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Hacker group takes credit for current Xbox Live disruptions

While the Microsoft servers have been inconsistent over the last few months, it seems that this current outage is not due to any technical gaffes on Microsoft’s part.

Currently all services including online multiplayer, social services, and the store are down.

The hacker group which shall not be named in this post, has impacted services before with the Playstation Network being taken down and the Sony president being threatened by a bomb scare.

As of 8:30 p.m. a short tweet stating “Xbox Live #Offline” is stickied on their twitter — their current medium used to update the public on all their attacks and general passive-aggressive threats towards a variety of major games.

Microsoft has not issued any statement regarding their state of resolving the disruption.

Update (11:58 p.m.): While there is still no official word from Microsoft, it appears that some services have returned in a limited state.

The hacker group has also threatened more attacks come Christmas day. The group has conveyed that they will be targeting more than just Microsoft.

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Is Windows 10 the Xbox One’s future UI?

Universal apps are on the way and connecting all of Microsoft’s application to create a Windows 10 ecosystem that promotes a diverse library of software on Xbox Ones, PCs, and Windows Phones.

The looming plans to integrate all of the company’s platforms is already expected to help the app library grow and flourish, but with the similarities that the Xbox One has with the Metro OS on Windows 8, we may be in store to see a more fleshed out version of the Windows operating system on the home console in the near future as well.

The Xbox 360's "blades" featured one of the cleanest U.I.'s used during the console's life-span.
The Xbox 360’s “blades” featured one of the cleanest U.I.’s used during the console’s life-span.

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that the Xbox division shook things up with their user interface. The Xbox 360 has had a multitude of looks and appearances — evolving over the years. From the early days of the 360’s blades to the “new Xbox experience” to the “metro” interface, Microsoft is no stranger to these major face-lifts.

The current Xbox One metro look is decent, but navigation without a kinect could be simplified and cleaned up. Windows 10 is designed for the “cloud-first world” and this gives Microsoft the opportunity to make a platform that is truly your one place for everything that they made seem their true desire among the console’s initial release.

Given the popularity of the kinect-less Xbox One right now, Microsoft may look to key on creating a better controller focused navigation system as the new windows converges everything.

Currently the interface is a bit more convoluted and it sometimes struggles to optimize multiple tasks together. Snapping is useful, but its flow of operation is inconsistent. Selecting things can sometimes cause unexpected errors and closure of whatever may be snapped.

The party system is vastly different than what it once was on the Xbox 360, and, by some accounts, worse than former console’s design. Microsoft had once overhauled their chat-room system before — adding parties in the first place on top of private-chats. We could see them do it again.

While Windows may be coming to the console in the future, don’t be expecting as much freedom as you’d get on a typical PC. Windows 10 will drive the system, but it won’t act and behave the same way users interact with the desktop operating system.

Big changes are to come soon, and the Xbox has vastly improved since its initial release in 2013, but what should be the one place for everything is still vastly under-optimized and trailing behind its main competitor in Sony’s Playstation 4.

Rest assured, Microsoft is improving and the gap between the consoles will begin to close — especially with their incredible black friday sales right now.

Xbox One Assassin's Creed Unity Bundle
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343i studio head issues apology to Halo fans for The Master Chief Collection’s turbulent launch

The issues with the Master Chief Collection's server issues hold fans back from fully enjoying the classic multiplayer.
The issues with the Master Chief Collection’s server issues hold fans back from fully enjoying the classic multiplayer.

Halo is objectively the greatest exclusive franchise on the Xbox platform, and with how dedicated the fans are seeing such a troublesome launch of the Master Chief Collection has resulted in a barrage of complaints and grievances with the developer.

Today, the studio head responded with a personal apology for the multiplayer issues of the first-person shooter.

“With the initial release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, however, we have not delivered the experience you deserve.  I personally apologize for this on behalf of us all at 343 Industries.  Our team is committed to working around the clock until these issues are resolved.” — Bonnie Ross

343 Industries has done the best they can to try and resolve the situation with almost daily updates, and patches to try and fix their server issues. Up to this point, no significant improvements have been made. While some report slightly more efficient matchmaking, the multiplayer issues are far too major for most players to notice a difference at all.

Bonnie Ross went on to speak of their plans to keep fans informed on their progressions with addressing the server-side fixes and game-content updates.

“Know that we’re trying to be as nimble as possible to put fixes in place.  We are planning multiple server-side tweaks and game content updates over the coming weeks.  Looking forward, I want to give you a high-level cadence of the latest updates we’re currently working on.”

While it is a positive to see 343i showing such dedication to bring the “experience “fans” deserve,” these problems at release are so impactful, it may have been better for Microsoft if the game was delayed by a few weeks to give fans an immediately enjoyable game.

