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Xbox One: A Year in Review - Spencer the Saviour

Author:
Staff
Category:
Features
Tags:
Microsoft, Phil Spencer, Sunset Overdrive, Titanfall, Xbox One, Xbox One Games

Xbox One: A Year in Review - Spencer the Saviour

The Xbox One has its first birthday tomorrow, and so we took the chance to cast our eyes back over the first twelve months of Microsoft's latest console to reflect on how it's performed after a rocky release, in a year where there's been a personnel change at the top and the competition has raced ahead to an early sales lead. Has the Xbox One managed to turn things around?

Jon

Phil Spencer bared his fangs and proved his mettle this year.

The new head of Xbox inherited a disaster in the making. Don Mattrick had totally sabotaged the Xbox brand, rolling out an insanely expensive media centre with functionality most devices and smart TVs already made obsolete, packing an admittedly excellent peripheral that nobody really wanted, stacked to the gunwhales with microtransactions and controversial  features. The Xbox One sold modestly well on the strength of its fanbase, some decent launch titles and Titanfall, but it soon became apparent that the bloated "entertainment system" was a sitting duck as Sony and even Nintendo started pulling ahead. Spencer faced an impossible situation.

Xbox One: A Year in Review - Spencer the Saviour

There's only one thing you can do in an impossible situation. Triage. Save what you can, then let everything else burn.

What followed was a ruthless, desperate and frankly magnificent campaign of revisions, U-turns and scorched-earth decisions as the new guard dismantled Mattrick's monstrosity into a console that might actually sell. Kinect was thrown under the bus. The RRP was hacked down to undercut the PS4, margins be damned, followed by some ludicrous bundles. Xbox Live Gold was declawed, and permanent free games were rolled out. Firmware updates weren't delivered annually, they were delivered every single month come what may.

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Xbox One turns One this week, Microsoft gives away celebratory tat

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Microsoft, Xbox One

Xbox One turns One this week, Microsoft gives away celebratory tat

It's nearly been one year since the Xbox One launched, and what a year it's been. A £429 entertainment system became a £329 console in less than twelve months, and we've had a front row seat on a seriously wild ride. To celebrate, Microsoft are giving away some digital tat!

Well, perhaps that's a bit harsh. Everyone will get a free rental of Halo: Forward Unto Dawn (which is on Netflix, oops), a gamer picture, some backgrounds, a PC wallpaper and... no, it's fair. Every Xbox One owner will be entered into a DLC prize draw, which is nice, though us Europeans don't get to win the physical rewards and bundles.

Nevertheless, this shouldn't diminish what the Xbox One has accomplished this year: turning a bloated box on the rocks into a fierce affordable and attractive console with a fantastic games lineup. We'll run our Xbox One Year In Review piece soon, and for now, why not mug up on our Xbox One Christmas Buyer's Guide?

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Microsoft started the bloodiest price war in console history

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Features
Tags:
Microsoft, PS4, Sony, Xbox One

Microsoft started the bloodiest price war in console history

I've never seen a price war like this before.

Sure, console manufacturers and retailers tend to sling together a few bundles ahead of Christmas and Black Friday, but usually it's a token effort intended to make the most money from put-upon parents, Christmas presents and stocking fillers before the big January sales. Often we even see prices go up to grab as much Christmas cash as possible, and false savings instead of real discounts.

Now, however, Microsoft has broken the rules and started a console bundle price war of monstrous proportions, where there's only likely to be one winner.

Us!

Microsoft started the bloodiest price war in console history

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Halo's matchmaking is broken - here are some fun things to do while you wait

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Features
Tags:
343 Industries, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Microsoft, Xbox One

Halo's matchmaking is broken - here are some fun things to do while you wait

Do I ever feel like an idiot. After refusing to give Halo: The Master Chief Collection a score last week because the matchmaking was untested, I finally got online over the weekend once 343 flicked the switch, successfully tried out the delayed netcode and awarded the game top marks.

Job done. Mission accomplished. Only problem being that the matchmaking then fell to pieces almost immediately!

