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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bungie releases Halo 3 Halloween Special

Halo 3 introduces Zombie gameplay mode! - Image 1Ready for a change? In the good ol' Halloween spirit, Bungie Studios has introduced a new gametype into Halo 3, resulting in a 27-hour zombie gaming run as players try out the area.

The game type itself is called Infection, and it's got zombies galore! What is Infection? Well, here's how the folks at Bungie describes it:

In Infection, most players start off on a Human team, with one or more players starting off as Zombies. The odds are stacked heavily against the Zombies at first, but when a Human is killed by a Zombie (as they inevitably are), they join the Zombie team and turn on their former teammates.

They also note that there are three versions of the game available for people to try:
  • Save One Bullet - which is close to classical Infection but with limited ammunition which keeps the Humans from holding off the Zombies forever
  • Creeping Death - where the Zombies are a bit slower but shockingly invisible and deadly.
  • Creeping Rockets - is a third variant where the Humans are more heavily armed, but the Zombies are tougher too.
In any event, you guys are probably raring to check it out on your Halo 3 matchmakers, right? Feel free to do so! If you want more information on the event, you can check out here;

Q: Infection, what’s that?
Infection is this really great gametype, inspired by a custom game devised by our community in Halo 2, which we added official support for in Halo 3. In Infection, most players start off on a Human team, with one or more players starting off as Zombies. The odds are stacked heavily against the Zombies at first, but when a Human is killed by a Zombie (as they inevitably are), they join the Zombie team and turn on their former teammates.

Q: How long will the Living Dead haunt matchmaking?
Just for Halloween, from 12:01am to 3:00am the next morning, PST. We decided to let it go a bit late into the morning to give people a chance to play when they got home from their Halloween carousing. Infection is a lot of fun when everyone is into it, but we don’t think it would make a good playlist long term, so it’s going to come and go.
And if everyone has a good time, who knows? It may return, as the restless dead are known to do.

Q: Can I get achievements in this playlist?
Yes, it is set up as a Ranked Playlist, and players will have some good opportunities to pick up a few of the harder MP achievements without any of that pesky guilt. Fending off the hungry dead is as righteous a way as any to score an Overkill. It’s also a good chance to fill out your Ranked Medals with some of the Infection medals, like Infection Spree and Hell’s Janitor.

Q: Can I join with my homies or is this a Lone Wolves style hopper? And how many corpses will I play with?
You can join with a max party size of 4, Infection matches can start with eight players and the games have a player limit of 13. You cannot, however, join with Guests (multiple players on one box).

Q: There’s more than one version of Infection in this playlist, what is each version and how does it work?
We’re using two main versions: Save One Bullet, which is close to classical Infection but with limited ammunition which keeps the Humans from holding off the Zombies forever, and Creeping Death, where the Zombies are a bit slower but shockingly invisible and deadly. Creeping Rockets is a third variant where the Humans are more heavily armed, but the Zombies are tougher too.

Q: Do the maps in Living Dead have the same set-ups that I am used to?
The Living Dead playlist will be the first to use Forge variants in Matchmaking. Lars [Bakken] and Dan [Miller] pulled out all the stops and Forged some masterful variants featuring fortified positions and anti-Zombie booby traps to help get people into the Zombie mind (which is to say, wanting to get into a Human’s mind. Directly.)

Q: Man, I love these gametypes is there any way I can get them?
Any time you play one of these variants in Matchmaking, they’re saved in your Recent Games queue (in the Custom Games lobby, go to select the game type—the Recent Games list is at the top.) They may also show up in the Bungie Favorites this week.

Q: Will there be more special hoppers in the future?
You bet.

Don't worry though, the basic premise if you're a human is, of course, to kill everything out there without dying. Good luck!

