Xbox 360 launch night commentary

We stayed up all night. Recap the fun.

This page will be updated throughout the evening of May 12th BST, transitioning into May 13th, during the early hours of which the Xbox 360 MTV special airs in the US. Keep refreshing. If you've just arrived, read from the lowest update upward. New stuff will be added near the top.

IF YOU'VE JUST JOINED US... - You'll be wanting to read everything on this page from the bottom up, because it's quite entertaining. But before you do anything you should check this video - the OurColony.net "Revelation" - which new favourite-reader redzero linked just after 2AM BST. Delve deeper into the content below and you'll find hardware specs, game confirmations, and layers and layers of subtler details that paint the picture of an exhaustively thought out console launch. Speaking of the launch - it'll be out worldwide this year, as Bill Gates suggested. We'll cobble it all into neater shape Friday morning UK time.

03:29 BST - OH GO ON THEN, ONE MORE - www.xbox360.com is live. Ta ra!

03:14 BST - RIGHT THEN - We still have little idea what happened on MTV (although as we refresh the comments it appears word is filtering onto the net), but there's so much information flooding the Internet that nobody seems to care anyway. After an initial burst of excitement - mostly the sheer ecstasy of release after so much pent up boredom at all the not-actually-denials and tedious obfuscations - we're quieter and more subdued now. Gears of War is a handsome devil, but the rest of the line-up is perhaps what you would have expected. Lots of big guns, shiny visuals, and sequels. And Perfect Dark Zero has not impressed too many people by the looks of it. Hopefully in motion it's a lot more exciting.

As for excitement now, there's a lot more to be had from the hardware itself than the line-up of games unveiled tonight. Hopefully the pre-E3 Xbox 360 conference will shed some light on more original and more inventive franchises - with Halo 3, Project Gotham Racing 3, Dimitri and others apparently absent from tonight's onslaught of US-based coverage. Ignoring the games for a minute though, it's hard not to be overwhelmed by the sheer comprehensiveness of the Xbox 360 concept. There's so much to it.

Calming now, it feels like time for bed. Check back later on Friday for a more deliberate and considered appraisal of what's been announced, and stick with Eurogamer over the next week for our coverage and reaction to the Electronic Entertainment Expo, where all this will be explored as concisely as possible! All there remains to say is thank you to everyone who stopped by this evening. It's been a long trip, but yours truly has very much enjoyed it. And is now very much losing his marbles, repeating himself, and stumbling to discuss himself in the third person. G'night.

03:08 BST - COD MISHAP - I batter correct that one. Oof. Call of Duty 2 Proper is hitting PC and Xbox 360. Call of Duty 2: Big Red One is for PS2, Xbox and GameCube.

02:53 BST - REGAINING A BIT OF COMPOSURE - Yes, all right, the video is very puffy and wannabe-hip. The cynical contingent will rip me to shreds for even mentioning it in a sentence devoid of the word "faux". But I'll leave that to you all. What I'm wondering is: what the hell is happening on MTV? Also, there's a heck of a lot of preview information around and naturally all the specs and other details are out in the open, so one has to wonder how, to go back to what Peter Moore said, the pre-E3 Xbox conference can go any deeper? Any thoughts? Are we going to turn up on Monday to meet Xbox 720?

02:45 BST - PERFECT DARK ZERO SHOTS (FOR REAL) - Here we are. Wow. Kneejerk reaction? I preferred the fakes.

02:33 BST - HERE WE GO THEN - The show must be on in the US by now. And the coverage has just gone up all over. Kotaku's we just read. It clarifies our earlier point about batteries: "The 360's wireless controller will initially be powered with triple-A batteries, but [Jeff] Henshaw said that later versions will likely include rechargeable powerpacks." Kotaku also has a fact sheet, full specs and a comparison between Xbox and Xbox 360. These say pretty much everything.

GameSpot has a lot more specifics, and sets the tone for the big sites. News of Ghost Recon 3, confirmation of our suggestion earlier that Call of Duty: Big Red One is an Xbox 360 title [actually it's proper CoD2; Big Red One is PS2/Xbox/Cube], along with Quake IV on Xbox 360 news (both of those here), a chat with the folks. IGN's gone live too. Same kind of stuff, differing in a few areas. Ditto 1UP.

