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A&E Network and Activision have teamed up to expand the Duck Dynasty franchise into the gaming world, with a video game launching on PlayStation and Xbox.
The T (Teen) rated Duck Dynasty game is available now for $49.99 on the PlayStation 4 computer entertainment system and Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft. It’s available for $39.99 on the PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system, and the Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft and Windows PC. Users of the Nintendo 3DS hand-held system can buy a $29.99 version rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and Up), which features a more animated look at the show, along with a variety of mini-games.
A&E Network and Activision have teamed up to expand the Duck Dynasty franchise into the gaming world
Players take the role of John Luke, the oldest son of Willie and Korie Robertson, as he earns his feathers as the newest member of the family’s duck call business. While learning the ins and outs of duck hunting, John Luke will run into all of his eccentric relatives, including Si, Jase, Phil, Kay and more. Along the way, players will get to take part in comical quests, airboat racing, truck and ATV driving, shooting galleries, shotgun golf, fishing, frog catching, collectible hunts and more while exploring the famous Robertson backwoods homestead.
For a limited time, fans who purchase Duck Dynasty at release can play Uncle Si’s exclusive Redneck Logic™ trivia challenge, which tests players’ knowledge of the show for a chance to win a bonus in-game reward.
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Microsoft has become the first major console maker to enter the Chinese market after launching Xbox One.
The first consoles were sold in Shanghai, priced at 4,299 yuan ($699). Sony and Nintendo are yet to launch their respective products.
In January, the Chinese government lifted a 14-year ban on consoles, made because of worries over content.
However, many popular titles, such as Call of Duty, will still be banned.
Only 10 games were available to buy on the Xbox One’s release – but Microsoft has said 70 titles are in the pipeline.
Beating its rivals to the market may give Microsoft a much-needed sales boost. Its console is currently being outsold by Sony’s PlayStation 4 in all major markets.
Microsoft has become the first major console maker to enter the Chinese market after launching Xbox One (photo Reuters)
Sony has set up business partnerships to launch the PS4 in China, but a date has not yet been set.
Both companies will compete with a thriving black market in illegally imported consoles playing pirated versions of games.
They will also come up against mobile games, which are not banned in China and are extremely popular.
The Xbox One launch was originally set to happen last week but was delayed – Microsoft did not give a reason why.
The company is currently the focus of an anti-monopoly investigation relating to its Office software.
Its chief executive Satya Nadella visited China last week, and pledged to help the government with its investigation.
Getting games to market is likely to require negotiation with regulators, who favor educational games over those with violent themes.
But that could play well for Microsoft thanks to its recent acquisition of Minecraft – a block-building online game that is massively popular in the Western world, particularly with young children.
Microsoft bought Minecraft’s Swedish developer Mojang earlier this month for $2.5 billion.
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Owners of its new Xbox One console are experiencing problems with the disc drive, Microsoft has admitted.
Some users say the drive is making very loud noises when they try to insert a disc and in some cases is not reading discs at all.
Microsoft says only a very small number of users are affected.
The Xbox One was launched on November 22 and sold more than one million units in the first 24 hours.
More than 150 people contacted Kotaku, a gaming news website, claiming their new consoles were faulty. Other users uploaded videos apparently showing the problem to the gaming forum NeoGAF.
Owners of its new Xbox One console are experiencing problems with the disc drive
“The issue is affecting a very small number of Xbox One customers,” said Microsoft in a statement.
“We’re working directly with those affected to get a replacement console to them as soon as possible through our advance exchange programme.”
The Xbox One is the first new console from Microsoft in eight years and it broke all previous Xbox first-day sales records when it went on sale last week.
Microsoft said it had now sold out at most retailers and it was working to replenish stock as fast as possible.
This is not the first time Microsoft has experienced problems with the launch of an Xbox console. When the Xbox 360 was launched in 2005 some users reported faults with the hardware which led to three red lights flashing on the front of the device and the console becoming unusable. The problem became known as the “red ring of death”.
The launch of the Xbox One came a week after the US launch of Sony’s PlayStation 4. The two consoles are set to go head-to-head in the crucial Christmas season.
The PS4 also experienced technical issues after its launch with users complaining that a blue light continually flashed on the console affecting its operation and others reporting that sometimes the unit suddenly turned itself off.
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Microsoft’s latest games console Xbox One is set to be released on November 22.
Xbox One will initially be available in 13 countries – UK, US, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.
Remaining markets will follow in early 2014, Microsoft confirmed.
The timing of the launch will mean it beats close rival Sony’s PlayStation 4 to the shelves in much of the world by one week.
The exception is North America, where Sony’s console will be available on November 15.
The releases set up the first new console war since 2006, the last time both firms had fresh gaming machines on the market.
