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Main Thread & News Stream. Rise of Xbox [275]

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  • Battlefield V discounted by 50 percent for veteran players

    Battlefield V is quite cheap for Battlefield veterans.

    Battlefield V is a first-person shooter set in World War II. The game features single-player campaign scenarios similar to Battlefield 1, alongside an expansive multiplayer mode. The title launched a few days ago on November 20, 2018. Battlefield V has no premium pass or paid expansions so players won't be divided anymore.

    There have been numerous reports that Battlefield V isn't do so well in terms of sales. While it's unclear as to how well the game has sold, EA is offering a discount on it for existing Battlefield fans already. Today, the company announced a promotion where Battlefield V is now fifty percent off for returning players who purchased Battlefield 1, Battlefield 4, or Battlefield Hardline until December 20. A Reddit user named "Beakerishere" discovered the deal. All you have to do to redeem this offer is go to the in-game store where there are massive banners indicating the sale.

    There was some confusion whether this offer was Xbox One-only, but we confirmed that it's also available on PC and PlayStation 4.

    Battlefield V was supposed to launch earlier this year, but was delayed to November a few months ago. The beta test was quite rough around the edges, especially when it came to performance on Xbox One. Even the Xbox One X performance wasn't that great. However, it seems like the full release has come a long way and even targets 4K 60 FPS on Microsoft's new machine.

    Last edited by Blaze_ATX; 12-06-2018, 10:41 AM.





      • Xbox boss Phil Spencer made gaming matter to Microsoft

        You may have noticed that Xbox boss Phil Spencer is throwing around Microsoft’s hefty wallet. The company has made a number of acquisitions over the last year to shore up its first-party game development. And Spencer explained that he earned the right to do that because Microsoft’s executive team is more interested in gaming than ever.

        Spencer was on stage today for a discussion at the Barclays Global Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Conference in San Francisco. And he explained that Microsoft’s gaming division generated more than $10 billion in revenue for the first time during its 2018 fiscal year. Gaming ended that 12-month period as 9.4 percent of Microsoft’s total revenue. And surpassing that threshold turned some heads inside Microsoft.

        Attention means money

        Of course, Microsoft has had a gaming division since the Xbox debuted in 2001. But it has operated in something of its own silo until Spencer joined Microsoft chief executive officer Satya Nadella’s executive team in 2017. Quickly after getting that promotion, Spencer began flexing his muscles as the leader of a core pillar of Microsoft’s business.

        “We’ve acquired and started seven new first-party studios in the last year,” said Spencer. “We obviously don’t do that without tremendous support from Satya and Amy.”

        And the seven new and acquired studios are different from the big-time bets that Microsoft made before its current strategy. In 2014, the company bought Minecraft developer Mojang for $2.5 billion. And Microsoft would only make deals on that scale because that’s all the executive team cared about. But now that Spencer is free to spend some money on his own, he’s making smaller, more strategic deals.

        “We understand content is a critical component of what we’re trying to build,” said Spencer. “And the support from the company has been tremendous.”

        A strategy for the future

        During his time onstage, Spencer explained that he has sold Nadella and Hood on gaming. The company has morphed from an operating-system developer to a services provider, and Spencer talked about how gaming could act as a backbone for the growth of services like the cloud.

        Spencer spoke to one of the more obvious opportunities, which is marrying Xbox’s successful Netflix-like Game Pass subscription with its upcoming Project xCloud streaming platform.

        “We’ll have multiple business models that will work with streaming, but the connection of streaming with the subscription model makes a ton of sense,” said Spencer. “You see it in music. You see it in video. So you can look at Project xCloud and you can look at something like Game Pass, and you can see there’s natural synergies.”

        Looking past tomorrow

        Spencer once again reiterated that the future of Xbox platforms looks more like Game Pass than a console. While a new Xbox is coming, Microsoft wants to find a blue ocean of new gaming fans.

        “For us, it’s all about how we reach 2 billion gamers,” said Spencer. “If you build the market around a couple hundred million people who are going to own a game console or a high-end gaming PC, then your business-model diversity can actually narrow because your customers are narrow. But when you think about reaching a customer with this content where their only compute device could be an Android phone, you think about, well, what are all the ways that person pays for content if they do at all today?”

        And this is Spencer looking beyond the current fight in game distribution. Fortnite developer Epic Games announced its own PC-gaming store this week. It joins massively popular communications platform Discord in launching a market this year. But Microsoft is thinking about all of the people who don’t buy games at all.

        Spencer wants to give them a comparable experience and an instant library for $10 per month.

        How Sony’s and Nintendo’s strategies compare

        And the thing about Microsoft is that it is one of a few companies with the cloud-infrastructure and game-development know-how to make a cloud-based Game Pass system work.

        Sony also has the know-how, and it has a cloud-gaming business in PlayStation Now. But Sony does not have cloud servers all over the world. It also doesn’t seem as keen on making its current games available on platforms outside of the PlayStation 4.