02:22 BST - NDAS ABOUT TO EXPIRE - All the folks who signed things are about to make our little page look very basic. We'll post links to each site's coverage shortly, and keep you up to date on what's in the MTV special as it airs.

02:02 BST - IT'S ALL TRUE - Lord. That video has everything. The logo was real, the name, there's game footage, testimonials. Shots of people working on the console. Shots of the circuit boards. "A trillion floating point operations per second." And seeing it in someone's arms, it just looks gorgeous. It's very small compared to the previous unit, has a "water-cooled" CPU. Loads of different faceplates shown off in that video too. "The 360 button is how you get to the UI." Xbox 360 Guide seems to be the doorway to absolutely everything you could possibly imagine. It baaaaasically does everything that we've said tonight. The video isn't even finished as I type.

This probably all comes across as very unprofessional, but this is probably the most exciting thing I've experienced as a gamer in ages. Just sitting here at two in the morning hammering out notes as I come across them. For all the tedious shrugging off of "rumour and speculation", this launch has worked wonderfully well with its concert of viral marketing, authorised announcements and leaks. Watch the video.

02:02 BST - PAYDIRT - Check this out. Xbox 360 confirmed. Allard and co. banging on about it. Footage and all. We are the colony! Who would've thought?

01:45 BST - HARDWARE AND LIVE SPECS, MORE GAME DETAILS, ETC - We love Norwegians! Erlend Grefsrud has submitted a fuller translation of the GameReactor text, bringing up a few more points that we have probably heard before but not this evening. These are the hardware specs in the GameReactor piece, according to this chap. Let's do one of those lovely bulletpoint lists, shall we?

  • CPU: 3x IBM PowerPC 3.2GHz
  • GPU: Custom ATI 500MHz (10MB embedded DRAM)
  • Polygon-drawing capacity: 500 millions per second
  • Shader capacity: 48 billion shader operations per second
  • Memory: 512MB GDDR2 RAM
  • Storage Media: Removable and upgradeable hard drive (20GBs), 12x DVD (dual layer), memory cards (64MBs)
  • Ports: Supports up to four wireless joypads at the same time, 3 USB ports (2 in front, 1 in the rear), 2 memory card ports
  • Online: Integrated Live, Ethernet port, WiFi 802.11b enabled, webcam with 1280px resolution
  • Supported Media: DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-R/RW, WMA CD, MP3 CD, JPEG Photo CD
  • Streaming: Music from media players or a personal computer with Windows XP, movies and photos from the web cam via Live
  • High Definition: All games support 16:9, 720p, 1080i, 5.1 Dolby Digital and personally customized soundtracks

Xbox Live Silver, as was speculated to a certain extent last week, allows you to download content and demos and take part in live-video conversations for free. Xbox Live Gold, meanwhile, let's you actually play. There will apparently be exceptions, however. Massively-multiplayer games, for example, will involve paying the developer directly. Interestingly, there will also be special free trial weekends where all content will be made available to all users for nowt.

The translation also mentions compatibility with the iPod (!), and claims you'll be able to watch TV or movies and still accept Live invitations while that's going on. Furthermore, the European and Japanese launches will follow just "7-10 days" after the US, although a price won't be known until "October or November". And, apparently, Kameo: Elements of Power will be among the first games released by Microsoft.

Our question: what happened to the mulitchannel sond?

01:34 BST - HOUR COLONY - OurColony.net, Microsoft's/or is it's curious/boring viral marketing thing for Xbox 360 seems to be relaunching or something. Wow, that was a rubbish update.

01:28 BST - CELEBS AT THE MTV THING - Eurogamer boss-man Rupert, who is currently drawing up your humble(d) correspondent's P45, points to this page on Xbox.com featuring a rundown of all the celebrities who attended the MTV thing. We've no idea who half of them are. But Kyle Gass of Tenacious D was there, so now we're listening to them.

01:25 BST - THIS IS ALSO A FAKE - This is apparently Half-Life 2 with a gun laid over the top.

A "Mr. Anonymous" adds, on the subject of the other fake PD Zero shots: "They originated from this thread on TeamXbox.com. One user got fed up with mediocre screen shots, so he created his own."

