May 15 2014
Xbox One is to be sold without Kinect, it has been revealed.
Microsoft has confirmed a new version of the console that will be sold for £349 / $399 without the camera accessory starting June 9.
The existing Kinect bundle on sale today will still be available, and users who buy without Kinect can purchase a standalone sensor from later this year.
Microsoft also confirmed that it will drop the Xbox Live Gold subscription requirement to view Netflix and other streaming services on Xbox platforms starting next month.
Games with Gold, the scheme that gives Xbox Live subscribers free games, will roll out on Xbox One in June starting with Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault.
Xbox 360 games for next month include Dark Souls, Charlie Murder and Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition.
"We've heard that you want more choices from Xbox One," said head of Xbox Phil Spencer.
"You want a wide variety of options in your games and entertainment experiences and you also want options in your hardware selection.
"To be clear, as we introduce this new Xbox One console option, Kinect remains an important part of our vision.
"Many of you are using Kinect for Xbox One every day. In fact, more than 80% of you are actively using Kinect, with an average of 120 voice commands per month on each console."
The firm previously downplayed the idea of removing Kinect from Xbox One, saying it was "absolutely integral" to the system.
Microsoft recently revealed that it would concentrate on games at its E3 2014 press conference next month.
Xbox One's next update will add several tweaks to the console, it has been revealed.
Users in the preview programme, a scheme which tests upcoming updates with a select number of users before rolling out publicly, have revealed update 1405 sees a small number of changes.
One is a tweak to the 'Get System Update', which is now greyed out when no patch is available, according to Dual Shockers.
The update also fixes issues where Party Chat becomes muted if the user failed to snap the app and a glitch where Game DVR clips record footage without audio.
A date for when the updates will become available for other users has yet to be revealed.
April's Xbox One update introduced friend notifications, improved Kinect voice and motion controllers and more.
May 12 2014
Google is reportedly testing a redesigned interface for its web-based Gmail service.
According to Geek.com, the company has invited a small selection of users to try out the new-look Gmail.
Screenshots show that the current fixed left sidebar could be replaced with a panel which slides in.
Meanwhile, it appears that the compose button has been shifted from the top left to the bottom right, tucked into an expandable menu, alongside a reminder feature.
Hangout contacts will also be displayed in the top right, collapsed into a speech bubble icon.
It is unclear when Google will make the redesigned Gmail available and whether it will ever be made public at all.
The UK's leading internet service providers (ISPs) have reportedly agreed to send out alert letters to those suspected of piracy offences.
Virgin Media, Sky, BT and TalkTalk will comply with anti-piracy measures drawn up by UK music industry body the BPI and the Motion Picture Association, according to BBC News.
However, the ISPs have insisted that the alert letters must be educational in tone and contain no threat of punitive measures.
The final draft of the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme states that the letters will be sent as a means of "promoting an increase in awareness" of legal alternatives to unlawful downloads.
The trade bodies have reportedly agreed to pay an initial £750,000 to each ISP to foot the costs of setting up the system, as well as additional funding to cover the administrative costs of maintaining it.
After four alerts have been sent to an individual, the ISPs will take no further action, but details about the recipients will be kept on file for up to a year.
The Information Commissioner's Office must approve the measures before they are introduced in 2015.
Electronic Arts is ending online support for 50 of its games at the end of June.
Due to the closure of GameSpy servers, the publisher will retire online services for 50 games on June 30.
Games from the Battlefield, FIFA, Need for Speed and Crysis series will be affected by the decision.
"Since GameSpy's announcement, our teams have been working to evaluate options to keep services up and running," reads an Electronic Arts statement.
"Unfortunately, due to technical challenges and concerns about the player experience, we do not have a solution at this time. Online services for EA games on the GameSpy platform will be closed down at the end of June."
EA will continue to investigate other solutions for some of the more popular games on the list.
"We know some of these games are still fan favourites, including Battlefield 2, Battlefield 1942, Medal of Honour: Allied Assault and Command & Conquer games," the statement continues.
