Microsoft confirms Xbox Live integration on Windows 8

Microsoft has re-confirmed that the company’s Xbox Live service will be built into the next version of its desktop operating system. There are few details about the integration at this point, but according to a blog post by Microsoft’s Director of Programming for Xbox, Live Larry Hryb (also known as Major Nelson), this week at the BUILD 2011 conference they will be showing how easy it is for developers to integrate the service into Windows 8 applications.

“We are very excited about Xbox LIVE coming to Windows 8.  Xbox LIVE brings your games, music, movies, and TV shows to your favorite Microsoft and Windows devices.  Bringing Xbox LIVE to Windows 8 is part of our vision to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy,” wrote Hryb.

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Sony cuts price of PlayStation 3 to $249

Sony has revealed it will drop the price of its PlayStation 3 console.

The global price cut, announced during the Gamescom video game conference in Germany, will take effect immediately.

The cut applies to both the 160 GB and 320 GB models, which will now sell for $249 and $299 respectively. A handful of bundles featuring the PlayStation Move and Activision first-person shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops are also available.

“The new price will make the PS3 more accessible than ever before,” says Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Jack Tretton in a statement posted on the official PlayStation blog.

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Sony to deploy PS3 PSN Firmware Update 3.70

Sony Corp. this week said it will deploy the Firmware Update 3.70 to the Playstation Network division of the Playstation 3 soon.

System Software Update 3.70 will include Auto Online Game Saves and Auto Trophy Sync for Playstation Plus members.

Additional updates include a TV/Video division in the XMB, which will include Netflix, Hulu Plus and VUDU applications, Blu-ray 3D support when accessing Java-based special features, DTS-HD MA, DTS-HD HR decoding/bit stream output when playing 3D Blu-ray titles, and 3D functionality for 3D photos in MPO format.

Finally, the company said System Software Update 6.60 will be released to the PSP shortly.

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Sony PlayStation Vita pushed into 2012 for U.S. and Europe

Sony’s launch of its PlayStation Vita handheld gaming system won’t occur this holiday season in the U.S. and is now being pushed into 2012.

The new gaming system, which will be a follow-up to both the successful but aging PlayStation Portable (PSP) and the slow-selling PSP Go, was previously expected to hit retailers in the U.S. and Europe by the end of the year.

That will no longer be the case, Sony Executive Deputy President Kazuo Hirai told Bloomberg on Thursday. He added, however, that the Vita will launch in Japan before the end of the year.

By not having the Vita in U.S. and European stores this holiday shopping season, Sony is passing up on a chance to rake in big sales.

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Nintendo President apologizes for 3DS price drop

If you are among the not quite one million people that ran out to purchase a Nintendo 3DS, despite its numerous flaws, odds are you are a little bit steamed right now. When the 3DS was introduced, it launched with a handful of titles but none of them were particularly major, plus the system’s software was half complete. The promised Netflix app was nowhere to be found, the Nintendo e-store wasn’t up yet, and the web browser was AWOL. But hey it was 3D! Yay. True, Nintendo fans took it with a smile and assumed that soon their loyalty would be rewarded with the updated software and a wide selection of new games.

But then came the price drop. People that originally purchased the 3DS shelled out $249.99, but due to poor sales and overall poor profits for the company, Nintendo decided to lower the price to $170 starting August 12. So basically, the reward for the people that have purchased a 3DS since its March launch is an $80 fine. Fans were not amused.

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Sony buys inFamous game developer Sucker Punch

It seems Sony is quite pleased with the work development studio Sucker Punch did with its recently launched “inFamous 2″ game for the PlayStation 3. Pleased enough, in fact, Sony has bought the company outright.

Sony Computer Entertainment just announced that it acquired Sucker Punch Productions — the developer behind both “inFamous” and “inFamous 2″ as well as the Sly Cooper games. The acquisition makes Sucker Punch the 16th internally-owned studio at SCE’s Worldwide Studios.

Sony did not disclose the financial terms of the acquisition.

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Nintendo 3DS launching in North America on March 27 for $249.99

The Nintendo 3DS will hit stores in North America on March 27, at a price point of $249.99, as revealed today in New York City. It’s available in Aqua Blue and Cosmo Black.

The 3DS was first revealed in a cryptic press release in March 2010, shortly before the North American release of the DSi XL. In addition to increased processing power and screen resolution, the system promises adjustable 3D visuals without requiring 3D glasses. It also includes built-in augmented reality games, some using bundled “AR cards.” An “Activity Log” tracks your gameplay as well as your steps, graphing each and dispensing “Game Coins” that can be spent in games. You can make Miis either in a menu interface or automatically from pictures. Other features include a 3DS version of the DSi’s sound app, a web browser, and 3D video capability.

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Microsoft Raises Price For Xbox Live Gold Membership

Microsoft announced on Monday morning that it was increasing the price of an Xbox Live Gold membership by $10, from $49.99 to $59.99 a year, including for existing members in the U.S. starting November 1st. Members in the U.K., Canada and Mexico will also see price increases. The new price, the first time the company has ever raised its rates, represents a 20% increase, which will likely have a significant impact on the revenues of the moneymaking service.

The company is also raising the 3-month price of Gold membership from $19.99 to $24.99 and 1-month price from $7.99 to $9.99. But those who act quickly may be able to get a 1-year lock in price of $39.99, according to a special deal that launched on Monday as well.

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Wii titles drag down July video game sales

Combined sales of video games and consoles fell for the fourth consecutive month in July, slumping 1% as U.S. consumers pulled back on buying new titles, with games for Nintendo Co.’s Wii suffering in particular.

A 12% jump in sales of game consoles last month failed to entirely offset an 8% drop in sales of games to play on the devices. Overall, players spent $846.5 million for consoles, games and game peripherals in July, down slightly from $850.6 million a year earlier, according to NPD Group, a market research firm.

“Hardware sales were impressive, but software sales were still down,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities.

The summer doldrums hit Nintendo software sales for its Wii console especially hard.

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New Cole Out, Old Cole In for InFamous 2

When InFamous 2 was shown off at E3 back in June, it again featured superpower-wielding Cole as the main character, but not as fans remembered him: Whereas the original Cole had a shaved head and sporty yellow jacket, the new Cole had hair and arm tattoos.

But before their Comic-Con panel, developer Sucker Punch confirmed that due to overwhelmingly negative fan reaction, they’ve decided to change Cole’s look back to the original design for InFamous 2. Images of Cole’s new (and by new we mean old) look haven’t been released yet, although IGN describes him as looking “more like the person we played as in the original InFamous.”

It’s not a big surprise to see Sucker Punch revert Cole to his old look, as even back at E3 we got the feeling from game director Nate Fox’s almost apologetic tone that they would consider a redesign if fans weren’t happy. Turns out, fans weren’t happy.

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