Microsoft delivered something for both gamers and developers at its keynote address that kicked-off the Tokyo Game Show on Thursday.
The company is reworking the interface for its Xbox Live service, which is the largest social network of its kind with 14 million members. With the "New Xbox Experience" the Xbox 360's entire interface has been reworked and streamlined, specifically in regards to Xbox Live.
Perhaps taking a cue from PlayStation Home and the Nintendo's Miis, Xbox Live users will soon be able to create their own customizable avatar, which will be visible to friends and present throughout different areas of the interface. Everything from the dashboard, to gamer cards, to tracking friends, and themes has been reworked to make a more seamless and convenient interface.
Xbox Live's Marketplace has also been redone to match. Players will be able to view more detailed descriptions, screenshots, and information more easily for titles. This information will also be made available on the Web, so that users who are not at their Xbox 360 can still browse through the Xbox Live Marketplace for one stop shopping.
All these changes are scheduled to take place Nov. 19.
In the gaming space two of the most awaited titles, "Star Ocean: The Last Hope" and "The Last Remnant" were shown in trailer form but that didn't bother the audience because playable versions are on the show floor. They'll be out in the U.S. on March 3, 2009, and Nov. 20 respectively.
Other games that were showcased included:
Biohazard 5 (Resident Evil 5) will launch in Japan on March 12, 2009.
Ninety-Nine Nights 2 for the 360, but with no release date.
Tekken 6 on XBox 360 to be released Fall 2009, and to include new online modes and features.
Halo Wars, early 2009.
Halo 3: Recon, late 2009.
While the Xbox 360 has an up and coming line-up, the Xbox Live Arcade is not to be forgotten. A "new wave" of games to hit XBLA include a slew of remade classics, such as Space Invaders Extreme, Arkanoid Live, Metal Slug 7, King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match, and R-Type: Dimensions.
Microsoft also had lead story writer Graeme Devine talk about and preview Halo Wars. Halo Wars takes the Halo franchise into the real-time strategy space and is set to take place 20 years before the events of Halo, when the Covenant are "at their most evil", according to Devine. Players will have control of the UNSC arsenal as they take on the Covenant and the Flood. Halo Wars is due out early 2009. Halo 3: Recon, which takes place before the events of Halo 3, is slated for a U.S. release in late 2009.
Not to neglect the business aspect of the game show, John Schappert, corporate vice president of both LIVE Software and Studios, talked about iconic Japanese game franchises and their influence on Western gaming, as well as a driving desire to bring more Japanese games onto the global market. According to Schappert, the Xbox 360 is the premiere platform to publish on. As compared to its first generation counterpart, sales of Japanese games on the Xbox 360 are 60 percent higher. Schappert said that XBox 360 consumers will soon have spent over $1 billion on Japan-developed games alone.