Microsoft & Linkin Park Partner On Project Spark

When Microsoft launched Project Spark last December, all anybody really knew was that it would allow gamers and developers to interact with custom games from home. Now, Linkin Park is teaming up with Microsoft to create a custom music video experience on the platform that users will be able to remix and recreate – however they like. Linkin Parks’ new single, “Guilty All the Same,” can be in effect played on the Xbox – the user plays as a character trying to escape a particular environment while the single plays in the background. Linkin Park is offering the experience for free on Xbox and Windows. From a marketing perspective, the platform provides brands with a creative way of reaching consumers on an interactive platform with a proven user base. If you’re looking for a way to bring your project to a younger, gaming market, this is an effective tool to get results. 

HBO Go Comes To PS3

Though much of the tech world might have moved on to PS4 and Xbox One, many consumers still utilize and will continue to purchase PS3’s and Xbox 360’s – if for the price more than anything else. So to target the streaming, console-owning market, content providers will have to provide some backwards compatibility. This is exactly what HBO has done today, as it announced that its HBO Go app will finally be available on PS3. Though it’s still working on apps for the next-gen consoles, those will surely come soon. And when they do, it will mean that HBO’s exclusive and well-developed second screen content will be readily accessible to gamers and and cord-cutters alike. It’s a sign that the networks are finally beginning to understand that untethering their content from the traditional models of cable and set-top-boxes is something that consumers are not only asking for, but accepting with open arms. 

Bonnaroo Will Stream On Xbox

Microsoft and Superfly Presents, the production company behind Bonnaroo, have agreed to stream the music festival on Xbox consoles this summer. Xbox One and Xbox 360 owners will have access to the “exclusive” experience. The companies say that it will be streaming in high definition where possible, and fans will be able to switch between multiple streams – that is, different stages – and will be able to watch performances from year’s past. The lineup, of course, has yet to be announced, and Xbox will also stream this event, which features Bonnaroo’s trademark Super Jams. Whether or not you can have the full “festival” experience over Xbox is certainly debatable, but nevertheless the deal is just further evidence of the continued trend of decentralized, streamed on-demand media across screens and devices. 

XBox One Patch Released Today Improves TV Function

Microsoft is launching its first XBox One system update today, less than a month after the console’s release on November 22. This patch comes in response to a number of glitches found early on, and is said to be the first in a long series of updates set to come early in 2014. This update also updates the exciting TV feature of the One, which should become a progressively larger part of the XBox ecosystem over time.  This update showcases the console’s automatic update process, and devices that are on standby will likely get the patch without owners intervening at all.  All system owners not on standby today will be required to install the update after the grace period ends on Thursday, December 12.

PS4 Breaks UK Console Record

The Playstation Four broke the UK console launch record with over 250,000 units sold in 48 hours, which amounts to about $1.4 billion in sales. The PS3 only broke 100,000, while the Xbox One hit 150,000. Not much fuss has been made about international sales, with Microsoft and Sony touting their sales of over one million devices in North America. Neither console has taken a definitive lead in the “console wars,” but as the international numbers continue to trickle in it seems like the Sony device has more global appeal. 

Xbox One Gameplay Broadcasting Delayed Until 2014

Twitch integration was touted as one of the better collaborative elements of Microsoft’s next-gen console, the Xbox One. Today, however, Microsoft dropped news that the app won’t be available on the November 22nd launch date. The Xbox team is, “working to ensure the initial Twitch on Xbox One broadcasting experience meets the expectations of the Twitch community.” For whatever reason, it seems like Twitch and the Xbox One aren’t quite ready for each other yet. It’s a bad realization for Microsoft, as the Twitch integration was a highly touted feature of the new console. For what it’s worth, Xbox gamers will be able to watch Twitch on the console as an app, but that’s only half the battle. How this affects gamers’ proclivity to purchase will have to be judged later in the month. 

Second Screen Or A Flexible First?

Much has been made of second screen apps which let you engage across devices, but many entertainment platforms are incorporating a layer of multitasking within the first screen. Just take a look at Xbox One which highlights the flexible voice control integration. With the commands, one can say “Xbox, snap friends,” for example, which will bring up your friends list in a sidebar during a game without even pausing. Another fitting instance is Touchcast’s vapps which lets creators incorporate apps within the video letting users interact with external media without ever leaving the player.  It’s clear that there is fragmented attention today, but will multitasking features be able to sustain attention on a single screen or is that wishful thinking?

PDP Releases Xbox One “Eye-Patch”

For Xbox users who own Kinects, the spectre of privacy infringement looms large. Indeed, with the Xbox One and the Kinect 2.0, Microsoft has had to reassure customers that their hardware won’t be used for spying on living rooms and people’s lives. For customers who remain unconvinced, PDP is now selling a solid layer of plastic over the device’s infrared and color camera sensors – for just $20 on Amazon. It retains the important voice control of the Kinect, but ensures that Microsoft can’t see into users’ lives. If products like this sell, it will prove just how hesitant consumers really are about new technology and privacy implications. 

Xbox One Reinvents The Fitness DVD

With the host of sophisticated fitness trackers from Fitbit and Jawbone, Kinect on Xbox 360 can look obsolete only supporting large movements like jumping jacks. Yet, it appears Xbox One’s fitness initiatives will pick up the pace for Microsoft. Leveraging a new Kinect sensor, fitness apps will support more precise tracking like muscle mapping, balance calculations, and limb orientation detection. This enables feedback of your form and intensity. What’s more is their partnerships with major fitness celebrities like Tony Horton and Jillian Anderson to support their signature workouts. It’s a great way of reinventing the fitness DVD and tapping into a large existing audience.

Xbox One Will Launch November 22

Microsoft finally announced that it will launch the Xbox One on November 22nd in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, UK, and the USA. The company had previously delayed the launch of the new system in eight European nations, and for those countries the device will be available in early 2014. The console launches just after the PlayStation 4 in the US, but a week before it debuts in Europe. It will be interesting to watch the inevitable showdown between the two consoles for the Black Friday and Christmas shopping seasons.