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Microsoft's Xbox revenue up 14% thanks to console sales

Microsoft reported an increase in revenue for the Xbox platform to the tune of $104 million, or 14 percent, in its fourth quarter results (ending June 30). Xbox One and Xbox 360 sales teamed with the company's Surface sales to boost its Computing and Gaming Hardware category by 23 percent for the quarter to $1.44 billion (an increase of $274 million). In total, Microsoft reported a 17.7 percent leap in revenue, from $19.9 billion to $23.4 billion in the past quarter.

Microsoft says it shipped 1.1 million consoles during the quarter, which compares to one million in the same period of time one year ago. Just last week, the company said sales of its Kinect-less packages doubled Xbox One sales in June. As of April, Microsoft shipped 5 million Xbox One systems to date. Meanwhile, NPD reported a substantial lift in video game hardware sales across the board last week, an increase of 106 percent in June compared to the previous month.
[Image: Microsoft]

UK charts: Watch Dogs stands guard, market melts in heat


Watch Dogs notched its fifth UK number one this week, the most for any game in 2014, and that's all well and good. Frankly, the entire country is just too exhausted from the relentless summer heat to notice. Brits are so used to rain, clouds, rain and more rain, so prolonged heatwaves like this one tend to take their toll.

Maybe the heat's even affected games retail in the country, with nationwide sales enduring a 14 percent drop in revenue from the week before as the heat ramped up. Then again, it really doesn't help when you're having a summer drought of new releases.

Since the UK charts refuse to play - it's another week of tiny changes - we're continuing our run of music below the break. In the words of Avicii, wake us up when it's all over.

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TMNT: Training Lair snapping at Kinect next week

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Training Lair will launch July 22, a source close to the game has informed Joystiq. Achievements for Training Lair along with purported screenshots leaked earlier this week, showing a Kinect-based TMNT spin-off reminiscent of Fruit Ninja Kinect.

The Xbox 360 game is the culmination of a partnership between Paramount Pictures and Microsoft, not related to Activision as originally reported. Training Lair combines the Kinect's motion-capturing abilities with film assets to promote the upcoming film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The game launches roughly two and a half weeks before the movie hits theaters on August 8, and will be free to download.
[Image @lifelower]

MS: Kinect-less debut sees Xbox One monthly sales double in US

It looks like the Kinect-less line of Xbox One helped give the console a boost in June, when sales of the system in the US were "more than double" those of May. Microsoft announced the stat, revealing its internal data is based on its "retail calendar and sold through numbers," meaning they represent sales to consumers rather than shipments to retailers.

The company didn't offer any hard figures in its announcement, including what proportion of sales came from systems without the Kinect motion sensor. We may get a clearer picture of the Xbox One's sales performance on July 22 when Microsoft presents its latest financial earnings release. In April, the company said it had shipped 5 million systems to date, while at the end of last year consumer sales were up to 3 million.

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Disney taps Kinect 2.0 for kid-focused promotional campaign

Alongside its latest Cars spinoff, Planes: Fire & Rescue, Disney plans to unveil a promotional campaign powered by Microsoft's Kinect 3D camera peripheral.

According to Dan Radford, head of digital marketing at Disney's UK office, the campaign will allow two children to control their own animated planes by extending their arms, bending their knees and leaning in various directions. That sounds simple, but similar, previous attempts using the original Kinect forced Radford to pair the peripheral with a high-definition camera capable of capturing real-time video at a quality suitable for big screens. That's no longer an issue, thanks to the high-definition camera found in the Kinect 2.0.

"When you had a four-year-old kid interacting with [the Kinect] there had to be a certain distance [between the camera and the player], but it didn't always pick them up as well as we would have hoped," Radford told the BBC. "With this camera it just feels like the opportunity is there to create a more stable experience."