343 have been working around the clock to fix these problems and many gamers are reporting huge improvements. Unfortunately, I've personally found that the experience has worsened following yesterday's server-side updates, with some crazy wait times and the occasional loading screen freeze. So thank goodness The Master Chief Collection has four massive campaigns to keep you going, packed to the gunwales with fun stuff to try! Here's a sampler (obviously there are minor spoilers ahead):

Track Down The Secrets & Easter Eggs!

Halo's matchmaking is broken - here are some fun things to do while you wait

The Halo franchise is absolutely stuffed full of secrets to discover. Here are just a few of my personal favourites from the last 13 years.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. Happy hunting, and be sure to share!

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PSA: Xbox One November update out now - here's what to expect

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
News
Tags:
Firmware updates, Microsoft, Xbox One

The Xbox One November Update is now live and should have automatically installed itself onto your console as you read this sentence. You'll be able to mess about with the new features when you get home, but before then, here's what to expect from the latest Xbox One firmware update and the functionality that has been added to the user experience.

Custom Backgrounds

This is the main event. A new option has been added into the Xbox One settings menu -- My Xbox -- which allows you to personalise your Xbox One with some new backgrounds. You can either select a block of solid colour (boring!), or more helpfully, any of the 1080p achievement artworks that you've unlocked, tarting up the user experience as well as showing off your prowess to any mates who stop round for a local multiplayer session.

Next year Microsoft plans to add screenshot functionality, which will let you capture and display your own backgrounds directly from the games you play.

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COMMENT | Xbox One has the better games lineup for the second Christmas running

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Forza Horizon 2, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Microsoft, PS4 games, Sony, Sunset Overdrive, Xbox One Games

COMMENT | Xbox One has the better games lineup for the second Christmas running

But will it make a difference?

Shoppers are girding their wallets for Black Friday, consumers are readying themselves for the Christmas crunch. Which console is it to be this Christmas? PS4 or Xbox One? Is the Wii U still alive? Which console has the better games?

I'll deal with the Wii U later, what with Nintendo's console having a clear advantage (and the first-party games to back it up) after launching a year earlier, and being utterly irrelevant in terms of a mass audience and the big third-party releases of the winter. That said, if you're choosing a platform based on the single best game of the year so far, buy a Wii U. It's the Bayonetta 2 machine. I'm biased, but if you love games, you'll do it.

Elsewhere, though, choosing a console become far more difficult. We'll go into greater depth in a massive comparative buyer's guide towards the end of the month, but for now let's talk about the games.

COMMENT | Xbox One has the better games lineup for the second Christmas running

When the PS4 and the Xbox One launched last year, we tipped the Xbox One as having the more attractive Christmas lineup. Microsoft's console simply had more variety, more interesting exclusives, and it's a position that I still standby. In fact, throughout the whole of this first year, I think it's safe to say that the Xbox One has had the edge in terms of marquee exclusives.

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Pre-Order Halo: The Master Chief Collection for £36.00 at Gameseek

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
343 Industries, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Microsoft, Xbox One Games

Pre-Order Halo: The Master Chief Collection for £36.00 at Gameseek

Halo: MCC | Gameseek | £36.00
Voucher Code: 2354682

Get set to come out swinging, because Halo: The Master Chief Collection is absolutely ridiculous. All four numbered Halo games in one package with retouched graphics, new achievements and 100+ multiplayer maps. Frankly it's set to put other re-releases to shame and £36 seems eminently reasonable (remember to use voucher code 2354682 for the extra £2 saving!).

Note, however, that you'll have to download an extra 20GB of multiplayer content before you can play online, though. Hopefully it will be finished by the time you've made it through to 'The Library' in Halo: Combat Evolved. Many thanks to Sunderland06 @ HUKD!

Xbox indie parity makes for second-class gamers - Game Buzz #93

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
DriveClub, Game Buzz, Hatred, Indie Games, Microsoft, Podcast, PWNCAST, Xbox One Games

Xbox indie parity makes for second-class gamers - Game Buzz #93

This week, we deal with Driveclub's latest woes and ask how big games sites can justify early reviews for online games, we chat about Microsoft's continued defence of their indie parity clause, and we take a look at the announcement for the rather controversial Hatred.

Game Buzz | Episode 93 - Driveclub Is A Shambles. Recorded 17th October, 2014.

Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be some instances of strong language.