Check out the full apology here
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Battletoads on the Xbox One? | Microsoft files trademark for the classic NES game

Battletoads is over 20 years old, but it seems it may now be revived by Microsoft.
Battletoads is over 20 years old, but it seems it may now be revived by Microsoft.

The trademark application originally brought to light on NeoGAF shows Microsoft has filed a video game patent for the 1991 beat em’ up/platformer, Battletoads.

Rare, the developer behind the notoriously difficult game, was purchased by Microsoft in 2002, but the dev has struggled to put out many memorable or worth while games.

It’s reasonable to expect the NES classic to be brought to the console (and possibly PC as well) with a typical arcade-game style that Microsoft encourages.

Killer Instinct, another classic game that has been revived on the Xbox One, was re-envisioned and upgraded with more contemporary graphics and gameplay.

Whether Battletoads will follow-suit with a new experience or if it will be just a remake with an HD resolution is entirely up to speculation.

Link to the application
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Sunset Overdrive to the top of UK charts; Xbox One’s games library expands

The highly anticipated Xbox One exclusive, Sunset Overdrive, is dominating the Xbox charts
The highly anticipated Xbox One exclusive, Sunset Overdrive, is dominating the Xbox charts

The first week of Sunset Overdrive was certainly a successful one as Insomniac Games’ third-person shooter grabs the number two spot on UK charts (Charttrack).

Microsoft’s exclusive Xbox One title has made a significant impact right from its release last week, and Xbox gamers are showing their love for the game as well as it takes over all but one game (FIFA 15) in the overall charts charts.

Though for just UK Xbox One charts, Sunset has beaten out every game including FIFA 15.

The addition of the fast-paced and wonderfully chaotic shooter to Microsoft’s games library gives their now year-old system an excellent variety and balance of selection for virtually all gamers.

An excellent multiplayer shooter in Titanfall and Destiny, a great story in The Evil Within, and an incredible open-world racing game in Forza Horizon 2 — Xbox One’s library is better than ever and its on pace to do nothing but improve.

With an expected console seller on the way (The Master Chief Collection) and the recent price drop, Microsoft is placing itself in a great place for this holiday season.

Phil Spencer expressed excitement for Sunset Overdrive and Insomniac Games’ work on Major Nelson’s Podcast Saturday, “Being an independent studio in today’s world isn’t easy and [Insomniac Games] does it and they do it well. They’re one of the best out there and it’s great to see them have a hit.”

Spencer also spoke of his confidence that next year will be even better with Halo 5: Guardians, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Quantum Break.

“Next fall is just crazy. This fall from a first-party, third-party stand point is great. Next fall I honestly — this isn’t just hype at all — I don’t know we can actually ship all the stuff we think we’re gonna ship next fall. It’s just too crowded. We might purposely move things out to spread it.”

Check out the top 10 Xbox One charts below (Charttrack):



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Xbox One price cut to $350 | Will the PS4 match the cut?

The white Xbox One bundled with Sunset Overdrive is one of the options available for the $350 price tag.
The white Xbox One bundled with Sunset Overdrive is one of the options available for the $350 price tag.

Xbox One drops $50 on select bundles for a limited time this holiday season.

Xbox One to $350, Microsoft’s ability to stay competitive with the PS4 has shown positive results for the company and its investors, and the recent price cut bodes well even more so for the console, but will Sony look to respond this holiday season or beyond?

Microsoft quickly realized who got the better jump on the market upon both consoles’ release in late 2013. Throughout 2014 we’ve seen great value bundles, a kinect-less console, and consistent updates to try and entice more gamers to go with the Xbox One — and it’s worked. Some incredible deals can be found for the Xbox One and, while Sony does have a few options and deals available, the PS4 has not quite been able to match that of its competitors.

The Playstation-Destiny bundle sold admirably, will Sony add more bundles to their console selection.
Sony has been controlling the new generation gaming market so far, but what can they do to continue that?

Sony has remained steadfast, and their console has been receiving less rapid updates relative to the Xbox One, and has mostly the same core features that it had presented from the start.

The PS4’s last update gave it some significant upgrades — most notably the “share play” addition, but in order for Sony to continue their majority control in the market — especially in North America — gamers will need to see some more purchase options and faster updates for the console.

If Microsoft stays on track with its sales it should be surprising to no one if Sony elects to slash prices and offer some new bundles featuring their best exclusives as well.

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Xbox sales improve 102% in Q1

A slide from Microsoft's earnings call suggests more apps to come to the Xbox One.
A slide from Microsoft’s earnings call suggests more apps to come to the Xbox One.

Microsoft’s investor reports showcased a 102% increase in  Xbox sales in 2014 as the Xbox One expands to 28 new markets around the globe.

2.4 million consoles were sold, split between both the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One. While the details of which console is the greater portion of that increase, the expansion of the Xbox One’s availability is likely a major reason behind the jump in sales.