Xbox’s marketing vice-president, Yusuf Mehdi, announced the firm’s rollout plans in a statement.
“The culmination of many years of listening to you, our fans, developing innovative technology, and partnering with the best game and entertainment partners in the industry has brought us to this point,” he said.
Xbox One is set to be released on November 22
“There is still a lot more work to do, but the teams are making excellent progress and are focused on launch.”
Yusuf Mehdi confirmed that the console recently entered full production in preparation for the launch. Pre-orders had sold out faster than any of the company’s previous gaming products, he said.
He also confirmed that the console’s CPU had been upgraded by around 10% – from 1.6 Ghz to 1.75 Ghz.
It has been an uneasy few months for Microsoft in the run-up to this major launch.
In July, Microsoft lost its head of interactive entertainment, Don Mattrick, to social gaming company Zynga.
Don Mattrick left at a time when Microsoft was still bruised by a damaging performance at E3, the biggest gaming event in the calendar.
Microsoft had announced that the Xbox One would be more expensive than the PlayStation 4, and controversy surrounded various decisions regarding the firm’s policy on playing pre-owned games on the system.
In a dramatic U-turn a week later, Microsoft said it would drop heavily criticized restrictions on the console, was seen as a somewhat embarrassing exercise in damage limitation.
But that will all ultimately be forgotten by gamers once the consoles go on sale, and the Xbox One’s games line-up looks to set it up in good shape for the crucial first Christmas.
In particular, big-name exclusive titles and additional content on best-sellers such as EA’s FIFA football series are likely to drive sales.
Microsoft has made an U-turn over its decision to impose restrictions on pre-owned titles on its new Xbox One console.
Microsoft had said it would restrict the free trade of pre-owned games, and that an internet connection was required to play all titles.
But following gamers’ anger, Microsoft said it would drop the policies.
Microsoft interactive president Don Mattrick said the company had “heard loud and clear” from its customers.
“You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc,” Don Mattrick said in a statement posted online.
“The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world.”
Microsoft has made an U-turn over its decision to impose restrictions on pre-owned titles on its new Xbox One console
The statement, which was for some time inaccessible due to heavy traffic, went on to backtrack fully on the controversial aspects of their DRM – digital rights management – plans:
- “An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – after a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24-hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
- “Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – there will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.”
The rules apply to games bought as physical discs only, and do not affect games downloaded via the online Xbox store.
“While we believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content,” Don Mattrick said.
“We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds.”
However, there will be something of a trade-off for gamers.
Microsoft had planned to allow customers to “trade” downloaded games online in exchange for money off new titles. The change of stance means that gamers will no longer be able to do this – something gamers may regret in the future, one analyst suggested.
Questions over the handling of pre-owned games was an unexpected talking point at last week’s E3 conference – the largest games industry event in the calendar.
Sony took the opportunity during its press conference to make a direct attack on Microsoft’s policy.
“PS4 will not impose any new restrictions on your use of PS4 game discs,” said Jack Tretton, boss of Sony Computer Entertainment America, drawing cheers from some attendees.
For Microsoft, it means a second high-profile U-turn in short succession. Last month, it told Windows 8 users that it would be bringing back the iconic “Start” button to its operating system, having previously dropped it from its redesign.
Microsoft has announced its new Xbox One’s launch date and price.
Xbox One console will go on sale in November this year, with a recommended retail price of $499 in the US, £429 in the UK and 499 euros in Europe.
The announcement was made during its keynote opening event at the E3 games expo in Los Angeles.
Rival console manufacturer Sony said its console would be out during the “holiday 2013” period, although no official date has been set.
If both the PlayStation 4 and the XBox One go on sale in November this year, it would be the first time the two rivals have launched simultaneously. Previous consoles were released at least a year apart.
Aoife Wilson, a Staff Writer with Xbox 360: The Official Xbox Magazine, said there did not appear to be any reason for the increased price in Europe compared to the US.
“There’s a 34% mark up on the price this side of the Atlantic and there’s no real reason I can see for that”, she said.
Microsoft has announced its new Xbox One’s launch date and price
“The price seems to be a real sticking point for many people, based on the comments I’ve seen on Twitter. But the XBox One has so many unique capabilities over its rival, that it might just give them the edge.”
“I think people will be willing to pay that price and I do think that price will come down next year”, she added.
Most of the event was used to showcase the new titles that would accompany the launch.
As both Sony and Microsoft know, a good exclusive title can dramatically increase the popularity and sales of a new console. Many have put the initial success of Microsoft’s first console – the XBox – when it launched in 2001 down to securing the exclusive on the first person shooter Halo.
