Train2Game News: Microsoft post good sales results

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Microsoft, the world’s largest software firm, has posted better-than-expected earnings for the October-to-December quarter.

The firm reported a net income of $6.56bn (£3.94bn) for the quarter, up from $6.38bn a year earlier.

Its earnings were boosted by strong sales of its new Xbox game console and its Surface tablets during the holiday season.

The company also saw strong demand from businesses for its cloud services.

Overall, the firm’s revenue rose 14% during the quarter to $24.5bn. Its shares rose close to 4% on the news in after-hours trading.

Microsoft’s chief executive, Steve Ballmer, called it a great quarter and said that investments the firm was making in devices and services was driving the strong results.

The quarterly results showed a 13% increase in consumer sales. This was boosted by 7.4 million unit sales of Xbox consoles, up from 5.9 million a year earlier.

The new Xbox One, which was launched in November, contributed more than half of overall Xbox sales numbers in the quarter.

Sales of the firm’s cloud programs, such as Office 365 and Azure, more than doubled in the December quarter from a year earlier, while sales of its Surface tablets doubled from the previous quarter.

Train2Game News: Games Industry News – 30.08.13

unity-logoIt’s the end of the week so it’s time for the games industry news round up.

Unity Technologies unveiled new 2D tools and workflow for the Unity engine and editor to meet increased demand for features designed to address the specific challenges of creating 2D games. Now in beta, the first iteration of the 2D tools, many of which are included in the free version of Unity, will be released with the Unity 4.3 update this fall. The charge to improve workflow begins with the introduction of a dedicated scene view, which includes specialized 2D scene manipulation tools. Scene view can be toggled between the traditional view or set as the default when creating a project. Importing, manipulating, and working with 2D assets are made easier with the addition of a new sprite texture importer type, automated atlasing, and dedicated 2D renderer component. Adding 2D art to a scene is as easy as dragging a sprite from the asset library into the scene where Unity will then automatically create an object. If you are a fan of 2D games and work with Unity you now have no excuses to get a game out there!

Wizards of the Coast announced that the Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers Expansion will release on September 18, 2013. Adding depth to the latest installment of the wildly popular Duels of the Planeswalkers franchise, the Magic 2014 Expansion will give players the opportunity to explore new planes, fight new enemies and face new challenges. Just like the full game the expansion will be available on Xbox LIVE Arcade, PC via Steam, PlayStation Network, iPad, and Android via Google Play and the Amazon App Store. The new expansions includes; five new decks, new campaign levels, five new challenges and more persona portraits.

Activision Publishing, Inc., in association with Nickelodeon and developer Red Fly Studio, announced, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – a new, team-based, third-person action-brawler debuting on the Xbox Live online entertainment network from Microsoft for Xbox 360 as a part of the Xbox Live Summer of Arcade 2013, and on Windows PC via Steam. Starring Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows puts the focus on combat, characters, and co-op. Its swift and tactile fighting system affords players dynamic choices on the battlefield, rewarding successful combo flourishes, expert counterattacks, and brutal takedowns. The Turtles’ full range of personalities are on display throughout this original story in the TMNT universe, bringing humour and attitude to the unfolding narrative and influencing each character’s unique fighting style. The game will be released on September 25.

NEXON Europe had the pleasure to announce that global pop sensation, media personality and all-round gentleman, PSY, is appearing in the enormously successful online free-to-play games MapleStory and Combat Arms. PSY took the world by storm with his hit single Gangnam Style, inspiring everyone from news readers to the UN Secretary General to join in with his unique brand of K-pop humour. Over a billion YouTube views and global chart domination is not enough for the dance phenomenon however; starting this month and following another huge hit single, Gentleman, PSY will be bringing his outrageous personality to NEXON Europe’s most popular titles.

Steve Ballmer is to retire as Microsoft CEO within the next year, the company revealed, adding credence to the rumours of a management reshuffle which accompanied Don Mattrick’s departure earlier this year. Ballmer will oversee the choice of his successor before taking retirement and remain as CEO during that process. The Microsoft board has appointed a special committee chaired by lead independent director John Thompson and including chairman of the Board Bill Gates, chairman of the Audit Committee Chuck Noski and chairman of the Compensation Committee Steve Luczo. Microsoft has said that it will be looking both internally and externally for candidates.

Train2Game News: A new ‘World’ has arrived

Steve Ballmer at the Windows 8 launch

Windows 8 is here. After many months of building anticipation the new Microsoft operating system has arrived.

Today saw the launch of the Windows 8 operating system, the Microsoft Surface tablet running the system and the Windows store.

Unlike previous versions of Windows, this one is designed for an array of different devices, including: PCs, notebooks, tablet computers and smartphones. It is built for a new generation of touchscreen devices, rather than the traditional PC and mouse.

Windows 8 has better battery life, faster boot time, a smaller memory footprint and has undergone 1.2bn hours of pre-release testing.

Windows have said that more than one thousand new PCs have been certified for Windows 8, with some being more affordable than several, already available, tablet computers. Many of the new PCs running the new operating system will have touchscreen ability, for users that want to control there PC with the swipe of a finger, instead of using a mouse.

Steve Ballmer, the Microsoft chief executive, says “Windows 8 PCs will be the best PCs ever, as the company faces down competition in tablets and smartphones from Apple and Google.

“Windows 8 shatters perceptions of what a PC really is and is a bold and innovative break from past Windows versions.

“Welcome to the world of Windows 8.”

Every Windows 8 device will come with the Windows store available and developers are adding hundreds of apps to it every day. The store has launched with an initial one thousand five hundred apps.

At the September world record winning Game Jam, the students who participated, worked on Windows 8 and a number of those apps are being released to the store. A list of all the student apps will be announced this coming Monday.

Train2Game News: Microsoft opening doors to new Windows 8 games studio

Following the weekend’s world record-breaking Game Jam, Microsoft is making more waves in the UK games industry.

Microsoft is opening their fourth studio in London dedicated to developing games for Windows 8 phones and tablets. The other Microsoft studios in London are Rare, Lionhead and Soho Productions.

The new studio will be headed by Lee Schuneman, current production director of Rare. He will report to Phil Harrison, corporate vice president of the interactive entertainment business in Europe. Schuneman was behind Kinect Sports, the Xbox 360 avatars, Fable: The Journey and the Sky TV app.

Schnueman said “I’m hugely excited by this new venture.

“Adding a fourth UK-based studio to the incredible roster of talent already in place not only increases our regional studio presence, but will allow Microsoft Studios to explore the many creative and business opportunities that developing new games and entertainment experiences on Windows 8 tablet devices and platforms will afford.”

The Windows 8 operating system was put to the test for games development by the students at the world record winning Game Jam at the weekend. The students proved that Windows 8 had a good diversity with all the different games they put together in 48 hours.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sung the praises of Windows 8.

Ballmer said “Windows 8 is going to do great.

“I’m not paid to have doubts. I don’t have any. It’s a fantastic product… people talk about “how healthy is the PC market?” There’s going to be close to 400 million PCs sold in the next year, which makes it a big market. And whether it’s 405 million or 395 million, it’s a big market, and Windows 8 will propel that volume.”