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August NPD: 360 regains sales lead over PS3

August's NPD video game sales numbers are in and, unlike the 360's depressing July NPD showing, there's actually some good news to report. That good news being that the Xbox 360 was finally able to outsell the Playstation 3 after months of taking the back seat in sales.

For the month of August, again Nintendo reigned supreme in both the handheld and console markets, selling 518,300 DS' and 453,000 Wiis. The battle for second place in the console market was heated, but like we said, Microsoft was able to sell 195,200 Xbox 360 consoles narrowly passing the PS3's 185,400 unites. Also, keep in mind that the 360's recent price cuts and their effect on sales are not part of August's NPD tabulations seeing the the cuts went to effect in September. And, quickly, looking at the software side of things, Madden 09 sold crazy well on all platforms and both Too Human and SoulCalibur IV made the top ten. Complete August NPD hardware and software sales after the break.

Continue reading August NPD: 360 regains sales lead over PS3

Let's play name that Games for Windows software!


Team Gamerscore Blog needs your help. See, there's a new Games for Windows stand alone client that's set to release for the PC soon, a program that will let PC users access to the XBLM, buy content and get added Live functionality as time goes on. So, what's the problem you ask? Well, they don't have a name for the software and they'd like your creative genius in help deciding one.

Pop on over to the official G4W poll of officialness to vote on your favorite client name (we're partial to "Games for Windows - LIVE Portal") or, if you don't like the options given, make up your own client name. Just don't recommend "Games for Windows - Home", because we hear the MS peeps take offense to it.

Devs say Little Big Planet not possible on the 360

Chatting with GamesIndustry.biz, developer Media Molecule (the creative geniuses behind the PS3 exclusive and overly charming Little Big Planet) admits that Sackboy and friends won't be gracing the Xbox 360 anytime soon, because it wouldn't be technically possible.

"We couldn't have made it on the Xbox 360 and the reason for that is actually because we designed it around the PS3's strengths" says the Media Molecule folks, explaining that they built Little Big Planet around the PS3's architecture, Blu-ray disc capacity and that "having a hard drive on every unit makes a difference." But they aren't entirely anti-360, admitting that the console is an "incredibly capable machine" that, theoretically, could be home to LBP, "but it'd be a different game." Ouch! And all along we were under the impression that LBP could eventually release to the Xbox Live Arcade way under the 150MB Arcade limit. We guess we were wrong ... ZING!

Ensemble Studios to close its doors, Halo Wars will remain unaffected


In a shocking announcement made late last night, Microsoft confirmed rumors that Age of Empires and Halo Wars developer Ensemble Studios will be shut down as soon as work on Halo Wars is completed. An astonishing decision Microsoft claims to be one that is "fiscally rooted". Wowzaz!

In Microsoft's official statement to the media, Ensemble Studios' closure is addressed, mentioning that after completion of Halo Wars, the "leadership team will form a new studio and has agreed to provide ongoing support for Halo Wars as well as work on other projects with Microsoft Game Studios." Microsoft also makes it clear that they'll "place as many Ensemble employees who do not move to the newly formed studio into open positions within Microsoft" and insists that the studio's closure has nothing to do with "Ensembles talent or the quality of Halo Wars."

What can be said? How random, how unexpected and how troubling it is to hear this news. News that we never would have seen coming. From our early experience with Halo Wars and the Age of Empires franchise, the level of talent the entire Ensemble crew possess is more than apparent as we wish them all the best with their future endeavors.

Midway: Xbox 360 is 'lagging behind' in Europe


Midway, being the first to offer constructive criticism (or just plain old criticism), expressed some concerns regarding Microsoft's Xbox 360 performance in Europe, saying that the feel the console is "lagging behind" its competitors.

