Tag Archives: Microsoft

Sony v. Microsoft: The Console Wars

Over the course of the 2000s, two major companies have been competing for the attention of the serious gamer. The Xbox and the PlayStation consoles have both been integral to the advancement of not just gaming technology, but the driving force behind a few technological advancements. Sony’s PlayStation series has been known as the go-to console for most serious gamers, while Xbox focuses on being the all-in-one console. The different advertising strategies often attract different people, but with advancements in modern day systems, the main differences will be the exclusives and aesthetics.

ConsoleThe first iteration of PlayStation came out in the late 1990s, and stayed the leading console for many years. For the longest time, Sony had no competition, that is until the early 2000s when Microsoft released their flagship console, Xbox. Over the course of the next couple of years the two companies would start to sync up their release dates and start a pattern of pumping out new consoles. Every 5-6 years a new console is released but within those years are mid-cycle upgrades. For the two companies, they release a slim, and then a slightly more upgraded version (in terms of processing power) around a year later.

ConsoleOne key problem faced with these consoles is future proofing. When a new console is sent out every year there isn’t much room for improvement. Many people won’t buy a new system unless there is a significant change. With the introduction of Project Scorpio Microsoft aimed to create a system that would be one of the most powerful. With boasted true 4k gaming Microsoft’s current console, the Xbox One X, has the most powerful processor to date. As well as this they have made their newest console backwards compatible all the way to the original Xbox. Their mission is to make console gaming comparable if not better than computers.

PlayStation’s main focus is a little more different than Xbox’s, where Xbox focuses more on graphics, PlayStation focuses on content. Overall both consoles have good exclusive games, but PlayStation can brag about having a higher percentage of high reviews on their games. Sony’s newest upgrade to the PS4 is the PS4 Pro. This console says it has a 4k experience, but in all actuality it uses a process called supersampling . This process can lower the frame rate of a game, which is very bad when dealing with games that require quick responses. However, Sony’s PlayStation VR is one of the leading headsets in terms of gaming graphics. So much so that they have said they don’t want to advance any farther than they are now, so as to not scare away future competition. When asked about the future of VR in their consoles, Microsoft simply shrugged off the question and instead pointed out their new features of game sharing and backwards compatibility. Unfortunately, PlayStation is more focused on the future of gaming, so they will not be incorporating backwards compatibility.

One problem suggested with the speed of advancements in gaming technology today is that by the time a console is finished, it will already be outdated. A good point to bring up is how Sony released the PS4 pro with already next level graphics, only to be outdone by Microsoft the next year. To combat this both companies can be seen talking about producing consoles faster, or with better gear. The latter will make consoles more expensive and the former will make consoles less worth purchasing.

-Roberto Estrella

Worth the Wait? The Problem of First Day Glitches

As many of you have experienced, you buy a new device or download a new software update on the first day it releases. Well when you do that, there are bound to be some glitches with the software. This is what I call “First Day Glitches.” Many companies have this problem including some of the best companies out there. Whether it be Apple, Nintendo, or even Microsoft, it’s basically inevitable.

glitchesFirst let’s start out with Apple and their recent update iOS 11 that launched on September 18th, 2017. This is exactly one week after the iPhone 8 and iPhone X launch. On the first day, many users were experiencing issues. One of those issues was with the iPad, with graphics that were completely out of whack. The user would unlock the screen, and right away the bar that includes all of your favorite apps would be in the middle of the screen. This made it impossible to get to some of your apps that were underneath that bar. Another problem users ran into was with Apple Pay. Some people reported that Apple Pay would not work, or would completely crash when they tried to use it.

With this new update, Apple added a new feature that records your screen while you use it. Although this was a good idea on Apple’s end, it didn’t have the greatest first impression. Users would start recording and their iPhone would freeze or wouldn’t record audio like it was supposed to. The only way to unfreeze your phone was restarting it.

