At last year’s E3, Microsoft introduced the world to Kinect, which went on to become the fastest-selling electronic device in history. With Monday’s rapid-fire game and entertainment announcements, Microsoft aims to demonstrate that Xbox is continuing the momentum of a record-breaking year, says Molly O’Donnell, Xbox 360 director of marketing integration.
“While 2010 was the biggest year in Xbox history, 2011 is actually set to be the biggest year for the business – the biggest for games, the biggest for Xbox LIVE entertainment, the biggest for sales, the biggest for our installed base,” O’Donnell says. “We are just going gangbusters with the next generation of games and transformative entertainment experiences. The wind is at our backs, and the stakes are high.”
Though Microsoft doesn’t have a singular star like last year’s Kinect to showcase at E3, the so-called Super Bowl of the electronic entertainment industry, O’Donnell says the company will show competitors, the media and fans that Xbox 360 “has a deep bench.”
“It’s not just winning the Super Bowl,” O’Donnell says. “A great team looks to the future and builds franchises, not just one-hit wonders. We’re going showcase the fun that Xbox 360 is delivering this holiday and paint a vision of what the future will look like.
Fans got glimpses of two new games from perhaps the most beloved Xbox 360 game franchise, Halo, O’Donnell says. In addition to celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Xbox console with the release of a re-mastered version of “Halo Combat Evolved,” Microsoft announced that fans can expect to see Halo 4 in holiday 2012.
“We have the best games for everyone, including the biggest blockbusters, and the next generation of games and experiences that explore the full magic of Kinect,” O’Donnell says.
Microsoft also announced the next wave of titles coming for controller-free Kinect as well as a few traditional controller games that have enhancements available for consumers who have a Kinect sensor.
“After the success of Kinect, we’re working with the top pop culture brands, including Disney, Star Wars, and Sesame Street, to bring more and more content to Kinect,” O’Donnell says."Kinect: Disneyland Adventures" enables Disney fans of all ages to explore Disneyland park, step into adventures based on attractions, engage in challenging quests and interact with beloved Disney characters.
Many of the new Kinect games are for families and kids of all ages, including a game from Disney in which players will be able to high-five Mickey Mouse or fly with Peter Pan and Wendy, as well as the game “Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster.” For the bigger kids and everyone else, “Ryse” will bring the gritty experience of ancient Rome to life, and – thanks to Kinect’s full-body recognition capabilities – a Star Wars game will allow players to physically train as a Jedi.
Kinect fans also will experience sequels to some of the most popular release titles, including follow ups to “Dance Central” and “Kinect Sports.” “Dance Central 2” will enable two dancers to break it down at the same time, allowing them to go head-to-head with a catalogue of more than 100 songs. “Kinect Sports: Season Two” includes six new activities – skiing, American football, darts, golf, baseball and tennis.
A few new games, such as “Forza Motorsport 4,” will still be played on the traditional Xbox controller, but will get a turbocharge from Kinect’s head-tracking features, O’Donnell says. That means players will be able to do things such as move their head to check their mirror to check out who is hot on their tail. Games such as “Ghost Recon Future Soldier” and “Mass Effect 3” will also be enhanced by Kinect. Also, Ubisoft announced that all future Tom Clancy games will take advantage of Kinect.
EA SPORTS also announced Kinect support for several of its blockbuster titles in 2012, including “Tiger Woods PGA TOUR,” “Madden NFL,” and “FIFA.” In the next 12 months, EA also has several additional titles that will feature Kinect, including “The Sims 3 Pets,” “Family Game Night 4,” and what is sure to be one of the biggest games of 2012, “Mass Effect 3.”
Over the last two years, Microsoft has joined with some of the world’s largest TV operators to bring live television to Xbox LIVE in the United Kingdom with Sky TV, in France with Canal+, and in Australia with FOXTEL. At E3 Microsoft announced its commitment to expand access to live television programming on Xbox to more providers in the United States and around the world during the upcoming year. Consumers will enjoy news, sports and their favorite local channels, all just a voice command away on their Xbox.