        And Nintendo’s focus is on selling Switch units, which is going for a slightly different blue ocean by making games available to anyone and anywhere.

        That leaves Microsoft an opportunity to lead on cloud-based subscription gaming, and it is going to seize that chance.

        Last edited by Blaze_ATX; 12-06-2018, 10:20 AM.


        • Direct X-Static
          Editing a comment
          Phil spencer is the man... I love it when a plan comes together!

      • Phil Spencer Talks About Why Microsoft Isn’t Interested In Acquiring EA

        Microsoft is more focused on finding “creative independent teams”, says Spencer.

        Earlier this year, there was speculation floating around the internet that Microsoft was looking to acquire some major third party publishers. Of the handful of big names that were being mentioned, EA was the one that stood out the most, and also the one that was most heavily involved in the rumours.

        As it turned out, there wasn’t much truth to those reports. Microsoft did end up going on an acquisition spree, but it was very different in nature, with them instead choosing to tap up smaller, independent studios. At E3, they announced five acquisitions, which included the likes of Playground Games and Ninja Theory, while just last month, Obsidian Entertainment and inXile also joined their ranks.

        Those names are in stark contrast to EA, a veritable global conglomerate, and according to Xbox boss Phil Spencer, that is very much part of Microsoft’s strategy. Speaking at the Barclays 2018 Global Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference, Spencer addressed earlier reports about Microsoft looking to acquire EA, and went into some detail about why that wasn’t part of the company’s strategy.

        “If you watch the studio acquisitions we’ve done, we’re focused on creative teams that we think can build very interesting content to help the flywheel Game Pass grow and our platforms grow,” Spencer said. “We’re probably less interested in management teams and infrastructure and things that we already have inside of our organization. And you can just look at the track record. We’ve added seven studios in six months, and if you look at them, I think you’ll see certain evaluations.

        “But more importantly, the creative teams that we’re picking up, [we’re doing it] knowing that we can then plug them into a Microsoft infrastructure, an Xbox infrastructure to help those teams succeed, with more solid funding, alignment towards goals around Game Pass, reaching gamers everywhere,” he continued. “And we don’t have to pay for some of the things that some of the bigger publishers have, that we probably already have under our roof.”

        “So yeah,” he said. “Our focus hasn’t been on going out and adding duplicative functions that we’d be paying for that I don’t think we need, but more on how we can find the creative independent teams out there. And I feel really good about the path that we’re on right now.”

        As far as acquisitions are concerned, even with seven new additions to their first party roster in a very short space of time, it doesn’t look like Microsoft is quite done. According to recent reports, there’s more news to come from them in 2019, and one of the studios they’re in talks with has historically worked with PlayStation in the past. Read more on that through here.



        • hasmeh
          Editing a comment
          I think that is a very straightforward and good approach. I hope for great things from MS in the years to come. Game Pass is already massive. I have a huge backlog now.

      • Microsoft’s Strong Relations With Third Parties Give xCloud The Edge Over Competitors – Spencer

        Project xCloud is “unlocking new business opportunities” for third party publishers, says Spencer.

        Microsoft have been talking up the potential of their cloud-based streaming service – tentatively titled Project xCloud – a lot ever since they first revealed it to the world, which, they believe, has the capability to match even console-quality gaming on any device through streaming. One of the ways it will be able to do that, according to Microsoft, is through the strong infrastructure they already have in place for cloud with Azure.

        However, that’s not the only way Project xCloud is primed for success, according to Xbox boss Phil Spencer. Recently, while speaking at the Barclays 2018 Global Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference, Spencer talked about xCloud in great detail, mentioning that though Microsoft will receive competition on the cloud streaming scene from the likes of Google and Amazon, Microsoft has the edge over them due to the relationships they’ve built up with major third party publishers like EA, Activision, and Capcom over the course of two decades in the console market.

        “When I think about who I see as our long-term competitors in these gaming categories, I think you’re gonna see the big tech companies that Microsoft competes with in many different areas,” said Spencer. “Like Amazon has Amazon Game Studios, which they had for a while, AWS has a very large workload in the gaming space. Google just started working on Project Stream and you can see the work that they’re starting to do to enter this category. Tencent is a huge gaming company.”

        “So when I think about some of the strengths that we have as Microsoft, we have been in this space for almost two decades now,” he continued. “We have long relationships with the best content creators on the planet, and their content runs on our platform today. We did some work early on to allow all of their Xbox games to work on today’s Xbox, and our fans love that feature. And it made a ton of sense in terms of we sold more games, we drove more engagement on the platform.”

        “When you look at services like Project xCloud, then you start putting the math together and saying ‘okay, now we have thousands of pieces of content from our partners,'” Spencer went on. “They’ve already built this content, and I can basically stream it to any player, anywhere, with any devices, which opens up a huge new market for them. The third-party relationships that we’ve built, not only the games that are under development today, but the past two decades of games that they’ve built on our platform, we’re unlocking new business opportunities for that third-party content.

