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The console wars grand finale: Xbox 360 versus Xbox One versus Nintendo 3DS
by João Carrasqueira
Welcome to the final round of the console wars. For the past month, we've asked you to choose your favorite consoles in a series of polls, and your votes have brought us to the grand finale. Of course, that means it's up to you again to choose the true winner.
First, let's recap what happened in round two. The first matchup saw the Xbox 360 pulling an undisputed victory with nearly 50% of the votes. In second place, the PlayStation 2 won over just 24% of the voters, giving the Xbox 360 a crushing win. An interesting result, to be sure, considering the PlayStation 2 is the best-selling console of all time.
The second match pitted the original PlayStation, the Nintendo 64, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch against each other, and once again, Microsoft pulled a convincing. The battle was a bit more balanced here, but the Xbox One still got over 34% of the votes, with the Nintendo Switch slightly edging out the PlayStation for second place with roughly 27% of you choosing it.
Finally, the third match was focused on handhelds, and all of them were made by Nintendo, so there was only one possible winner. More specifically, victory went to the Nintendo 3DS, with roughly 34% of our readers voting for it. In second place, the Game Boy Advance had about 26% of the votes, and it's certainly interesting that sales numbers don't correlate to the poll winners at all in any of these matchups.
With that being said, we now have the three finalists - the Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Nintendo 3DS. You can vote for them right now, but since we're down to the final three, we'll also introduce you to each of the contestants below the poll.
What is the best console of all time?
Xbox 360 Xbox One Nintendo 3DS Submit Vote Meet the contestants
The Xbox 360 was Microsoft's second foray into the world of game consoles, following a relatively lukewarm reception to the original Xbox. Microsoft kickstarted the seventh-generation of consoles, having announced the Xbox 360 in May of 2005, and releasing it in North America, Europe, and Japan later that year. As such, it was the first console to feature HD graphics and it also ushered in the era of online gaming with Xbox Live, though the service was already available to some extent on the original Xbox.
Original Xbox 360 "Premium", Xbox 360 S, and Xbox 360 E The Xbox 360 also introduced a new controller that worked wirelessly and had a significantly improved design that not only negated the criticism towards the original, but actually became one of the most praised controllers for its comfort. The console itself got redesigned a number of times throughout its life, adding more storage, connectivity options, and addressing some reliability issues like the infamous "Red Ring of Death". The most recognizable revision was the Xbox 360 S, launched in 2010, but it also got redesigned to look more like the Xbox One with the Xbox 360 E model in 2012.
By this point, Microsoft had started to gain recognition for its online service, and it had a hugely popular franchise in the form of Halo, with other franchises like Forza Motorsport and Fable having also started to grow. Between that and other well-known exclusive games like Gears of War, the Xbox 360 had a strong library early on. Combine that with stronger third-party support, an earlier launch than the competition, and a more attractive price than the PlayStation 3, the Xbox 360 led in terms of sales for a long time, barring the casual-focused Wii.
Kinect for Xbox 360 However, towards the end of the Xbox 360's life, the company shifted its focus towards the Kinect - a motion-sensing camera - trying to lure the casual audience away from Nintendo. Meanwhile, Sony had introduced cheaper versions of the PlayStation 3 and kept investing in games like The Last of Us and the Uncharted series later on. As such, the Xbox 360 ended in third place in its generation, having sold over 84 million units. Still, it's Microsoft's best-selling console officially.
The Xbox One was first revealed in May of 2013, and its initial reception was completely opposite from the Xbox 360's early days. Microsoft initially wanted to require a constant internet connection, make reselling games impossible, require the use of Kinect, and the first presentation of the console focused much more on media and television than gaming. Microsoft did try to focus more on games at E3, but then it had to contend with Sony. The PlayStation 4 was revealed to be cheaper than the Xbox One, confirmed support for used games, and focused even more on the gaming crowd, which meant Microsoft was off to a very slow start. The first model of the Xbox One was also mocked for being bulky and looking somewhat bland.
