Marc Whitten's Annual letter to Xbox LIVE members (includes Summer of Arcade details)


Earlier today Marc Whitten released the following letter to all Xbox LIVE members filling in a few gaps in knowledge following today's Xbox Media Briefing. Along with the letter is the full list and details for this years Summer of Arcade as well.



Dear Xbox LIVE Members,

I’m really excited about what we unveiled today at E3 and I hope you are also. We announced things that you expect us to deliver, like a great blockbuster game lineup and more TV, sports, movies and music. And we also unveiled new features like Internet Explorer for Xbox and Xbox SmartGlass, which will give you new and exciting ways to enjoy TV, movies, sports, games, web and music across the devices you already own.

Thanks to Xbox LIVE members like you we’re redefining the future of the living room, and I want to take this opportunity to share a more detailed look at what’s in store for entertainment on Xbox.

· International Expansion of Kinect Voice Control and Search. We are deeply committed to bringing the services and entertainment that people love on Xbox LIVE to our members around the world. This year, we are expanding our voice search capabilities to 12 new countries and we are bringing more entertainment applications than ever to more countries on Xbox LIVE. We’ve also made it easier to connect to our global Xbox LIVE service on Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox 360 in English, French, Spanish and Chinese.

· Xbox SmartGlass. This is a brand new Xbox innovation that makes your entertainment smarter, more interactive and more fun – across the devices you already own. It makes your tablet or your phone more intuitive, so if you are watching a movie or playing a game on Xbox 360, relevant content will automatically appear on your SmartGlass device. Imagine having the ability to pick your plays from your tablet instead of the TV screen during an intense game of “Madden,” keeping your next move a surprise to your opponent. Imagine meeting up with a boss in “Ascend” and seeing all the necessary details appear on your phone to help defeat it.  Or, turn your favorite tablet or phone into a great remote control for your Xbox console. We’re excited to make all this possible for you and more.

· Internet Explorer for Xbox. This is something you’ve been asking for, and we waited until we could deliver a web browser experience truly optimized for the TV. You’ll be able to easily find and view the internet content you crave on the best screen in the house. And, with the power of Kinect and Xbox SmartGlass, you’ll able to navigate websites with any device or the sound of your voice. 


· Favorites. This is another request we’ve heard frequently. Favorites allows you to personalize the dashboard by saving your movies, TV, games, music and the web right to the home screen in the dashboard. Favorites will make it easier and faster than ever to get to your favorite content on Xbox and Xbox LIVE. 


· Xbox on Windows 8 and Windows Phone. Xbox is the premium entertainment experience for video, music, and games on your Xbox 360, on Windows 8 and on Windows Phone. And of course our LIVE service makes it even easier to share, discover, play and more with all of your content.

  • Xbox Music will bring you a world-class music library and great new ways to enjoy, share and discover new music across all of your Windows devices.
  • Xbox Games makes your experience with the console even better. You’ll have access to your avatar, recent games and leaderboards, and connections to your friends, giving you anywhere access to things you love about Xbox on the console. You can even purchase Xbox 360 games from anywhere and have them ready for download the moment you turn on your console.
  • Xbox Video provides you access to the video marketplace, making it easy to browse and search for TV episodes and movies. You can see your videos in your personal collection and even cue the TV show or movie up on your Xbox 360.

· New Search Features. Last year, we brought you the ability to search for your favorite movie, TV show, or actor with your voice. This year, we’re taking it one step further and bringing you the ability to search for your favorite genre. Now, you’ll be able to say “Xbox, Bing comedy,” to quickly find movies and TV shows across your entertainment apps. Not only can you search for your favorite type of content, but we’re also extending Bing voice search to include content in the YouTube app. The best viral videos will now be discoverable in your search results, all with the sound of your voice. 

· Performance Improvements. We continue to invest in improving the performance of the Xbox dashboard. Whether you’re getting in and out of entertainment applications, browsing the games library or navigating large entertainment catalogs, we are working to make these experiences quick and seamless. 


