Update 1: We are experiencing technical difficulties…

UPDATE: Everything has been fixed, and I will certainly be trying to make more frequent updates to the site, now that operations are smooth again. WinBreak Central Command is looking good! 🙂 You can ignore the stuff below…

Sorry, folks, but updates have been sparse mainly because I have been out of town – then it looks like WordPress decided to take a mental vacation. Beyond this front page, permalinks aren’t working properly. We will be trying to fix them throughout the day, but unfortunately, we are nowhere near our backup data (again… the out of town thing).

We will be working on it from here, and will update if we did, in fact, solve the problem.

Editorial: Xbox Live on cell phones: more than messaging

I have been extremely busy this week. But let’s give our first editorial a shot.

As Microsoft’s “Live Anywhere” promise continues to grow, I began to ask myself why my Xbox Live experience wasn’t as portable as I would like it to be. Then I asked myself what could be done to make it happen, what would make it great, and how Microsoft could best approach it.

Let me begin by saying Xbox.com is a great start to what I want. Among my favorite things are being able to check in on my online friends, as well as read and send messages to them. My first question is: why can’t I do it from my cell phone?

Now, it’s true, that if you have a smart phone or some other web-enabled device, you can generally travel to Xbox.com and use those features. iPhone & Android users even have a similar application that would allow these communication methods. But why can’t I go to my mobile phone’s built in store and get an official Microsoft made application for viewing my friend’s lists and messaging my friends? Why not even allow voice messaging? After all, a cell phone is sort of designed just for that!

Okay, but this argument has been made before. What makes my little whine-fest any different? Well, I want more. I want a true xbox experience available on my cellular phone. I want the games. Sequels, spin offs, and even 3rd party ports of tons of Xbox games are on cell phones. More game studios are going multiplatform, and casual games, like those found on the Xbox Live Arcade, are generally put on Xbox Live after they’ve become popular through some other method, like the PC. Still, having an “Xbox Live Arcade” app would absolutely make money. Not every Arcade game has to be available through this method, but the minute you give me the choice between Zuma on my cell phone, and Zuma on Xbox Live Arcade for my cell phone… suddenly we’re talking something different.

How different, you ask? I want achievement points. Mobile achievements. If I load up Contra, Street Fighter II, or Tetris Splash on my cell phone, and have the ability to earn 50, or even the same 200 Gamerscore – I might never put my cell phone down. If Microsoft managed their portfolios correctly, developers would be clamoring to get their Xbox Live Arcade game, which would sell better with achievements, on the new Xbox Live Mobile platform.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that the game is exclusive to Xbox Live members, or that the achievements would have to be enabled for people who wouldn’t even know what gamerscore is. Still, just having the option available for people to log in to their Live accounts and perhaps benefit a little bit for it – that could lead to increased sales of games for people who might overlook mobile games – the Gamerscore junkies! Meanwhile, the game plays and looks the same (as much as possible), as to not alienate non Xbox members from picking up the game on their mobile-carrier’s download service.

Sounds nice, but what about the execution? With Google’s Android debuting on T-Mobile, and the iPhone launching on AT&T – why wouldn’t Microsoft pair up with Verizon to make this happen? As more and more people are jumping ship away from Sprint, Verizon wireless makes perfect sense. They already have a well designed music store, as well as their “Get It Now” service (I believe they are phasing out the name, but the framework for the service is cemented in place). It seems like it would not be an impossible transition and would open up an entirely new platform to us gamer-geeks who already have cell phones!

So, now that I’ve written a small book – how do you feel about it? Would you rather they launch it on your cell phone carrier? Should it only work on Windows Mobile phones? What do you think? I encourage you to register and comment!

"Editorial" posts coming soon… now with Twitter!

A few months after I started the current version of WinBreak, I kept promising more of “my input.” And while I may have given my partiular spin on an article or two, I haven’t written too many “editorial” type columns. That’s all changing.

If you just can’t get enough of me (and I know you can’t), you can now follow my Twitter. It’s not hyper-active like some other users, I might only make 2 or 3 updates in a day. Who knows, I may even go days at a time without updating it. Apart from that, I will also begin writing a few more editorial pieces, strictly my opinion, not those representing any of my… oh, wait, I don’t have sponsors… so yeah, it’s all me! These posts will be tagged “NuAngel’s Notes.”

Why all of the sudden, you might ask? Well, after making a long winded post in the Xbox.com forums that nobody will ever read, I decided to start bringing more of my opinions here. I will even encourage members to log in and comment on the stories. I will be making the registration process a little easier to find – all the while, finally (hopefully) updating my blog-software. I’m using an older version of WordPress, but every time I try to update, I lose all of my content! I’ll work on that later, but don’t you worry – your login information should still be mighty safe, when you register.

Anyway, yes, be on the lookout for upcoming editorial posts – I’ve got things I’ve been holding back for a while, and hope to bring it all to light in a comedic yet fact-facing manor… I’m not the next Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, but I’ll try and get you to crack a smile, like I did in the past.

WBX: Gears 2 Game Crazy Launch in full effect

WBX: WinBreak Exclusive
After our special report yesterday, Special Events reporter ButtonMasher79 decided to follow up to see how the launch went. She followed up with a few pictures, as well as the following report.

A full 100 people were expected and received for the Gears2 launch party at Game Crazy in Lakewood, CA. Gaming began at 9pm with a LAN-style player vs. player tournament with a total of four systems operating simultaneously. Customers were adding funds to their accounts so the transactions would flow smoothly and quickly. “The turnout is what we expected, it’s great for a weeknight and we’ll get more coming in tomorrow,” said Store Director Stephanie Armstrong. Game trivia, balloons, and giveaways peppered the evening and proved entertaining for all.

Down the street, GameStop had closed their doors and posted a sign that read “midnight launch tonight.” There were about thirty people waiting in the 55 degree ocean-cooled air in their fold-out chairs on the dark sidewalk.

A 20-minute drive from Lakewood is Universal CityWalk where a GameStop hosting Major Nelson and representatives from Microsoft. GameCrazy customer and editor-in-chief of BreakingTheGame.com Andrew Carr (pictured above with store manager Stephanie Armstrong) said he preferred this venue because he wouldn’t be guaranteed access to the dignitaries and thought that this location would be “a lot more fun.”

District manager Juan Rodriguez was working the sales floor and offering the strategy guide for 20% off with purchase of the game. “We overcame a lot of challenges to get here tonight but we’re glad to be here now,” he said, having arrived from the airport with the copies in-hand at 11:15PM. The existing copies will probably sell out by tomorrow at noon but the store anticipates replenishment as soon as Saturday.

Sara Culver, Special Events Reporter for WinBreak.com

You can view a few more pictures in the Gears 2 Lakewood Launch photo album.