Microsoft’s entire sales report showed positive results in all categories, with Devices and Consumer revenue growing 47% to $10.96 billion.

Microsoft’s success of products like the Microsft Surface and Windows Phones, and their expected interconnection with the future release of Windows 10, is good news for the Xbox One.

More apps and features of all devices will cross between each other and help the Xbox Store’s library expand in the applications department.

Full details within the official release
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Xbox One’s November update | Custom backgrounds, improved profiles, twitter integration and more!

Microsoft keeps the fan-requested upgrades coming in their November update for the Xbox One.
Microsoft keeps the fan-requested upgrades coming in their November update for the Xbox One.

Microsoft continues churning out great additions with their upcoming November update to the Xbox One.

It doesn’t seem like the story ever changes for Microsoft. Their support and response to fan-feedback is unparalleled and this new update just emphasizes that even more.

Some of the most requested features from fans — custom backgrounds, vastly improved profiles, and improved TV features as well are being incorporated into the console in next month’s update.

A bit more personalization certainly is nice to have, and the custom backgrounds will give players the ability to choose the art of any unlocked achievement or their personal profile color as a replacement for the original black homescreen backdrop.

The custom backgrounds was originally teased by Phil Spencer in a TiC podcast and it is coming earlier than his hints even suggested. It seems we’ll have to wait at least another month for the screenshot feature that Spencer also promised though.

The profile details return to that of the Xbox 360’s profile system with a bio and location available again to keep the social aspects of the console growing as well.

In regards to social growth the Xbox One will now have Twitter integrated directly into the UI. Sharing your own recorded game clips directly to Twitter is now a possibility. This addition complements the feed which in itself is very similar to twitter. It should not be all too surprising to see Twitter continue to grow on the console and no one should rule out posting directly to twitter from the feed.

Full list of updates below per majornelson’s blog:

  • Show Who You Are – Some of the most requested features being released this month include the ability to customize your Xbox One background and showcase and share some of your favorite achievements and game clips.
    • Custom Backgrounds – The #1 fan-requested feature is making its initial debut for preview members. For the first time, each account on your Xbox One can have a customized background. You can choose a custom color or achievement art as your background on Xbox One, with more customization options coming down the road.
    • Gamer Profile – You can now share your location and bio as part of your profile. You can set these options on your Xbox One console and use Xbox One SmartGlass to browse to other people’s profiles and check out their showcase items. Additionally, you can now select a set of showcase items that are displayed when other gamers look at your profile on an Xbox One console. You can use Xbox One SmartGlass or Xbox One console to add or remove up to six game clips or achievements that will be displayed in a carousel format.
    • Tweet about your Favorite Game Clips – You can now share your favorite Xbox One game clips with your followers on Twitter. Use the Share button on any game clip you have created and select Twitter to compose the Tweet.
  • A New Way to Watch TV – With new Live TV and Twitter integration, you can discover new shows to love and see what people are saying on Twitter about shows in real-time.
    • Live TV Trending – Starting today for preview members in the U.S., Canada and the UK, a new tab will be available in OneGuide that displays the top 20 most watched TV shows, with the list filtered down to the shows that are currently available to you based on your OneGuide settings. The Live TV Trending list is updated by the minute, so you can easily discover shows that are popular with other viewers. The Trending tab in OneGuide is updated to display Twitter – Live TV trending first and Xbox – Live TV Trending second. You can tune to a specific show by pressing the A button.
    • Twitter TV Trending – New this month in preview, you can see what Live TV is trending based on the highest number of tweets. Twitter TV Trending will initially be available to preview members in the U.S.
    • Xbox TV Trending – The Trending tab in OneGuide is updated to display Twitter trending first and Xbox – Live TV Trending second. Xbox – Live TV Trending is based on the number of Xbox One owners currently watching that show in each country, pulled from anonymous data collected at a national level.
    • Tweets in MiniGuide – See the actual tweets for the Live TV shows in real time and quickly find the Twitter #hashtag to join the conversation.
    • Recents and Favorites in MiniGuide – MiniGuide has been updated to include your favorite TV channels in a combined Recents and Favorites area and MiniGuide can now be activated via voice by saying “Xbox Select – MiniGuide” while watching TV.
  • Store improvements and SmartGlass updates – We are also excited to roll out these cool features:
    • Store improvements – The Store pages on Xbox One have been improved to enable you to more quickly browse and find content. The navigation buttons were moved to the far left so you can find them easier. You can also more quickly find game add-ons, perform store specific searches and recommendations are more prominently displayed. Finally, store categories have been standardized so you can easily see the top items in each query at a glance.
    • Friends’ Game Activity on SmartGlass – You can now see a list of your friends that have played a given game within the Xbox One SmartGlass experience.
    • Games with Gold & Deals with Gold on SmartGlass – For gamers with an Xbox Live Gold subscription, you can browse “Free Games with Gold” and discounted content with Gold and initiate download of the content to your Xbox One console from your mobile device.
    • SmartGlass Store Improvements – We added a new section for Apps to make it easier to find and download apps for your Xbox One, as well as adding a Coming Soon filter for Games and Add Ons to make it easier to see upcoming Xbox One releases sorted by anticipated release date.
  • Internet Explorer updates – There are a few improvements Internet Explorer available this month:
    • Snap IE – From the Address Bar in Internet Explorer, you can now easily snap from a full screen experience and move Internet Explorer into snap mode.
    • Featured sites – Now, Internet Explorer will show a number when something is newly-added to featured sites. Newly-added sites will also display a badge until you launch them or seven days have passed since the site was added to the Featured list.
  • Updates to the Preview dashboard app – We’re gamifying the Preview dashboard. Here are some new features we are adding:
    • My Stats – If you are in the Preview program, you will now earn points for providing feedback, including points for completing Quests, Surveys, Quick Poll questions, and rating the update. These will be shared in the Preview dashboard under My Stats. The more points you get, the more you level up, and the more rewards you’ll earn. Keep checking back for special bonus point opportunities.
    • Leaderboard – We’re also adding a leaderboard that shows how you stack up against your friends based on the points you have earned. If you don’t have friends in the Preview program, we’ll show how you stack up against others in the program. Keep checking back – more things are coming to the My Stats page soon.

