Xbox

This is the launch of the century in Chinese video gaming terms. Read more

Tech news from around the web:

Microsoft’s Xbox games console has taken a step towards coming a set-top box with its latest software upgrade, according to TechCrunch. The update makes it easier for the user to find pieces of content – from Microsoft’s own store or directly from the internet through YouTube – and control the Xbox remotely from a Windows mobile phone. Read more

Tech news from around the web:

Chrome, Google’s web browser, is on the brink of replacing Firefox as the second-most-popular browser after Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, ComputerWorld reports. Chrome’s global average user share for September was 23.6%, while Firefox’s stood at 26.8%. IE, meanwhile, was at 41.7%, according to data from StatCounter, which predicts that Chrome will overtake Firefox by December. Read more

Nintendo Wii U

Touch and gesture have al­ready made gaming more instinctive and now we are about to have gaming from all angles. I have been seeing video games from literally every point of view at the annual E3 trade show ex­travaganza in Los Angeles this week.

There was the depth of 3D as water rushed towards me when a ship’s hold was flooded in Sony’s Uncharted 3. Finger-painting in mid-air in front of the Kinect’s motion-sensing camera produced a hologram-like image on­screen that could be viewed in the round simply by shifting the player’s body position.

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Chris Nuttall

Microsoft has announced a mixed bag of pricing for its Kinect motion controller and a new version of its Xbox 360.

The low $200 price for a 4-gigabyte version of the Xbox 360 S coming in August may give Microsoft an advantage over Sony and Nintendo in new console sales, but existing Xbox owners may baulk at paying an extra $150 for a Kinect sensor, available from November 4. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Sony’s launch of a slimmed down PlayStation 3 last September at a lower price led to a sustained sales lift and Microsoft would welcome a similar boost for its smaller version of the Xbox 360.

There are no price cuts with the $300 Xbox 360 S, announced at the E3 show in June, but added features such as built-in wireless connectivity mean better value for money. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Microsoft and the Bungie independent studio gave an impressive demonstration of Halo:Reach , the next major instalment of the blockbuster Xbox franchise, at a media event in San Francisco  on Thursday evening.

The first-person shooter was one of more than a dozen games shown by Microsoftat its X10 event , in a bullish demonstration of its firepower for the year ahead.

It was an optimistic end to the week for the industry. Electronic Arts  and Activision Blizzard issued downbeat forecasts  on Monday and Wednesday and figures from the NPD research firm on Thursday showed that software sales fell 12 per cent in January. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Microsoft has been reluctant to reveal the technology behind its Project Natal gesture-based control system unveiled at the E3 video game trade show in June.

But at a DisplaySearch conference on emerging display technologies in San Jose on Thursday, a Microsoft partner spilled the beans. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Sony has changed the dimensions of its PlayStation 3 console and the dynamics of the current generation console wars with the introduction of the PS3 “Slim” from September 1 at $299 in the US.

Sony gave me a quick tour of the new console in San Francisco on Wednesday. Take a look at the smaller, lighter, less shiny PS3 in a video after the jump. Read more

Chris Nuttall

The US video game industry, which appeared to be riding out the recession last year, had the horse shot from under it in the first half of 2009.

The June sales figures released by the NPD research firm on Thursday night showed the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year declines. June’s 31 per cent drop was the greatest year-over-year monthly fall since September 2000, when the industry declined 41 per cent. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Microsoft’s new motion-sensing device unveiled at its E3 press conference today has no name, no price, no release date and its early-stage technology is of uncertain parentage.

Despite such apparent disadvantages, this bastard child has a kindly foster father and champion in Peter Molyneux, the visionary leader of Microsoft’s Lionhead Studios.  Read more

The FT’s Lex column considers the three-way war for the living room, and concludes that with little console innovation on the horizon, Nintendo’s Wii, the current leader, could be vulnerable:

Microsoft has an opportunity to catch up on Nintendo. The US software giant has the cheapest console on the market at $199 in the US, for something that is more capable than Nintendo’s $250 machine. Read more

  • Bing made an early debut, but Microsoft‘s new search service is about to test new social and legal limits in its presentation of video clips. On Bing, “thumbnail”-sized video clips play automatically when a cursor hovers over them. That might be as far as any major company has gone to test the limits of the “fair use” defence to copyright infringement when it comes to video content.
  • Prime View International, the Taiwanese maker of screens for Amazon’s Kindle e-book readers, aims to consolidate its hold on the nascent “electronic paper” industry by acquiring E Ink, the US company that owns key technology for making the screens.

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  • The economic slump hasn’t ended yet. That was the word from the executives of Microsoft and Dell, as they countered the recent optimistic views expressed by other big tech companies. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, said: “To think that things would be back in a year seems naive to me.” Brian Gladden, Dell’s chief financial officer, said: “Based on what we see in the marketplace, we’re not comfortable talking about seeing a bottom at this point.”
  • Microsoft and Google took direct aim at each other’s core businesses as they showed off ambitious new services that represent some of their biggest internet development efforts. Microsoft unveiled its new search engine, Bing, to generally positive reviews. Google, meanwhile, stole the thunder by showing-off Wave, a new communication platform that incorporates elements of email, chat and document sharing.

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  • Pirates of all sorts seem to be in the cross-hairs these days. France is set to introduce the world’s most draconian laws against internet piracy, with parliamentarians voting to give the government powers to cut off offenders’ internet access. The controversial draft law would create an agency to police illegal downloading of copyright material. The bill still has to be voted on by the Senate but is widely expected to be approved in a final vote on Wednesday.
  • Meanwhile, new findings suggest the new French laws might be better suited for the US. While the US has the lowest PC software piracy rate in the world, at 20 per cent, it has the largest dollar losses from piracy, at $9.1bn, because it is by far the world’s largest software market, according to the sixth annual BSA-IDC Global Software Piracy Study. Worldwide, “the PC software piracy rate rose for the second year in a row, from 38 per cent to 41 per cent, because PC shipments grew fastest in high-piracy countries such as China and India.”

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