The first game shown at the event was Ryse: Son of Rome. A first person hack and slash action game, developed by Crytek, it puts you in the boots of a soldier of the Roman empire. The game had originally been announced as a XBox 360 exclusive at E3 two years ago.
Other exclusive titles, such as Killer Instinct and Forza 5 were also shown.
Microsoft also announced it was going to set up five in-house development studios to create exclusive content.
A number of other titles were also showcased, including Minecraft ,the block mining and building game; a new version of Halo due out in 2014; DeadRising 3, a zombie horror game; and a new version of the first person shooter Battlefield series.
Microsoft faces a backlash from some gamers after it emerged the company may charge a fee to play pre-owned games on its new Xbox One console.
The move would also mean borrowing a game from a friend will require a payment to play, possibly the full price.
Microsoft has said gamers will be able to trade their used games online – but refused to give more details.
Microsoft’s director of programming, Larry Hryb, admitted there had been some “confusion” around the policy.
An official Xbox support account on Twitter had initially told fans that no fee would be needed for used games, but a later comment from Larry Hryb sought to clarify the situation.
He wrote on his blog: “While there have been many potential scenarios discussed, today we have only confirmed that we designed Xbox One to enable our customers to trade in and resell games at retail.
“Beyond that, we have not confirmed any specific scenarios.”
Larry Hryb added that gamers could bring their games to a friends’ house to play without paying a fee – but only if the game’s owner is signed in to the Xbox Live account with which it is registered.
If the player wanted to lend the game to that friend, a fee would be required in order to play the title on a different Xbox Live profile.
Microsoft faces a backlash from some gamers after it emerged the company may charge a fee to play pre-owned games on its new Xbox One console.
The company advises against the sharing of Xbox Live account details with other people, and only one gamer can be signed in on a single profile at any one time.
Speaking to games news website Kotaku, Microsoft’s corporate vice president, Phil Harrison, said the company would soon announce further plans for pre-owned games.
“We will have a solution – we’re not talking about it today – for you to be able to trade your previously played games online,” he said.
The move will mean Microsoft is able to gain control of what is a massively profitable market in pre-owned games across the world.
Possible models for Microsoft could include allowing gamers to relinquish their ownership of a game in order to receive discounts on new titles bought through the Xbox Live store.
This may prove popular with sports games that have yearly updates, with fans often trading in the old version to get money off the latest edition – a process that traditionally required a physical retailer that would pocket any profits on re-sales.
“This is mainly a question of control,” said Ed Barton, director of digital media at research firm Strategy Analytics.
“The margin on second-hand games is enormous, and the games industry has always been a little bit annoyed that it’s a few retailers that dominate the market for games.”
The move could have a damaging effect on shops who rely on pre-owned sales not only to turn profit in their own right, but to also spur sales of new titles.
“The retailers could quite fairly say that around 70% of the value of pre-owned games is subsequently spent on new games,” Ed Barton added.
“There’s a fair point that the trade-in business is pretty significant in driving new games sales. It remains to be seen whether that process will still continue.”
Sony, which will show off the PlayStation 4 at next month’s E3 event in Los Angeles, has remained fairly tight-lipped on their plans for dealing with pre-owned games.
Its worldwide studios president, Shuhei Yoshida, told news site Eurogamer used games would not be “blocked” on the console, but would not specify whether there would be a fee for using pre-owned titles.
Ed Barton said Sony could use the situation to gain a considerable competitive advantage over its rival.
“If Sony doesn’t follow suit, I think for a reasonable proportion of the gaming market, this will be a big plus for the PlayStation console.”
Also keeping a close eye on the pre-owned debate will be games developers and publishers, who may be able to boost their earnings through Microsoft’s plans.
Microsoft has unveiled its next-generation console, the Xbox One, which will go on sale later this year.
Xbox One was shown off alongside a new Kinect sensor and a redesigned gamepad.
Microsoft described the voice and gesture-controlled machine as an “all-in-one” system offering games, live TV, movies and music.
The firm’s Entertainment and Devices Division accounted for $9.6 billion worth of sales in Microsoft’s last financial year.
That only represented about 13% of its total revenue for the period – but one analyst said the importance of this launch should not be underestimated.
“Microsoft is very strong in business software and the enterprise cloud business, but its consumer businesses are facing tremendous challenges: PCs are declining rapidly and Windows Phone handsets have only a fraction of the market shares of rivals,” said Jia Wu from consultants Strategy Analytics.
“Xbox represents Microsoft’s core strategy in the consumer entertainment market, especially after it sold its Mediaroom video distribution business to Ericsson earlier this year.
“This is also the unique asset which Microsoft has that can differentiate itself from Apple, Google and several of the other large tech companies.”
