Xbox in 'Twilight'; Disc-to-Digital is Born

While a replacement console won't be introduced at this Spring's E3 show, a Microsoft exec hints that the Xbox 360 is "sort of in the twilight" of its existence. Also today - Walmart and Hollywood launch a new video business.

Game Point: Microsoft Games Studio Art Director Brian Moore made the revealing comment at the Washington Technology Industry Association meet up last week, when asked about the future of the game console as an integral part of the gaming experience. Moore quickly added that Xbox's sight, sound and motion activated Kinect peripheral is just in its "very first version." Future interations will exploit Microsoft research into "finger articulation" and  facial feature tracking and offer a more "in-depth" animation system. "Science fiction becomes science fact at some point," Moore added.

Clearly, the game biz is looking for a new buzz. NPD Group reports U.S. video game retail sales were off 25 percent in March from a year earlier, when the Nintendo 3DS system was introduced. Nintendo will be using this June's E3 to launch its next generation Wii-U system deploying  a super fancy, screen-based controller and faster processor.

 Mario and Zelda fans better start saving, as a Canadian media group (Forget the Box) has reported the wholesale manufacturing costs for a Wii-U system will top $180, even before packaging,marketing and retail markup costs are added. As such, the system will likely  retail for about $300.

Disc-To-Digital Launches Today: Hollywood's latest "value strategy" for merging physical content and streaming of movies launches today at Walmart stores.  Called Disc-to-Digital, the concept is you bring in copies of  DVD and Blu-ray discs to the Walmart photo counter and for a nominal $2 fee per flick the staffer will set you up with a Vudu digital streaming account and access to the movie on your internet-connected computer.  a Vudu app-friendly TV or disc player  or an iPad. (Support for Android devices is  "coming soon.")

BTW, Walmart staffers will stamp each disc with a ID mark, so it can't be registered  more than once to a cloud-based account.

D-to-D  launches with more than 4,000 features  (no TV series, just yet) from Paramount, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros and DreamWorks Animation. Both classics and newbies are in the mix, from "Casablanca" to "Hugo." You can find the complete list here,

Disney is a notable holdout to the D-to-D program and the related UltraViolet streaming/download service. The latter launched late last year and now is being used by about a million customers.   

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