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Things We Saw Today: Your Christmas Tree is Big, You Say?

It's a metafir.

A (nearly to-scale) Godzilla-shaped Christmas tree in Japan's Aqua City Odaiba shopping mall.

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Sunset Overdrive Is Free Tomorrow for Xbox Live Gold Members to Celebrate Xbox One’s Birthday

Isn't it traditional to receive gifts on one's—you know what? Nevermind.

The Xbox One got you a gift to celebrate its first birthday! Shh, it's young and doesn't know how birthdays work. Nobody correct it, and maybe we can get gifts like this every year.

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Games for Girls? How About Games for Everyone?

Gender-neutral games are too hard to animate.

The portrayal and treatment of women in and around video games is a sore subject for a lot of us. It’s been talked about to death, and yet it still doesn’t seem like we’re making much progress. It’s a very polarizing but uniformly upsetting issue that lingers on in this otherwise great community like cat pee on an oriental rug.

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NSA Tried to Find Terrorists by Playing Online Games, Genius Plan Somehow Failed

"Freeze, scumbag! Drop the duck!"

You'll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than... Xbox Live? OK, we might not be willing to repeat some of the trash talk we've heard there, but it's a bit amusing to imagine a bunch of intelligence agents deciding that it's a good place to do surveillance for terrorists. It's much easier to imagine they just thought it'd be fun.

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Looking For Help With Rape Threats On Xbox Live? Prepare To Be Frustrated.

Today in things that make us scream incoherently

We don't have time to cover every story that lands in our paths here at The Mary Sue but if we feel it's warranted, we will try and give something a signal boost. Doing so today lead us on a tour of Xbox Live Support we wished we hadn't taken and prompted us to write this article on the experience.

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Xbox Live Update Apparently Includes Significant Price Hike, Possibly Thanks to Currency Conversion

Microsoft is either trying to quietly increase their prices, or they're just not good and converting points to pounds.

Xbox Live is ditching its silly Microsoft Points system in favor of people using real money. It's a good move, but some beta users in the U.K. are noticing a problem -- with the switch to real money, the price of games has increased. Is Microsoft trying for a quiet price hike, or is it just a bug to be worked out before the real money option rolls out to the public?

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PSA: Xbox Live Ultimate Game Sale Starts Today

Because it's way too hot everywhere, and going outsidetro do anything right now is the act of an insane person.

As if Steam, GOG, Greenman Gaming, and the PSN hadn't been doing enough to empty your wallet, Microsoft has also jumped on the digital summer sale bandwagon. While Xbox Live isn't exactly known for its great prices, its Ultimate Game Sale has some pretty insane discounts to check out.

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Too Late to Grab Too Human Content From Xbox Marketplace Since It’s All Disappeared

The end may finally be here for Silicon Knights. It wasn't too long ago that a Canadian court ordered the beleaguered video game developer to recall and destroy all unsold copies of their games that used Unreal Engine 3 due to a licensing spat with Epic Games. It was a pretty thorough gutting of the company's catalog, with both Too Human and X-Men: Destiny on the chopping block, that Silicon Knights unfortunately had coming to them. Now it appears that we've reached the final stages as Too Human has been pulled from the Xbox Marketplace.

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Microsoft Clarifies Harassment Policies for Halo 4, No Changes To Be Made To Xbox Live’s Code of Conduct

Pros and Cons

Last week, I discussed a GameSpot interview with Halo 4 execs Kiki Wolfkill and Bonnie Ross, in which it was stated that discriminatory behavior in-game — specifically sexism — would result in a lifetime ban. Given Xbox Live’s high profile, the interview had done the rounds at many major tech and gaming sites, and a lively debate ensued. As I mentioned in my original article, there were a lot of questions being asked, primarily regarding whether or not this rule applied to other forms of abuse, and how this new policy would be implemented. On Tuesday, Destructoid reported that they had contacted Microsoft in order to clear things up. The verdict? Xbox Live views all types of harassment as equally reprehensible (hooray!), but they won’t be making any changes to their existing Code of Conduct (hmm).

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Halo 4 Execs Bring Out The Banhammer, Threaten Lifetime Suspensions For Sexism on Xbox Live

Essay

Start a discussion about harassment in games, and two words are bound to come up: Xbox and Halo. Seeing as how the latter is one of the most successful game franchises ever, which runs on one of the world’s most popular consoles, this perhaps has to do less with the game itself and more with the fact that it represents a huge chunk of the gaming community. Heated competition undoubtedly plays a part as well, but whatever the reason for it, if you want to show someone just how bad things can get in multiplayer gaming, Halo’s the poster child. Which is why it was a pretty big deal earlier this week when Gamespot published an interview with Kiki Wolfkill, executive producer of Halo 4, and Bonnie Ross, head of Microsoft subsidiary 343 Industries (the game’s developer). With Halo 4 poised for launch next Tuesday, they had a message for their players: Sexist language on Xbox Live will get you a permaban.