01:13 BST - NOW I'M DELETING THINGS - In order not to look like a prat. Yes, I posted some Perfect Dark Zero shots which were (in the view of many readers, some of whom have called me a "retard") fake. I've also dropped the royal "we". Damn.

Moving away from my own failings, we've (ah, we're back) stumbled across this NewsFactor story credited to the AP (cheers Simon) which carries a few details. Apparently it was linked off Google News.

Quotes of interest: "Microsoft says Xbox 360 will arrive in North American stores by Thanksgiving and in Europe and Japan by year's end." And you'll be "watching movies, playing music, viewing slide shows or holding video chats". Also: "Xbox 360 supports DVD playback out of the box".

Finally: "Xbox Live gamers who can already talk to one another during game play will also be able to see their buddies and competitors in video-chat windows off to one side of the screen." It also says the camera will be sold separately.

Room for one more? Yossarian says: "Regarding the AA batteries, I believe that's an option, but the controller can also be recharged by docking it somehow. That's been suggested in numerous places for a while now." Numerous places that probably didn't post the Perfect Dark Zero shots.

70-odd minutes to the MTV show. Excited yet?

00:53 BST - AHA, A PROPER TRANSLATION - Our new favourite reader Shadar writes: "Correct translation ahoy! Since I am Norwegian, I get Danish." Works for us, chap. According to Shadar's translation, over 20 prototypes were presented and rejected, the E3 samples will be finished hardware with thematic front design options for games like Halo 3, Perfect Dark Zero and Project Gotham Racing 3, there are no screws visible anywhere on the unit, and the fans on the unit will switch themselves on and off allowing for a quieter unit whilst watching DVDs and such. The controller also feels the same, and takes two AA batteries.

00:52 BST - SONY'S WORRIED? - Not exactly X360-related, but perhaps X360-influenced. Various reports are springing up (thanks Jonathan Correa) that Sony CFO Takao Yuhara has indicated the company is considering a 2005 launch for the PlayStation 3 - or whatever the hell it's called - within the year. "For the year end sales season [so, Christmas], simultaneously building up both the PlayStation Portable system in America and Europe as well as the next generation PlayStation is one option that we have," Engadget quotes him as saying. Good plan. Hire more boats this time though.

00:38 BST - MORE CIRCLES - See what happens? We start quoting feedback form emails and suddenly everyone discovers sentence construction and punctuation. Thankfully. Good old "beemoh" writes: "Further credence could be given to the rumoured circle logo of the Xbox 360 as today's Metro - that free newspaper on [London] public transport - had an ad in for the show on MTV UK tomorrow which contained a similar arrangement of green circles." Perhaps they'll have the launch party on the Circle line.

23:58 BST - TUMBLEWEED - Two and a half hours to go by our watches and not much is happening. We're still here though. We're playing this (again) to amuse ourselves. Well, actually we're not - we're taking advantage of the lull to plug away at stuff that you won't see on the site for a few days yet - but you should play that anyway. Our top score is something like 3,200, which is, apparently, a bit rubbish once you get used to it.

23:21 BST - SNOW NOT FOR X360 AFTER ALL - It seems Cpt_Fluffy's barb about Marketwatch.com's "insight" might not be too wide of the mark. This press release says that Rockstar's Snow is "for the Xbox video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and PC". It's a real-time strategy game due out in 2006 "based on the greed driven world of a ciminal empire" and Take-Two's Frog City studio is apparently doing it. Heck, it's not even Rockstar according to this. It's 2K Games. Someone was on drugs, then.

Larzen, meanwhile, has emailed links to bigger versions of the GameReactor scans. 1, 2, 3, 4.

23:09 BST - READER MAIL - It's all gone a bit quiet, so let's do some reader email stuff. Cpt_Fluffy points out: "That marketwatch.com video you posted calls GTA and True Crime first-person shooters... what insight they have." Good point. Next, from the comments, drks reminds us: "the thing on the bottom is for attaching to a USB lead for charging/connecting to PC". We have indeed seen that mentioned elsewhere. Finally, another reader called Brown Trousers, who rather worryingly seems to have one of our personal email addresses, asks: "Would you say that this update of yours is influenced by the Guardian's text commentary on football matches?" We would say that. In fact, we'd go as far as to say it's a complete rip-off.