· Summer of Arcade. Each year Summer of Arcade delivers the most anticipated downloadable games of the season, and this year is no exception. With five back-to-back weeks of unparalleled releases, the fifth annual Summer of Arcade includes: 


  • “Deadlight” (Tequila Works/Microsoft Studios). “Deadlight” is a puzzle platformer, where the player must take advantage of the main character’s agility to solve obstacles, and dodge zombies, manipulating the many interactive elements of the scenery. With more walking corpses than bullets, the feeling of danger is constant.
  • “Dust: An Elysian Tail” (Humble Hearts/Microsoft Studios). As the mysterious warrior, Dust, your action-packed journey will take you from peaceful glades to snowy mountaintops and beyond. Battle dozens of enemies at once with an easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master combat system, and uncover the story of an ancient civilization on the brink of extinction as you fight to uncover your own past in a gorgeous hand-painted world.
  • “Hybrid” (5TH Cell/5TH Cell). “Hybrid” is a pioneering third person shooter set in the near future, where global conflict exists between a species known as the Variant and a rebel human faction known as the Paladins. 5TH Cell strives to give players a completely new gameplay experience never seen before in the genre. 
  • “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD” (Robomodo/Activision). “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD” takes the best elements of the classic “THPS” games and gives them a fresh update to create an all new skateboarding experience. Tapping into fans’ muscle memories, and combining sharp visuals with the best controls ever in a Tony Hawk game, the feel is cutting edge yet timeless.
  • “Wreckateer” (Iron Galaxy/Microsoft Studios). “Wreckateer” uses Kinect to put you in control of a massive castle-wrecking ballista. With the help of Wreck and Tinker, travel the land and destroy 60 castles using six magical projectiles, and explore the infinite ways you can wreak havoc with “Wreckateer’s” fully-dynamic destruction. 


· Xbox LIVE Tournaments. We are working with Virgin Gaming to launch a new tournament service on Xbox LIVE, later this year. This new entertainment app will allow players to choose from a wide variety of free-to-play or paid-entry tournaments and head-to-head matches, for top titles from leading publishers. Xbox LIVE Tournaments, powered by Virgin Gaming, makes tournaments easy to join, fun and accessible to all types of gamers.

This year, we’re delivering the best in entertainment from Xbox. We’re bringing you more premium games, TV, movies, sports, web and music, enjoyed in unique ways that only Xbox can deliver. We’re making the entertainment experience complete with more ways than ever to discover and engage with all your favorite content across devices. Our mission is to make Xbox an amazing place for all of your entertainment – anytime, on any device. Keep playing, sharing, watching and pushing us – it’s only getting better from here.

See you on Xbox,

Marc Whitten

Gamertag – Notwen

[Via Major Nelson]

E3 2012: Xbox Briefing wrap-up


For those who did or haven't seen the 2012 Microsoft Xbox Briefing here are the bullet points for your easy digestion:


