Microsoft to sell Kinect at $150, also sell bundles

Microsoft Corp will sell its new Kinect motion-sensing gaming system for about $150 and also offer it in a package with the Xbox 360 videogame console when sales of the hands-free device start in November, the company said on Tuesday.

The price, omitted by Microsoft when it introduced Kinect at the E3 videogame conference in June, matches the pre-order price that retailers such as Best Buy, GameStop and posted online weeks ago.

Kinect sales start on November 4, and Microsoft is sure to aim its marketing message at the owners of the more than 40 million Xbox 360 models that have already been sold. The sensor will come with a family game called “Kinect Adventures.”

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PlayStation Plus not a requirement for Hulu Plus – Report

In the past few weeks, Hulu’s incorporation with the PlayStation 3 has traveled from a unconfirmed report to a done deal. Particulars have slowly scampered out from the recesses of the deal, but today, the streaming media giant confirmed that Hulu Plus will not require a subscription to PlayStation Plus to enjoy the smorgasbord of content.

Last week, Hulu’s Web site indicated that a subscription to the PlayStation Network’s new premium service would be required to access Hulu’s $10-a-month on-demand TV show streaming service through the PS3. However, gaming blog Joystiq is reporting that Hulu is sending e-mails to its Hulu Plus constituents saying “the PlayStation Plus service is only a requirement during the service’s preview period.”

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Sony To Upgrade PS3 Slim With New Hard Disk

Japanese electronics giant Sony will release new versions of its flagship gaming console, the PS3, in Japan later this month with a white version and new hard disk capacities making the headlines.

120GB and 250GB models will be discontinued and replaced by 160GB and 320GB models respectively. The smaller model will cost around 30,000 yen while the bigger one adds 5,000 yen.

The console will also come with an optional terrestrial digital recorder pack, which brings PVR capabilities to the gaming console.

Sony has yet to say when the gaming console will be released in other territories. Some observers have expressed concerns over the rise in the suggested retail price of the consoles, which goes up to $341 and $398 respectively.

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Video game sales boosted by Red Dead, Super Mario

Video game sales, which have been anemic in the past year, were partially rescued in May by an Italian plumber and a gunslinger.

The dual debuts of Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Red Dead Redemption in May helped resuscitate game software sales, which rose 4% to $466.3 million from a year earlier, according to the market research firm NPD Group. The uptick was much smaller than many industry watchers predicted.

“The industry grew less than expected,” said Evan Wilson, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities in Portland, Ore., who had predicted game sales would grow 15% in May.

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Dead Rising 2 Delayed, Coming September

Dead Rising 2 has been delayed until September 28. A press release from Capcom mentioned the new date as an announcement, which is normal enough — except that we already had an announced date of August 31 from the company’s X10 event. Treating the new date with no mention of a delay is a bit odd, but September it is.

No reason was given for the delay. Capcom could be giving the team extra time for polish, or the decision could be a strategic one. A late September release puts it in line with the bulk of titles targeting holiday sales, with enough time to drum up excitement and word-of-mouth before shoppers start invading stores. Putting it head-to-head against other autumn heavy-hitters might be showing a lot of faith in the game.

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Analyst: Nintendo ‘stole the show’ at E3

Each year, after E3 comes to a close and financial analysts have a chance to sift through all the news from the gaming industry show, those analysts share their opinions on which companies did well and which left something to be desired. This year, a few analysts, speaking to Gamasutra in an interview, contend that it was Nintendo that did the best job of building hype for its products.

“Nintendo 3DS stole the show,” Panoptic Management Consultants analyst Adam H. Kraus told Gamasutra.

His sentiments were echoed by another Panoptic analyst, Asif A. Khan, who told the gaming publication that “if 3DS is a success, [Nintendo] could see huge sales growth.”

Unfortunately for Microsoft, they didn’t have the same feeling about the company’s Kinect motion-gaming platform. Although the analysts believe Kinect is “compelling,” they’re concerned that it won’t have enough viable games “to make it a success.”

On the Sony front, the analysts said that they don’t have much faith in the company’s Move motion-gaming peripheral. The issue, the analysts said, is that consumers might not believe the Move is “a big enough improvement over the Nintendo Wii motion controller to warrant its purchase.”

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Sony’s PlayStation Network Said Close to Deal for Hulu Service

Sony Corp. is close to an agreement to carry a paid TV service from Hulu LLC, operator of the second-largest video website, on its PlayStation 3 game console, two people with knowledge of the talks said.

The partnership could be announced as soon as next week, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the arrangement hasn’t been made public.

Access to video-game consoles would give Hulu’s planned pay service a bigger audience and more revenue by making its Internet programming more widely available on television sets. Hulu also is in talks with CBS Corp., Viacom Inc. and Time Warner Inc. to add their TV shows to the website’s subscription service, people with direct knowledge of the discussions said.

PlayStation 3 owners registered for the console’s free Web service, the PlayStation Network, would be able to subscribe to a Hulu service that provides on-demand access to current and past seasons of prime-time TV shows from NBC, Fox and ABC, the people said. Hulu also is in talks to put its $9.95 a month service on Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox, Reuters reported previously.

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Microsoft Announces Family Subscription Plan for Xbox Live

At this year’s E3, Microsoft set forth its plans to transform the Xbox 360 from a hardcore game-oriented platform into something family based with the Nov. 2 release of Kinect, and now, have created a new Xbox Live plan that better exemplifies the new approach to family gaming. For $99.99, 360 owners can purchase a Family Subscription, which gives four gamertags on the same 360 a year’s worth of Xbox Live Gold for the price of two.

The plan, which launches in November alongside Kinect, gives Mom, Dad, and the kids a year of Live each, which erases the need for guest accounts or gamertag sharing. Also added are new features such as the ability for the primary account to purchase and give Microsoft Points to other accounts, family-exclusive content, and the Family Center, Plus, you’ll be able to take a team of four into your favorite multiplayer game, as after all, the family that frags together, stays together.

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Microsoft Confirms Kinect Bundles, New $199 Xbox 360

An internal marketing Q&A for Microsoft about confirm that Kinect will be bundled with consoles, and a $199 configuration of its new Xbox 360 will be available this fall.

In its document, Microsoft said Kinect would be available as a standalone device and as “part of a bundle with the newly designed Xbox 360 console,” but “we have no additional details about pricing or retail strategy to share at this time.” Kinect bundles already sprouted up at GameStop, earlier this week, an Arcade bundle for $299 and an Elite bundle for $399.

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Project Natal becomes Kinect at E3 media circus

Microsoft has officially launched its controller-free motion sensing device. Previously known as Project Natal, it now has a proper name: Kinect.

The device, for the Xbox 360, has a camera, audio sensors and motion sensors that track the movements of 48 key body parts (not that one, not yet). It can recognize faces and voices.

Kinect can perform full-motion tracking of the human body at 30 frames per second, and isn’t affected by what a user is wearing or what type of furniture is around.

“Some people don’t like controllers,” said Mike Delman, corporate vice president of global marketing for interactive entertainment.

“And Kinect makes the gaming and entertainment experience more organic and free-flowing, without any of the barriers that can sometimes keep people from participating.”

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