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Gears of War Maps Now Free

Today we find out how patient you were. Hidden Fronts, the map pack released for the smash hit Xbox 360 game Gears of War, was made free this week. Four months ago, the pack was released on Xbox Live for 800 Microsoft Points, or ten dollars, with the understanding that it would later be free (I blogged, “Don’t Buy It”). So, did you give into temptation and buy it, or did you wait patiently and get it for free? I waited. Who else?

Apparently, 500,000 people did buy it, at a cost of five million dollars. Obviously, this was a good decision by Microsoft, making a lot of extra money while still giving it away eventually.

September 6th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Gears of War, Xbox 360, Xbox, General | one comment

Gears of War Soundboard, which features soundboards filled sounds from games, movies and other things, has a Gears of War soundboard up. Featuring classic quotes, like:

  • I don’t want to hear it man, not a word.
  • Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Group hug!
  • Get down here and see how much you like it. There’s room for one more, it’s a fucking party down here.
  • Shit!
  • Shit, yeah!
  • Hey!
  • Uhh, yeah. Suck it. Suck it!
  • Eaaaat it!
  • Bring it!
  • Fuck you.
  • Aaah. Just die, will ya!
  • Growl
  • Roar

All this and 203 others. Get it, now!

Other popular soundboards include Borat, Dateline NBC’s Chris Hansen in To Catch A Predator (does not include “You were coming for seeeeex”), Anchorman, Saw, The Waterboy, Scarface and Duke Nuke’em.
(via Xbox 360 Fanboy)

July 23rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Gears of War, Xbox 360, Xbox | no comments

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What Will Microsoft Talk About At E3?

Microsoft’s E3 briefing is tomorrow night at 9pm Eastern and I plan to be liveblogging it here. What will we see? Well, Microsoft is giving the briefing from the Santa Monica High School Amphitheater, a large outdoor area that is expected to feature good (but not too hot) weather Tuesday night. Holding it outdoors should make for a nice presentation, especially if there is a large crowd that really gets into it.

But that’s not important. What is important are the announcements. Will Microsoft talk about the “Falcon” Xbox 360s? Since they aren’t expected till the Fall, don’t be so sure. If Microsoft is determined to counter Sony’s announced price drop, and the Falcon’s are getting one, then you’ll hear it (one analyst is predicting price drops of $50, $80 for the Elite). If the price drop isn’t for months, Microsoft will almost definitely not announce it now, since pre-announced drops hurt current sales.

It is believed that Gears of War for Windows Vista will be announced tomorrow as well. It will definitely support Games For Windows Live, as seen in gameplay video (achievements were spotted), but no word yet if it will be for XP as well.

What else could be coming? More details on GTA IV episodic content? Finally some movement on IPTV for the 360? Even the Vista Media Center update? Guess you’ll have to come back and see.

The live webcast will be available here and on G4TV. Or you could just come here for liveblogging.

July 9th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Gears of War, Vista, Xbox 360, Xbox, Windows | no comments

Mich Mathews On The Gears “Mad World” Ad Viral Success

Long Zheng shared this video of Mich Mathews talking at Microsoft’s Strategic Account Summit about the Gears of War “Mad World” ad that hit an amazing level of viral success. As she mentions, there were over 700 mashups with over a million views, all created by fans of the ad or the game, all of which helped the game sell an unprecedented number of copies.

May 11th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Marketing, Gears of War, Xbox 360, Xbox | no comments

Halo 2 For Windows Vista Delayed

Halo 2 for Windows Vista, the PC version of the 30-month old bestselling shooter, was supposed to release yesterday. Didn’t happen. The reason given? Technical and installation issues. Sorry, fellas, but if you’ve been hotly anticipating playing this game on Vista, you’ll have to wait a little longer, til May 22. Bummer.

This just goes to remind you: Don’t wait for a game to make it to PC, just buy the Xbox 360 version. I remember when Halo 2 came out, people talked about waiting for the PC, and they wound up waiting 30 months. SO not worth it. Just buy the damn game now. God only knows how long it could take for Gears to make it to Windows!

May 9th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Gears of War, Halo, Vista, Xbox 360, Xbox, Windows | 4 comments

New Gears Of War Map Pack Hits Thursday, But Don’t Buy It

A new Gears of War map pack, called “Hidden Fronts”, is hitting Xbox Live this Thursday, with four new multiplayer maps for you to kill your friends on. It’ll cost you 800 Microsoft Points, or ten dollars, but for Gears diehards, that is worth the price of admission. However, if you have patience, and know it won’t kill you to just play the other maps, you can just wait until September 3, when the maps will be rereleased for free, because Microsoft demanded somebody make some money off it. Yeah, it’s annoying.

May 1st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Gears of War, Xbox 360, Xbox | 2 comments

Gears Of War Movie Treatment Leaked

A 22-page treatment (story to be turned into a screenplay) for the Gears of War movie has leaked to the internet. If you don’t care about spoilers, you can read a look at it at I’m printing a paragraph of it here, and don’t worry, it doesn’t contain any real spoilers, except the shocker that things blow up and people die.

Several choppers go down in flames. Marcus keeps his eyes and his squad on the target. The Ravens touch down and the gears pile out into an insane hail of rocket and gunfire. Most Ravens never even back it back up. This is madness. Bodies are ripped apart. Wounded soldiers scream for their mothers. A grenade annihilates an embedded media crew. Nobody knows where he or she’s supposed to be.

Compelling stuff.


Sarcasm or opinion? You decide.
(via Kotaku)

April 30th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Gears of War, Xbox 360, Xbox | no comments

Xbox 360 Dashboard Update Confirmed For May, Gears Update Coming Too

Microsoft has confirmed that an update to the Xbox 360 Dashboard is coming the week of May 7th, and it will bring a lot of cool new features. Included will be Windows Live Messenger support, which will display your Messenger contact list on Xbox Live and allow you to send messages from your game console. As a companion to the new feature, Microsoft will sell the (poorly named) Text Input Device, a little keyboard that attaches to the bottom of the Xbox 360 controller, connecting through the headset port.

Check it out:

Messenger contacts will be able to see your Gamertag and current game status, and you can chat with up to six friends at the same time. Other new features include giving the Xbox Live Marketplace its own blade (in order to improve the interface), achievement updates will now show more information, a new low power mode which auto-shuts down after completeing downloads, watching partially download movies, and many smaller tweaks.

Here’s a video showing off many of the changes:

Gears of War got a pretty big update, too, adding a new multiplayer game mode called “Annex”, plus several bug fixes. A Gears map pack is coming, and because of Microsoft’s insistence, the pack will cost a few Microsoft Points at first, and be completely free later on (the developers wanted to release it for free).

Oh, and the Halo 3 multiplayer beta starts May 16 at midnight, and will run through the night of June 6.

April 12th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Xbox Live, Gears of War, Halo, Halo 3, Live, Xbox 360, Windows, Xbox, Messenger, General | 2 comments

Return Mega-Post

Been gone for two days (if you haven’t noticed), so, instead of letting news pile up and be out of date, here’s a lot of stuff that’s just kind of accumulated (like insects!):

Microsoft is looking at acquiring DoubleClick, reports InfoWorld. DoubleClick, a major internet advertising firm, could go for around $2 billion, all of it well spent, as Microsoft would acquire a big player in web ad sales, and boost its fortunes in taking on Google. DoubleClick’s as good an acquisition as you can make in this market, so I’m hoping they pull it off.

There’s a good lesson in here about investment as well. Take a look at the investors who bought DoubleClick two years ago:

Private equity investors Hellman and Friedman of San Francisco and JMI Equity of San Diego bought DoubleClick for $1.1 billion in 2005, and have since transformed the company, selling off some activities to focus on the core business of advertising.

Now Hellman & Friedman has put a price tag of around $2 billion on its stake in the company, and has retained investment bank Morgan Stanley to help it find a buyer, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

One company Microsoft did acquire is TeamPlain, makers of a web front end of Visual Studio Team System. Read more here.

The same day Microsoft announced the release of DeepFish, their groundbreaking Windows Mobile web browser, the Mozilla Foundation announced a new release of Minimo, their mobile browser. In all the hoopla around DeepFish, Minimo was kind of ignored, and maybe it should have been: Minimo has been in the “early stages of development” for four years, and has higher system requirements than many popular mobile phones.

Take a look at this: A Ribbon control for software developers to use in WPF applications. Nice!

Microsoft has announced international Gears of War tournament to be hosted on Xbox Live, starting in just four days (although registration runs through the end of the month. Prized include a trip to Prague, an Xbox 360 console, and other game and schwag prizes.

Office 2008 for Mac is now in private beta as it moves closer to release, hopefully at the end of the year. No word yet on a public beta, but Microsoft would do well to release one, as the Office 2007 beta convinced a lot of people of the effectiveness of the Ribbon interface.

Major music label EMI announced it will sell music on iTunes without DRM copy protection for $1.29, 30 cents more than protected music. They will be making similar offers with other music stores, none announced yet. This is a major game-changer, if it lasts, as it makes iTunes usable for non-iPods, forces other labels to make similar offers, forces other music stores to offer the same DRM-free tracks, and devalues subscription services significantly. Can’t wait to see some Windows Media-stores offering those DRM-free songs.

April 5th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Windows Media, Developers, Windows Mobile, Gears of War, Corporate, Firefox, Applications, Office, Xbox 360, Apple, General | no comments

Forbes Does Generalized Inaccurate Article With Provocative Title, No One Is Surprised

forbes-shitty-gears-of-war-article.pngForbes decided to run an interesting article about where costs in video game development come from, an interesting subject as video games become a major industry. Then, they decided to ruin it all by applying their analysis too broadly, and saddling it with a title that makes no sense: “Why Gears Of War Costs $60″. Just trying to grab some readers by putting something popular in the title. Idiots.

Here are just some of the problems:

  • The article deals with development costs like art and engineering, and final sale costs like retailer markup and console owner fees, as though they were identical. That is absurdity on the highest order.

    Development costs are a fixed number, something you pay when making the game and stop paying once the game is done. To express development costs as a percentage of the retain price, you have to divide them by the number of units sold, a number different with every game ever released. Meanwhile, the sale costs are fixed percentages, completely unrelated to the cost of making the game, and costs born directly by the consumer, not the publisher.

  • The development costs change with every title, and are in some cases absurd when applied to Gears of War. Art/Design and Programming/Engineering come out to 45% of Forbes’ accounting, which is not tied to the actual game mentioned in the story’s title. Are they saying Gears of War’s development costs equal 35% of all retail costs? No, the headline writer is just a dope.
  • They list licensing costs, giving examples like sports and movie-based games. Problem is, Gears of War is an original IP, with zero licensing costs. So why list it if the article is about Gears of War? Oh, right, it isn’t. Fire your headline writer.
  • I’m no economist, but I know this: As you sell more units, your R&D costs per unit drop, and your profit increases. This article (by Forbes, a publication that is supposed to know better) actually classifies R&D (game development, in this case) as a constant percentage of sales, rather than a fixed cost that is alleviated by high sales of a game.

    Oh, my god, am I going to have to school Forbes in some basic economic theory?

    Okay, if the game costs $40 million to make, and you sell $100 million worth, then, yes, development costs 40%, and, based on other costs, publisher profit is the 1.5% quoted in the article. But if the game sells $300 million, development costs are still $40 million! In that case, an extra $80 million goes into the “profit” pile, and the publisher profit is now over 30%!

Seriously, is Forbes just stupid? This is the kind of miscommunicated shoddy journalism I hate. Poor research, generalizations, complete lack of depth, zero context, over-exhuberant headline writers. Yuck. Why do these guys get paid for churning out this crap?
(via GameProducer > Digg)

March 30th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Gears of War, Xbox 360, Xbox | 2 comments

Lets Just Do This All At Once, InsideMicrosoft Edition

On the InsideGoogle blog, I did a bit of housecleaning. I’m sick and tired of writing about week-old news, and I think the readers of my blogs deserve up-to-date news and features. As a result, here is every story, leading basically up to today, that has been sitting in close to a hundred browser tabs on my computer.

Enjoy, and I’m getting back to work:

Long Zheng posted this video of Microsoft’s vision of collaboration in 2010:

Video: Microsoft’s Vision of 2010.

Want to take Windows Mobile 6 for a test drive? Microsoft has a Flash demo you can download and see exactly what it looks like in action.

The New York Times is going to start charging for its Reader application, a Windows Presentation Foundation-powered news reader that brings an incredibly powerful and visually amazing way to read the Times. Dopes. Way to blow a chance to bring the Times to a more tech-savvy generation. They really think people will pay a monthly fee for a newspaper that is available free online?

At least it is free for Times subscribers.

Want to preview PDF files in Outlook? Download this!

What is the Zune’s wifi feature useful for? Tracking down Zune thieves, naturally! If there are only two Zunes in an area, and one is stolen, you can use the other to help your buddy out.

Want to select text vertically in Word and other text editors? Just follow Lifehacker’s helpful tip and hold down the ALT key.