But Microsoft put a ton of effort into turning things around as the generation went on. The Kinect was eventually removed from the Xbox One package (and ended up being killed off entirely for gaming purposes), and Microsoft introduced two redesigns that made the Xbox One much more appealing. The Xbox One S, announced in 2016, made the console much smaller and gave it an all-new visual identity, along with adding support for HDR and 4K. This also brought an improved Xbox Wireless Controller, now with Bluetooth support, which allowed it to work on PCs and mobile devices easily. Then, in 2017, Xbox One X became the world's most powerful console, with support for native 4K rendering, all while being even smaller than the One S.
Microsoft also started focusing on games again, and capitalized on its incredibly popular Halo franchise by releasing The Master Chief Collection in 2014, containing almost every game in the series' history so far, with the first two being remade to look the part on Xbox One. Microsoft also finally put its acquisition of Rare to good use with the release of Rare Replay, a collection of almost every Rare-developed game from the 30 years prior, including cult classics like Conker's Bad Fur Day and Banjo-Kazooie. And of course, that's to say nothing of big new games that came out in the next few years from series like Halo, Gears of War, Forza (including the open-world Forza Horizon sub-series), and new franchises entirely like Sea of Thieves and Ori. On top of that, backward compatibility, which was initially missing, would be added later on for both Xbox 360 and some original Xbox games.
Microsoft stopped reporting sales of its Xbox consoles in October 2015, but estimates point to it having sold 51 million units as of the end of the second quarter of 2020. Far from a failure, the Xbox One ended up in a distant second place from the PlayStation 4, and has also been surpassed by the Nintendo Switch, but it stands as a testament to the mistakes Microsoft made and the lessons it learned in this era.
We already talked about the entire history of the Nintendo 3DS just a few months ago, in honor of the console being discontinued in 2020. You can always read more there, but here's a quick summary. The Nintendo 3DS was first announced via a simple press release in March 2010 and then shown off at E3 that year, but it wouldn't release until March 2011.
Its headlining feature was support for glasses-free 3D, which required the user to look at the screen from a very specific angle and distance. It also featured higher-resolution displays, better graphics, and new control methods like a Circle Pad and motion sensors, compared to its predecessor. However, the console initially failed to gain traction thanks to its high price point and lack of blockbuster titles in the first few months.
Nintendo was determined to turn things around, though, and reduced the price from $250 to $170 just a few months later, and with big original games like Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 releasing that holiday season, the 3DS began to exhibit a decent amount of success. It eventually got original games from series like The Legend of Zelda and Pokémon, revived franchises like Luigi's Mansion and Kid Icarus, and expanded the popularity of Animal Crossing, which no doubt contributed to the worldwide phenomenon that was Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the Nintendo Switch many years later. Even some third-party exclusives, like the Monster Hunter series and Resident Evil: Revelations (which was only exclusive for about a year), were released for the system.
The Nintendo 3DS received a handful of revisions, including the 3DS XL with bigger screens, and the 2DS, which removed 3D functionality and was more affordable. All models got revised with the "New" branding later on (2015 for the New 3DS and New 3DS XL; 2017 for the New 2DS XL), bringing even more control options, improved processing power, and better 3D support in the 3D-enabled models.
With 75.94 million units sold, it was far from Nintendo's biggest success in the handheld market, but it was far ahead of its competitor - the PlayStation Vita.
And those are the finalists this time around. Who will come out on top in the grand finale of the console wars? It's up to you. Cast your votes and we'll reveal the grand winner in a few weeks.
By Namerah S
Hot Wheels Unleashed revealed for consoles and PC, pre-orders open
by Namerah Saud Fatmi
Legendary toymaker Mattel has linked arms with Milestone Team to create a video game based on one of the most popular toy brands in the world, Hot Wheels. The upcoming racing title is called Hot Wheels Unleashed and it will launch on all the mainstream gaming platforms including both last and next-gen consoles from Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo Switch and PC.
