Zynga Hires Former Xbox Head

That’s right folks, the head of Microsoft’s Xbox division is now the CEO of all your favorite Facebook games. Don Mattrick was recruited by Zynga founder Mark Pincus personally.

Now Pincus will still be the chairman, chief product officer and controls 61% of the stock thanks to a two-tiered stock structure. Which brings up the questions who will really be in control of the company?

Well according to Reuters, Mattrick will be in charge of the day to day business and green-lighting new games.

My biggest question is the timing of everything, it may just be me, but it seems a little odd that he leaves this close after the pounding Microsoft and the Xbox took at E3. Is he really “leaving” or is he being forced to leave?

Also, what happens with Microsoft’s Xbox division? Some are saying that Steve Ballmer wants to create a “Devices” division that may include Xbox, Surface Tablets and maybe the Phones divisions.

For more info check out the article on Reuters.

Announcement turns into Bad Day for neXt Box

Today Microsoft tried to clarify some of the confusion from their Xbox One launch announcement  last month. However the early reaction to most of what they “clarified” today has been less than positive for Microsoft and the neXt Box, as I call it.

Here’s a good recap, thanks to Kotaku.com along with my comments.

  • The console must connect to the internet once every 24 hours in order for you to play games.

Now I know most people that will own an Xbox One will have an “always on” broadband connection. However not everyone will. What about the military members who take their neXt Box with them? Sometimes they can’t get online for multiple weeks! Or students who can’t afford the always on connection? Will they not be allowed to play their games after 24 hours? Or what about if the Microsoft servers go down? Oh, wait I forgot… that NEVER happens right?

Here’s a bit from the Xbox Wire statement:

With Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies.

  • The Xbox One will allow the sale of used games, at “participating retailers”, but only if the publisher allows it. Publishers being the very people opposed most fiercely to used video game sales.

Now let me gets this straight, you can trade in your games (yay!) but it’s not up to you, nor is it up to where ever you want to trade them in at. It’s up to the very companies that want to get rid of used games all together because they don’t get any money off the used games? While this is a smart move for Microsoft, in that they can wash their hands of this whole thing and just blame the game makers, it seems to really just screw over the gamers.

  • There are restrictions on how you can “give” and “loan” your games away. What’s more, lending won’t be available at launch, with Microsoft still “exploring the possibilities with our partners”.

Now the “restrictions” are less than clear, again according to Xbox Wire:

Give your games to friends: Xbox One is designed so game publishers can enable you to give your disc-based games to your friends. There are no fees charged as part of these transfers. There are two requirements: you can only give them to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days and each game can only be given once.

So you can give your games to your friends, but only if their disc based, only if you’ve had them on your friends list for a month AND only if it’s never been given to anyone before? Gee thanks for making it so easy. Am I the only one that remembers when you could just hand someone the disc, they’d take it home and DONE… that’s it, no restrictions, nothing, just your friend enjoying some sweet sweet game action!?

This next one isn’t on the Kotaku list of “bad things” but it’s on the Xbox Wire and it’s something that I’ve debated with my friends *cough* Marshal *cough*:

Access your entire games library from any Xbox One—no discs required: After signing in and installing, you can play any of your games from any Xbox One because a digital copy of your game is stored on your console and in the cloud.  So, for example, while you are logged in at your friend’s house, you can play your games.

So, you buy the game (disc or digital), install it and then your disc, if you bought it that way, is done. Here’s my question, Microsoft stated that the “stock” Xbox One will have a 500GB Hard Drive. I say stock because there’s no word on if you can upgrade that on your own or not like the PS3. But, they want you to install Blu-Ray disc games (up to 50GB+ per disc) yours and any friend’s that you “borrow” mind you, load your music, videos and other media you have because it’s a “media center”, not to mention if they add the ability to use your system as a DVR. That Hard Drive is going to fill up really damn fast. Which they’ve never gone into how it would handle uninstalling/reinstalling/file management etc.

Even some of the “good” news mentioned just seems like they’re avoiding the issue honestly:

  • Responding to fears over privacy issues surrounding the “always on” Kinect, Microsoft says you can turn the Kinect off.

Now being able to turn it off is well and good, however it doesn’t really do anything to make me, or others, feel good about the fact that it CAN watch you all the time.

Now the seemingly lone good news in all this relates to family:

  • You can have up to ten people in your Xbox One “family”, and can share all your content among them, regardless of which console they’re using.

I got nothing bad to say about this, this sounds honestly really cool. However I would like to know if you have 2 different consoles accessing the same “family” of content, can you both play a game at the same time?

Questions like that last one and many many more were asked of Microsoft by Kotaku and numerous other journalists. However, Microsoft refused to provide any further questions simply saying that today’s information is ”everything we can share today”.

Now to me, this merely raises the question of if Microsoft even KNOWS any further information at all.

Stay Tuned to Nerditronics for more information!

The Xbox One: Hardware Analysis & Comparison to PlayStation 4

AnandTech has a good write up on the XBox One hardware and Compares it to the PlayStation 4.

For those that don’t want to read the entire article, here’s a high level view of what the neXt-Box is packing.

- 8-core AMD Jaguar CPU
- 12 CU/768 SP AMD GCN GPU
- 8GB DDR3 system memory
- 500GB HDD
- Blu-ray drive
- 2.4/5.0GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n, multiple radios with WiFi Direct support
- 4K HDMI in/out (for cable TV passthrough)
- USB 3.0

Check out the full write up here.