Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Microsoft Xbox’s E3 Event Was All About the Games. Now, About That $499 Console …

Despite its age, the Microsoft Xbox 360 has held up well against the console competition, due in part to the company’s approach of offering both top-notch games and premium media streaming through the system.

Forza 5

Now, Microsoft is betting a new batch of games will sway gamers towards its upcoming Xbox One — which will cost $500.

These better be some killer games.

Most of the focus at Microsoft’s E3 event earlier today was on software. Some key, exclusive Xbox One titles on the way are Ryse, Killer Instinct!, Crimson Dragon and Sunset Overdrive. Also demoed: Forza Motorsport 5 and Battlefield 5.

And we saw a sneak peek of the next version of Halo, due out in 2014.

The company gave a nod to indie games, as well. Project Spark utilizes Microsoft’s SmartGlass application and will aim to compete with Sony’s LittleBigPlanet. Minecraft and a new game called D4 will be available on the One. (There’s already a Minecraft for Xbox 360, but an upcoming Xbox One version promises bigger maps and more multiplayer options.)

Microsoft corporate vice president Phil Harrison said that 200 indie developers have launched more than 400 games for Xbox to date, totaling $1 billion in sales.

Despite a couple of audio glitches during the show, the trailers and game-play videos got a warm reception from the gamer crowd. Xbox Live Gold subscribers will now have access to two free game downloads a month. And in what’s likely a relief to many Xbox gamers, Microsoft is ditching its “Points” currency for the upcoming One, and will charge users in local currency — a.k.a. real dollars.

xbox_one_event2

Speaking of real dollars! Then the price of the new Xbox One was announced. Must-have titles, exclusive to the Xbox One, become must-weigh titles.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company said that the Xbox One will ship in November for $499. (Microsoft first announced its highly-anticipated, next-generation console at an event at company headquarters late last month.)

That console, by the way, won’t be backwards-compatible with your old games.

In the meantime, Microsoft is putting out a new, slimmer Xbox 360 that borrows features from the One.

To date, Microsoft has sold more than 76 million Xbox 360 consoles. Recent data from the NPD group, which releases a monthly report on the pulse of the videogame industry, showed that 130,000 Xbox 360 units were sold in April 2013, compared with 100,000 unit sales for Sony PlayStation and under 50,000 for the Nintendo Wii U.

130,000 unit sales isn’t much to write home about, but for Xbox, that’s still 28 consecutive months of lording over the PlayStation, the Wii U and the Wii.

Later tonight Sony will host its own event at E3, and all eyes and ears will be straining for announcements around the Japanese electronic maker’s own upcoming console, the PS4.

If Sony undercuts the price of the Xbox One, it’s going to be a real battle for space in Santa’s gift bag this year.

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