Gaming news wrap-up: Xbox 720, Sony PS4, Nintendo and Steam

Credit: Source: Sony

I'm going to finish off the week with a bunch of short video game news tidbits. I think Microsoft's announcement of the next Xbox revealed stirred the pot, so to speak.

Tech blogger Paul Thurrott re-stated his earlier leaks about the new Xbox. He says the OS is based on the "Core" version of Windows 8, and that the new Xbox will launch at $499, with the option of paying $299 and signing up for a 2-year Xbox Live contract at $10/month. The launch date is November 2013.

Most of this is rehash, but let's talk about price just a bit. $500 is too much, in my opinion. But so is spending $120/year for Xbox live. I guess if you figure Xbox Live is normally $60/year (though generally you can get it cheaper than that) then you're paying an extra $120 over two years to save $200. Suddenly that seems like a deal. (This assumes Xbox Live isn't going to get a price increase; if it does the deal is even better, assuming you want Xbox Live.)

Anyway you can click on through to pick up a few more details from Thurrott.

Nintendo's response to Microsoft's announcement of an Xbox announcement was to announce that they aren't putting on a big dog & pony show at E3. OK, it was probably more of a coincidence than anything; but it's true: this year at E3 'The Big 3' will be 'The Big 2.' Nintendo says instead of a flashy (and expensive) press conference they'll hold a pair of smaller events, one for the media and one a partner presentation. Nintendo will also continue with its series of "Nintendo Direct" streaming events to talk directly to fans.

With the Wii U struggling the way it has been, it's an interesting decision. Maybe it's just a matter of cost, but what really worries me is that Nintendo didn't think they had enough content to support a big splashy presentation (just to be clear, that's pure speculation on my part). Joystiq has more details on Nintendo's plans, including the fact that the partner presentation will still take place at the Nokia Theater, where in past years Nintendo has held its big press conference.

Sony's desperate ploy to drag our attention away from the next Xbox and back to the Playstation 4 was to put up a blog post with a video that consists of developers gushing over the DualShock 4 controller for two and a half minutes. I'm happy that Sony is so pleased with its controller but someday it'd be nice to see the actual Playstation 4, wouldn't it?

Sony also had some good news to share. They actually doubled their annual profit estimate though a lot of that seemed to be due to a soft yen and the sale of some pricey real estate. Still, it's a nice turn around from a 456.7 billion yen loss last fiscal year to a projected profit of 40 billion yen this year. As of last February they'd been estimating a 20 billion yen profit.

And now for something completely different. PC gaming news! Valve has announced that game publishers can now offer game subscriptions through Steam. The first title to do so is Darkfall Unholy Wars. Value issued a blog post and a help page with more info.

This is not only a convenience to gamers, but another step along the path to Valve releasing some kind of "Steam Box" console-like device. The ideal of a Steam Box would be that it booted into Steam and you'd never have to leave the Steam ecosystem, and for that to work some kind of subscription support would be required.

Last up, I don't really have any 'news angle' for this video...I just thought it was pretty cool so I'm sticking it at the end of this post. You can learn more about the technology behind it on Miles Macklin's blog.

[Update: See? This is what happens when I unplug too early in the evening. After I wrote this post (Thursday evening), two more bits of gaming news cropped up:

First, the spring Wii U update is apparently out. I haven't had a chance to test it myself, but Joystiq has all the details and 'patch notes.'

Second, Sony announced that any PSN purchases you make through their web store will now be queued for download when you turn your PS3 on. So I guess we now have a reason to actually use the web store.]

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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