Unity announces support for Microsoft’s Xbox One and Windows Phone

GAME ENGINE DEVELOPER Unity has announced that it will support Microsoft’s Xbox One and Windows Phone.

Unity has become one of the main game engines for developers wanting to make games on mobile devices, with the firm having a significant presence at the Game Developer Conference two months ago. Now the firm has announced a partnership with Microsoft that will see it support the firm’s upcoming Xbox One games console along with the Windows Phone mobile operating system.

Unity CEO David Helgason said that the firm’s Windows Store Pro publishing add-on will be free when it is released. This means that developers who already have a Unity Pro 4 licence can port games to the Windows Store and Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system without having to pay an additional licence fee, a cost that is probably being subsidised at least in part by Microsoft, which is becoming more desperate to attract developers to its Windows Phone mobile operating system.

Helgason said, “We also announced that we’re collaborating with Microsoft to develop tools for the Xbox One entertainment system, including support for many next-generation features like enhanced Kinect gestures and recognition, multiplayer matchmaking, Smartglass and cloud stuff.

“Oh, and developers who build games published by Microsoft Studios get the tools for both Xbox 360 and Xbox One free of charge.”

For Microsoft, Unity’s support is key if it wants developers to start taking its Windows Phone mobile operating system seriously. Unity’s support for Xbox One is not much of a surprise, because after all there are only three games consoles and game developers will want to work on an engine that supports most if not all of the consoles in order to keep costs down.



Microsoft: Kinect for Xbox One will not work on PCs

When Microsoft announced a special next-generation Kinect for Windows pre-release developer program earlier today, the move got us wondering whether Windows-based tinkerers couldn’t just plug the Kinect that came with the Xbox One into their PC instead, as hackers did almost immediately after the release of the original Kinect for Xbox 360. Unfortunately, the answer is no. Microsoft has confirmed to Ars Technica that the new generation Kinect that comes packaged with every Xbox One console has a proprietary connector that can not be plugged directly into a PC and that Microsoft is not planning to release an adapter to allow such cross-platform use.

“The Kinect for Xbox One sensor will not have an adaptor that allows it to plug into a computer,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Ars in an e-mail. Instead, “the new generation Kinect for Windows sensor will connect to computers using a standard USB3 port [emphasis added].”

Microsoft says the Xbox One and Windows versions of the new generation Kinect are “built on a shared set of technologies” and have similar capabilities such as 1080p video, an active IR mode, and a wider field of view than the first Kinect. But that doesn’t mean the devices are exactly the same, or designed to be interoperable with the other platform.

“The new generation Kinect for Windows sensor will be a fully tested, licensed, and supported Kinect experience on Windows,” the spokesperson told Ars. “Kinect for Xbox One is being built for and tested with the Xbox One.”

Of course, hardware hackers may well develop their own adapter to allow the Xbox One Kinect to talk to a PC. Even in that case, though, Microsoft says the Xbox One’s Kinect “is not licensed for commercial use, supported, or under warranty when used on any other platform, including Windows.”

The original Kinect for Xbox 360 also features a proprietary plug that is designed to be inserted directly in to a specially shaped slot on later model Xbox 360 systems. This plug provides both data transfer between the console and the Kinect and power directly to the camera. However, Microsoft also includes an adapter with each Xbox 360 Kinect that allows the unit to plug in to standard USB ports on older Xbox 360 models and to draw power from a standard wall outlet at the same time.

Windows-based hackers almost immediately used this adapter to plug the original Kinect into their PCs and tinker with the new depth-based camera technology, which was much cheaper than other 3D cameras at the time. A variety of PC demos and unofficial PC drivers were available for Kinect months before Microsoft launched its official Windows SDK for the device, and well before Microsoft split off a separate, USB “Kinect for Windows” sensor.

Things will be different this time around. Even if you get your hands on an Xbox One launch unit this November, you’ll have to sign up for Microsoft’s newly announced pre-release Kinect for Windows developer program and pay $399 to use the new Kinect on a PC at that time. That will get you early access to a “pre-release/alpha” edition of the Windows version of the sensor in November, as well as the final version of the Windows-based Kinect when it is released some time in 2014 (plus access to official SDKs and development support from Microsoft). Microsoft has not discussed how much the Windows version of the new Kinect will cost when it is released for general availability.

It seems likely that the ability to use the original Xbox 360 Kinect on a Windows machine was an unintended bonus, born of Microsoft’s need to offer compatibility with legacy Xbox 360 systems. For the launch of the new Kinect, Microsoft seems committed to producing two highly similar yet distinct versions of the hardware for two different platforms.


Microsoft will cut Xbox One price, but only if it falls behind the PS4 in sales

Microsoft is prepared to lower the price of the Xbox One, but only if it falls behind in the race with the PS4.

That’s the opinion of Wedbush analyst Michael Patcher.

However, he doubts that it will be necessary, especially since the u-turn on its DRM policies for the Xbox One.

Speaking to investors, he said that he believes Microsoft could still emerge out on top of the next generation, despite the false start.

“Microsoft intends to offer a more robust hardware bundle than Sony will offer, and Microsoft is convinced that consumers will ultimately appreciate the value proposition presented by Kinect,” Pachter told investors.

“Microsoft has not done a particularly good job of communicating the value proposition to consumers, but today’s announcement will remove an impediment to the company’s ability to get its message across.

“We are confident that with six months of focused messaging, Microsoft can fully level the playing field with Sony, and we expect the Xbox One to sell as many units as the PS4.

However, should he be wrong and Microsoft fails to sell as well, if not better than the PS4, he fully expects the company will lower the price of the Xbox One.

“If we are wrong, we think that Microsoft is prepared to lower price next year.”

Source: http://www.t3.com/news/microsoft-will-cut-xbox-one-price-but-only-if-it-falls-behind-the-ps4-in-sales