"We are still investigating community-supported options to preserve online functionality for these titles, such as multiplayer.
"Significant technical hurdles remain, and at this time we don't have anything to announce."
Elsewhere, free-to-play iOS game World Series of Yahtzee will be taken offline on October 1, while Lord of Ultima goes offline today (May 12).
The full list of titles going offline on June 30:
Battlefield 1942 for PC and Mac (including The Road to Rome and Secret Weapons of WW2 expansions)
Battlefield 2 for PC (including Special Forces expansion)
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat for PlayStation 2
Battlefield 2142 for PC and Mac (including Northern Strike expansion)
Battlefield ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Kinectimals Unleashed is available as a free download on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 devices.
The game is a semi-sequel to Microsoft's Kinectimals, which was released in 2010 as a showcase for its Kinect motion-sensing peripheral.
Kinectimals Unleashed is an animal-rearing simulation featuring a menagerie of 85 creatures, including baby tigers, bear cubs and puppies.
The game includes all of the animals from the original Kinectimals, as well as 15 new breeds of puppy. New activities and customisation options have also been introduced.
Although the title is available as a free download, Microsoft has monetised it with the inclusion of in-app purchases.
Kinectimals Unleashed can be downloaded through the Windows Store.
Square Enix has increased its projected financial results after strong sales of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.
Ahead of this month's full financial report, the company has increased its projected net sales income from £810 million to £900 million.
The firm is also expected to post improved operating income, ordinary income and net income, according to Polygon.
"Strong" sales of Final Fantasy XIV have been backed up by an "encouraging" start for Dragon Quest Monsters: Super Light and "favourable" sales of Thief, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD and Tomb Raider Definitive Edition.
Square Enix recently revealed that registrations for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn have totalled more than two million.
The massively-multiplayer online game is out now on PC, PS3 and PS4.
Minecraft's worlds will not be infinite on PS4 and Xbox One, according to console developer 4J Studios.
Responding to questions on Twitter, a 4J spokesperson said that while world sizes would be much bigger on next-gen consoles, there would be limitations.
Elsewhere, 4J confirmed that PS4 users will be able to use the touchpad to navigate menu screens.
To celebrate the second-year anniversary of the Xbox 360 version of Minecraft, skin and texture packs will be available at a 50% discount.
Fans can also download the Minecraft 2nd Birthday Skin Pack for free.
Minecraft is expected to make its PS4 and Vita debut this summer, while a PS3 retail version will launch on May 14. Minecraft's Xbox One launch date is yet to be revealed.
The Xbox One and PS4 versions will feature cross-platform saves with Xbox 360 and PS3.
Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are to be "full remakes", Nintendo has confirmed.
Following the recent announcement of the games' worldwide release this November, there was some speculation as to what the new games would actually involve.
The teaser trailer for the titles promised that players would be able to "explore a dramatic new world", leading many to debate whether the games would be sequels or spin-offs to Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Sapphire, rather than remakes of the original games.
However, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata reiterated that the games will indeed be "full remakes" in a recent financial results briefing with Nintendo, according to Siliconera.
The original Ruby and Sapphire sold over 16.22 million copies worldwide on Game Boy Advance.
The Last of Us: Remastered was a struggle to fit on disc, creative director Neil Druckmann has suggested.
Speaking to Edge (via CVG), Druckmann said that the team was limited by the size of Blu-ray discs and not the PS4 hardware.
"Our cinematics are now running at 1080p and 60fps, and that involved rendering them all from scratch," Druckmann explained. "It's interesting that now [instead of a technical bottleneck], the bottleneck is 'Can we fit all this on the disc?'"
Druckmann also said that the PS4 game uses higher quality cut-scene visuals throughout, as well as improved lighting and less blurry character models.
"We don't build it with high assets in mind to then port it, but it did give us a leg up," he continued. "If we hadn't done that, we might not have made the call to bring it over to PS4."
Releasing on PS4 this summer, The Last of Us Remastered features the original game with improved visuals, developer commentary and all previous downloadable content.
Retailers have listed the game for June with a £49.99 / $59.99 price tag.