Microsoft is building low-cost, streaming-only Xbox, says report

It was revealed at E3 last month that Microsoft was building a cloud gaming system. A report today calls that system Scarlett Cloud and it’s only part of Microsoft’s next-gen Xbox strategy. And it makes a lot of sense, too.

According to Thurrott.com, noted site for all things Microsoft, the next Xbox will come in two flavors. One will be a traditional gaming console where games are processed locally. You know, like how it works on game systems right now. The other system will be a lower-powered system that will stream games from the cloud — most likely, Microsoft’s Azure cloud.

This streaming system will still have some processing power, which is in part to counter latency traditionally associated with streaming games. Apparently part of the game will run locally while the rest is streamed to the system.

The streaming Xbox will likely be available at a much lower cost than the traditional Xbox. And why not. Microsoft has sold Xbox systems with a slim profit margin, relying on sales of games and online services to make up the difference. A streaming service that’s talked about on Thurrott would further take advantage of this model while tapping into Microsoft’s deep understanding of cloud computing.

A few companies have tried streaming full video games. Onlive was one of the first; while successful for a time, it eventually went through a dramatic round of layoffs before a surprise sale for $4.8 million in 2012. Sony offers an extensive library of PS2, PS3 and PS4 games for streaming through its PlayStation Now service. Nvidia got into the streaming game this year and offers a small selection of streaming through GeForce Now. But these are all side projects for the companies.

Sony and Nintendo do not have the global cloud computing platform of Microsoft, and if Microsoft’s streaming service hits, it could change the landscape and force competitors to reevaluate everything.

This ultra-cute tiny PS4 controller is a great option for children and the small-handed

 If you like playing console games with the younger generation, you may have come across the issue of their tiny hands being unable to perform certain combos, reach certain buttons easily, and so on. While this makes them satisfying opponents, it might be better if they had a controller more suited to their physiology. Well, good thing there is one! Read More

PlayStation 4’s 4.50 software update adds HDD support, 3D Blu-ray capability for PS VR

32622930126_3d50cf55c4_b PlayStation 4’s next big software update is going out now to beta testers, and it adds a lot for owners of the console to get excited about. There’s support for external USB HDDs, which means regardless of how much internal storage you have on your PS4, you can add up to 8TB of additional space via external drives, ensuring you’ll never run out of room for games and saves.… Read More

Watch Sony’s PlayStation 4 ‘Neo’ event live right here

A visitor wears a Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. PlayStation VR as he tries a virtual reality (VR) game during a demonstration by Tokyo VR Startups in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, June 29, 2016. Tokyo VR Startups has launched the first Japanese incubation program focused on the virtual reality market, says the company website. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images Sony is holding a PlayStation Meeting in New York to unveil the PlayStation 4 ‘Neo’, and maybe also a PS4 Slim because why not. In case you don’t care about Apple’s iPhone event today, you can watch Sony’s conference live stream right here on this page. The conference starts at 3 PM ET (12 PM on the West coast, 8 PM in London, 4 AM in Tokyo). What’s the… Read More

Sony will likely unveil the PlayStation 4 ‘Neo’ on September 7

PlayStation 4 September 7 is going to be a busy day. Sony sent out invites for a press event in New York. The company will likely unveil the successor to the PlayStation 4. On the same day, Apple could also hold its usual iPhone launch event for the rumored iPhone 7. The event is called “PlayStation Meeting,” and the company plans to “share details about the PlayStation business.”… Read More

Microsoft slashes Xbox One price to $250 ahead of Slim launch

XboxOne_1TBConsole This weekend, Microsoft dropped the price of the Xbox One for the third time since May, giving users access to the Xbox 360 successor for a mere $250. Remember, the Xbox One originally launched with a 500GB drive and a Kinect sensor for $499, all the way back in November of 2013. In the years since, the console has dropped dramatically in price, going to $399 in June of 2014. Since May of… Read More

PlayStation VR is arriving October 13th, priced at $399

potato quality I mean, I’m as excited about The Last Guardian as the next unwashed blogger, but you didn’t really think we were going to get out of tonight’s pre-E3 Sony press conference without a little hardware news, did you? And it’s 2016, after all, so it’s time for Sony to join the Oculus Rifts and HTC Vives of the world with its own VR offering. Read More

March 2016 NPD: Ubisoft, Nintendo shake up sales chart with The Division, Zelda

One of the biggest launches so far this year is living up to its early expectations.

Gamers aren’t spending more than they did last year, but that’s only because many of them already have the latest hardware.