Apple isn’t the only company to have these kinds of problems. Nintendo had had a couple of pretty big issues when they first launched new products. One of those issues was with the JoyCon controllers not being able to connect to the screen when in portable mode. This raised many red flags because it is one of the key points for the switch being both portable like a GameBoy or stationary like a console. The other major issue with the Switch was that the screen would glitch to the point of not being able to see your game or control it at all. This video shows the extent of problems that it caused for many people.

The last company is Microsoft, and they problems they encountered with their launch of the Xbox One. On the first day, Microsoft released their “Day One edition” of the console which had some problems of its own. The “Green Screen of Death” was the biggest issue among them all. On the first startup of the console, the screen would freeze on the screen shown below. Many people got lucky and just unplugged their console and restarted it but some people had to send it back to Microsoft to get fixed. Gamers that also played on the Xbox 360 compared this to the “Red Ring of Death” which cost Microsoft nearly $1 Billion.

glitchesMany other Microsoft gamers complained about the optical disc drive either not reading discs or making a crunching noise when the disc was inserted. Along with that, the download times of games was very slow, but the explanation for this is based on how large the game files are in order to provide such high-quality graphics. The higher the graphic quality, the bigger the file will be. This is one of those times you have to decide what you would rather have. Quality graphics and slow download time? Or Bad graphics and fast download time? Read more here.

Overall, these companies are great companies even with their flaws, and it is impossible to be perfect. These examples are why I always wait a few days or a few weeks until getting that new device or downloading that new software. If you wait most of the major bugs and glitches will be taken care of.

Here are a few questions to think about. Are you one of the many that have to have the newest thing right away? Or do you wait?

If you were involved with one of these companies, what would you recommend doing differently to make the first day go smoother?

And what are some other examples that you have bought or downloaded something on the first day it released that had some glitches like these?

Brett Olson

Creativity in Action: Marketing Rise of the Tomb Raider

In 2013 “a survivor was born” when Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix released Tomb Raider, a complete reboot to an already beloved series. The game met with incredible success and news of a sequel. Rise of the Tomb Raider was announced and fans were excited everywhere.

Tomb RaiderThat was until it was announced that Rise was going to be an Xbox One “timed exclusive”, which meant that for the first year of release, Rise was only available to the Xbox. This was met with an overwhelming amount of criticism. So how was Microsoft and Crystal Dynamics going to sell the game? With a really cool marketing campaign.

Tomb RaiderWe’ll start with the Survival Billboard. This was a challenge that was held in London, the home city of Lara Croft, and sponsored by Microsoft in an attempt to promote the game. The challenge sounded simple, eight contestants stood on a billboard. The contestants had to remain on the billboard for as long as they could while facing harsh weather conditions such as cold rain, strong wind, freezing snow and intense heat.

The event was live streamed via Twitch, an internet live streaming service, and played ads for the upcoming video game within the breaks of streaming. Microsoft also launched a website that viewers could go to. The website allowed viewers to choose what weather condition the contestants would have to deal with next. What is incredible is that the event lasted 20 hours and 45 minutes before there was only one contestant left standing. This marketing stunt won Microsoft several Cannes Lions and left one contestant with some hypothermia. The Cannes Lion is an award for those in advertising and communications.

The next bit of advertising that Microsoft threw together was “Escape from Siberia”. In “Escape” four fairly popular YouTube personalities were tasked with surviving the elements for 48 hours. The YouTubers had to complete “obstacles” such as camping, which I guess is an obstacle? Ziplining, rock climbing and archer. The vlogs were uploaded to the “Xbox On” YouTube channel as well as each of the individual YouTube channels.

Now we will head over to “The Climb”, which was aired in 2015 on Comedy Central. The commercial was a cross promotional event with the stars from the show Broad City, in which they are trying to climb up scaffolding while mixing in gameplay for Rise makes for a really funny commercial.

Something that this marketing campaign did that I thought was really cool was it tried to reach the female gaming community, as well as just females in general. If you haven’t watched Broad City, 1. You should and 2. You need to know it has a large female audience.