Lifehacker also points out a free RSS reader for Windows Vista Media Center and XP MCE.

Todd Bishop has put together an incredible listing of every single major Microsoft blogger he can find, and its so extensive, its scary. I can’t wait for him to finish the OPML, because I am so subscribing. Read his post for links to the Google Co-Op search engines he created for the list.

Microsoft claims it has no plans to buy video game publisher Take 2, but everyone agrees it’d be stupid not to bid. Take 2 makes the Grand Theft Auto series, and if Microsoft bought the company, or at least the GTA franchise, it would have a dramatic effect on Sony’s ability to compete. GTA is one of the biggest system sellers in history, possibly bigger than Microsoft’s own Halo, with more sales than Halo putting a lot of new PS2s in homes.

Rumors are coming out about Apple’s next generation iMac. The iMac is the centerpiece of Apple’s non-portable computer line, but with a built-in screen, it does not appeal to many typical PC buyers (and the Mac Mini is too limiting in the exact opposite respect). Here’s hoping Apple plans a normal PC; I could just buy it!

It has been virtually confirmed that Microsoft will be selling a $480 limited edition black Xbox 360 called the 360 Elite. It will feature a 120 gigabyte hard drive, an HDMI output, all-black accessories, and probably only run a few hundred thousand units. Once it sells out, it may replace the Xbox 360 Premium at $400, in white plastic.

New Line has bought the rights to a Gears of War movie. Stuart Beattie, writer of Collateral and Pirates of the Carribean is attached to write. I hope to god someone does a Crackdown movie.

March 22nd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | XP, Vista, Word, Windows Media, Outlook, Gears of War, Zune, Apple, Xbox 360, Blogs, Applications, Windows, Media Center, Office, Xbox, General | no comments

Games For Windows Live Priced, Same As Xbox Live

Microsoft has announced the pricing and details for Games For Windows Live, its Xbox Live companion service for Windows Vista PC gaming, arriving this May 8. The best part: If you have an Xbox Live Gold account, you have a free Games For WIdnows Live account.

Live For Windows costs the same as Xbox Live, $50 per year (or $20 for three months, or $8 for one month). As with Xbox Live, there are Silver (free) accounts and Gold (paid subscription) accounts. Both classes get Gamertags, gamer profiles, gamerscore for playing games and earning achievements, chatting via text and voice, friends list and online presence tracking, and a multiplayer games list.

Gold accounts gets multiplayer matchmaking with friends, “TrueSkill” matchmaking, multiplayer achievements (Silver members get achievements, but only for single player play), and cross-platform gameplay. See, while Microsoft knew it could not charge PC gamers for multiplayer, it does require you to pay for more advanced matchmaking, achievements during online play, and the ability to play games against Xbox gamers.

Halo 2 for Windows Vista has been announced as having a release date of May 8, 2007. It will not have cross-platform gameplay (Xbox 360 vs. PC), but both Shadowrun and UNO, expected later this year, will have that feature.

Also released is Geometry Wars for Windows Vista, the Xbox Live Arcade classic now on PCs, with a free trial. The full game is only eight dollars, which is three dollars more than the Xbox Live version, but cheaper than any average PC game.

Word is Gears of War is confirmed for the PC, but based on current trends, don’t expect it for at least a year.

On a seperate note, if you like the sound your 360 makes when you complete an achievement, you can now download that sound. The obvious usage: When you get a text message or email.

Also, check out the list of new releases on the Xbox Live Video Marketplace. It includes The Departed (in HD, no less!), Snakes On A Plane, and Magnolia. Why would you go anywhere else?

March 19th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Gears of War, Halo, Xbox Live, Live, Xbox, Xbox 360, Windows | no comments

Gears of War Nominated For 10 Awards

Gears of War has received nominations for ten awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. The game, one of the biggest (if not the biggest) blockbusters of 2006, and an Xbox 360 exclusive, was nominated in these categories:

  • Overall Game of the Year
  • Console Game of the Year
  • Outstanding Innovation in Gaming
  • Outstanding Achievement in Animation
  • Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction
  • Outstanding Character Performance - Male
  • Outstanding Achievement in Game Play Engineering
  • Outstanding Achievement in Online Game Play
  • Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering
  • Action/Adventure Game of the Year

Pretty sweet honor, but the real honor comes from winning. I’m pretty sure that when the winners are announced February 8, Gears will be walking home with a few statues (assuming they give out statues).
(via Kotaku)

January 24th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Gears of War, Xbox 360, Xbox, General | no comments

Gears of War: In Japanese!