New video game products generated $964.1 million in sales at United States retailers in March, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. That is relatively flat from $968.4 million in spending during the same period in 2015. Hardware sales continue to decline in terms of currency because the average system is selling for less than it was in 2015. Gamers are instead shifting that budget into bumping up their spending on software and accessories.

Here are the numbers:

  • Hardware: $253.2 million in March 2016 (down 19 percent from $311.1 million)
  • Software: $425.8 million in March 2016 (up 8 percent from $395.4 million)
  • Accessories: $285.1 million in March 2016 (up 9 percent from $261.8 million)

Software did especially well considering it didn’t have the easy comparison to March 2015 when Sony released Bloodborne for PlayStation 4 and Electronic Arts launched the somewhat disappointing Battlefield: Hardline. And, of course, accessories — which includes interactive toys like Amiibo — continue to generate more money every month.

“Sales of new launches, driven by Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s The Division, helped propel March 2016 video game physical software sales 8 percent higher than last March,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said. “Overall sales of new launch titles grew by 26 percent, with those launched in Q1 2016 collectively selling 28 percent higher in March than Q1 2015 launches performed during the same time period last year. This speaks to the strength of this year’s launch slate so far.”

It’s about time to get to the software chart, but before we do that it’s always important to remember that NPD’s numbers are a small segment of a much larger industry. It only tracks new games sold at brick-and-mortar retailers in the United States. No Europe. No digital. Nothing used. With that in mind, you can take this data and use it to better understand why the companies that solicit this information from the NPD still pay for it.

OK. Let’s get to the games.

Software

  1. Tom Clancy’s The Division (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  2. Far Cry: Primal (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  3. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (Wii U)
  4. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC)
  5. UFC 2 (PS4, Xbox One)
  6. MLB 16: The Show (PS4, PS3)
  7. Pokken Tournament (Wii U)
  8. NBA 2K16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PSe)
  9. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Xbox One, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
  10. Minecraft (360, PS4, Xbox One, PS3)

Publisher’s Ubisoft and Nintendo both had a good month.

In particular, the French company responsible for The Division and Far Cry had the top two best-selling games in March. The Division’s strong debut isn’t that surprising as it had a huge marketing blitz and some fairly positive word-of-mouth throughout the entirety of the reporting period. But it is a bit surprising that Far Cry: Primal, which launched in February and topped the sales chart for that month, was still No. 2.

“Tom Clancy’s The Division had the best launch month for any Tom Clancy title to-date, having sold 40 percent more than the next best-selling Tom Clancy title, March 2008’s Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 when adjusted for number of days sold within the month,” said Callahan. “Stemming from strong launches of Tom Clancy’s The Division and Far Cry: Primal, Ubisoft is the number one software publisher for Q1 2016, with a unit sales increase of close to 130 percent, and a dollar sales increase of over 200 percent.”

Nintendo, however, got back into the chart with an HD remake and a third-party partnership. Zelda rose to No. 3, which is excellent for a platform exclusive on a console with the smallest install base. That suggests that Twilight Princess HD has a seriously high attach rate in the States. Pokkén Tournament is a coproduction between Nintendo and Bandai Namco that paid off. The two companies were able to crack match Street Fighter V’s February debut at No. 7 on the sales chart, which maybe says something about the weakness of the Street Fighter scene on Sony’s console.

As for the other new games on this chart, UFC 2 is EA’s sole entry on this list, but it outperformed MLB 16: The Show from Sony Interactive Entertainment. Sony holds the exclusive rights to make triple-A MLB games, which has historically made this a tough time of year for EA Sports as this is traditionally when Madden slips off the charts. But UFC 2 is helping it fill that gap in its schedule.

The rest of the list are familiar favorites.

Minecraft will just never leave this chart. It continues to sell like mad, and it will probably keep doing that until the universe expands into a fine mist that can no longer support life.

Grand Theft Auto V at No. 4 is also astonishing. The game originally came out in 2013, and it has finished each year since then as a top 10 seller. It could potentially do the same again in 2016.

Finally, this list is heavy on PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U, and that’s because games aren’t selling well on other platforms.

“Software unit sales for [current-generation] consoles increased 36 percent, offsetting the [last-generation] decline of 55 percent,” said Callahan. “This resulted in overall console software unit sales increasing 4 percent, with revenue up 10 percent compared to last March.  For Portable software, unit sales and revenue were down 19 percent and 16 percent, respectively, in March 2016 compared to last year.”

Hardware

We’ve reached out to Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo to ask for their sales data. As usual, the companies are hesitant to share that information, but we’ll include any statements we get from the companies on the matter here.