Want more? Check out the rest of our PWNCAST posts onsite, hit us up on iTunes, or subscribe to the PWNCAST Feed here.

Xbox indie parity makes for second-class gamers - Game Buzz #93 Xbox indie parity makes for second-class gamers - Game Buzz #93Xbox indie parity makes for second-class gamers - Game Buzz #93Xbox indie parity makes for second-class gamers - Game Buzz #93Xbox indie parity makes for second-class gamers - Game Buzz #93

Minecraft's Destiny - Game Buzz #89

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Bungie, Destiny, FPS games, Game Buzz, Microsoft, Minecraft, Mojang, Podcast, PWNCAST, Windows

Minecraft's Destiny - Game Buzz #89

This week's Game Buzz sees us chat about Microsoft's acquisition of Mojang and Minecraft, and what the future might hold for both the studio and its wildly popular IP under new management. Now that Jon's had a chance to get cracking in Destiny, we also have a natter about Carl's review and the ongoing mix of feelings that Destiny manages to provoke.

Game Buzz | Episode 89 - Minecraft's Destiny. Recorded 19th September, 2014.

Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be some instances of strong language.

Want more? Check out the rest of our PWNCAST posts onsite, hit us up on iTunes, or subscribe to the PWNCAST Feed here.

Minecraft's Destiny - Game Buzz #89 Minecraft's Destiny - Game Buzz #89Minecraft's Destiny - Game Buzz #89Minecraft's Destiny - Game Buzz #89Minecraft's Destiny - Game Buzz #89

Shrewd Business or the End of Days? - Twitter Reacts as Microsoft buy Minecraft for $2.5 billion

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Microsoft, Minecraft, Mojang, Notch, Twitter Reacts

Shrewd Business or the End of Days? - Twitter Reacts as Microsoft buy Minecraft for .5 billion

No, that title is not a typo.

Let's face it, Microsoft didn't really buy Mojang for, well, Mojang... they dropped $2.5 billion for the privilege of owning Minecraft, and it's fairly easy to see why. It's a time of transition for Mojang, of course. What indie culture existed there is changed forever by this, not least because of the departure of several of the studio's founders, Notch included. It's not about the money, apparently, but rather to avoid going insane.

Given how massive Minecraft has become, for a mild-mannered bearded chap who just wants to go about making little games that interest him once again, I can't say that I blame Persson.

Minecraft is huge, it's gone beyond games to the point where it's now used fairly widely as an educational tool. As Notch wrote in his farewell blog post, Minecraft belongs to its millions of fans as well as Microsoft. There's a lot of love for the voxel-based trailblazer, and there were a range of reactions to the confirmation of the buyout on Twitter, even when the buyout was a mere whisper.

Sorry, Wil.

Some were confused by the amount of money that Microsoft had paid...

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"It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity" - Unpacking Notch's leaving letter

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Game development, Indie Games, Microsoft, Minecraft, Notch

"It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity" - Unpacking Notch's leaving letter

Microsoft have bought Minecraft. Well, they've bought Mojang, but given that three of the studio's founders are leaving, I reckon we can tell it how it is. For Notch, his creation has grown too big. He is now a man with nearly two million followers on Twitter, an industry figure whose musings on social media have become newsworthy headlines.

And it's all become a little too much.

"I was at home with a bad cold a couple of weeks ago when the internet exploded with hate against me over some kind of EULA situation that I had nothing to do with. I was confused. I didn’t understand. I tweeted this in frustration. Later on, I watched the This is Phil Fish video on YouTube and started to realize I didn’t have the connection to my fans I thought I had. I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter."

It reminds me of the departure of the two Doctors from BioWare in some ways -- a situation that's understandable and yet tinged with sadness -- but at least Notch is saying that he wants to keep making games. They'll be smaller, much smaller, but there'll be something freeing about developing without a million eyes or so looking over his shoulder (eventually).

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Get an Xbox One Kinect Sensor for only £129 from Microsoft... wait, are you serious?!

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
News
Tags:
Kinect, Microsoft, Xbox One

Get an Xbox One Kinect Sensor for only £129 from Microsoft... wait, are you serious?!