Planes: Fire & Rescue stars the vocal talents of Dane Cook and Ed Harris, and will be released on July 18. Radford's promotional campaign kicks off "at the end of this week," though Disney has yet to reveal where this campaign will appear.
[Image: Disney]

Report: TMNT - Training Lair has Kinect ninja skills, Pizza Hut boxes

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Training Lair features heroes-in-a-half-shell with Kinect power, according to recently published box art and achievements. Xbox Achievements (formerly Xbox 360 Achievements) published the cheevos and Kinect-tabbed box art this week, and it noted the publisher of the motion-controlled Xbox 360 game as Activision.

The company does hold the TMNT games license, but it hasn't announced the game as yet, and there's no sign of it on any official Xbox listings. We've reached out to Activision to see if we can lure more info out of its shell.

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Just Dance is now an eSport

The realm of eSports isn't confined to fighting games, competitive FPSes, and MOBAs anymore. Ubisoft's Just Dance series has joined the Electronic Sports World Cup as the organization's first casual game.

Just Dance competition finalists will be chosen during qualifying rounds taking place globally and online between June 24 and September 21. A group of 20 top players will then compete in a final round at Paris Games Week to determine the world's best money-maker-shaker. Awards will be announced soon.

Players who would rather cavort in the privacy of their own homes can submit entries for the Electronic Sports World Cup through Just Dance's World Dance Floor mode during qualifying sessions on July 13, July 20, July 27, August 3, August 31, September 7, September 14 and September 21.

[Image: Ubisoft]

Get fit this November in Ubisoft's Shape Up

Though Ubisoft creative director Charles Huteau admits that "fitness is boring," Ubisoft has announced Shape Up, an exercise game that promises to "finally" turn your workout into an epic game.

During Ubisoft's E3 conference, Huteau demonstrated a cardio workout that took the form of a mano a mano piano shuffle battle. While rapidly stomping virtual keys alongside a Kinect-spawned doppelganger of himself, Huteau seemingly worked up a minor sweat - crucially, without holding an extra peripheral (as in Ubisoft's Just Dance Now).

Ubisoft offered no specific release date for Shape Up, but the game is slated to appear on the Xbox One during this November.

Xbox E3 2014 Liveblog on Joystiq

Following an awkward introduction over the past year, this is the Xbox One's E3 to shine and find its voice. Microsoft's console will likely focus on "games, games, games" during the E3 press conference, which is scheduled to start at 9:30AM PST. Kinect to our liveblog right here.

Check back at 9:30AM PST to see Microsoft's metamorphosis on display, as we wait to see how much the company has shifted from its sports, TV, sports, TV focus. There's sure to be some Halo in there too.

PSA: Netflix, Hulu among apps now free to use on Xbox Live

Last month, Microsoft announced it will no longer keep entertainment apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus and HBO Go behind its Xbox Live premium paywall. The change to its Xbox Live service structure is now in effect, allowing non-paying users to use the aforementioned apps in addition to ones like Twitch, MLB.TV, NBA Game Time, YouTube and more.

Microsoft's decision to modify its free and paid Xbox Live service offerings was announced the same day as the $399 Kinect-less Xbox One console, which will be available starting Monday, June 9. Free-to-play and subscription-based games like The Elder Scrolls Online will still require a paid Xbox Live Gold subscription to play online, however.
[Image: Microsoft]

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Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved debuts on Xbox this October


Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved will bring its imaginative sound sorcery to the Xbox One and Xbox 360 on October 21. Developed by Rock Band creator Harmonix, Disney Fantasia explores the vivid imagery and music of Disney's symphonic film, but with a modern spin and a conductor-like wave of the arm in front of Kinect.

As part of its release date announcement, Harmonix is showing off another one of Fantasia's hub environments, through which new songs can be discovered and brought into the world. "The Neighborhood" is a surreal glimpse at a 1980s New York, with a pastel sky bursting behind skyscrapers. As you poke around the city and complete songs, such as MIA's "Galang" and "The Real Me" by The Who, billboards and graffiti creatures come to life. And if you look in the right place, you can teach some cool vegetables how to be street performers.

For more on Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved, head past the break to see the newest batch songs and footage of what it's like playing the game.

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HBO Go, Twitter among 35 apps coming to Xbox One by year's end [Update]

Xbox One and Xbox 360 will receive 45 apps by the end of the holiday season, Microsoft announced today. Among the apps are Twitter, Facebook, Vine, HBO Go, ShowTime Anytime, Comedy Central and Major League Gaming, some of which already have a presence on Xbox 360.

Xbox One's Twitter app will integrate directly with its live TV offerings, as viewers will be able to view a stream of tweets for shows they're watching at the moment, as well as a "trending" section of the console's OneGuide that ties to popular programming going on at the time. Head past the break for a full list of the incoming apps and the regions they will launch in, courtesy of Xbox Wire.

Update: To clarify, 35 of the apps will arrive on Xbox One as opposed to the 45 combined for Xbox One and Xbox 360. We've updated our headline accordingly.

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Xbox One's World Cup app sets its destination for Brazil


Microsoft announced a new sporty app section for Xbox One today called "Destination Brazil," which connects viewers with a couple of nifty tools to enhance their FIFA World Cup viewing experience. Slated to launch Thursday, June 12, Destination Brazil includes a "Brazil Now" app that snaps to the side of the TV screen to update viewers in real-time on match scores, statistics, interactive polls, relevant tweets and more.

The Xbox One will also receive an unscripted TV series starring footballers Thierry Henry and Edgar Davids called "Every Street United," which travels the globe to find talented street soccer players. Every Street United debuts on Sunday, June 15 via its Xbox One and Xbox 360 app or through Xbox Video. Microsoft will also distribute videos on Xbox Video from YouTube soccer channel Copa90 and will provide a quick access point to the special World Cup mode within FIFA 14's Ultimate Team section. As a bonus, those that pick up a copy of FIFA 14 or 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil on either system (well, only Xbox 360 for the latter) will receive a special Xbox-branded mini soccer ball to destroy their lamps with, because they're definitely not Lionel Messi or anything.
[Image: Microsoft]

Save $120 on an Xbox One, Kinect, Forza 5, a game you pick

Wal Mart is offering $119 of savings on an Xbox One bundle: You can grab the console (with Kinect), a digital copy of Forza 5, and a choice of whatever game you want for $500. There are 18 Xbox One games to choose from for the free option, including Titanfall, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Battlefield 4, Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, NBA 2K14, Thief and Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes.

The Xbox One console with Kinect sells for $500 normally, or for the same price in a bundle with Titanfall. Wal Mart also has an "Ultimate 3 Game Value Bundle" for $550, and that includes the console, Kinect, Forza 5, NBA Live 14 and Fighter Within. That one advertises savings of $160.

Microsoft plans to sell Xbox One consoles without Kinect for $400 starting on June 9.
[Image: Wal Mart]

GameStop offers trade-in specials for pre-orders of $400, Kinect-less Xbox One

Did the news of an Xbox One sans Kinect convince you that now is the time to jump on Microsoft's wagon? If so, GameStop is ready to accept you with open arms - arms that are attached to hands, which in turn will offer you a pre-order of a Kinect-free Xbox One in exchange for your money and games.

Online, you can reserve your copy of an Xbox One without Kinect for $399.99. If you need a little extra helping hand financially, you can trade in an original or 4GB Xbox 360 or 12GB PS3 and receive $75 in store credit. Trade in a 360 with 250GB or more of storage or a PS3 with 20GB or larger hard drive and you'll receive $125. PowerUp Pro members receive an additional $10.

Those so inclined to travel outside (though why would you do that - the sun is out there) can also head to their local store to pre-order. We called several GameStops across the country and were told the minimum deposit for the console-only Xbox One package is $100.
[Image: Microsoft]

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