22:41 BST - BLACK AND WHITE BUTTONS FOUND - According to comment-poster "jiveguy", "The black and white buttons are shoulder mounted... or so I read". "GunForHire" emailed at the same time and points out that Microsoft actually said this "a few months back".

22:33 BST - ROCKSTAR X360 GAME UNVEILED - Aha. This is more like it. This webcast thing with a ridiculous URL tells us that a new Rockstar game called "Snow", which is a "police action game based on the heroin trade" will be on the show floor at E3 and is for the Xbox 360. Another gritty drugsy game from Rockstar. Cracking.

22:19 BST - NO BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY? - Rob makes a good point via MSN Messenger. If this thing's backwards compatible with Xbox 1, what's happened to the black and white buttons? Because it's not as though you can plug in an old Xbox pad...

While we're on the subject of pads, the appropriately named "Tru7h Seeker" has pointed out via email that the thing about the Xbox 360 pad having a screen is bollocks. A mistranslation. And Lee Knight points out that we got the names muddled in the MSNBC item. Oh well. We did say it was all gossip and hearsay.

22:16 BST - MS E3 STAND MOCK-UP? - Once all this has died down and we actually get to E3, apparently we're going to be walking around "greenspace in an urban setting", which is the design brief that these chaps are saying Microsoft gave to New York design firm Purepartner for the actual Xbox 360 stand.

Apparently Purepartner used familiar civic landmarks as a basis and also drew inspiration from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay "Circles" in which, we might as well quote, "the famed author cites the circle as a metaphor for rebirth, aspiration, inspiration, self-expression, community, communication, and competition". The alleged Xbox 360 logo, of course, features lots of circles. You can find what looks like a mock-up of the stand design here.

All seems a bit loopy to us.

22:04 BST - SCANS STILL UP - Those XboxFront guys come to the rescue. The GameReactor scans are still online here.

22:01 BST - MTV SPOT COST $500,000? - This Forbes piece quotes a "top New York media buyer" who reckons that the Xbox MTV special may have cost Microsoft half a million dollars to book. And that's before the cost of getting Elijah Wood, The Killers and, apparently, Snow Patrol involved. And how much more would it have cost to hire some beefy men to confiscate cameraphones, eh?

21:44 BST - SHOULD WE MAKE STUFF UP? NO - One of our developer friends asks: "If you're doing gossip, shouldn't you make some of it up?" Well no. We don't really want to mislead. "Like saying Mario is coming to Xbox 360 as part of the Rare deal, because MS don't feel like they've got value and Ninty don't want to piss them off." Come now.

21:35 BST - ANALYSTS UNCERTAIN, PAD HAS A SCREEN? - Things have quietened down a touch in the wake of the GameReactor scans, but there's still lots around to read if you're planning on staying with us until late. This item on MSNBC.com has some interesting quotes toward the end from analysts PJ McNealy and Michael Pachter.

McNealy reckons "This is more an Xbox 1.5 than an Xbox 2." So goodness knows what the next one will be called. "It's like an Xbox with a broadband cash register built in," he suggests. Pachter is also a bit wary. "I wonder if there's going to be enough time to get consumers really excited," he said to MSNBC.

Elsewhere, the scans from GameReactor have been yanked from the page we were linking, but we've dug up a few more translation snippets from the thread. Apparently "the round thingy" on the controller is actually a screen that tells you about Xbox Live updates and highlights the number of the wireless controller is in your hands. (Tru7h Seeker has since pointed out that this is a mistranslation.) There is also the suggestion that the hard disk is 20GB but can be upgraded.

21:22 BST - SQUARE ENIX NOT INTERESTED - More from the GameReactor breach (like that?): Apparently one of the quotes from Xbox vice president type person Peter Moore goes as follows. We've preserved the bad translation for you: "We have nothing new planned from Square Enix, and I don't think there will be anything revealed at E3. But it would surprise me if anyone avoid to develop games for Xbox 360 this generation."

Attempts to reach Square Enix's European representatives were unsuccessful, but it's an interesting point nonetheless. Not a cast-iron "never", but not exactly the most positive news in Microsoft's push to make the Xbox 360 a big thing in Japan. Mind you, they've still got Sakaguchi, Mizuguchi and Okamoto.

