John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Microsoft Announces New Xbox 360 'Laugh and Learn' Game Controller

Though a public high school’s outdoor amphitheater might seem an unlikely location for Microsoft’s event at this year’s E3 Media Summit in Santa Monica, Calif., it was particularly apt given the schoolyard beating the company’s taken in the gaming market recently. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 strategy has been generally unimpressive and, in some cases, disastrous thus far.

It’s hard to believe that the handful of announcements made last night will gain it much truck in the next-generation console war, but you never know–especially the way things are going over at Sony.

So what were the announcements? A bunch of knock-’em-down, shoot-’em-up, carjack-’em-and-run-’em-down Xbox 360 games like Madden NFL 08, Halo 3 and Grand Theft Auto IV. And a new Fisher-Price-looking controller called “big-button pad” that’s meant to be less intimidating to new gamers. “For the Xbox 360 and the industry to grow, you’re going to need a lot more social experiences that are not intimidating and easy to jump into,” said Shane Kim, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios. “That’s what we’re doing with the big-button pad. You realize it’s something that’s not intimidating.”

bigbuttonpad_small.jpgNope. Definitely not that. Looks like a big baby rattle … or something you might find at Good Vibrations. Anyway, Microsoft is packaging big-button pad with Scene It?, a trivia game similar to You Don’t Know Jack, presumably in the hopes that it will loosen’s Wii’s stranglehold on the casual-gaming market a bit.

In the end, Microsoft’s E3 event was most notable for what didn’t occur. The company did not cut the price of the Xbox 360, as some had speculated it would after Sony slashed the price of the PlayStation 2. “We feel really good about where we’re at right now,” Kim told the Seattle Post Intelligencer. “Of course, we’re always going to be looking at those opportunities. But we’re certainly not feeling any pressure to react to anything that Sony has done.”

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald