Put down that console. Log-off. Big doings at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco yesterday. The big Magilla, Microsoft Corp. announced the first details of its next-generation Xbox video game system platform. And the near future is all about high definition.
“In the HD era the platform is bigger than the processor,” says J. Allard, Microsofts corporate vice president and Chief XNA architect. “New technology and emerging consumer forces will come together to enable the rock stars of game development to shake up the old establishment and redefine entertainment as we know it.”
Building on a decade of innovation with the DirectX API, the Microsoft Windows and Xbox platforms will enable groundbreaking game experiences in HD, Allard promises. Illustrating what that means for gamers, Allard shared the first details about the next-generation Xbox guide. Features of the guide include these:
–Gamer Cards. Gamer Cards provide gamers with a quick look at key Xbox Live information. They let players instantly connect with people who have similar skills, interests and lifestyles.
–Marketplace. Browseable by game, by genre, and in a number of other ways, the Marketplace will provide a one-stop shop for consumers to acquire episodic content, new game levels, maps, weapons, vehicles, skins and new community-created content.
–Micro-transactions. Breaking down barriers of small-ticket online commerce, micro-transactions will allow developers and the gaming community to charge as little as they like for content they create and publish on Marketplace.
–Custom playlists. This feature eliminates the need for developers to support custom music in games. The guide instantly connects players to their music so they can listen to their own tracks while playing all their favorite next-generation Xbox games.
To support consumer demands for HD, the next-generation Xbox is designed around key principles that let developers maximize real performance, using concepts they are already familiar with. The next-generation Xbox hardware design principles include, among other things: more than a teraflop of targeted computing performance, a multicore processor architecture co-developed with IBM Corp. that provides developer “headroom” and flexibility and a custom-designed graphics processor co-developed with ATI Technologies Inc. designed specifically for HD games and entertainment applications.