Microsoft also announced that Netflix, Hulu+, and ESPN would be joined by UFC on Xbox LIVE. “To have all of that on Xbox 360 is a huge step,” O’Donnell says.
All the new content means there always will be something to do or watch, which could make finding content quickly a challenge, O’Donnell says. “This is why Microsoft is introducing voice search with Bing on Xbox.”
Bing on Xbox will search Netflix, Hulu+, ESPN, as well as music, video and Xbox LIVE marketplaces. The goal is to find the exact entertainment the customer is looking for. With Bing on Xbox and Kinect, consumers can use their voices to find the specific games, movies, TV shows, sports and music they are looking for. “It’s exciting to see how different Microsoft teams – Bing, Tellme and Xbox – worked together on this to deliver an experience, voice search, that consumers will love,” O’Donnell says. “If you say it, Xbox finds it.”
Put another way, Xbox’s voice capabilities are getting much more sophisticated.
“Last year with Kinect, you could say, ‘Xbox, play’ to start a movie or music, but we thought we’d take the power of voice to the next level,” O’Donnell says. “With voice search, you can say ‘Xbox, Bing, Harry Potter,’ and your Xbox will find all the Harry Potter content available to you on Xbox LIVE, whether it’s a game, a movie, or a soundtrack.”
Voice search with Bing on Xbox will become available this holiday season, as part of the Xbox LIVE update.
“Between Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, Zune, and more, we offer a lot of content and that trend is not ending,” O’Donnell says. “You could use your controller to find things, or use your hand, but what’s easier than you saying it and Xbox finding it? It’s making technology relevant and useful, and it’s awesome to be able to use technology that our wonderful decision engine Bing has already developed.”
Taking all of the offerings and franchises from Xbox's first decade, add to that the success of controller-free Kinect and a burgeoning entertainment portfolio, and Xbox 360 is evolving into an all-in-one hub for the living room, O’Donnell says.
She adds that success didn’t come overnight for the Xbox in its first decade, and she would know – she’s been there for nine of those years. “But the transformation, from where I sit, has been amazing. It’s been hard, and it’s been methodical, and we have gone from, ‘number who?’ to ‘No. 2,’” she says.
Then, this year the Xbox 360 became the No. 1 selling gaming console in North America.
“Next year will be even bigger; our goal is to become the leading console in the world,” O’Donnell says. “It’s a seminal moment.”
Fans were also treated to a preview of the Kinect-powered historical epic, “Ryse,” created by acclaimed developer Crytek GmbH. Finally, Microsoft revealed that this winter, “Minecraft,” the independent PC game phenomenon, is making its console debut exclusively on Xbox 360.
In 2010, the controller-free magic and instant fun of Kinect for Xbox 360 captivated consumers all over the world, making it the fastest-selling consumer electronics device in history. This year, millions of Kinect owners will use their entire body to experience the world’s most iconic entertainment brands through “Kinect: Disneyland Adventures,” “Kinect Star Wars” and “Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster.” Fans will also get their bodies in motion while playing the successors to the platform’s best-selling titles, “Dance Central 2” and “Kinect Sports: Season Two.”
In addition, Kinect Fun Labs, a new hub showcasing the latest Kinect innovations, was unveiled and is available to all Xbox LIVE members starting today. Create magical moments with never before seen Kinect technology, including player capture, object scanning and finger tracking. Kinect Fun Labs will launch with four Gadgets: Kinect Me, Bobble Head, Build A Buddy and Kinect Googly Eyes. More experiences will begin arriving in July, including Avatar Kinect and Kinect Sparkler.
The industry’s best creators and publishers demonstrated their commitment to immerse Xbox fans even deeper in the action. On Microsoft’s E3 stage, Ubisoft announced that all future Tom Clancy games will be Kinect-enhanced including “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier.” Microsoft further delighted audiences with the first public demonstration of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” and reminded them that in 2011 and again in 2012, all “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” add-on content will launch first on Xbox 360.
EA SPORTS announced Kinect support for several of its blockbuster titles in 2012, including “Tiger Woods PGA TOUR,” “Madden NFL” and “FIFA.” In the next 12 months, EA also has several additional titles that will feature Kinect, including “The Sims™ 3 Pets,” “Family Game Night 4” and what is sure to be one of the biggest games of 2012, “Mass Effect 3.”