A trailer for the upcoming game from the Italian developer was also unveiled today. You can watch it below to get a taste of the Hot Wheels title:
The arcade-style racing game featuring the iconic toy cars will have several game modes including many different single-player modes, online multiplayer, offline multiplayer and a split-screen mode. Players will be able to customize their vehicles and also edit tracks in the game.
Hot Wheels Unleashed will make its debut this fall on September 30, 2021. Various editions of the game will be available in multiple regions. It is priced at $49.99 for the Standard Edition, $69.99 for the Collectors Edition and $89.99 for the Ultimate Stunt Edition in the U.S.
Pre-orders for the upcoming title are now open and can be placed through the game's website, dedicated platform stores or retail partners depending on the region.
By Namerah S
Dying Light free on Steam this weekend, gets new content and Zombie Hunt event
by Namerah Saud Fatmi
In celebration of its sixth anniversary, survival horror title Dying Light is currently free to play for PC users via Steam. The day's festivities also include a special in-game event called Zombie Hunt and new content for the game which can be purchased separately for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC platforms.
The newly-announced added content is called the Harran Tactical Unit Bundle. It includes brand new weapons, shields and buggy skins and is priced at $2.99 across all platforms. Meanwhile, the Zombie Hunt event focuses on finding and killing a boss called Hothead Joe.
Here is a short summary of the Zombie Hunt event:
Participants of the in-game event, which will last two weeks, stand a chance to win rewards such as a “HyperArgument” hammer and a gold weapon if they succeed.
The Harran Tactical Unit Bundle, the Zombie Hunt event and the free weekend on Steam will all kick-off starting today, February 25, at 7:00 PM CET. Steam users will be able to claim a free copy of the Dying Light Standard Edition until March 3, at 7:00 PM CET. For further information, you may visit the game listing on the Valve-owned platform here.
By Asher Madan
Xbox Deals with Gold feature Assassin's Creed, Dragon Ball, and more
by Asher Madan
Every week, Microsoft and select publishers discount a number of titles for a weekly Deals with Gold sale. This week, games like Assassin's Creed Origins, The Sims 4, and more are available for substantially less. Below, you'll find the Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 games with their respective discounts. The games marked with an asterisk are only valid for Xbox Live Gold members.
Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One
If you're still using an Xbox 360, there's a little bit going on this week. Almost all of the backward compatible games are from the Assassin's Creed franchise that are playable on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One.
Which titles are you interested in? Did you pick any up? Let us know in the comments below.
Microsoft Weekly: Trying Edge, FPS Boost, and Windows 10 21H1
by Florin Bodnarescu
An FPS boost for Backwards Compatible titles on console, an acknowledgement of 21H1, and even some Edge updates at the forefront. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of February 14 – 20.
Unlike previous columns, in which Edge news was relegated to the final section, this time we’re switching things around a little.
We’ll start with the Canary channel, which now allows testers to open Office files directly in the browser – similar to how you would open PDFs -, as well as introducing a Kids Mode (perhaps not too dissimilar to Kid’s Corner from the Windows Phone 8 days). The latter is aimed at children between the ages of 5-8 and 9-12, and allows the browser to make sure the little ones receive “friendly content” via Bing SafeSearch, among other protections that are put in place.
Over in the Dev channel, build 90.0.796.0 made its way to testers, adding SSO (Single Sign-On) support on the Mac, the ability to start typing to search as soon as the favorites and history menus are open, and suggestions from local browsing history when clicking on an empty address bar, to name but three.
Also in plan but not exactly tied to a specific version is a scoring system for websites to prevent annoying notifications, and a not to subtle nudge from Microsoft for Edge desktop users. The latter sees the Redmond giant suggest that folks download the mobile version of the browser on their non-desktop devices.
Although there were plenty of gaming-related announcements this week, one that is sure to please fans of backwards compatibility is something Microsoft is calling FPS Boost.
