The PS4 might be winning the unit sales race, but Microsoft is fighting back with a portfolio of exclusive games, new software and social capabilities and three new console bundles launching later this year, featuring Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Sunset Overdrive and FIFA 15.
Also announced were a host of new Xbox One software updates, including new social features that "make it easier for gamers to connect with their friends, and new ways to access their TV and entertainment throughout their home."
The as-yet unavailable Xbox One Dashboard update will see a new Friends section introduced, which will make it "easier to see what your friends on Xbox are up to right now, what games they play most, as well as a new Gamerscore leaderboard where you can see at a glance how you compare to your friends in earning Gamerscore for the month."
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An Xbox One Digital TV tuner is also coming in late October to the UK for 25 pounds, and France, Germany, Italy and Spain for 29.99 euros, delivering DVR-like capabilities "to stream TV programs from the Xbox One console to the Xbox SmartGlass app, allowing another person to use the TV to play games on Xbox One", with other reports suggesting users will also be able to pause live TV.
An Australian Xbox spokesperson had no information on whether the TV tuner add-on would launch this year or next in Australia.
Additional TV features to come include booting the Xbox One directly to TV mode and adding TV listings from cable and satellite apps to OneGuide, and without specifying exactly when, Microsoft said Xbox One owners will "soon be able to watch videos, listen to music, and browse photos from USB and DLNA with the most popular file formats, including Mpeg 2 TS, .MKV and animated gifs by the end of the year."
Another new feature is the ability to pre-order and pre-download games on Xbox One, which Microsoft says has been added "in response to customer feedback".
To illustrate, Xbox One owners will be able to pre-order and pre-download "Forza Horizon 2" prior to its official release on October 2, with the feature coming for FIFA 15 and more titles in the future.
Microsoft says "pre-order and pre-download gives gamers additional options for where they can purchase game content and the ability to purchase in their preferred format. This also enables the title to download ahead of availability, so gamers can begin playing immediately upon the release of the game."
It also makes us wonder whether hackers will figure out ways to get access to this pre-downloaded content before the official release date, but that's a thought for another time.
Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, said: "We're excited to offer fans more choice and value than ever before. These bundles offer a great opportunity to enjoy Xbox One alongside an incredible line-up of first and third party games, making Xbox the best place to play this holiday and beyond."
Microsoft's Corporate VP, Phil Harrison, said: "While this holiday delivers an unprecedented line-up of incredible first and third party titles, 2015 will also see Xbox at the forefront of gaming innovation. From the radical, time-bending entertainment experience that is 'Quantum Break,' to dynamic new multiplayer gameplay mechanics in 'Fable Legends,' to the ascension of one of gaming's biggest icons in 'Rise of the Tomb Raider,' Xbox will remain the home of the best games, both today and in the future."
Upcoming new titles include Assassin's Creed Unity, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Dance Central Spotlight, FIFA 15, Forza Horizon 2, Forza Motorsport 2, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Halo: Nightfall, The Halo Channel, Halo 5: Guardians, Killer Instinct, Ori and the Blind Forest, Project Spark, Sunset Overdrive, Evolve, Fable Legends, Quantum Break, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Screamride.
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"Dozens" of self-published "ID@Xbox" independent titles were also showcased at the Gamescom 2014 briefing, including Space Engineers, Superheat, The Escapists, Smite and Below.
The three pre-announced bundles go on pre-order sale today.
The first is a "Limited Edition Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare" bundle at $599, featuring a 1TB hard drive, customised console, controller and limited edition exoskeleton, going on sale from November 3.
The second features the Sunset Overdrive title with a white console and controller, from October 30 at $499, while the third bundle includes the FIFA 15 game, and goes on sale from September 25 for $529.
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