But as we mentioned, hardware sales are starting to decline overall. This is no longer just because Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii are no longer selling. We’ve moved past that phase of the generation. At this point, we’re looking at the same consoles selling $250 to $350 instead of $350 – $450. That’s driving revenues down, and it’s probably why Sony and Microsoft are considering upgrades to their current systems.

“Video game hardware dollar sales declined by 19 percent in March 2016, with unit sales dropping 17 percent,” said Callahan. “The difference in trends was due to some softening of average retail prices of 2 percent versus last March.”

The 3DS and Vita handhelds are the biggest trouble spot for the industry right now.

“Portable hardware sales had the highest dollar sales volume decline versus last March, followed closely by [current-generation] consoles,” said Callahan.
“Seventh generation consoles had a steep percentage decline of 78 percent, though those sales now represent only 2 percent of the month’s sales.”

For now, however, PlayStation 4 continues to outsell the competition, according to a statement from Sony Interactive Entertainment:

“Thank you to our fans and partners for making PlayStation 4 the top-selling console and software sales leader for the month of March, as well as the number-one console for fans of The Division, according to NPD. We are truly humbled by the success and look forward to delivering more amazing gaming experiences throughout 2016, including the launch of PlayStation VR this October.”

Microsoft marketing boss Mike Nichols provided a statement regarding the popularity of Xbox Live:

“In March, global hours spent gaming on Xbox One increased 89 percent compared to last year. Xbox Live engagement was driven by the greatest games lineup, including new titles released in March like ‘Killer Instinct: Season 3’ and ‘Tom Clancy’s The Division.’ ‘Killer Instinct: Season 3’ has seen record engagement across Xbox One and Windows 10 since it launched on March 29, making March the best month ever for the franchise with more than 6 million unique players.Last week, on April 5, we launched ‘Quantum Break’ to critical acclaim and it became the best-selling Xbox game around the world, and is now the biggest-selling new Microsoft Studios published IP this generation. We can’t thank our fans enough for their continued support and we’re looking forward to bringing more unprecedented experiences on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Xbox Live later this year.”

Nintendo did not provide an update on its hardware or service use.

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March 2016 NPD: Ubisoft, Nintendo shake up sales chart with The Division, Zelda

One of the biggest launches so far this year is living up to its early expectations.

Gamers aren’t spending more than they did last year, but that’s only because many of them already have the latest hardware from Microsoft and Sony.

New video game products generated $964.1 million in sales at United States retailers in March, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. That is relatively flat from $968.4 million in spending during the same period in 2015. Hardware sales continue to decline in terms of currency because the average system is selling for less than it was in 2015. Gamers are instead shifting that budget into bumping up their spending on software and accessories.

Here are the numbers:

  • Hardware: $253.2 million in March 2016 (down 19 percent from $311.1 million)
  • Software: $425.8 million in March 2016 (up 8 percent from $395.4 million)
  • Accessories: $285.1 million in March 2016 (up 9 percent from $261.8 million)

Software was up quite a lot year-over-year considering it had a tough comparison to a March 2015 when Sony released Bloodborne for PlayStation 4 and Electronic Arts launched the somewhat disappointing Battlefield: Hardline. And, of course, accessories — which includes interactive toys like Amiibo — continue to generate more money every month.

“Sales of new launches, driven by Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s The Division, helped propel March 2016 video game physical software sales 8 percent higher than last March,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said. “Overall sales of new launch titles grew by 26 percent, with those launched in Q1 2016 collectively selling 28 percent higher in March than Q1 2015 launches performed during the same time period last year. This speaks to the strength of this year’s launch slate so far.”

The NPD’s numbers for software sales are a small segment of a much larger industry. It only tracks new games sold at brick-and-mortar retailers in the United States. No Europe. No digital. Nothing used. With that in mind, you can take this data and use it to better understand why the companies that solicit this information from the NPD still pay for it.

OK. Let’s get to the games.

Software

  1. Tom Clancy’s The Division (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  2. Far Cry: Primal (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  3. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (Wii U)
  4. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC)
  5. UFC 2 (PS4, Xbox One)
  6. MLB 16: The Show (PS4, PS3)
  7. Pokken Tournament (Wii U)
  8. NBA 2K16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PSe)
  9. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Xbox One, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
  10. Minecraft (360, PS4, Xbox One, PS3)

Ubisoft and Nintendo both had a good month.