Microsoft’s decision to show off its new hardware in the opening minutes of its presentation sharply contrasted with Sony’s PlayStation 4 press conference in February when the Japanese company decided not to reveal the look of its machine – a move that was mocked by some commentators.
Despite earlier speculation, Microsoft’s machine does not require an always-on internet connection and will run second-hand games – the firm said it would provide more details about this “in the coming weeks”.
The Xbox One sees Microsoft add a Blu-ray drive and Skype functionality to its console, incorporate vibrating feedback into its gamepad’s triggers, and upgrade the Kinect camera’s sensor to 1080p high definition resolution.
It said the new Kinect would be better at analyzing body movements, allowing users to more accurately control games characters and navigate other entertainment options.
“When you’re exercising, it can read your heartbeat,” claimed the firm.
New tools will also allow users to record and edit gameplay so clips can be easily uploaded to the web.
EA Sports was first to announce new titles for the machine revealing FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, NBA Live 14 and the fighting game UFC would all launch on the platform within the next 12 months using a new games engine called Ignite.
Microsoft has unveiled its next-generation console, the Xbox One, which will go on sale later this year
It said the new machine allowed it to carry out four times as many calculations a second as the Xbox 360 and 10 times more “animation depth and detail”.
Microsoft Studios also revealed that Forza Motorsports 5 – the latest in its own racing car franchise – would be available when the console launched.
The division added that it planned to release 15 games within the console’s first year, eight of which would be new franchises.
Activision also provided a first look at the next title in its Call of Duty series – Ghosts. It will use a new games engine to take advantage of the Xbox One’s improved graphics capabilities, offering more detailed textures for human skin and other features. The title will also be released on rival platforms.
French publisher Ubisoft was not part of the launch, but took the opportunity to announce that two games in development – Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag – would be available for the Xbox One before the end of 2013.
The company’s chief executive, Yves Guillemot, said he was excited by the opportunities offered by the machine’s improved specifications.
“We believe it will reinvigorate the industry,” he said.
“There’s a huge step up in graphics and there’s a big step up in terms of memory as well.
“It will take time to take full advantage of the machines because we’ll have to learn how to best optimize the technology – but even from the beginning you will see a huge difference between a game on the two different generations.”
Much of the presentation was dedicated to the console’s non-gaming features including its ability to make video calls; trigger live TV and online movies by voice command; and run several programs simultaneously without any apparent drop-off in performance.
Time was also given to promote an upcoming live-action television series based on Microsoft’s Halo games franchise which movie director Steven Spielberg is working on. The firm said tie-in interactive content would be offered exclusively to the Xbox One.
“Where Nintendo’s approach to next-gen gaming seems to ignore the need to share time with television and other forms of entertainment, and Sony’s approach seems willing to share the space, Microsoft’s vision is to so blur the line between different forms of entertainment that switching from game to television or movie watching will be as simply as flipping between television channels,” said Brian Crecente, news editor at games site Polygon.
“More importantly, it is lining up to make its system the one through which all entertainment happens. If it manages to pull it off, the Xbox One could become the one jumping off point for all forms of entertainment.”
News of a five-year deal with the US’s National Football League – which will allow sports fans to call up statistics, video replays and information about what live events mean for their fantasy teams – may also appeal to Microsoft’s domestic audience.
However, it did not discuss whether it was pursuing similar tie-ups for consumers overseas.
Microsoft is planning to launch its new console at a time when many video games makers are trying to reduce costs.
Electronic Arts, Square Enix and Activision Blizzard are among firms which have announced layoffs over the past couple of months.
But the updated machines may put the companies under fresh strain.
Games engine developer Epic has warned that if studios want to take full advantage of the advances in graphics power that will be available, then their design costs could be double what they were when the Xbox 360 and PS3 launched.
“The additional rendering capabilities of these consoles will demand larger budgets for the marquee high-end games,” said Lewis Ward, video games analyst at tech research firm IDC.
“That creates a risky proposition for developers.
“But the costs are going to be mitigated to an extent – studios have said it will be easier to make games on next-gen platforms because they’re going to be closer to the development environments that are common on the PC side.”
Lewis Ward was referring to the fact that Microsoft has decided to power its machine with an eight-core x86-based CPU (central processing unit) made by AMD rather than continue with IBM’s PowerPC technology. The move means its console will run off a chip that is similar to those found in most PCs.
Sony has also opted to switch from its proprietary Cell processor tech to the x86 architecture meaning, in theory, it should be easier to port a title across different platforms.
However, the move means neither of the two new consoles will be backwards compatible with the former generation’s catalogue of games.
Both Microsoft and Sony plan follow-up “keynote” announcements at the E3 trade show in Los Angeles on June 10.
Nintendo launched its next-generation console, the Wii U, last year and has said it will not host a major press conference at the event.