Another thing that Microsoft and Crystal Dynamics did was to hire Karen O, the frontwoman for the band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Karen wrote the song and performed it for a music video that featured Lara Croft fighting and overcoming challenges from the video game, the song is called “I Shall Rise” The video was uploaded to the “Xbox On” YouTube channel on November 12th 2015. As I was saying this campaign tried to reach a larger female audience than most games do in general. However, I do not know whether or not Rise of the Tomb Raider was successful in gaining a female audience.

Now with any marketing campaign you have to have a presence on social media, and this game had just that. “Lara Croft’s Adventures” was the name given to the Instagram promotions that included several accounts which all linked together. One account was the Tomb Raider Journals in which several pictures are displayed with notes written by Lara to provide context on her current journey.

The next Instagram account was called Tomb Raider Research in which it showed Lara’s “virtual bulletin board, the account had photos, newspaper clippings, artifacts and notes and like the other account all were used to help provide context.

Tomb Raider

With all of these avenues of advertisement at their fingertips, was Microsoft successful? Yes and no, and here is why. It is true from a marketing standpoint that this campaign was brilliant and fun, in fact it won the Game Marketing Awards: “Outstanding Overall Marketing Campaign 2016”. It is true that the game was the highest selling Xbox One game during the week of Christmas 2015 and by the end of 2015 the game had sold over 1 million copies. So, it’s not like the company lost money. But the downfall comes from the fact that it was a timed exclusive for one year and on one console. Because when the game was released for the other systems such as PC, the game sold three times the amount in its first month of release.       

I guess in the end the game was a success, even for the Xbox, just not as much sales as they had projected. Crystal Dynamics is already developing a third entry for the rebooted series. Maybe they will think about pairing up with Microsoft again, or Sony, or neither and just release the game to all platforms.

So, what are your thoughts on the rebooted Tomb Raider series? Should Crystal Dynamics partner with a company like Microsoft again or not? Comment below! Peace out homies.

Nick Mussehl

Double Jump: Xbox and Backwards Compatible Gaming Consoles

Backwards compatibility is a huge thing in the gaming industry. Microsoft knows this, and that is why they start working on it after they get all of the bugs out of the software. They are now talking about doing something that has never been done before, and that is making Original Xbox games compatible with the Xbox One. That is jumping backwards two systems, what I like to call “Double Jump.”

Xbox engineering boss Mike Ybarra says, “We’re not looking at original Xbox games on Xbox One yet. Right now the focus is making more Xbox 360 games work. It would be certainly very challenging. Getting Xbox 360 games to work was incredibly challenging and really a multi-year engineering investment. Going all the way back to the original certainly would challenge the team.”

xboxMicrosoft would be the perfect company to try this. All of the Xbox consoles are basically PC’s with basic software. All of the engineers know this software by heart; this is what they are known for. They have already made the Original Xbox games backwards compatible to the Xbox 360 and the Xbox 360 games to the Xbox One, which they are currently working on now. So they know the software in all three and what they had to do for the “Single jump,” now they just need to combine it somehow and figure it out.

If Microsoft did this, they would have another thing over Sony in their PlayStation vs. Xbox rivalry. PlayStation devices have such a complicated software that it is nearly impossible to make any of their games compatible with previous systems. The only thing PlayStation has done is created a gaming streaming service called PlayStation Now. The only issue with this is that the service is an extra $19.99 per month or $44.99 for a three-month package. This service only includes PS3 games as of right now, but this is the best thing they can do because of their software.

When Xbox made the Xbox 360 backwards compatible, it went very well and now that they are doing the Xbox One, the sales for the older games have gone up tremendously. When Microsoft announced that Call of Duty: Black Ops 1 was being added to the list of backwards compatible games, the sales for the game on Amazon went up 13,600%. This made it to second in the list of Amazon’s hourly charts right under Doom which was just recently released. Backwards compatibility brings the old games back to the market instead of just sitting on a shelf collecting dust.

Some people might ask, “Why not just remaster the game?” Well for one making a game in the first place is very expensive. In 1999, Crash Team Racing cost the production company $2.4 Million for development; now games cost way more. Destiny in 2012 cost $140 Million, so honestly with today’s technology and expectations from fans, it would not be worth it when they can just copy the software from the old system.