In an interview during the Leipzig Games Convention, Midway Vice President Martin Spiess talked with GamesIndustry.biz about Midway's performance in Europe and attributes some of their slow growth due to Microsoft's sluggish performance. "Sony has become very strong, Nintendo has become very strong, but the Microsoft market in certain territories is concerning" Spiess admitted, saying that "Microsoft is lagging behind." Ouch! Someone better revoke Spiess' Xbox 360 Cool Kids Club membership ASAP. The first rule of Xbox 360 Cool Kids Club is that we don't blame our company's problems on the 360. Shame!

Rumor: Xbox 360's defect rate was as high as 68%

According to VentureBeat's own Dean Takahashi and his numerous insider sources, 68% of all the early manufactured Xbox 360 consoles were defective and Microsoft knew it. Takahashi does mention that it's common industry knowledge that "early yields on electronic goods are almost always lousy", but in the case of the 360, the problem was never fixed and production of the defective consoles went as planned. Because, you know, Microsoft had launch plans to stick to.

Again, this is all rumor seeing that Microsoft would never admit to such knowledge or such high defective rate numbers, but let's say they knew that 68% of all their consoles had a potential for failure. If so, shame on them, but we think they learned their lesson.

[Via Eurogamer]

It's official! Microsoft announces North American Xbox 360 price cuts, $199 Arcade


After months and months of rumors, speculation, leaked adscans and insider whispers, Microsoft just announced that the Xbox 360 price cut rumors are, in fact, true. Beginning this Friday, September 5th the retail pricing for Xbox 360 consoles in the US will drop to all time lows. The new console pricing puts the Xbox 360 Arcade at $199 (cheaper than the Wii!), the 60GB Xbox 360 Pro at $299 and the Xbox 360 Elite at $399. Remember though, this is only for the US as any other territories (Europe, Australia, etc.) have yet to announce any console price cuts. We can now also pretty much debunk that motion controlled Arcade bundle rumor. Happy shopping!

PAX 08: Microsoft Xbox campus tour

A day prior to PAX officially kicking off (which was this past Thursday, if we recall correctly) Mr. Paladino from the Gamerscore Blog and Mr. Major "Larry Hryb" Nelson were kind enough to invite team X3F over to one of Microsoft's Xbox campuses for a some tour fun. We had a chance to inspect the lobby (don't pre-judge, lobbies can be interesting), meet Master Chief, inspect a few awards, touch the Surface and take a looksy at the Xbox Live Online Lab. The one room that all of Xbox Live and its pieces parts are monitored from BUT a room that we couldn't photograph for obvious "super secret" reasons. We did take a picture of the door though, so be happy with that.

Here you go, start your gallery tour of our Microsoft Xbox campus tour by clicking this wee little link or click-attacking the gallery images below. It's visually interesting and mentally stimulating. Oh, and thanks again to the Paladino and the Major Nelson for taking time to hold our hand and walk us through the campus. Our palms were sweaty only because we were excited. Apologies.

Gallery: PAX 08: Microsoft Campus Tour

Welcome!Ninja Zune ... KICK!Promote That

In Seattle? Join Microsoft for a PAX Meet-N-Eat

Live near Seattle? In town for PAX? Like beef? If you answered yes, then you should totally take team Microsoft's PAX Meet-N-Eat invite and head to Seattle's ever so famous Red Mill tomorrow evening. There, you'll not only have a chance to meetup with your fellow gaming peers, but Major Nelson, e, litheon, TriXie and a few folks from the Gamerscore Blog will be attending, chowing on burgers and mingling. We also have good word (from a certain Larry) that there will be stacks of bacon and plenty hot chicks ... need we sell this community event any more? Friday, August 29th from 1-2:00PM at the Seattle Red Mill. Be there.

Japanese 360 sales return to normalcy

After witnessing the oddness that was record breaking Japanese console sales thanks to Tales of Vesperia's release and the subsequent 360 sellout in all of Japan, we actually had a glimmer of hope that the 360 would finally get a foothold in the Japanese market. But, depressingly enough, the record console sales were just that, an oddity. Console sales this past week sorta flat-lined back to their low numbers from the astonishing 25,000 console sales to a sad 7,258, making the 360 Japan's least purchased console last week. It's entirely possible the weak sales are due to the console shortages, but we aren't getting our hopes up. Japan still and will forever hates the 360 ... it's the truth.