  • Halo 4 openings the show beginning with live action transitioning into in-engine cinematics and finally into gameplay.
  • Don Mattrick enters the stage to officially kick off the briefing
  • Splinter Cell: Blacklist is first up ( revealed for the first time) with a gameplay demo. The Mark and Execute is back in a big way with “Killing in motion”. Kinect integration is apart of the game where you can literally talk to the enemies through Kinect by whispering distractions to them.
  • EA Sports’ Andrew Wilson is next up to talk EA Sports with Kinect. After a brief showcase of FIFA 13, a switch to Madden 14 is up next with the appearance of Joe Montana barking out play calling and hikes via Maddens new Kinect integration. Madden 14 lands on August 28th, 2012.
  • Next is a new trailer for Fable: The Journey.
  • Phil Spencer makes his way onto stage.
  • Gears of War is next up with a trailer for Gears of War Judgement coming in 2013.
  • A trailer for Forza Horizon ( releasing October 23rd, 2012) follows up Gears of War.
  • Head of Strategy Yusuf Medhi takes the stage to show off Kinect voice search on the Xbox dashboard. The NBA is headed to Xbox with NBA League Pass as well as the NHL with NHL Gamecenter. ESPN will start to stream all of its live programming in HD on Xbox 360.
  • Xbox Music/Video (out with Zune) is announced for the first time with over 30 million tracks on Xbox, PC, and mobile phones.
  • To round out the Kinect centric part of the briefing is Nike with a fitness title Nike + Kinect Training.
  • Marc Whitten makes his way onto stage to talk about Xbox Smart Glass. It is to work with your Windows, Apple, and Android devices.
  • Internet Explorer is announced to finally be coming to Xbox after years of everyone asking why Xbox had no browser when the competition does.
  • Windows 8 to also receive Xbox Smart Glass.
  • Tomb Raider is the next game demo with brand new gameplay.
  • Phil Spencer is back on stage. With Xbox Live Arcade we are introduced to Signal Studios’ Acend New Gods (releasing in 2013). Next is Twisted Pixels LocoCycle. After that is Matter (also releasing in 2013).
  • Capcom’s Resident Evil 6 is the next game demo.
  • Wreckateer is the next game demo ( releasing this summer on XBLA).
  • Next is SouthPark: The Stick of Truth.
  • To follow up South Park is Harmonix with Dance Central 3 with a performance by Usher.
  • Don Mattrick is now back on stage to bookend the briefing with new Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 gameplay.




Marc Whitten's Letter to the Xbox Live Community on the "New" New Xbox Experience


With the arrival of the latest major Dashboard update to your Xbox 360 comes a few words from Xbox Live's CVP Marc Whitten

Dear Xbox LIVE Members,

Today, we’re launching a new Xbox 360 experience that connects you with your favorite entertainment and games like never before and makes finding and enjoying entertainment as simple as it should be.

It’s a vision we shared at E3 and I’d like to thank you for all of your valuable feedback along this incredible ride and share a little more about what we have in store this holiday – from Beacons, cloud storage and Facebook sharing, to our latest entertainment offerings.

Building upon our great lineup of partners, we’ve teamed up with nearly 40 of the world’s leading TV & entertainment providers to bring you an array of live and on-demand TV, movies, games, sports and music experiences. The first wave of new partners rolls out today with experiences like EPIX and TODAY (MSNBC) in the US, LOVEFiLM in the UK, Sky Go in Germany, Premium Play by (MediaSet) in Italy and Telefonica España – Movistar Imagenio in Spain. And we’ll continue to roll out more entertainment content to Xbox LIVE in the coming months.

Beyond entertainment, you’ll find a number of features designed to make your Xbox experience more personal, social and effortless. The dashboard has an entirely new look and feel and a completely reimagined interface that makes your entertainment accessible through simple voice commands. Now, using voice search with Bing on Xbox, you can find and play the programming you want across multiple entertainment providers without having to search for a remote control. In the mood for ‘The Office?’ Just say “Xbox, Bing, ‘The Office,’” and Xbox will display all episodes available from various entertainment apps across the console.

We’re also bringing you Beacons and Facebook sharing, further integrating social into your Xbox experience. Before jumping into an episode of ‘The Office,’ you can activate a Beacon to let your friends know that you want to play, say, “Gears of War 3.” Then, sit back and relax with the Dunder Mifflin crew. The Beacon will let you know when a LIVE friend is available for a round of Horde in Gears. After the game, use Facebook Sharing to tout your achievements and showcase your in-game accomplishments through direct posts.

While we’re proud of our capability to connect you remotely to the global community of more than 35 million Xbox LIVE members, sometimes there’s nothing like being with your friends and family. And so we’ve added cloud storage so you can access game saves and your LIVE profile, including achievements, from your friends’ consoles as well.

Lastly, with the ever-expanding library of content available, we realize Xbox is enjoyed by all members of the family. Rest assured that our parental controls have improved in parallel with this new content. Parents can manage their child’s console activity, sharing on social networking sites as well as regulate access to games, movies, television, and music. Additionally, the update brings enhanced navigation to Xbox 360 Family Settings to better integrate with Kinect.