“For Xbox, games have always been at the heart of who we are: the world’s biggest blockbusters, enduring stories from the world’s best storytellers and innovative entertainment experiences that you can’t find anywhere else,” said Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios. “Whether it’s Kinect games like ‘Kinect Star Wars’ and ‘Kinect: Disneyland Adventures,’ or the latest installments of our most acclaimed and anticipated exclusive franchises like ‘Gears of War 3’ and ‘Halo 4,’ our existing fans, and new ones alike, will find something here to delight them and their families.”
In addition to all the best titles on Xbox 360, Microsoft also announced new blockbuster entertainment, teaming up with UFC. Starting this fall, Xbox LIVE Gold Members can subscribe to UFC to access live pay-per-view matches, classic fights, interviews and exclusive behind-the-scenes looks into the lives of the world’s greatest fighters; it’s access to the octagon in an all-new interactive way.
With games and entertainment for every member of the household, Xbox 360 continues to bring the best in interactive entertainment to living rooms around the world with the following:
- • “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” (Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games). The best-selling first-person action series of all time returns with the epic sequel to the record-setting, blockbuster phenomenon “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.”
- “Dance Central 2” (Harmonix Music Systems Inc., Microsoft Studios). Following up to the best-selling dance game for Kinect, Harmonix expands the full-body dance game universe with “Dance Central 2,” which provides new multiplayer experiences and all-new routines set to an unstoppable soundtrack, featuring Usher, Rihanna, La Roux, Nicki Minaj, Montell Jordan and more. Meet the crews and dance collaboratively with friends in Perform It! or challenge them to a simultaneous head-to-head Dance Battle to determine dance floor supremacy.
- “Fable: The Journey” (Lionhead Studios, Microsoft Studios). Set five years after the events of “Fable III,” “Journey” takes you on a magical journey with only your loyal horse at your reins, Theresa, the mysterious seer of “Fable III,” by your side, and a malevolent evil to defeat before it claims all of Albion. With the power of Kinect for Xbox 360, craft and control magic in a way that can’t be done with a controller. “Fable: The Journey” draws players deep into the action and adventure of the “Fable” franchise like never before.
- “Forza Motorsport 4” (Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft Studios). The highest-rated racing franchise of this generation returns, delivering the most expansive and vividly realistic automotive experience across any console. With genre-defining controller-based racing, game-changing Kinect experiences, such as head tracking, and new social features that connect players in ways no other racing game can, “Forza Motorsport 4” is transforming the racing category.
- “Gears of War 3” (Epic Games, Microsoft Studios). “Gears of War 3” wraps up the ambitious trilogy starring Marcus Fenix and Delta Squad. With civilization in ruins, Delta Squad must wage brutal war on two fronts in order to save their world. “Gears of War 3” continues to innovate with new multiplayer experiences on Xbox LIVE,* including the genre-defining cooperative campaign mode and the return of five-player Horde mode. Surpassing more than 1 million copies pre-sold to date, “Gears of War 3” hits store shelves on Sept. 20, 2011, worldwide, except for Japan, where copies go on sale Sept. 22, 2011.
- “Halo 4” (343 Industries, Microsoft Studios). “Halo 4” is the next blockbuster installment in the iconic franchise that’s shaped entertainment history and defined a decade of gaming. Set in the aftermath of “Halo 3,” Master Chief returns to confront his own destiny and face an ancient evil that threatens the fate of the entire universe. A new trilogy begins when “Halo 4” releases in 2012.
- “Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary” (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios, Saber Interactive, Certain Affinity). Created in celebration of the 10th anniversary of one of the most beloved franchises in gaming history, “Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary” is a spectacularly re-mastered version of the original “Halo” campaign, bundled with some of the most beloved multiplayer maps in “Halo” history reimagined for Xbox LIVE.* Releasing only on Xbox 360 on Nov. 15, 2011, “Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary” will include a bounty of new features, including cooperative play over Xbox LIVE, new challenges and new fiction to uncover.
