Video game legend Ralph Baer passed away this weekend. If you don’t know who he is, I recommend watching this short video by PBS. As you’ll soon learn, much of what we do in the video game industry is a direct result of many of his inventions.
I was fortunate to have spent a Sunday afternoon with him earlier this year at his home in New Hampshire, where he agreed to be a guest on my podcast and show me around his workshop. Here is a never before seen photo of Ralph and I in his lab, playing on the “brown box” – the prototype that would go on to become the Magnavox Odyssey.
It was a magical afternoon that I shall remember for the rest of my life.
Remember earlier this year when I went out to the desert of New Mexico to join Director Zak Penn and get to the bottom of the legend of the ET Atari cartridges being buried? The full story can now be told in the form of “Atari: Game Over” now available for free on Xbox 360, Xbox One and Xbox Video.
“I’m quite serious when I say this is one of the best video game documentaries ever made. That’s still a pretty niche field, but Atari: Game Over belongs up there with Indie Game: The Movie and King of Kong as a real standout.” – Hayden Dingman, PC World
“After getting an advance screening this weekend, GeekWire highly recommends the film, particularly for gamers who grew up in the era of the Atari 2600 — and even more for those who didn’t, as a way of appreciating the roots of the games they play today.” – Todd Bishop, GeekWire
“Atari: Game Over is a wonderful movie. It’s a love story about video games, the people who play them and the people who make them.” – Colin Campbell, Polygon
“The hour-long film chronicles the rise and fall of Atari by literally uncovering the truth of what happened to millions of unsold ‘E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’ videogame cartridges in 1983.” – Marc Graser, Variety
Three decades after it was rumored that thousands of unsold Atari 2600 games and accessories, highlighted by E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, were secretly dumped in a New Mexico landfill, the urban legend has been confirmed. Hundreds of fans and media attendees gathered in Alamogordo as a loader dug deep into the earth in search of evidence. After just a couple of hours and 30 feet of debris passed by, E.T. once again saw daylight.
For those of you who couldn’t make it out to New Mexico, Xbox Wire has full coverage of all the goings-on. Cameras were rolling for the filming a documentary on the event that will be airing soon, but I brought my own crew to bring you this inside look at a once-in-a-lifetime event. Enjoy:
As it turned out, folks around the world were following along with the dig via Twitter. Here are a few of our favorite moments as the first cartridges were brought to the surface in real time:
Last week, Microsoft named Phil Spencer our new Head of Xbox, and I spoke with him about his vision of the future. While this is a new role for Phil, he’s actually been with Microsoft since 1988. I recently chatted with him about what he’s accomplished over the past 26 years: which roles he’s held at Xbox, which titles he’s worked on, and who he’s worked with.
Moving this post to the front page for the weekend for easy reference
As you get ready to map out your plan of attack for PAX East 2014 at the Boston Convention Center from April 11th – 13th, be sure to include the Xbox presence (booth #524) in your agenda.
From the newly released Kinect Sports Rivals to Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare to Titanfall, we’ve got something for everybody. Catch up with some of our most engaged members of the Project Spark community (and try it out for yourself), or go hands on with ID@Xbox titles Super Time Force and Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut.
Check back here for updates, and be sure to follow @Xbox and the #PAXEast hashtag on Twitter to keep up with the latest details on all our activities at PAX East 2014.
No tickets? No worries – you can still join us at a special event at the Natick Mall Microsoft retail store on Thursday, April 10th. For more details on all the great content we’ll be showing off this year, read on:
Microsoft Store Xbox Event – Thursday, April 10th 7:00 PM | Natick Mall, MA
Before heading into the 70,000 human abyss at the Convention Center, let’s kick off PAX East together, New England! Join Xbox’s Major Nelson on Thursday, April 10th at 7pm at the Natick Mall Microsoft retail store for the first ever public demonstration of multiplayer mode in Harmonix’s upcoming Fantasia: Music Evolved. Attendees will also get to play unreleased ID@Xbox games, the newly released Kinect Sports Rivals, and enter to win prizes including a pair of tickets to the sold out PAX East event.
Great news – you don’t need PAX tickets to attend, everyone is welcome! See you there.
Project Spark – Playing is Creating: How to transform from an everyday gamer to a creative visionary with Project Spark – Saturday, April 12th 12:00 PM | Albatross Theatre
Have the dream of creating your perfect game? Interested in seeing what an engaged and passionate community can create? Do you love playing new, different, and unique games? Join Team Dakota as we share the vision and reality of the limitless possibilities of Project Spark. We will showcase some of the amazing games, worlds, and content that our community has created. Learn more about Project Spark: Where Players Create and Creators Play. Currently available in beta and launching soon on Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Windows 8.1!
Titanfall – Looking Back & Moving Forward – Saturday, April 12th 4:30PM | Main Theatre
Come meet members of Respawn Entertainment, including co-founder and CEO Vince Zampella, Producer Drew McCoy, Lead Designer Justin Hendry, Software Engineer Jon “Slothy” Shiring, and Community Manager Abbie Heppe, as they revisit the making, the launch, and the future of Titanfall.