Another reason is that it takes a lot of time and manpower that could be being used for new games. Grand Theft Auto IV took four years to produce. They started in November of 2004, and the game was finally released in 2008, plus that is with about 150 people on the development team.

xboxAll in all, if Microsoft ever does this, people will go crazy. As I mentioned before, this would be the first time that this has ever been done. Microsoft can do it, they know all of the software and have the brains to do it. The old games would come out of hibernation and start making a little money again.

Brett Olson

Gaming Your Emotions: Life is Strange and the Graphic Adventure Genre

I have always been far more intrigued by emotional appeal and the effects of good storytelling than by explosions, violence, or action. Perhaps that is why I was never a big gamer growing up. Now, before you eviscerate me in the comments, I am FULLY aware that games are much more than the three things I listed above, but what I am saying is this: in entertainment, I was looking for emotional appeal, and I got that mostly from movies.

All of that changed this past August, however, when I played a game called Life is Strange.

Life is Strange is an episodic Graphic Adventure game by a small production company called Dontnod Entertainment. The game revolves around a high school senior named Maxine (Max) Caulfield, who suddenly discovers she has the ability to ‘rewind’ time and alter the events of the past. The vast majority of the game is spent making decisions for Max which will ultimately affect events that occur later in the game (a staple of the Graphic Adventure genre).

I won’t go into the details of the story from there (you should play it for yourself!), but suffice it to say, I was hooked. I played the entire 14-hour story, all five episodes, in about three days. I never game that way. I was a recluse, sealed away in my dark basement with cans of 7Up piled around me, wearing PJs and headphones and only leaving to eat and (occasionally) socialize. But my time as a hermit got me thinking: why did this particular game affect me so much? And did it have the same effect on others?

I had to investigate.

life-is-strange

After finishing the game and wiping literal tears from my eyes (seriously, it’s great, play it), I took to Google to see if other people shared my experience. The results, it turned out, were astonishing. Of course, not everyone shared my experience, but it seemed like quite a few people, more than one might think, were deeply and truly affected by this game.

But, as amazing as Life is Strange is, why is it not the explosive hit that so many lesser other titles are? Shouldn’t everyone want to play this incredible, life-altering game?

The issue lies in the type of game that Life is Strange is. Graphic Adventure games lack much of what the general public wants from video games: they are lengthy, they lack action, they are dialogue and cut-scene driven, and they tend to tug at the heart strings more than the adrenal glands. They are, in many ways, video games’ answer to weird, arthouse cinema (which, incidentally, happens to be my favorite kind of cinema…). But is that a model that can still be profitable?

For the developers, yes. For the gaming industry as a whole? Of course not.

According to an article published on mcv.com, Life is Strange sold more than 1.2 million copies worldwide. This is a fantastic achievement for a little-known indie game from an even lesser known developer. But that achievement can seem minimal when compared to the successes of genre-giant Telltale Games, whose Graphic Adventure adaptations of The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and The Wolf Among Us have enjoyed massive critical acclaim and financial gains.

the walking dead promo art

But there is always another perspective. Yes, Telltale achieved a huge victory with The Walking Dead, their most successful game, selling around 8.5 million copies and bringing in more than $40 million. However, the newest Call of Duty game sold 21 million copies and brought in $840 million. So while The Walking Dead was a huge victory for Telltale, it barely ranked in the greater gaming industry. That is not necessarily a bad thing, however. As long as these games keep making money for their developers, we will keep seeing them.

What it does mean, though, is that these games aren’t going to be the huge hits we want them to be quite yet. Graphic Adventures are amazing, and people should play them, but they haven’t quite reached ‘water-cooler conversation’ status. We have a tendency to believe that, when something is really good, people should just naturally flock to that thing (we can call that the Netflix phenomena). But that’s not how pop-culture works. You need staying power, you need big money behind you, and you need a solid reputation. Telltales’ reputation is solid, yes, but it’s being shaken more and more as Telltale wades into the mainstream.

