Turning Point For VR Gaming: Xbox Games Coming To Oculus Rift

Read original story on: TechCrunch

At a special press event this Thursday, Facebook-owned VR headset maker Oculus announced a new partnership with Microsoft, which will soon allow players to stream Xbox One games to the Rift and play them using a special Xbox One controller. Oculus is expected to ship its first consumer-facing model early next year, which the VR-compatible controller will ship with.

As VR and AR technologies continue to mature, increasingly ready for the mainstream consumer market, this partnership between Microsoft and Facebook makes perfect sense. By adding support for Oculus, Xbox gains a strong new selling point, while Facebook find a great launch partner for Oculus, easing VR headsets into mainstream market through video gaming.

Microsoft Brings OTA Broadcast To Xbox

Read original story on: The Verge

Microsoft has announced the launch of a new tuner that will bring over-the-air (OTA) TV broadcasts, including ABC, Fox, CBS, NBC, PBS, and other non-cable channels, to Xbox users in the US and Canada. The tuner will come in the form of a $60 USB-connected add-on for the gaming console, which means that users will need an antenna to pick up the broadcasts in the first place. After all, Microsoft probably want to avoid being sued like Aereo, and this tuner dongle is certainly a neat workaround to add live TV streaming to its Xbox platform.

Why Microsoft Is Opening Up The Xbox

Read original story on: GeekWire

Xbox users can soon expect a new array of apps to pop up on the gaming platform, as Microsoft is preparing a software development kit to be released later this year. This new SDK will allow developers to build universal apps for a variety of Windows devices, including the Xbox One, while fostering deeper integration across the Microsoft ecosystem. Moreover, it will buff up Xbox’s functionality by introducing third-party apps, moving it closer to becoming a true multimedia hub for the living room.

Skype Teams Up With Xbox For An Innovative Real-Time Campaign

Microsoft wants people to know that Skype and Xbox work great together, and what better way to promote this message than using Skype on Xbox to conduct a real-time comedy/gaming battle with interactive reality show features? In partnership with CollegeHumor, Skype’s new campaign “Level 48” will run for two days and feature five games and 48 levels of play, presumably one for each hour.

Designed to showcase many new features of Skype, this joint effort will be live-streamed through Twitch to encourage heavy audience involvement. By combining entertainment, gaming, and comedy all into one big spectacle, this innovative campaign aims to make using Skype on Xbox look so natural and fun that it elevates the brand value for all three parties involved. If proven successful, this campaign could open up a new path for branded content or even native ads to be incorporated onto gaming platforms.

EA Games Launches Subscription-Based Gaming Plan On Xbox

Following the footsteps of Kindle Unlimited, another company is getting Netflixified, as EA Games announces its plan to launch an all-you-can-play monthly subscription plan on Xbox. For just $5 per month and $30 per year, the service, aptly named EA Access, will allow subscribers unlimited access to a “Vault” of games that promises to feature all of EA’s best offerings, including Madden 25, FIFA 14, Battlefield 4, and Peggle 2. It is still early to tell if this move would boost the Xbox sales or disrupt the current business model of the gaming industry, but Steam, another major game distribution platform featuring subscription plans, sure can’t be too happy about this.

Update: Sony has reportedly rejected EA Access for the PS4 after evaluation.

Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference

Microsoft’s E3 Conference can be defined more by what it didn’t say than what it did. There was no mention of the once requisite Kinect, social media integration or video. Instead, the tech giant focused on showcasing their major game partners like Halo 5 and Call of Duty which of course look stunning in the gameplay demos. 

Xbox Unbundles Kinect

Xbox has announced that it will continue to sell Xbox One’s – it’s next generation gaming and living room console – but it’s going to do it at a reduced price, without the Kinect. The $499 bundle with the Kinect still does exist, but for the future users will be able to save $100 by leaving the Kinect behind. It’s potentially part of a system thought out by Microsoft to catch up with sales of the PS4, which has been outselling the Xbox console in part because of the price. The Kinect also hasn’t quite justified its additional $100, as there are few games that support it, and fewer users still who use it to genuinely navigate through Xbox’s UI; it’s faster and ultimately easier to pick up the controller. Though the Kinect might indeed represent the future of gesture control in gaming situations, the reality of the situation is that the technology isn’t quite perfect enough yet to be consumer facing. Microsoft is spurning that future for the present, it seems, and in the process will hope to simply get the device into as many living rooms as possible – without that, Microsoft will have no platform on which to launch further developments.

Xbox Originals To Debut This June

Microsoft has been hinting at several different original television projects for months – including an upcoming project with Steven Spielberg to make Halo a television series – and today gave us a look at how Microsoft’s original content would shake out. The plan is to launch the newly-minted Xbox Originals with the previously-announced live, interactive stream of Bonnaroo Music Festival on June 13th. Xbox owners will be able to switch vantage points and take part in Skype calls with artists backstage; this degree of user control and interactivity will be a prime feature of many of Xbox Original series as well. On that front, Microsoft promised a host of non-event-based content, including “Every Street United,” hosted by international soccer personalities Thierry henry and Edgar Davids, “Signal to Noise,” focused on the influence of technology on directors, and the promised “Halo” series. After looking at how cautiously Netflix and Amazon have eased into original content, Microsoft’s broad lineup is certainly the most ambitious off-the-bat launch in some time. It also is a fantastic ploy to keep living-room consumers off of their cable boxes and on their Xbox’s as much as possible.

GoPro Xbox Channel Launches

In January, news started circulating that GoPro would be making a dedicated, streaming Xbox 360 and Xbox One channel. Now, it’s out in the world, live on the Xbox 360. The channel will be featuring all exclusive content, much of which will initially derive from the launch celebration, which features viral-video-kickstarters like basketball shot tricks and Lion hugs. At the same time, users watching the channel will be able to purchase GoPro’s from within the video app, without putting the controller down – of course, the GoPro channel will advertise the specific units used to film the shorts. It’s a shot at Twitch, certainly, and other new forms of live streamed networks over Xbox, which are becoming increasingly popular and a large source of income for companies advertising creatively on the mediums. As the platform expands, expect to see more live streaming entertainment as younger people continue to cut the cord. 

Xbox Smartglass Now Universal Remote

Xbox Smartglass was – and indeed still remains – one of the most compelling second screen experiences available for living room entertainment systems. Though the second screen has faded as a trend to a certain extent, its potent potential nonetheless remains for brands and consumers as a way to maintain interest and engagement in the platform. Now, to ensure that users stay tuned into second screen experiences, Xbox announced that the Smartglass app will be able to act as a remote for the Xbox One. One of the key functions of the Xbox One is its OneGuide, which allows users to pick shows and moves, and transfer back and forth between games and apps within the console itself. The Smartglass app now seamlessly interfaces with the OneGuide, meaning that smartphones and other devices are now almost a part of the Xbox system itself, meaning less user distraction and increased engagement on the platform.