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L’Oreal Creates First Xbox App Specifically Aimed at a Female Market, Knows What It’s Doing

Firsts

AllthingsD, after they make sure we know that videogame consoles aren't just for gaming anymore, has the scoop on a new marketing app coming to Xbox Live, from a company that you wouldn't necessarily associate with the platform. L'Oreal. But for Jacqueline Corbelli of BrightLine, the marketing firm that built the app for L'Oreal, it makes nothing but sense.

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Get Those Cheevos: Microsoft to Offer Xbox Live Discounts Based on GamerScore

Everybody responds differently to the idea of Xbox 360 achievements (or PS3 trophies) differently. Some find the addition of arbitrary goals and an overarching progression system for gaming as a whole to be highly motivating, while others feel like they ruin the experience. Either way, I think everyone with a high GamerScore — either because they're completionists or because they play a lot of games — agrees that they deserve to be rewarded for their efforts. Well, Microsoft is finally answering the call, launching a new Xbox Live rewards system that provides discounts on Xbox Marketplace for players who have earned enough achievement points.

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Report: Microsoft Planning To Launch $99 Xbox With Subscription Plan

You pay for your phone service one month at a time, and the same with your cable and your Internet. A report by The Verge suggests that soon, Microsoft will be bringing gaming into the subscription space with a $99 Xbox 360 and Kinect bundle with a monthly payment plan. The bundle is said to come with a 4GB Xbox and cost $15 a month, which includes Xbox Live Gold, and potential access to some video streaming content.

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New York Sex Offenders Kicked From Xbox Live, Other Online Gaming Services

Any New York State-based sex offenders who are into online gaming are about to get an unpleasant surprise when they discover their accounts on Xbox Live and a number of other online gaming services have been terminated. As part of Operation: Game OverNY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced that over 3,500 accounts tied to sex offenders in New York have been terminated. Xbox Live is the only service mentioned by name in the press release, but the companies Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Disney, Warner Bros. and Sony are all lumped in as well. They are responsible for other online gaming services like PlayStation Network, Origin, and Battle.net between them.

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Sony Gets Sued Over PlayStation Network's No-Sue Clause

So remember back, after the big Sony hacking fiasco, when Sony pushed a PlayStation Network update that required all users to surrender their right to sue Sony? Well now Sony is getting sued over it. There were a lot of questions about whether the move to include the clause was actually legal, and now we're set to find out. Sony did provide a way to opt-out of the clause, but it was hard to find and even harder to excute; you had to send them a letter snail-mail, which as we all know, is an activity bordering on impossible. Seriously though, it's kind of a pain and that was a pretty sketchy move on Sony's part.

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Official Xbox Live App Now On iOS

In a move to make Xbox Live a more useful and active social network outside of simply playing games with your buddies, Microsoft has released a new Xbox Live app. Of course, this app has been around on the Windows Phone for a while, but now Microsoft is aiming for a larger audience, and in doing so, creating some content for their chief rival: They've created an iOS app. The app is available for free and lets you do stuff like mess with your avatar, stare at your achievements, and chat with your Xbox Live friends.

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Things We Saw Today: Superhero Gingerbread Men & Women

Things We Saw Today

It's that time of year. The time of year you need to think of stuff to bring to parties. Bring a batch of Superhero Men and Women and no one will ever forget you. Learn how to make them on Sugar Swings. (via GeekMom) Now what else did we see today...

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Early Copy of Modern Warfare 3 Goes for $1,725 on eBay Just 4 Days Before Release

As you may be aware, Kmart accidentally started selling some copies of the much awaited Modern Warfare 3 yesterday, ahead of its November 8th release date. The mistake was discovered pretty early on, and the sales were stopped, but there were still a number of copies that managed to make it out into the wild, and what happens when a commodity like this becomes available in a very limited quantity? eBay-ing, and lots of it.

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Microsoft Zune Is Officially Dead

The Microsoft Zune is officially dead and will no longer be produced according to a Microsoft posting on the Zune support pages. One might argue (and fairly successfully) that the Zune has been effectively dead for years now and since the iPhone changed the mobile music landscape and took what little weight was on the Zune's shoulders and placed it squarely on Windows Phone 7. What makes it officially dead is that Microsoft seems to have come to that conclusion as well. From Microsoft's statement:

We recently announced that, going forward, Windows Phone will be the focus of our mobile music and video strategy, and that we will no longer be producing Zune players. So what does this mean for our current Zune users? Absolutely nothing. Your device will continue to work with Zune services just as it does today. And we will continue to honor the warranties of all devices for both current owners and those who buy our very last devices. Customer service has been, and will remain a top priority for us.

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Reports Say Microsoft is Looking To Get TV Content on the Xbox 360

Word on the street is that Microsoft is in talks with various content companies, Comcast, and Verizon about getting some TV content for its Xbox Live service. The initial report comes from Bloomberg, which reports that an Xbox Live streaming content service might be announced as early as next week, according to someone who is not authorized to speak publicly on the topic. According to another report by Digiday, Microsoft is also working on an agreement with Comcast whereby Xbox Live users can sign up (and pay) for Comcast content that can be streamed through the system itself. As for now, Xbox Live users can get streaming content through Netflix or purchase movie and show rentals through the Zune Store. It makes sense though, that Xbox would want to broker some streaming deals of its own so it can get a little closer to the real action (and the real money).

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