In short, its Xbox Series line of consoles (Series S and Series X) now has the ability to effectively double the frame rate of supported Backwards Compatible games with no extra work required from developers. Benefiting from this currently are five titles, - FarCry 4, Sniper Elite 4, Watch Dogs 2, UFC 4, and New Super Lucky’s Tale -, with more on the way. Of the five, New Super Lucky’s Tale goes all the way up to 120FPS, with the other tiles supporting 60FPS.
Staying a little bit longer on the software side, screenshots of Xbox game streaming on the web have leaked, Dandara and Lost Planet 2 are now free to claim as part of the Games with Gold program, Dirt 5, Pillars of Eternity 2, Code Vein, and others have arrived on Game Pass, and there are myriad Deals with Gold for you to peruse, including ones for Shenmue and Star Wars: Squadrons.
As far as first-party titles are concerned, Sea of Thieves now has Steam friends support, Japanese localization, and more, while Flight Simulator has received its third World Update with enhancements for the UK and Ireland.
Microsoft has also gone ahead and updated its Xbox Accessibility Guidelines, and released a $99.99 Xbox Wireless Headset with spatial audio support. Somewhat similar in design to the Surface Headphones, the accessory will be available starting March 16.
And finally, for those that were waiting, or indeed just curious, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout will be making its debut across the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S consoles this summer.
Windows 10 21H1
Among the other bits of news that this week brought, we also found that Microsoft indirectly confirmed the existence of the spring update for Windows 10, otherwise known under its 21H1 codename. The acknowledgement came by way of a Tech Community forum post detailing the fact that hardware certification will remain identical between 20H2 and 21H1, meaning the latter is likely to be a smaller update.
Microsoft did also release a 21H1 build, namely 19043.844 if you’re in the Beta channel or 19042.844 in the Release Preview channel. If you want to start testing this forthcoming version, here’s a short rundown of what settings you need to change.
But if you thought the company would release builds tied to a specific version only, you’d be mistaken, as the firm additionally pushed out build 21318 - from its ever-nebulous vNext branch -, which landed in the Dev channel. After being burned with Sets – which was definitely going to be in Redstone 5, until it definitely wasn’t -, the company is a lot more careful about which features it declares will ship with which variant of Windows 10. However, this build does bring in the ability to paste as plain text in clipboard history, as well as a sizeable array of fixes.
In other operating system news, the Windows 10 Team 2020 Update is now starting its rollout in Germany and The Netherlands, Microsoft has announced the latest version of its standalone Office product, Office 2021 – can’t have Office 2022, otherwise that would be much too consistent with the previous naming scheme -, and a couple of optional updates for Windows 10 version 1909 and 1809 have also showed up.
For those interested, the Surface Duo can be had for just $10/month on AT&T if you trade in a phone, and the device just got its February Android security patch. Microsoft stated no customer data was accessed during the Solorigate cyberattack. There’s now an app called Journal from the Microsoft Garage. Microsoft Launcher also started out in life as a Garage project. The unified Office app is now available for iPadOS devices. Logging off
We wrap up this week, and indeed the column, with a selection of dev-related news.
For one, arguably the biggest news this week was the arrival of .NET 6 Preview 1. Released as the next step in the company’s goal of unifying the various and disparate developer solutions, we’ve essentially reached the midway point of the unification that’s set to be complete with .NET 7.
Among its new features, .NET 6 has a multi-platform App UI that’s built on top of Xamarin, with the focus being on “faster developer experiences”, control themes, and of course, performance. ARM64 support, WinForms and WPF support are also key targets, with initial support already being added for Apple Silicon ARM64 chips.
Moving on to app samples, there’s now one called TwoNote for the company’s Surface Duo emulator, with the Redmond giant also eyeing easier development for its Power Platform.
Regarding the latter, this will be done via what the company is allegedly working on, the low-code language dubbed Power Fx. Due to the naming scheme, ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley stated that this may just be targeted at Excel users.
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.