Like I said, none of this even remotely spells doom for Telltale or any other Graphic Adventure developer, but perhaps we should reign in our expectations just a tad.

So enjoy your trips to Arcadia Bay, fight your way through the hordes of Walkers, and brace yourself (winter is coming). After all, maybe we shouldn’t be so anxious for these games to explode into popularity. Graphic Adventure games are, after all, about you. Your experience, your adventures, and your emotions.

What you decide to do with that experience after the game is over, is entirely up to you.

Carrsan T. Morrissey

Hololens: Microsoft’s next “Big Thing”

On January 21st, at the Windows 10: The Next Generation event Microsoft unveiled their latest product, the Hololens. The Hololens is essentially smart glasses with a Windows 10 computer built in to let the user have control of their surroundings through holograms. This product has been recently compared to Google Glass, which was released a couple years ago. Although it is easy to compare the two, there are many differences.

Microsoft-HoloLensWith the Microsoft Hololens the user can have images portrayed in front of them, while the Google Glass was just what you saw in front of you, nothing new. The Harvard Business Review discussed what really sets Hololens apart from Google Glass with James McQuivey of Forrester, an independent digital market research firm.

In several YouTube advertisements on their channel, Microsoft showed consumers what they can expect from this product. In the first advertisement called “Transform your world with Holograms” Microsoft brought the viewer into their world of holograms and how they can be applied to businesses as well as your everyday life. In one example the demonstrator had a 3D figure of a dirt bike and showed her co-workers some ideas she had about where to fit the gas tank. Microsoft is really taking the idea of 3D imaging and holograms to a new level.

In another YouTube advertisement Microsoft sat down with part of the team that helped create the Hololens and asked them about their creative process and what they thought about the future of holograms. I really enjoyed this specific ad because you could tell the team was genuinely proud of what they had accomplished and were excited about what this technology had in store for the future.

With Microsoft being primarily in the software side of technology, except for the hugely popular Xbox franchise, it came as a bit of a surprise that they were taking such a huge leap into this type of technology. With Google leading in this technology it is interesting to see Microsoft developing such a cool and innovative product. MGD Advertising out of Florida discussed how Microsoft is rising in the technology race while it seems Google is declining.

I see what they are trying to say in this piece. With Google Glass pulling the plug on the production of the first Google Glass (though confirming there will be a second version), this is Microsoft’s chance to rise up and try to take the crown that Google has had such a hold on.

hololens interactionOf course there are people who do not think this makes Microsoft a formidable company in the hardware tech sector. While it is fair to say that Microsoft has had their bad ideas and flops in the past, I feel like this product is something that can really bring them to a whole new level of supremacy. The Hololens seems like a product that will stick around long enough for the public to really understand what holograms can do to help them improve doing tasks in their lives. Microsoft’s advertisements give the user a glimpse into the relatively unknown world of holograms and what they can do to help them in their everyday lives.

A few questions: What do you think the future of Hololens is? Do you think this is a product that has staying power and could be a major change to the technology landscape? Is Microsoft the company that is going to break through with hologram technology?

Brice Berger

An “Invitation” to the XBOX One

On November 22, 2013 Microsoft released the XBOX One. The release of a next generation console is a hard transition for gamers and hard to sell because people are hesitant to purchase it because they are unsure of what the aspects are or what other console systems will become available that year. Microsoft decided to create an interesting way to advertise and invite players into the world of the next generation system the XBOX One.

xboxoneOne month before launch, on October 25, Microsoft released a T.V. advertisement that they called “The Invitation.” In the ad there were several appearances of characters that would be featured in the games that would be dropping with the XBOX One. These games include Ryse son of Rome, Titanfall, Forza, and Dead Rising 3. The games released initially with the console were exclusive to the XBOX One. Throughout the advertisement game characters motion towards people, inviting them into the world of the XBOX One.