[Via Joystiq]

Joystiq & X3F invade X08 Toronto


If you were lucky enough to score an invite when we tipped you off earlier in the week you should be making your way down to Toronto for Microsoft's X08 event later today. Promising a ton of hands-on experience with games from Microsoft Game studios, EA, Activision and Warner Bros., X08 is sure to have something for everyone. The event kicks off tonight from 5PM until 8PM EST. Remember, this was an invite only event so dropping by and hoping for the best isn't recommended.

If you're going make sure to say hello to X3F and Big Download staffer Xav, X3F alum Knuckles Dawson and one of our more seasoned comment/tipsters DjDATZ, who just celebrated his 2 year anniversary on the site.

Japan completely sells out of Xbox 360 hardware

Well, well, well, look what odd Xbox 360 console sales news we have here. Xbox 360 hardware is completely sold out ... in Japan ... yes, Japan ... how WEIRD!

Over on Xbox.com's Japanese site, Microsoft issued an apology letter to potential Japanese 360 gamers admitting that console hardware is sold out in Japan and that they "deeply apologize for this inconvenience to our customers", hoping to replenish 360 console stock in the country as soon as possible. In other news, recently released JRPG Tales of Vesperia is 99.8% to "blame" for Japanese Xbox 360 sales and the subsequent lack of hardware in the country. Microsoft better send NAMCO-BANDAI a fruit basket or something.

July NPD: One of those 'not so good' months for MS

Disappointing news, fellow fanboys. The July NPD video game sales numbers were just released and, sadly, the Xbox 360 didn't live up to analysts' sales predictions, coming in third behind the Wii and PS3 in terms of console sales. Tear.

As expected, Nintendo took home the Olympic console sales gold medal for the month of July, selling a whopping 555,000 Wii consoles AND 608,400 DS handhelds. As far as the Sony / Microsoft console sales rivalry goes, Sony surprised everyone by edging out the Xbox 360, moving some 224,900 consoles compared to the 360's 204,800. Not good news for team Microsoft. But on the bright side, the 360's software sales were quite strong with a 360 game leading July's software sales (NCAA Football 09) and three 360 titles landing in on the top ten. And that's good ... right? Right? Complete list of July's depressing hardware and software sales posted after the break. Please, try not to cry.

Continue reading July NPD: One of those 'not so good' months for MS

Microsoft too good for a Leipzig press conference

If you're looking forward to a BIG Xbox 360 announcement out of Microsoft during the Games Convention in Leipzig, Germany later this month, we advise not getting your hopes up. Videogaming247 is reporting that Microsoft will not be holding any press conferences during Leipzig, but will be attending with floor space including behind closed door meetings and demos. So, to us, it's pretty easy math. No press conference + no hype = no huge Leipzig Xbox 360 announcements. Sad stuff.

[Via Eurogamer]

Analysts: Xbox 360 outsold PS3 in July

Prior to the release of the official July NPD video game sales numbers that are set to come out this Thursday, the gaming industry's best analysts have released their console sales predictions and things are looking peachy for Microsoft and the Xbox 360.

Analysts Michael Pachter and Jesse Divnich both agree that, after a bad June, the Xbox 360's July hardware sales will overtake the Playstation 3 thanks to the announcement of the 60GB Xbox 360 and low price of the 20GB model. Pachter is pegging the 360 to have sales in the 275K range compared to the PS3's 250K, while Divnich is a bit more 360 optimistic setting July 360 sales at 325K compared to the PS3's 275K. Whatever July's NPD numbers end up being, we have a feeling that our analyst friends will be correct and the 360 will have had a decent July. Pass the champagne!

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