For a hands on look, check out the video below –
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The Master Chief collection goes gold | 20GB content update on day one

The Master Chief collection brings all of the core Halo story in beautiful 1080p 60 fps.
The Master Chief collection brings all of the core Halo story in beautiful 1080p 60 fps.

Pre-order and pre-download is now available on the Xbox One. The Master Chief Collection will take up a whopping 65 GBs of space on your hard-drive — but it definitely looks worth it.

In his “going gold” post on Halo waypoint, Dan Ayoub (Executive Producer of 343i)states that “this is literally going to be the biggest Halo experience so far,” but even that statement doesn’t do the true magnitude of the game justice.

(Almost) Everything Halo from one menu with any combination of maps and missions at the players' fingertips.
(Almost) Everything Halo from one menu with any combination of maps and missions at the players’ fingertips.

The Master Chief collection goes above and beyond any other comparable value collection. Every map, every gun, every mission — all included on one disc that allows players to seamlessly transfer from one game to the next.

The disc contains a total of 45 GB of the initial content, but a day one update adds an additional 20 GB.

343i’s Franchise Development Director, Frank O’Connor, explains the update.

“That’s not a patch. It’s content. The game is designed to run as a single, unified product, digital is seamless obviously, but we also wanted disc users to have the same experience, without swapping discs. Since the bulk of it is MP or MP related, the logic is sound.”

“If fixes were required for Campaign, they would be very small, but that’s not the case. All four campaigns will run directly from the disc without the content update. As will some custom game features. Again, the bulk of the CU is MP and MP related.”

For most it does not seem like the addition will be too much of a burden, but some gamers may have to wait a bit longer than they would have liked if they want to get in on the full multiplayer action right away at its 12:01 a.m. (EST) release on November 11th.

Those who pre-download the title on the Xbox store you’ll have to endure even less time and get straight to the exploration of any chapter in the expansive Halo universe.

Some of the most iconic maps of Halo 2 are better than ever with improved visuals and fine-tuned map designs.
Some of the most iconic maps of Halo 2 are better than ever with improved visuals and fine-tuned map designs.

At just $60 the Master Chief Collection is an absolute must have game for every Xbox One owner — whether your experienced with the Halo franchise or not.

Those without Xbox’s that are familiar with Halo (especially fans of the beloved Halo 2 multiplayer) may see this as a potential console-selling addition to the console’s rapidly growing library of quality games.

We’re just weeks away from re-exploring the likes of Blood Gulch, Sidewinder, Ascension, Midship, and over 90 other multiplayer maps — not including the plethora of maps that will be inevitably created from forge on Halo 2, 3, and 4.


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Fable Legends beta sign ups available now

Fable Legends' beta begins next week.
Fable Legends’ beta begins next week.

Fable Legends is looking to rejuvenate the franchise as it incorporates for the first time, four player co-op, and those who want an early look will soon get it.

After struggling for roughly eight years to return to the greatness that the first two Fable games invoked, Lionhead Studios is hoping that the Unreal Engine-powered Fable Legends will get fans excited once again.

If you signed up for the beta sign-up notification back at E3, you’ve likely just received the news that registration for the beta is open now, and anyone who wants in on the action can head on over to the Fable Legends site to enter your email and other details.

The beta starts next week (October 16th) exclusively on the Xbox One.