Microsoft's Xbox One hits store shelves

Microsoft's new Xbox One gaming console went on sale today, following a record number of pre-orders.

Pre-Christmas launch comes a week after Sony PlayStation 4

Microsoft says it had more than double the number of pre-orders for its $500 Xbox One, released today, than it had for the Xbox 360 in November 2005. (The Associated Press)

And now it's Xbox's turn.

Microsoft's new Xbox One console went on sale today, one week after the release of the rival PlayStation 4.

Microsoft says the supply of the new $499 consoles is its biggest ever. But with record pre-orders — more than double those of the Xbox 360 back in November 2005 — the consoles may be hard to find.

"We expect the demand to be really high through the holiday (season)," said Craig Flannagan, director of marketing Xbox for Microsoft Canada.

Flannagan says the new console ups the ante on both games and the multiplayer experience, with improved match-making.

"We've made a lot of improvements to that Xbox Live service that our 360 owners already know and love," he added.

There are 48 million Xbox Live subscribers around the world.

Games remain the prime Xbox One draw, although the console offers a wide menu of entertainment around them.

"We've taken games to the next level," Flannagan said. "They look amazing, they play amazing."

Flannagan points to launch titles such as Forza Motorsports 5, a lush racing game. The launch offerings also include Dead Rising 3, the latest instalment of the zombie franchise from Capcom Vancouver, and the new Ryse: Son of Rome from the developer Crytek.

There is also buzz about the first-person shooter Titanfall, due out in the spring from Respawn Entertainment, formed by Jason West and Vince Zampella who were the co-founders of Infinity Ward and creators of the Call of Duty franchise.

"Many people will say that's the most anticipated title. It won a lot of awards at E3," said Flannagan.

Entertainment built with gamer in mind

Microsoft has also expanded the non-game experience. You can watch live TV on the console, switching back and forth between gaming and TV. You can even have TV on the screen while playing a game.

The Xbox One is billed as an all-in-one entertainment device, but designed to allow gamers to keep playing their game while watching TV or listening to music, Microsoft says. (Associated Press)

"Even the entertainment that we've built, we've built with the gamer in mind so they can always be playing their game while they watch TV, while they watch a movie, while they listen to music, while they surf the web," said Flannagan.

TV on the 360 was on demand or streaming, depending on what app was used. Xbox One takes the feed from your TV provider into the console, which is then plugged into the TV.

Game DVR on Xbox One allows you to record game play and share it with your friends.

An improved Kinect sensor, which allows gamers to use gestures and voice to interact and give commands, is now part of the console and not an extra.

The new PlayStation arrived a week earlier and $100 cheaper. But Flannagan believes Xbox One's entertainment value still leads the way.

The Xbox One console will not play Xbox 360 games, however. Flannagan says a healthy menu of 360 games will continue to be produced as Microsoft looks to service its 76 million-plus installed base.

Titanfall will be also available for the 360 when it comes out. But Ryse is just for Xbox One.

The original Xbox was released in 2001.


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