21:06 BST - GHOST RECON RECON - Those XboxFront guys (whoever they are) are really putting in some hours tonight. Their latest upload is blown up versions of the Ghost Recon 3 screenshots in the GameReactor scans. You can find them here. Looks nice! This one's definitely at E3, too.

20:52 BST - THE BIG RED BUS - Latest thought: Activision's American reps have refused to clarify which platforms the games on their E3 line-up relate to. This wouldn't be such an issue, but oddly there are two entries for Call of Duty 2, the second of which is subtitled "Big Red One". Apparently that was a term used to describe the American 1st Infantry Division during World War II, and the game is a squad-based affair focusing on them.

This ties in, as you may have realised by now, with the reference to Call of Duty 2 in the GameReactor scans linked earlier. Which we'll link again now. Call of Duty 2: Big Red One for Xbox 360? We put two and two together here first.

You can find the whole list of Activision E3 games here.

20:40 BST - NINJA GAIDEN BLACK - Deathgibbon (ello!) points out that there are screenshots of Ninja Gaiden Black on that website too. However, as we understand it, those are just the Ninja Gaiden Perfect Edition that Tecmo mentioned recently, which run on vanilla Xbox. False alarm!

Deathgibbon, since alerted to this, has apologised and said he saw Xbox 360 and Ninja Gaiden Black, put two and two together and made five. No worries mate - Microsoft put Xbox and 2 together and got 360.

20:26 BST - FOUND A VIDEO - Pizza order has been delayed as we've just discovered that a website called XboxFront.com has a little video snippet from the MTV special. Or at least it looks that way. It doesn't show any game footage obviously, but gives us a walk toward the actual hardware at the event. Head here to find it.

Right. Pizza for real this time. Where's the credit card gone?

20:13 BST - FIRST UPDATE - Obviously by now you'll have seen the Dead or Alive 4 shots (not much of a stylistic progression, by the looks of it, but certainly very pretty), and the Ninety-Nine Nights shot, but there's more to be coughed up out there if you give the web a tickle.

Like scans from Danish mag GameReactor, which, depending on where you read about it, tells us various things. They certainly confirm the photographs of the hardware you saw everywhere the other week.

They also claim that the following games have been confirmed: Perfect Dark Zero (Rare), Dimitri (that's the Peter Molyneux one), Gears of War (Epic Games), Project Gotham Racing 3 (Bizarre Creations), NBA2K6, Halo 3, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Bethesda Softworks), The Godfather (EA), The Darkness (Starbreeze), Call of Duty 2 (Infinity Ward?), RalliSport Challenge 3 (DICE) and Test Drive: Unlimited. The total is said to be 10-16 games for launch and 40 within six months.

Other details include the claim that the console will launch in America and Europe this year (presumably the November date accidentally touted by MTV) with a December launch in Japan. There's no talk of a price yet, but there's lots of talk of being number one (knew it).

The hardware will apparently stand up or lie down, but there's no PS2 stand. Interestingly, GameReactor also says it's about the same size as a PS2. The old one, that is; not the dinky slimline.

Xbox Live will be integrated, and all that stuff from the other day about silver and gold packages - and the relentless customisation - is apparently true.

Whether that means the specs as stated in the same item are true or not is harder to say, but then none of this is confirmed.

Claims about customisable fascias are apparently also true, if the GameReactor translations are to be believed, and game-related faceplates got games like Perfect Dark Zero and Halo 3 will be made available.

Finally, there's the news that the pad does rumble, despite being wireless.

Microsoft won't confirm any of this of course, and even we can't say for certain whether the translation is wholly accurate, but we thought you might want to know anyway. We'll bring you the confirmed details as soon as we have them.

Mmm, time for some pizza, methinks.

INTRODUCTION - Unsurprisingly, there's a lot of Xbox 360 gossip flying about this evening ahead of Microsoft's unveiling of the console on MTV.

Apparently most of the US websites have signed non-disclosure agreements that will see rainforests' worth of copy spring up the instant we pass the embargo time (or, er, a deserts' worth, maybe, since we're all on computers?).

We've signed no such agreement ourselves, so we'll just let you know what's going on as and when, and amuse ourselves in the meantime by tossing all sorts of links to scans and stuff at you. If you see anything interesting, be sure to let us know about it.

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