We strive to continually innovate and bring meaningful experiences to each and every member of the Xbox LIVE community. Currently, our community is already enjoying 2.1 billion hours of entertainment each month. We imagine this number will only continue to grow as you discover enhanced entertainment on Xbox this holiday that is instantly searchable, easily discoverable and enjoyable in extraordinary new ways. We hope you enjoy this new chapter in the evolution of Xbox and continue to push us to write the next.

See you on LIVE,

Marc Whitten

Gamertag – Notwen










Also arriving on December 6th to a Windows Phone 7 phone near you is a free Xbox Live Companion app that gives you more control of your Xbox experience.


Xbox Companion search powered by Bing. Search the unified Xbox catalog for movies, TV shows, music, games and apps using the Windows phone. View a detailed unified results page across all content providers. You can see recently played games and apps and browse the Zune video catalog

Using the Xbox Companion app you can learn more details about the movie, TV show, music or game that is playing on your console. You can also get friend activity (friends online, friends with beacons, friends who have recently played), achievements and related items.  You’ll also be able to select a search result, and launch a movie, TV show, game or app on the connected console as well as play, pause, fw, rw the playing video or music on the connected Xbox,initiate media purchase and navigate your Xbox console with Windows Phone using the Xbox Companion.

[Via Major Nelson]

Video: ScreenTeam's Gears of War: Mad World Uprising



I've been watching the parody work of Chad and Angie (seen above) for quite sometime and find them to be very entertaining. As their videos are mostly in relation to videogames in some way they tend to fit right in at home for any gamer who happens to come across them. The quality of the editing and blue/green screen keying continue to get better and better hitting the high at the moment known as "Gears of War: Mad World Uprising". The Gears of War inspired paraody can be bought on Amazon here, but it's the accompanying video that makes the whole thing work. For what I assume is on a hairstring budget, they've done a marvelous job.

(Via Screenteam Show)

Video: Orcs Must Die! Developer Diary


 The world of third person action tower defense games is heating up to a further state of awesomeness by way of Robot Entertainment. With the release of Orcs Must Die! right around the corner it would only make since for the dev team to give a glimpse into the digital only title via a Developer Diary.

Orcs Must die is due for release for Xbox LIVE Arcade October 5th, 2011 and PC on October 12th, 2011.

Xbox to receive a wireless headset "do-over"


This site in it's Xbox only incarnation was no stranger to the Xbox 360's wireless headset. Unfortunately, all is not "lovedubby" when it comes to Microsoft's Wireless Headset for it's Xbox 360. Claims of high pitched noises, nonfunctional charging, inability to sync, or just plainly bad audio quality have been rampant for years since it's release. Was or is there a fix for these issues? Of course there is. Be prepared to shell out some more money to fix your issues if you have any by buying another headset.

This time out the headset is to have bluetooth functionality as well so that you can actually use it on something other than an Xbox 360. What a novel idea, huh? There are two modes of operation that allow you to switch between bluetooth and Xbox mode with a press of a button. But will this be better than the headset already on the market? We'll see.

Also announced with the new headset is a new media remote for Xbox 360. Have you been asking for one of those? You haven't? Neither was I. The guys and gals at Logitech I'm sure are shaking in their boots now. Fans of the Harmony Xbox 360 remote of yesteryear are likely to be the only customers for this remote if their OG remote has found some sort of violent death over the years. 


Images of the new Headset and Media remote can be found here.

[Via Major Nelson]

It's Bungie Day! Go get your steak on!


It is once again the day of all days in the world of Bungie. Bungie Day has arrived. 7/7 is is and so it's the time for all Bungie fans to get their steak on. Just as in previous years, throw in that copy of Halo (this time Reach) and try your hand at playing against the boys and girls up in the northwest that we all know as none other than Bungie.


The 24 hour Marathon is already underway so get your butts onto Xbox LIVE right now as the event is between 12:00 AM until 11:59 PM PST on 7/7 (that's today). Click here for the legal mumbo jumbo and further details. Have fun, play fair, and don't go teabagging too much. Your crouched virtual torso may get stuck that way.

