Many, including myself, were hoping that Microsoft's keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) would clear up some of the confusion surrounding the whole HDMI equipped Xbox 360 issue. If you would consider the lack of any announcement regarding a new model of the Xbox 360 proof positive that the HDMI pictures are a hoax, then you'd have gotten your wish. If you didn't... well, then you're in the same boat as the rest of us - and it's getting crowded in here.
That's not to say Microsoft didn't have a ton of news to give the gamer crowd - we certainly did find out a lot about what we can expect from Microsoft in the coming months, so without any further delay, let me break down what gaming related news Microsoft dished out;
- Microsoft reached 10.4 million Xbox 360's sold as of December 31st, thus exceeding their sales projections by over 400,000 units.
- More importantly, Microsoft claims the majority of those users are new to the Xbox brand. (ie they were not owners of the original Xbox)
- Xbox Live now boasts over 5 million subscribers. As usual, Microsoft did not indicate if that number included free Xbox Live Silver memberships.
- The Xbox 360 is still setting records in regards to software and accessory attach rates. (Number of games and accessories sold per Xbox 360)
- Gears of War has now sold in excess of 2.7 million copies, making it a franchise to rival the Halo series. Microsoft also credits it with being a prime mover of Xbox 360 hardware.
- The Windows platform is now over 200 million units strong, and with an installed base of that size, Microsoft wants to continue the "Games for Windows" and "Windows Live" push they started at E3 2006.
- During the "Games for Windows" montage, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved was shown, indicating that the title may be coming to Windows.
- Halo 2, Uno and Shadowrun were all presented as games that will be cross platform playable between Windows Vista and the Xbox 360 this summer.
- According to Microsoft, HD-DVD movies are outselling Blu-Ray movies.
- While Microsoft plans on keeping the 360's main focus on games, they plan on making the Xbox 360 the center of your home entertainment system. Here's how;
- They plan on expanding the current Xbox Live video service with more television and film partners.
- They plan on adding IPTV functionality to the Xbox 360. What's IPTV you ask? Basically imagine it as a cable service for Windows or the Xbox 360 that allows users to watch both TV (and movies) along with DVR and On-Demand type services. Basically, think of it almost exactly as a cable service with some more options (such as shopping, etc) - it will be available via participating cable providers.
For more on IPTV's features, check out the following two press releases over at Gamerscore Blog;
- Microsoft Unveils Wave of New Products and Services at CES - Gamerscore Blog
- Microsoft Integrates IPTV Software Platform With Xbox 360, Creating All-in-One Digital Entertainment Device - Gamerscore Blog
Finally, for the more hardcore members of my audience, here's the link for where MS will be posting the full video of the CES keynote address shortly. It's dry viewing for the most part and about an hour and fifteen minutes long, so plan accordingly;
- Microsoft at CES - Microsoft