The advertisement was extremely clever in finding a creative and innovative way to get people interested in a next generation system. The commercial invites people of all ages and occupations to get a XBOX One and become immersed. The opening scene of the commercial is set in a business meeting, indicating that even middle-aged businessmen can enjoy the XBOX.

At the time of launch, the big question for gamers was whether to buy the XBOX One or the PlayStation 4, and right before the holiday season it was an even bigger question for parents. The XBOX One and the PlayStation 4 were both released right before the 2013 holiday season. The Playstation 4 sold 4.2 million units in 2013 compared to the XBOX One, which sold 3 million units.

Microsoft decided to gear up for 2014 by releasing another Commercial for the XBOX One. The second ad was similar to the invitation commercial, but they also create a way to make the next generation system feel more realistic. The commercial featured the XBOX One exclusive game Ryse son of Rome.

The key line in this commercial is “if it was any more real, it would be real.” Microsoft is trying to present the next generation system as a system that is as real as real life. Throughout the commercial the man gets cuts on his body and whenever he gets a cut the commercial flashes to action scenes in the game. At the end of the commercial they show a scene of the game where a Roman soldier is putting on his helmet, and the guy in the mirror gets pumped and then returns back to game. Microsoft is appealing to people who are uncertain about the XBOX One by claiming that it is incredibly realistic because it is a next generation system.

XBOX One sales did not increase until they dropped the price. People were clearly interested in the XBOX One by their creative campaign, but the price was apparently an issue for many consumers.

Daniel Hampe

XBox One or PS4—What Do Gamers Really Want?

Okay, so here’s the thing, I’ve done some research in hopes of finding out what you guys really want. As a gamer myself, I know exactly what I want. I’d like to keep the console I have instead of getting a new one.

I guess I should explain exactly what I am talking about before I jump ahead of myself.

The Microsoft Xbox One will launch on November 22nd, 2013, and Sony has set the launch date for PS4 on November 15th, 2013.

PS4Most of you awesome gamers already knew the release dates. But for my non-gamers, I have to keep those guys informed too.

Let me share with you my situation. I just purchased my very own PS3 in early 2011, even though the original console came out five years. Though I am more of a PlayStation guy, I am not ruling out the concerns of Xbox users.

Now that the PS4 and Xbox One are soon to come out, I’ll be honest—I feel that I don’t need to upgrade just yet. As a matter of fact, I think it’ll be a few more years before I even think about buying a PS4.

How many of you are in my shoes? And if you are, how many of you are planning on getting one (or both!) of the new consoles anyway? Are any of you just going to sit back and chill out for a while, before purchasing the new game consoles?

And for the gamers that bought their consoles early on, do you all feel ready to purchase the new generation consoles?

As part of my research, I looked up the exclusive launch games for each console. Here is a link to the most updated exclusive release list for Xbox One, and this is the list for PS4.

After watching an exclusive gameplay look for Xbox One Dying Light, I have to admit that it looks like it’s going to be pretty sick, and should generate a good amount of sales on its release date.

Of course, I cannot forget my Sony people. Here is some gameplay for a few PS4 exclusives. Four games to be exact, except that you may choose which game to observe. The games are Final Fantasy, inFAMOUS, Watchdogs, and Killzone.

XBOX OneEach of the consoles seems to have a pretty decent line up of exclusives, though they won’t all be launched on their respective console’s launch dates. There will be new releases during the upcoming year, but according to the amazing ign.com Microsoft claims to have fifteen Xbox One exclusive games in its first year and, to my surprise, there will be twenty exclusives for the PS4!

Now the prices for these new consoles range from $500 to $600, and some even reach to about $700 (OUCH!) if you want all the perks.

Some last issues that I wanted to point out about the consoles:

  • Neither console offers backwards compatibility (boo!)
  • Xbox One now has Blu-Ray (yay!)
  • As you can see they’re pretty pricey (boo!)
  • You will need Xbox Live for Xbox One (grrr!)

Okay, gamers, with that last bit of info what are your overall thoughts? Is getting the new consoles worth it at the moment, or are you planning on buying them at a later date?

Phillip Bowie