Major Nelson Radio – Live! – Saturday, April 12th 6:00 PM | Albatross Theatre
Hello New England….we are baaaaaaaaaaaaack! Major Nelson Radio returns to PAX East with more fun than ever before. We hope.
Join Larry Hyrb, Xbox LIVE’s Major Nelson, e, and JEF United as we record an episode of the award winning podcast “Major Nelson Radio” LIVE in front of the studio audience. We will have prizes, guests and probably fun. Note: Clowns are not permitted at the recording.
Hands-on Gaming & Entertainment
Kinect Sports Rivals – Built for the power of Xbox One, Kinect Sports Rivals captures your likeness as a champion and plunges you into a world of sports competition. Sign up to compete against friends, rivals, and the entire world in the Kinect Sports Rivals World Championship for a chance to win the grand prize of ten thousand dollars cash and a trip of a lifetime.
Titanfall – Winner of Over 85 Awards – Titanfall is the first next-gen shooter that combines pure adrenaline, wall-running, double-jumping action with powerful, fast-paced titan warfare to set the new bar for online multiplayer gameplay. Stop by, as we’ll be featuring 24 stations for you to get hands on time with what GameSpot called “A Leap Forward for Shooters”.
Project Spark – The ultimate creation game that lets anyone build unique and instantly playable levels, experiences, and worlds, Project Spark will showcase exciting new content on Xbox One and Windows 8.1 at PAX East. In addition to Team Dakota, the development team behind Project Spark, providing hands-on and guided demos of the game, several of Project Spark’s superstar community members will showcase their own games and levels created within the game. Consumers who come by the booth and try the game for themselves can receive an exclusive “Pinny Arcade” pin (limited quantity).
Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare will be showcasing the Garden Ops mode, which pits four Plant team members against waves and waves of zombies and bosses who are out to destroy your garden, featuring content from the Garden Variety Pack update including a new map, a slew of additional character upgrades, and a host of fresh Pirate Zombies for players to face in the Sharkbite Shores map. Boss Mode allows players to employ SmartGlass to support their teams with a top-down view of the battlefield, employing enemy intel, health drops, revive stations and explosive artillery strikes. Players will also have a chance to receive The Super Duper Pack and Craaazy Pack giving players a mix of customization and consumable items, and are guaranteed to include at least one Uncommon item, one Rare item, and a high likelihood of a Rare character piece.
ID@Xbox – Recently highlighted at GDC, ID@Xbox is how independent game developers participate in the momentum of Xbox One. We’re showing off two of the titles – Super Time Force and Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut in the Xbox Live area of the booth.
Twitch – With Twitch on Xbox One, you can broadcast and watch your favorite games live. Just say “Xbox, Broadcast” to show the world what you’re playing. Once you’re done broadcasting, use Twitch to watch the games you love, chat with the players you follow, or even join a broadcaster’s game.
Also playable: Forza Motorsport 5, Dead Rising 3, Ryse: Son of Rome & Killer Instinct
Other Recommended Fun
State of Decay – Booth #1039
For the first time, come play “Lifeline”, the new DLC for State of Decay, at the Undead Labs booth (#1039) during PAX! State of Decay is the hit zombie survival game which fans have turned into a multi-million unit franchise. Available on both Xbox 360 and Steam*, Lifeline will put you into the boots of Greyhound One — a military unit sent to ground-zero of the zombie apocalypse to rescue a group of scientists who might be the key to fighting the plague. *State of Decay game required, sold separately.
Powerstar Golf- Booth #836
Powerstar Golf will reveal a brand new course for the first time at PAX East! Play the course at Ubisoft’s Booth (#836), where Powerstar Golf will be one of the titles featured in Ubisoft’s “The Next Level” Tournament. Also, make sure to watch the trailer playing throughout the weekend in the booth.
Fighting game enthusiasts at PAX East 2014 will have a chance to flex their competitive muscles playing Killer Instinct on Xbox One for the chance to win a variety of great prizes at the Turtle Beach booth (#862). Gamers in attendance can register for one of the 32 open slots available for each of the 3 days. All gameplay will happen on the Xbox One, using Killer Instinct FightSticks and customized Turtle Beach XO SEVEN headsets. All participants will also receive an exclusive Killer Instinct FightStick pin!
Twitch – Booth #936
Make sure you swing by the Twitch booth (#936) to catch Capcom Pro Tour action throughout the weekend. Twitch will also be giving away awesome swag bags to the first 250 people who come check out how easy it is to stream on next generation consoles including Xbox One. Can’t make it? Watch it all from the Twitch app on your Xbox 360 or Xbox One.
Age of Mythology Extended – Booth#492
The Battle for Heaven and Earth Begins again!After the successful release of Age of Empires II :HD, Microsoft Studios is now bringing you Age of Mythology Extended an updated combination of the award-winning Age of Mythology and the Titan expansion. Stop by the Age of Empires booth (#492) where you will be able to demo Age of Mythology: EX before it’s release or have your picture taken in the OneDrive photo stand and earn their your own Anubis Pinny Arcade pin and AOM:EX kraken bandana (while supplies last).
Saturday at 11am in the Que Room: Your chance to have a poster signed by a Titanfall Respawn developer Saturday at 2pm at the Xbox Booth: Your chance to play alongside a Titanfall Respawn developer Sunday at 2pm at the Xbox Booth: Your chance to play alongside a Titanfall Respawn developer
Today it has been announced that Phil Spencer has been named the Head of Xbox. He will be leading the Xbox, Xbox Live, and creative teams including Xbox Music, Xbox Video and Microsoft Studios.
I’ve known Phil for a long time, and I am incredibly excited by this news and what it means for Xbox. I’ll get him on the Podcast this week to discuss his thoughts. Join me in congratulating Phil on his new role
Please join me in welcoming Jeff Rubenstein to my team. Jeff has been in the industry for a quite some time, but many of you may know him from the great work he did while at Sony. While you’ll see Jeff at various community events, and posting occasionally here on my blog, he’s also working on additional community driven programs that we’re not ready to announce yet. In the meantime, I asked Jeff to write a short blurb to (re?) introduce himself to the Xbox Community so he can jump right in and get started:
I’m beyond thrilled to be joining the Xbox team at such an exciting time for the industry. During the interview process, I was taken with how passionate and positive everyone is about gaming, and in how highly they value customer opinion. Especially important to my decision to join the team is the way Microsoft has demonstrated a willingness to listen to the community – and act on what it hears – quite clearly as of late.
I’m also hoping they’ll let me play Titanfall.
Little known fact: I’ve actually known Larry since he helped me on a story I wrote for the Orlando Sentinel back in 2007. We’ve stayed in contact ever since, and his vision on using social media to interact with gamers has been a key influence on my career. Joining Major Nelson’s team is an awesome opportunity, and I look forward to working closely with you all. See you soon!
Have you wondered what it would be like to work in one of the coolest jobs on the West coast? Actually, two of the coolest jobs on the West Coast that have just opened up as full-time positions on my team. (One and Two) This is a rare and unique opportunity to join me, Major Nelson, and the Xbox Community team as we blaze new trails and I want you on this team!
Interested? Read the official job descriptions here and here. If you’ve held these reins before, and one of these roles scream you, APPLY NOW via the MSFT Careers Page.
Knock us out. Show us your innovation. Show us why you are different.
Update: As of today, August 23rd the chance to apply is now closed. Good luck to everyone.
Earlier today at the BUILD Conference in San Francisco we announced a new collaboration with Unity Technology. The headline is that developers who build games published by Microsoft Studios now have access to Unity tools for Xbox 360 and Xbox One free of charge and can create interactive 3D and 2D . experiences. Unity will develop tools for Xbox One, including support for features like multiplayer matchmaking, SmartGlass, enhanced Kinect gestures and recognition, and the power of the cloud.
Yesterday KLab Inc. announced a licensing agreement with Microsoft to develop a mobile version of Microsoft Studio’s “Age of Empires” franchise, which will be initially developed in English for iOS and Android and launched globally, with plans to release the game in other languages and on Windows Phone in the future.
Some reports included incorrect information about additional Xbox based games on iOS and Android but there are no further announcements beyond “Age of Empires” at this time.
You may have already seen this from our friends in Europe , but I just wanted to make sure you know that Xbox will be back at Gamescom this year. I am very much looking forward to returning to Cologne in August as we have a lot to share with you this year.
On Tuesday May 21st, we’ll mark the beginning of a new generation of games, TV and entertainment. On that day, we’ll be holding a special press event on the Xbox campus and we invite you to join us via the live global stream that will be available on Xbox LIVE and Xbox.com. If you are in the US or Canada, you can also watch the broadcast on Spike TV.
On that day, we’ll share our vision for Xbox, and give you a real taste of the future. Then, 19-days later at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, we’ll continue the conversation and showcase our full lineup of blockbuster games.
We are thrilled to pull back the curtain and reveal what we’ve been working on.
The deadline to enter the National STEM Video Game Challenge is later this month. Xbox is a proud sponsor of this competition for the third year running. By giving the kids the tools to create their own video games, we hope that they will get excited about subjects like math, science, technology and engineering. And maybe it will even spark an interest in careers designing and building the Xbox games of the future. Check out this video of winners from the 2012 contest, and learn more about Microsoft’s involvement and investment in the Challenge over at the Microsoft in Education blog.
If you know any talented middle or high school students (grades 5-12), encourage them to submit their original game designs by April 24. Visit http://stemchallenge.org for more details on contest entry, rules, eligibility and prizes.