In particular, the French company responsible for The Division and Far Cry had the top two best-selling games in March. The Division’s strong debut isn’t that surprising, as it had a huge marketing blitz and some fairly positive word-of-mouth throughout the reporting period. But it is a bit surprising that Far Cry: Primal, which launched in February and topped the sales chart for that month, was still No. 2.

“Tom Clancy’s The Division had the best launch month for any Tom Clancy title to-date, having sold 40 percent more than the next best-selling Tom Clancy title, March 2008’s Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 when adjusted for number of days sold within the month,” said Callahan. “Stemming from strong launches of Tom Clancy’s The Division and Far Cry: Primal, Ubisoft is the number one software publisher for Q1 2016, with a unit sales increase of close to 130 percent, and a dollar sales increase of over 200 percent.”

Nintendo, however, got back into the chart with an HD remake and a third-party partnership. Zelda rose to No. 3, which is excellent for a platform exclusive on a console with the smallest base of owners. That suggests that Twilight Princess HD has a seriously high attach rate in the States. Pokkén Tournament is a co-production between Nintendo and Bandai Namco that paid off. The two companies were able to match Street Fighter V’s February debut at No. 7 on the sales chart, which maybe says something about the weakness of the Street Fighter scene on Sony’s console.

As for the other new games on this chart, UFC 2 is EA’s sole entry on this list, but it outperformed MLB 16: The Show from Sony Interactive Entertainment. Sony holds the exclusive rights to make blockbuster MLB games, which has historically made this a tough time of year for EA Sports as this is traditionally when Madden slips off the charts. But UFC 2 is helping it fill that gap in its schedule.

The rest of the list are familiar favorites.

Minecraft will just never leave this chart. It continues to sell like mad, and it will probably keep doing that until the universe expands into a fine mist that can no longer support life.

Grand Theft Auto V at No. 4 is also astonishing. The game originally came out in 2013, and it has finished each year since then as a top 10 seller. It could potentially do the same again in 2016.

Finally, this list is heavy on PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U, and that’s because games aren’t selling well on other platforms.

“Software unit sales for [current-generation] consoles increased 36 percent, offsetting the [last-generation] decline of 55 percent,” said Callahan. “This resulted in overall console software unit sales increasing 4 percent, with revenue up 10 percent compared to last March.  For Portable software, unit sales and revenue were down 19 percent and 16 percent, respectively, in March 2016 compared to last year.”

Hardware

GamesBeat has reached out to Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo to ask for their sales data. As usual, the companies are hesitant to share that information, but we’ll include any statements we get from the companies on the matter here.

Hardware sales are starting to decline overall. This is no longer just because Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii are no longer selling. We’ve moved past that phase of the generation. At this point, we’re looking at the same consoles selling $250 to $350 instead of $350 to $450. That’s driving revenues down, and it’s could be one reason why Sony and Microsoft are rumored to be considering upgrades to their current systems.

“Video game hardware dollar sales declined by 19 percent in March 2016, with unit sales dropping 17 percent,” said Callahan. “The difference in trends was due to some softening of average retail prices of 2 percent versus last March.”

The 3DS and Vita handhelds are the biggest trouble spot for the industry right now.

“Portable hardware sales had the highest dollar sales volume decline versus last March, followed closely by [current-generation] consoles,” said Callahan. “Seventh generation consoles had a steep percentage decline of 78 percent, though those sales now represent only 2 percent of the month’s sales.”

For now, however, PlayStation 4 continues to outsell the competition, according to a statement from Sony Interactive Entertainment:

“Thank you to our fans and partners for making PlayStation 4 the top-selling console and software sales leader for the month of March, as well as the number-one console for fans of The Division, according to NPD. We are truly humbled by the success and look forward to delivering more amazing gaming experiences throughout 2016, including the launch of PlayStation VR this October.”

Microsoft marketing boss Mike Nichols provided a statement regarding the popularity of Xbox Live:

“In March, global hours spent gaming on Xbox One increased 89 percent compared to last year. Xbox Live engagement was driven by the greatest games lineup, including new titles released in March like ‘Killer Instinct: Season 3’ and ‘Tom Clancy’s The Division.’ ‘Killer Instinct: Season 3’ has seen record engagement across Xbox One and Windows 10 since it launched on March 29, making March the best month ever for the franchise with more than 6 million unique players.Last week, on April 5, we launched ‘Quantum Break’ to critical acclaim and it became the best-selling Xbox game around the world, and is now the biggest-selling new Microsoft Studios published IP this generation. We can’t thank our fans enough for their continued support and we’re looking forward to bringing more unprecedented experiences on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Xbox Live later this year.”

Nintendo did not provide an update on its hardware or service use.

More information:

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