Here's what to look for:

The official Bungie gamertags are: 

  • Humproast
  • Heavenly Beef
  • Tender Loins
  • Porterhaus

And the official Bungie teams are (in no particular order):

  • D Pool Champions
  • Team Saving Your Ass
  • Got Beef?
  • #HighSteaksHalo A
  • #HighSteaksHalo B
  • Multiple Scorgasms
  • In Frag Structure
  • Needs More Cover
  • Blame Steak
  • 0xdeadbeef
  • Team Lee Prestiged twice in BlOps
  • 824 Bones
  • The Real McLovin Power Hour
  • Happy Cows Aren't Steak
  • Team America
  • Got Beef?
  • L.Y.D.T.T.C.T.S.F.A.D.I.T.G.B.O.E.V.(t)

Thoughts On: Kinect, Kinect, Kinect


What everyone and their mothers should have gotten very clear from this weeks E3 2011 Xbox Media Briefing was one thing: YOU should have bought Kinect! or Let's hope YOU will/have Kinect! Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. Kinect is a really nice piece of technology, yet, when it comes to games that you and I play the big fear is that what we love today (as in traditionally controlled games) will go away in favor of games pushing us toward motion and nothing but Motion. Fear is a powerful thing. So, why are we letting it ruin an otherwise harmless portion of our lifes? Videogames are obviously an important part of our lives if you are reading this. Seen in the video's below, it's beginning to appear that what developers are getting a grasp at is augmenting Kinect functionality into our so-called "hardcore games" instead of replacing so much of the interaction to a point where you feel left out if you've chosen thus far to not particapate in all of the wacky Kinect fun.

And of course, I could go on and on, but the real proof will be in the pudding once all of these Kinect "enhanced" titles release. Kinect or not, you will still be able to play your games the way you always have. Relax...

Kinect Core Games Preview from the eye's of Xbox


Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Kinect Demo at E3 2011 Mcirosoft Press Briefing

Mass Effect 3 Kinect Demo at E3 2011 Mcirosoft Press Briefing

Kinect Fun Labs Demo at E3 2011 Mcirosoft Press Briefing

Halo Reach's Defiant Map Pack officially announced



Rumor gets around these days mighty fast thanks to the internet and when it comes to Halo the exception is the rule in most cases. Whispers in the wind have been relaying word of the next Halo Reach Map Pack to be called the "Defiant Map Pack" and it turns out the whispers were right once again. The Defiant Map Pack that brings three new maps (one of which is the first ever new Firefight map) has been officially announced and to arrive in March 2011 with screens and video to boot (seen below).

Condemned, a mangled communications hub high above the planet, and Highlands, a Spartan training facility nestled in the mountains of Reach, or engage the Covenant directly on Unearthed, defending the entrance to a key titanium mine in the first Firefight DLC ever.

Microsoft's CES 2011 Keynote Highlights


The Consumer Electronics Show is here once again and the folks up in Redmond Washington are also without fail there as well to show off what's up next from Microsoft. To the liking of those in the gaming sector a great deal of Microsoft's Keynote was focused on Xbox 360, Kinect, and gaming on Windows Phone 7. Although things about Windows 7 were also talked about and shown lets focus on the gaming possibilities and the like. That's what you're here for isn't? There was lots of tauting of big numbers and here are the highlights as presented by CEO Steve Ballmer & Company.

  • Controller free Zune, Netflix, and Hulu Plus are coming this spring.
  • Avatar Kinect- A virtual meeting room with your friends through Kinect giving you a place to interact with each other's avatar as motion captured by you.
  • To date 50 million Xbox 360's have been sold.
  • Xbox Live has reached 30 million members.
  • Over 8 million Kinect sensor's have been sold through during the first 60 days of launch ( that's 3 million above projections of 5 million).
  • Fable Coin Golf headed to Windows Phone 7.
Of course there was more with tablets and low power laptops, but if gaming is what you ultimately care about there you have it.