Siliconera has collected some videos of the Japanese version of Gears of War, letting you see what the game looks like with Japanese voices. The funny thing: In most cases, the voice acting is pretty good, so there’s not much to laugh at, although one or two of the voice actors truly suck. If you are obsessed with the game and will recognize the story and situations on sight, this could be pretty cool; otherwise, hopefully you’ll find something worth laughing at.

Watch em’:

Gears of War : Act1-1 (JPN Ver)

Gears of War : Act1-2 (JPN Ver) Part1of2

Gears of War : Act1-2 (JPN Ver) Part2of2

Gears of War : Act1-3 (JPN Ver)

Gears of War : Act1-4 (JPN Ver)

Gears of War : Act1-5 (JPN Ver)

Gears of War : Act1-6 (JPN Ver) Part1of2

Gears of War : Act1-6 (JPN Ver) Part2of2

Gears of War : Act1-7 (JPN Ver) Part1of2

Gears of War : Act1-7 (JPN Ver) Part2of2

Gears of War : Act1-8 (JPN Ver)

(via Digg)

January 23rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Gears of War, Xbox 360, Xbox, Humor, General | 4 comments

Gears Of War Reaches 3 Million Sold

Some more happy news for Microsoft: Gears of War has now sold an amazing three million copies. Microsoft has completely set the bar for games sold in this video game generation. Also announced: the multiplayer map pack for Gears of War, released about ten days ago, has been downloaded by 750,000 users, showing off well just how many Gears buyers are enjoying the online play of the blockbuster title.

And while Gears of War received plenty of high marks in the U.S., garnering Game of the Year nominations and awards from multiple outlets, it’s also worth noting that the shooter is one of the few Western video games to gain some acclaim among Japanese press. Famitsu has given Gears a Platinum award, making it the second Microsoft Games Studio title to receive that honor in the past two months following Blue Dragon.

January 21st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Gears of War, Xbox Live, Xbox 360, Xbox, General | no comments

Gears Of War Getting New Maps

Gears of War fans (and there are several million of you), rejoice! Two new maps are coming to the game as a free download this Wednesday, January 10 (Australia and New Zealand get it on the 11th). Kotaku has the details and beautiful pics.

January 8th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Xbox 360, Gears of War, Office, Xbox, Applications, General | no comments

Gears Of War Reaches 2 Million Sales

Microsoft is proudly trumpeting that Gears of War is the runaway success they had hoped it would be, selling 2 million copies worldwide in its first six weeks, and over a million copies in the US alone. Gears has produced revenues of $61.5 million, making it the top selling game of November, and the biggest hit of this new generation of game consoles.

The November top 10:

  • 1. “Gears of War” Xbox 360 Microsoft
  • 2. “Final Fantasy XII” PlayStation 2 Square Enix
  • 3. “Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” Wii Nintendo
  • 4. “Guitar Hero II” PS2 Activision
  • 5. “WWE Smackdown vs. RAW 2007″ PS2 THQ
  • 6. “Call of Duty 3″ 360 Activision
  • 7. “Madden NFL 07″ PS2 Electronic Arts
  • 8. “Need for Speed: Carbon” PS2 EA
  • 9. “Nintendogs - Dalmatian & Friends” Nintendo DS Nintendo
  • 10.”Pokemon Ranger” NDS Nintendo

In addition to being the must-have video game of the holiday season, “Gears of War” continues to rage on the Xbox Live battlefield as well, with more than 1 million unique gamers engaging in 10 million online gameplay sessions and unlocking an impressive 7 million achievements.* On top of being the No. 1 title on Xbox Live, “Gears of War” has driven new members to the network; paid registrations per day have skyrocketed more than 50 percent since the game’s launch.

December 19th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Gears of War, Xbox 360, Xbox, General | one comment

Fall Into Gears Of War’s Mystery Land

Somebody found out, as you can see in this YouTube video, that if you roll just right, you can fall down the Emergence Holes that some baddies in Gears of War come out of. What do you find when you fall? Well, you’ll have to watch it to find out.

(via Kotaku)

UPDATE: Here’s another cool Gears glitch, this time one that somehow lets you vault forward in mid-air. Check it out:

(video by PlayingHaloToday, via GameVideos > Joystiq)

December 14th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Gears of War, Xbox 360, Xbox, General | no comments