Panasonic unveils DMP-BD30 "next-gen" Blu-ray player

Panasonic's new DMP-BD30 Blu-ray player serves up those HD discs extra fancy, being the first player to meet the requirements for BD-Video Final Standard Profile 1.1. That means a secondary video decoder for picture in picture (such as director's commentary), and an extra audio decoder for working in sound from that second source or from interactive features. Other features of the $500 player include Deep Color Compatibility, HDMI 1.3B, 1080 / 24p playback, and an SD card slot that can play back 1080p AVCHD video from SD cards. We're not exactly sure when the DMP-BD30 is hitting the streets, but it seems poised to steal the delayed Samsung BD-UP5000's thunder.

from Engadget HD

Toshiba's Vardia RD-A301 writes HD DVD content to DVDs

Is this what you've been waiting for? The ability to record high-definition, HD DVD content to DVDs? Well, have at it boy, Toshiba just announced their new Vardia RD-A301 recorder. It conforms to the HD Rec extension which allows HD DVD format content to be stored on red-laser DVD-R/RW/RAM disks like the RD-RX7 unveiled at CEATEC. That's about 2 hours on a 4.7GB disc. Like the RD-A300, the A301 also features a 300GB hard disk. December, that's when, for about ¥100,000 (about $870) in Japan.

from Engadget HD

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Transformers is Fastest selling DVD and HD-DVD this YEAR!

The Transformers phenom continues to roll out of control. When released last week the Transformers sold 4.5 million DVD's on it's first day and 100,000 HD-DVD's as well on day one. The DVD version finished with 8.3 million for the week and HD-DVD at 190,000 for the week. Both the DVD and HD-DVD numbers are impressive. The HD-DVD number is VERY impressive as this means that roughly 40% to 50% of the install base (includes Toshiba Stand-alone players and 360 HD-DVD add-on) purchased the movie.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Xbox 360 Tops Console Sales

Xbox 360 Tops Console Sales in September and outsells PS3 5:1

As the holiday season heats up, September 2007 is sure to go down in history as one for the record books. The launch of one of the greatest properties in entertainment history, “Halo 3” (Microsoft Game Studios), was largely responsible for driving the biggest month in US video game history with consumer spending on games reaching an all time high for 2007.

· NPD reported that in the US, Xbox 360 was the #1 console for the month; outselling PS3 5:1

o Xbox 360 sales built upon its growth from last month, showing a 50 percent increase for the month of September selling an average of 105,600 consoles per week. Total sales were more than 528,000 Xbox 360 consoles sold, compared to 501,000 for Wii and 119,000 for PS3.

o PS3 sales posted an average weekly decline of 27 percent.

· Xbox 360 software revenue at retail outsold PS3’s software portfolio 8:1 and Wii’s 4:1, selling 3 times more than both platforms combined.

o For the month of September according to NPD, Xbox 360 software represented 74 percent of total software sales for the next generation market compared to 17 percent for Wii and 9 percent for PS3. Even without the sales of “Halo 3” the Xbox 360 portfolio outsold the PS3 portfolio 2:1.

· Additionally, Xbox 360 is home to the best-selling games with the top-rated next-generation titles. According to the world-wide authority in entertainment reviews, Metacritic, Xbox 360 has 80 titles with a Metacritic review score of 80 or higher compared to just 31 for PS3 and 11 for Wii.

o Newly released title “The Orange Box” (Valve) and the highly anticipated title “Mass Effect” (Microsoft Game Studios) have both generated rankings of 97 and higher according to Metacritic. And not to forget “BioShock” (2KGames) which remains one of the year’s highest rated games.

In spite of the unprecedented success of “Halo 3,” Xbox 360 continued to drive third-party games sales across all platforms. PS3 and Wii had ZERO third party titles in the top ten console title list for the month, while Xbox 360 weighed in with 3. Since November, third party partners have seen their titles hit the top ten 27 times for Xbox 360, compared to 2 for PS3 and 1 for Wii.

Everyone knew “Halo 3” would be big -and it didn’t disappoint- but it wasn’t the only good news for the industry. For the month of September, according to the NPD Group data, Xbox 360 held six spots in the Top Ten Console Games. Led by initial sales of “Halo 3” Xbox 360 software is flying off the shelves. Below is a breakout of title sales from the September NPD data:

· In its first two weeks, the three editions of “Halo 3” placed #1, 2 and 3 overall for console title sales - for a total of more than $225 million in sales in the U.S. with 3.3 million units. Average unit prices were $69 per game. The $130 “Halo 3: Legendary Edition” alone sold twice as many units as the top title for PS3 “Heavenly Sword” (SCE); the helmet is mightier than the sword.