- “Kinect Sports: Season Two” (Rare, Big Park Games, Microsoft Studios). The sequel to last year’s No. 1 hit for Kinect is back with more full-body action, featuring six new sports: American football, golf, baseball, winter skiing, darts and tennis. Whether you want to go for a hole-in-one in golf, throw a Hail Mary touchdown pass in American football or compete against a friend during a few sets of tennis, “Kinect Sports: Season Two” has something to appeal to everyone.
- “Kinect Star Wars” (Terminal Reality, LucasArts/Microsoft Studios). Drawing on iconic action from many of the “Star Wars” major motion pictures, “Kinect Star Wars” allows to you to physically experience training and battling as a Jedi, using the Force and battling with a lightsaber like never before, thanks to the full-body recognition of Kinect.
- “Kinect: Disneyland Adventures” (Frontier Developments Ltd., Microsoft Studios). This holiday, Disney Interactive Studios and Kinect for Xbox 360 invite you to take a journey where stories come to life and dreams come true — right in your living room. With “Kinect: Disneyland Adventures,” the first title coming out of a licensing agreement between Microsoft Studios and Disney Interactive Studios, children, parents and Disney fans can explore Disneyland park — from Main Street U.S.A. to Critter Country — joining Peter Pan to battle Captain Hook, high-fiving Mickey Mouse or hugging Snow White using their full bodies and voices, no controller required.
- “Mass Effect 3” (BioWare, Electronic Arts). The galactic war has begun. An ancient alien race known only as the “Reapers” has launched an all-out invasion of the galaxy, leaving nothing but a trail of destruction in their wake. Earth has been taken, the universe is on the verge of total annihilation, and you, as Commander Shepard, are the only one who can stop them. Whether you are playing with a controller or through new voice recognition technology made exclusively for Kinect on Xbox 360, “Mass Effect 3” allows you to immerse yourself in the Mass Effect universe like never before, as you decide how to rally the forces of the galaxy in a game that will react to each decision you make.
- “Minecraft” (Mojang, Microsoft Studios). Known for its limitless possibilities, “Minecraft” will come to life this winter in a whole new way through the magic of Kinect and also feature cross-functionality between the PC and Xbox 360 versions.
- “Ryse” (Crytek, Microsoft Studios). Be the warrior in this cinematic, visceral, action-packed experience that brings ancient Rome to life through the stunning visuals and innovative gameplay that Crytek is famous for. “Ryse” defines what’s next on Xbox 360 by creating a truly immersive experience that only Kinect can enable.
- “Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster” (Double Fine Productions, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment). Join your favorite Sesame Street characters Elmo, Cookie Monster, Oscar and Grover, and friendly new monsters in a colorful and whimsical storybook adventure filled with learning, discovery and fun. Each chapter is full of life lessons, including friendship, sharing and teamwork. “Once Upon A Monster” features co-op game play so kids can play alone, with each other or with Mom or Dad in this controller-free gaming experience only on Kinect.
- “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier” (Ubisoft Paris, Ubisoft). Welcome to the U.S. Special Forces’ most legendary unit, the Ghosts. Equipped with the most advanced combat technology, track down high-value targets in eight spectacular locales around the world in the latest chapter of the celebrated “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon” franchise. Teamwork is key, whether it is fighting alongside your teammates in the campaign, Elite Co-op, or multiplayer modes. With the magic of Kinect’s body tracking and voice recognition, a special mode called “Gunsmith” will allow gamers to customize their weapons into more than 20 million variations in a way that simply can’t be done with a controller alone.
- “Tomb Raider” (Crystal Dynamics, Square Enix Europe). Experience the intense and gritty origins of Lara Croft and her ascent from a frightened young woman to a hardened survivor. Armed with only the raw instincts and physical ability to push beyond the limits of human endurance, start at the beginning of where the “Tomb Raider” adventure all began.
- UFC.** UFC on Xbox LIVE drops you dead center into the octagon, with live pay-per-view events in full HD and exclusive live event experiences. Launching this fall, UFC on Xbox LIVE is the ultimate fan destination with pre-fight coverage and a deep catalogue of past fights to put you closer to the action than ever.
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