Xbox One Kinect Sensor | Microsoft | £129.99
Xbox One review | Kinect Voice Commands Guide

Did you pick up a Kinect-less Xbox One and want to add voice command functionality to the Xbox experience? Fancy trying out auto sign-in and playing the tiny number of Kinect-enabled games the way they were meant to be experienced? Well you'll soon be in luck, because Microsoft are releasing the standalone Kinect sensor for the bargain price of...

... £129.99?!

This deal is over. Now it's ranting time.

DEAL ABORTED. CLICK HERE FOR THE ENSUING RANT >>

Get an Xbox One and a big game for £329.00 at ASDA

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Microsoft, Xbox One

Get an Xbox One and a big game for £329.00 at ASDA

Tempted by an Xbox One? Don't much care for Kinect? In which case ASDA will sell you Microsoft's console and one of its biggest games for less than the retail price of the solus machine itself. Just choose a game bundle -- Destiny, Dragon Age Inquisition, Advanced Warfare, GTA V and more are included -- and add the "CONSOLE" voucher code at checkout.

Thanks to Bure11 @ HUKD!

COMMENT | The hysterical backlash against Tomb Raider exclusivity is risible, but so is Microsoft's communication... AGAIN!

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Crystal Dynamics, Gamescom 2014, Microsoft, Rise Of The Tomb Raider, Square Enix, Xbox One Games

COMMENT | The hysterical backlash against Tomb Raider exclusivity is risible, but so is Microsoft's communication... AGAIN!

You could see the smile dance across Phil Harrison's face as he uttered the word "exclusive" during the Microsoft Gamescom press conference. Exclusives have traditionally been the weapons used by platform holders to wage war against one another. As Nintendo did unto SEGA, so Sony did unto them, and so Microsoft blah blah this has been going on forever blah.

But lately the waters have become muddied. Time was when companies would slap down cash for studios and IPs, it was all or nothing. Platform holders went big or they went home. But the dawn of digital distribution and product updates allowed companies to deliver bits and pieces of games, and suddenly the rights for those were up for sale. These are the DLC times, and frankly it's difficult to know whether or not you're getting the "complete experience" with certain titles these days.

Then, of course, there are timed exclusives, games with timed exclusive DLC, console exclusives, and a whole host of other ways to otherwise baffle and confuse consumers.

Let's look at the facts: Microsoft did not buy a studio and invest in their talent. They did not secure the rights to an exciting new IP or charge a talented outfit to deliver something fresh. They dropped a fat bundle of cash in Square Enix's pocket for a limited period of exclusivity for a sequel to a game that eventually broke even, but needed a generation-jump retooling to do that.

That's pretty much all we know at this point.

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Microsoft admits that Rise of the Tomb Raider exclusivity "has a duration"

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Exclusives, Microsoft, Phil Spencer, Rise Of The Tomb Raider, Xbox One Games

Microsoft admits that Rise of the Tomb Raider exclusivity "has a duration"

Well, we thought this might be the case, what with the very specific wording of the announcement and the lack of clarification from any of Microsoft's senior management. But after a day of mulling it over, no doubt, Phil Spencer has finally come out and admitted that Rise of the Tomb Raider's exclusivity on Xbox One "has a duration".

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Postcards from Gamescom '14 | Day 0 - Microsoft, Sony, & Disney Infinity

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
Disney, Gamescom 2014, Microsoft, PS4, Sony, Videos, Xbox One

Dealspwn are once again in Cologne for this year's Gamescom, having sent Carl & Jon to check out the upcoming titles that have been brought along to the three-day-long event... but before we get to that, our dynamic duo give their thoughts on how Sony & Microsoft did with their press conferences. We also get to hear their impressions on the upcoming build of Disney Infinity.

Stay tuned for their first proper day of highlights in our postcard tomorrow!

Wait, Tomb Raider's An Exclusive? - Microsoft Gamescom 2014 Press Conference Impressions

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Gamescom 2014, Microsoft, Rise Of The Tomb Raider, Xbox One, Xbox One Games

Wait, Tomb Raider's An Exclusive? - Microsoft Gamescom 2014 Press Conference Impressions

Well, the first of today's two big press conferences from Gamescom 2014 is done and dusted. Did Microsoft set the bar high as they did earlier in the year at E3? They certainly came out once again with a resolute focus on the games, and they didn't half drop a bombshell halfway through the show. Here's what we made of it:

Matt

Wait, Tomb Raider's An Exclusive? - Microsoft Gamescom 2014 Press Conference Impressions

The first big surprise of Gamescom has landed, and it comes in the form of Microsoft flexing their financial muscles. Rise of the Tomb Raider will be an Xbox One exclusive when it launches next Holiday season, setting up a tantalising Lara vs. Drake Christmas that is going to be extraordinary fun to watch (and play).