· Proving that Xbox 360 is the new home for sports gamers, “Madden NFL ‘08” (EA) on Xbox 360 was again the leading next gen platform with 173,000 units sold, compared to the PS3 at 62,000 and Wii at 58,000. To date, “Madden NFL ‘08” has sold 1.1 million units on Xbox 360, 87 percent more than other next-gen platforms combined.

· Xbox 360 exclusive "BioShock" has sold 641,000 units through the end of September and remains to be on track to sell more than 1 million units. While “Halo 3” and “Madden NFL ‘08” have led the way as the first of a string of titles that are expected to sell more than 1 million units between now and the end of the year.

o As we announced earlier this month Xbox 360 has an unprecedented lineup of titles expected to sell at least a million units worldwide, including new and upcoming releases such as “Call of Duty 4®: Modern Warfare™" (Activision), "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock" (RedOctane/Activision), "Mass Effect" (Microsoft Game Studios)

· Rounding out the top titles for Xbox 360, “Skate” (EA) came in at #6. The Xbox 360 version of the innovative titles outsold the PS3 version 6:1.

Gamers buy gaming consoles to play games, and Xbox 360 has the best lineup on the market. This, paired with the newly priced points of $349.99 (U.S.) for Xbox 360 and $449.99 (U.S.) for Xbox 360 Elite which includes the addition of two games with every console “Forza Motorsport 2” (Microsoft Game Studios) and “Marvel Ultimate Alliance” (Activision) for a retail savings of more than $100, provides gamers with an unmatched interactive entertainment experience.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Breaking: Bungie Split Confirmed


It's official: Microsoft has just announced that Bungie Studios will be embarking "on a path to become an independent company.

According to Bungie, the developer will become an independent company, but will retain a long-term publishing agreement with Microsoft Game Studios for future Halo titles.

Bungie has long been built on creativity, originality and the freedom to pursue ideas. Microsoft agreed, and rather than stifle our imagination, they decided it was in both our best interests to unleash it. We'll continue to make Xbox 360 games, and we'll continue to make amazing games for MGS. In that regard, nothing has changed. All that has changed is that now Bungie Studios is once again, the property of the folks of Bungie Studios. Microsoft is and will continue to be, a brilliant, inventive and creatively collaborative publishing partner. Practically speaking, nothing has changed and you guys won't see much, if any difference, for a while unless you come to work for us, that is - we're hiring at

Microsoft goes on to say equally innocuous stuff.

"Our collaboration with Bungie has resulted in 'Halo' becoming an enduring mainstream hit," said Shane Kim, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios. "While we are supporting Bungie's desire to return to its independent roots, we will continue to invest in our 'Halo' entertainment property with Bungie and other partners, such as Peter Jackson, on a new interactive series set in the 'Halo' universe. We look forward to great success with Bungie as our long-term relationship continues to evolve through 'Halo'-related titles and new IP created by Bungie."

From Kataku

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Today, Bill Gates, J Allard, and some other folks from the Zune team met with some members of the media to talk about this Holiday’s update to the Zune line. I’m going to keep the PR-ish stuff out of it (for that you can go to the press releases), and just sum up with the facts and the tech specs. Ready? okletsgo:

Zune Players:

This November, we’re launching new Zune players: Zune 4GB; Zune 8GB; Zune 80GB; and we’re continuing to sell Zune 30GB (the Zune we started selling last year). All of these devices will have wireless sync, updated wireless sharing, an FM tuner, and a bright LCD color screen to display music, pictures, videos and podcasts. Zune 4, 8, and 80 have a new design, and a touch sensitive button called the Zune Pad. The Zune Pad will let you browse through menus either by brushing or clicking. Some details:

  • Zune 4GB and Zune 8GB come with the Zune Pad, have a 1.8 inch screen, and will come in pink, red, green and black. Zune 4GB will retail for $149.99 and Zune 8GB will retail for $199.99.
    Dimensions of Zune 4GB and Zune 8GB: 3.6 x 1.62 x 0.33; Weight: 1.7oz
  • Zune 80GB has a 3.2 inch screen and comes with premium headphones, standard. It’s a high quality audio and video experience on the go. Zune 80GB will retail for $249.99
    • Dimensions of Zune 80GB: 4.26 x 2.41 x 0.51; Weight 4.5oz
      • Note that the 3.2 inch screen is 14% larger than Zune 30GB’s 3.0 inch screen, while Zune 80GB is 27% smaller than Zune 30GB
  • And we value and remember our early adopters: everyone who owns or buys a Zune 30GB will automatically get the new features through a firmware update – “firmware update 2.1.” Zune 30GB will continue to retail for 199.99
    • Dimensions of Zune 30GB: 4.43 x 2.47 x 0.65; Weight 5.6oz

And here’s the list of Zune features (IE, features that everyone will get with firmware update 2.1):

  • Wireless sync: wirelessly updates content on the device when it is within range of the PC with the Zune Collection on it, or on the same wireless network. You can start the sync manually or, when its plugged into AC power, Sync will automatically start after 1 minute of inactivity. This is so the battery doesn’t get drained by the automatic sync.
  • Expanded wireless send capabilities: you can now keep a track for three plays (we’ve taken any time restrictions out of the equation) you can also send a track you’ve been sent on to other Zune owners.
  • Lossless playback will be supported on every Zune
  • Podcasting – that is, automatic RSS based subscription to both audio and video podcasts via Zune Marketplace (more on ZMP below).
  • You’ll be able to sync your Vista Media Center TV content to your Zune and watch it on the go.
  • We’re still testing battery life on the new Zune 4GB, 8GB, and 80GB, but it’s looking good. Since we built them from the ground up, we have more control over battery performance.
  • Updated device UI (screenshots to follow)

Zune Software and Zune Marketplace:

We’ve redesigned both the Zune Software and Zune Marketplace from the ground up – check the screenshots below. Here’s what you can find in ZMP this holiday season:

  • Over 3 million tracks
  • Over 1 million DRM-free MP3s that you can play on your Zune or any other digital media player
    Thousands of music videos
  • Over 1,000 free audio and video podcasts
  • For about the price of a CD per month, you can buy a Zune Pass subscription to download whatever music you want for a flat rate.
  • PC to PC send: Zune users can send links imbedded with a song’s metadata from the inbox in their Zune
  • PC software to someone else. The recipient follows the link to sample, buy or download the song on Zune Marketplace.

Zune Social:

Something I’m really really excited about: we’re launching the Zune Social, an online community beta. It’s a place that gives folks a place to share their music tastes, knowledge and experiences with other folks. It extends the connection from device-device to PC-to-PC. Here are some details:

  • Zune Card: Anyone will be able to create a free, customizable Zune card. You can personalize your Zune Card with your picture, custom backgrounds, biographical info and more. Your card will automatically update with the music you listen to on your Zune or with your Zune software.
  • You can browse your friend’s pages, invite friends, send and receive song recommendations, and post comments to their profile pages.
  • You can browse your favorite artist’s pages to find other listeners with similar musical tastes.
  • Each song within the Zune Social will have a playable 30 second clip, and if you like the song, you can link directly into Zune Marketplace to buy the song (using Microsoft® points or on your Zune Pass).
  • You can check out Zune Social community-generated charts to see the most-played artists, songs and albums, or read comments and recommendations posted by other Zune community members on album and artist pages.
  • You’ll eventually be able to post your Zune card to mainstream social networking sites Wherever your Zune card is located, it will automatically update with the music you’re currently playing.

And we have a new line of accessories – for details on that, check the page on

Ok! Thoughts? Questions? Drop a comment.

from Zune Insider