means making life miserable for independent game studios that, by developing games for its platform, are actively working to help it succeed with its, uh, video game console dominance? It is if you've listened to the little guys with big megaphones.
Mere weeks after the launch of the hotly anticipated Xbox 360 in 2005, rumor spread like wildfire of a dreaded video-game Grim Reaper. We didn't know why, how or when he would strike — all we knew was that he manifested himself with three red lights, cursing 360 consoles with a permanent GAME OVER. Microsoft ensured us that it was a minor problem that happened only to a select few, but time eventually revealed the ugly truth: everyone was at risk. After class-action lawsuits and bitter word of mouth, Microsoft finally put a three-year warranty in place, guaranteeing that all systems affected by the red lights would be fixed at no charge.
Chances are you have your own story about the Three Red Lights of Death. Perhaps your console was under warranty and returned after a few weeks. Maybe you bought a new one to skip the wait. You may have even cracked it open and somehow fixed the problem yourself. For me, my first system was killed by Overlord, one month before the launch of Halo 3. Four years later, my second system croaked after the first level of Gears of War 3, at which point in time the warranty had expired.
The Wizard of X
A replacement Xbox 360 Slim would have set me back at least $300, so I was somewhat relieved when my local GameStop referred me to David Peyregne, owner of Computers for Less. Peyregne is an experienced technician who has run his own business fixing computers and video game systems for over a decade. A former journalism student who turned to computer science, Peyregne sometimes lets his southern drawl come through his hollow voice that was scarred from polyps at a young age. With a husky explanation, he handed my system back to me, good as new, for $100, a sum much less daunting than the cost of a new console. Recently, I sat down with Peyregne to get the whole story on the Red Ring of Death: what causes it and how does Peyregne fix it? As it turns out, it took him a long time to figure it all out.