To be honest, much of the rest of the presser has faded into a blur since Microsoft dropped that bomb, and in retrospect, Phil Harrison could barely contain himself. Is it an anti-consumer move? It is a bit. Microsoft paid large sums of money to stop Crystal Dynamics reaching more than half of their potential audience, though I'm more pissed off about it not coming to PC rather than missing out on it on PS4.

Elsewhere, it was another solid showing from Phil Spencer's side. The Chris Charla creative indie carousel was outstanding, as Microsoft attempted to out-Sony Sony. There are some absolutely cracking games coming to Xbox One via ID@Xbox, and it was good to see a few longer spotlight pieces on one or two highlights. I've been banging on about SuperHot since the flash game first appeared, and The Escapists looks like cartoon Shawshank crossed with Prison Architect.

It's a Microsoft presser, so of course FIFA and Call of Duty got their moments in the sun. Prepare for Titancall! That's unfair, Advanced Warfare looks both incredibly different yet also hilariously familiar. The exosuit's abilities certainly look like they'll create more opportunities to take advantage of verticality, but it all seemed a bit static rather than the fluidity we've seen from Titanfall and even Brink. Not sure about that custom Xbox One either -- it looks like it's been dipped in cement.

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Microsoft Gamescom 2014 Press Conference: Twitch Embed & Live Blog - 1PM BST

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Gamescom 2014, Microsoft, Xbox 360 games, Xbox One, Xbox One Games

Microsoft Gamescom 2014 Press Conference: Twitch Embed & Live Blog - 1PM BST

Happy for Halo? Craving some Crackdown? Stoked for Sunset Overdrive? Fawning over Forza? That's right, folks, it's time for the Microsoft Gamescom Press Conference. Hit the jump for the Twitch embed and for the site Twitter stream where I'll be merrily live Tweeting reactions and commentary for this year's show.

Follow us here to get stuck into the conversation.

Jon's fashioned a list of expectations and predictions, and you can find that right here.

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Microsoft @ Gamescom 2014: What To Expect, Where To Watch

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Features
Tags:
Gamescom 2014, Microsoft, Xbox One, Xbox One Games

Microsoft @ Gamescom 2014: What To Expect, Where To Watch

Press Conference Starts: 13:00 BST, Tuesday August 12th

Watch Live: Xbox.com

Following months of cleaning house and a surprisingly strong showing at E3, Spencer and co. need to build on their momentum with a cracking Gamescom lineup. As always they're set to kick off an afternoon of press conferences and reveals, so will need to go big from the start or go back to Redmond with tails firmly between legs. So what should we expect from the conference?

Well, that official banner at the top of this article gives us a fairly decent idea! Let's review.

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Pressers and Postulating - Are Microsoft just Sony's warm-up act?

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Gamescom 2014, Microsoft, PS4, PS4 games, Sony, Xbox One, Xbox One Games

Pressers and Postulating - Are Microsoft just Sony's warm-up act?

The trend of having a warm-up act is well established. Timing is everything, right? You put on a gig, you want to make sure that the audience is at peak excitement, that their energy and focus levels are high, that they're engaged.

For the past few years, it could be argued that Microsoft have been the warm-up act to Sony when it comes to press conferences. But are the times a-changing this year?

We stated back in June that Microsoft's showing at E3 was the best we'd seen in years -- not that such praise is really saying much, they'd been dire the previous couple of years. But with a renewed focus upon games, with new head honcho Phil Spencer having spent the first couple of months of his tenure aggressively cleaning house and tidying up the muck that Mattrick left behind, Microsoft came out swinging and, admirably, let their games do most of the talking.

Pressers and Postulating - Are Microsoft just Sony's warm-up act?

That'll stand Microsoft in good stead at a show whose motto is "celebrate the games".

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