Details for New Xbox to be Revealed at Microsoft Event

Microsoft is planning to reveal the details of its new Xbox gaming console during an event on May 21, several weeks before the E3 video game conference. The console, code-named Durango, reportedly features a processor from chipmaker AMD along with new graphics enhancements. As part of its initiative to make the Xbox a hub for all entertainment, the company plans to sell its Mediaroom IPTV business to Ericsson. Continue reading Details for New Xbox to be Revealed at Microsoft Event

Ouya Released to Early Backers, Retail Launch in June

Gaming startup Ouya, which raised more than $8 million last June via Kickstarter, announced it will release its $99 game console to retailers on June 4. The affordable Android-based box could encourage innovation and disrupt the TV gaming market, by allowing developers to create inexpensive games. Wired had a chance to play with the new device at design firm fuseproject, where Yves Behar created the metal cube that houses Ouya. Continue reading Ouya Released to Early Backers, Retail Launch in June

X-Ray: Actor ID Feature from Amazon Expands to TV Shows

Amazon’s X-Ray feature, which uses the company’s IMDb database of content to add real-time actor information to Amazon’s Instant Video service, will expand to include TV show viewing, the company announced on Wednesday. To start, the X-Ray feature will be available for 13 shows including popular hits like “Downton Abbey,” “The Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad” and “Game of Thrones.” Amazon and IMDb are working to expand the service. Continue reading X-Ray: Actor ID Feature from Amazon Expands to TV Shows

Nintendo Struggles with Wii U, Lowers Sales Projections

The holiday season didn’t go as well as Nintendo had hoped. “Nintendo Co. slashed its sales outlook in the wake of disappointing holiday demand for its new Wii U videogame console, which it had been banking on to rekindle consumer excitement,” reports the Wall Street Journal. Wii U was launched last November and was Nintendo’s first new videogame console in six years. Continue reading Nintendo Struggles with Wii U, Lowers Sales Projections

Nintendo Activates TVii Media Entertainment Service for Wii U Gamers

Nintendo activated the Wii U’s Nintendo TVii functionality this week. The service will directly integrate Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus, and will upgrade its Netflix and TiVo applications in early 2013. Wii U wants to become not just a gaming device, but a device through which families run all of their entertainment. This includes gaming as well as television and video chatting, explains Steve Moffitt, Nintendo’s executive VP of sales and marketing. Continue reading Nintendo Activates TVii Media Entertainment Service for Wii U Gamers

Nintendo Network ID: Pros and Cons of Wii U Restrictive DRM

  • “The new Nintendo Network ID system that debuted on the Wii U is a sign of progress for a company that has, historically, not shown a lot of savvy in setting up its online systems,” according to Ars Technica.
  • With Wii U, users can connect up to 12 separate Nintendo Network IDs to a single system.
  • “The new Wii U eShop includes many retail games for download on the same day they reach stores, and does away with the ‘Wii Points’ virtual currency that characterized Nintendo’s previous console,” notes the article. “The company has even promised to roll out a cloud save feature sometime next year.”
  • All of this would allow users to access their own games when at a connected friends’ house. However, as the article explains, “it also means a game downloaded to the Wii U in the living room won’t be playable on a second system in the kids’ room, even if the same password-protected Nintendo Network ID was used on both systems.”
  • “It also means that if your system breaks down, you can’t just go buy a new one (or borrow one from a friend) and immediately recover your content using your account. Instead, you have to go through Nintendo’s official repair process, waiting up to two weeks for the system to be returned just to maintain the system-locked license data.”
  • “I understand that Nintendo is worried about piracy, but its not like Microsoft, Sony, Valve, Apple and Google aren’t,” writes Kyle Orland for Ars Technica. “Yet those companies have all found their own ways to balance protection for their online stores with the ability for users to access that content in their own way.”

E3 2011: Nintendo Unveils Wii U Controller and 3DS Updates

Nintendo chose its E3 Expo presentation to provide a much anticipated first look at the new Wii U controller in addition to a system update and new 3D games for its $250 3DS handheld gaming device released earlier this year.

The Wii U controller combines a 6.2-inch touchscreen, traditional inputs and motion control functionality. The wireless device will support full HD graphics (a first for Nintendo) and is backward compatible with all Wii games and accessories. Interesting features include a microphone, gyroscope, accelerometer, front-facing camera and stylus. Even though it shares a number of characteristics with other handheld devices, the Wii U controller was not designed to serve as a portable gaming device. However, users will be able to game and video chat (even without a television). By adding another screen to the home entertainment experience, Nintendo is hoping to redefine “how the TV, the game console and the Internet function and interact together.”

According to the Nintendo press release: “Previously, video games played on a home console have been confined to the TV and offered identical viewpoints to each player in a multiplayer environment. Furthermore, watching TV and playing console games have been completely separate experiences. The new controller removes these boundaries, creating a more dynamic and fluid gaming and entertainment experience.”

Gamers can use the controller to zoom in on television images and to interact with games that appear on both the controller and TV screens. In a video demo of the system, Nintendo showed a player sending a throwing star from the controller’s touchscreen to the TV screen across the room with a swipe of his finger, as if the weapon actually flew through the air. The Wii U has similar functionality when connected to the Internet, allowing users to essentially “throw” photos or videos from the controller onto the television screen.

The dynamic of adding an additional screen to the gaming experience in the controller is difficult to explain in words, so Engadget has posted a 5-minute video demo of multi-player gaming (produced by the Nintendo Network). And Nintendo’s compelling 4-minute Wii U video from the E3 presentation is available on YouTube. It illustrates capabilities of the new device including video chats, drawing with a stylus, motion control functionality, browsing, TV interaction (even with the virtual space beyond the TV screen) and more. Additional video footage of the Nintendo E3 presentation is available on the CNET channel on YouTube.

Although specific pricing and availability was not announced at E3, the Wii U is expected to have a mid- to late-2012 release. Screen resolution was also not specified, but the display ratio is 16:9.

The company also announced a new system upgrade to its glasses-free, portable 3D device, the Nintendo 3DS (that launched March 27). Users who connect via a wireless Internet connection and install the update will have access to the Nintendo eShop, which features downloadable games and applications using a cash-based system. According to the site, gamers can access “3D games, classic games remade in 3D, and legendary titles from the Game Boy system — plus more. View webpages right from your Nintendo 3DS system, including the ability to view 3D images on the Internet where applicable.”

Nintendo also announced its initiatives to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda: “A re-mastered 3D version of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time launches for Nintendo 3DS on June 19, while Wii owners will see the arrival of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword in the 2011 holiday season.”

For the duration of the E3 Expo, fans can visit the Nintendo Network online to watch developer interviews, get information about new games and see coverage from the show floor.

Related CNET article: “E3 2011: Nintendo’s new Wii U set for 2012” (6/7/11)

Related Engadget post (with press release and videos): “The Wii U controller, revealed!” (6/7/11)

Related CNN Tech article: “Nintendo unveils the Wii U system” (6/7/11)

Related USA Today article: “Nintendo unveils Wii U, with a touch-screen display” (6/7/11)

Related Yahoo! Games article: “Nintendo debuts Wii U” (6/7/11)

Related Xbit Laboratories news: “AMD and IBM Confirm Work on Chips for Nintendo Wii U” (6/7/11)

Related ABC News article (comparing announcements from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft): “Wii 2: Nintendo Wii U Video Game Console Debuts at E3 Expo” (6/7/11)

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