        “We know that our system really only works if third parties are monetizing well on our platform. Our first parties are important here, but the third-party relationships are a critical aspect, and we have strong business relationships with EA, Activision, Take-Two, Capcom… you can go through the whole list, and we have a long, long relationship [with them], and they have shipped thousands of pieces of content on our platform.”

        There’s definitely a lot of potential in xCloud, and given how committed Microsoft seems to the entire project, one can’t help but feel optimistic about it. Then again, it’s cloud-based, so there’s bound to be some apprehension over its validity as a viable alternative to traditional ways of playing games. Either way, we’ll find out soon- public trials for xCloud begin in 2019.



        • Phil Spencer: Xbox Game Pass “will come to every device”

          Xbox boss hints at bold cross-platform strategy for subscription service

          Microsoft wants to put its Xbox Game Pass service on every platform.

          That's according to Xbox boss Phil Spencer, who discussed plans for the subscription scheme in front of attendees at San Francisco's Barclays conference.

          GameSpot reports the Xbox exec mostly centred the conversation around how it might bring Game Pass to smartphones.

          "When you think about reaching a customer with this content where their only compute device could be an Android phone, you think about, 'What are all the ways that person pays for content today'?" Spencer said. "So we need to make sure that we're world-class at free-to-play content, but we also look at subscription as a much lower barrier way for a customer to build a library of content.

          "So we built Xbox Game Pass -- it started on console, it will come to PC, and eventually it will come to every device -- we use the flywheel that we have with customers on an Xbox to start the growth in Xbox Game Pass. But as somebody sitting back and taking a longer-term view of where our business is going, you should look at that as a business model that we think scales to billions of people not hundreds of millions of people like retail does."

          The most obvious way Xbox can bring its Game Pass titles to mobile is through Project xCloud, the streaming service announced earlier this year that goes into public testing in early 2019. The initial video demo showed Forza Horizon 4 running smoothly on a smartphone, and the launch of an Xbox Game Pass app could provide access for mobile users.

          However, the most interesting implication is that Microsoft might seek to bring its Game Pass service to PlayStation and Nintendo devices. Spencer's comments weren't limited to "console, then PC, then mobile" -- he instead said "every device".

          Whether the rival platform holders will allow such a service on their consoles remains to be seen -- it's most unlikely with Sony, given the firm's reluctance to even open its systems up to cross-play for popular multiplayer titles. But Microsoft has been working closely with Nintendo this year, even prpmoting their cross-play functionality in a joint marketing campaign.

          It's also worth noting Microsoft has already released content on rival consoles in the form of Minecraft (although this is, of course, a property that was already on multiple devices before Microsoft acquired it).

          Microsoft is clearly building up Game Pass as central to Xbox's future, even acquiring several major studios to build content for it. Time will tell whether it achieves its grand platform-agnostic ambitions.

          Last edited by Blaze_ATX; 12-06-2018, 03:01 PM.


          • Blaze_ATX
            Editing a comment
            When Phil say "every device" he means every device that will allow xCloud services like smart TV's, streaming stick, Smartphones, tablets and PC's, Not literally the competing platforms (PlayStation or Switch).

            Last edited by Blaze_ATX; 12-06-2018, 12:50 PM.

          • Direct X-Static
            Editing a comment
            Yeah, not EVERY device, but smartphones along with an actual controller to snap onto it would change the gaming industry forever. MS would have a billion customers to sell their games and services to! Ponies are happy when MS sells 100 million consoles...

        • Xbox Scarlett Will Use Zen 2 and AMD Next-Gen GPU Technology; 4K@60 FPS Is “On The Agenda”

          The next console generation is fast approaching, with both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles being now over five years old, but official details are still scarce on the new consoles that Sony and Microsoft will release in the fairly near future. According to rumors, however, the Xbox Scarlett, as the next-gen Microsoft console seems to be codenamed, is going to bring some very important changes in the console space.

          According to a video report from renown Microsoft insider Brad Sams (Executive Editor of, the Xbox Scarlett console, which will release in 2020, will be using Zen 2 and AMD’s next-generation GPU technology. The aim would be to have games running at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second. This would align with earlier rumors on the PlayStation 5 hardware, which pointed to an eight-core Zen CPU and a Navi-based GPU. Once again, both next-gen consoles by Sony and Microsoft could be powered by AMD technology.

          For the next generation, Microsoft is going to take a varied approach, releasing different types of hardware that will be able to run games through the cloud, like a cheap Xbox console that runs game via the Azure infrastructure, as well as traditional hardware. The company is going to be embracing digital distribution even further, bringing changes to the Windows Store (as promised by Phil Spencer, Executive Vice President of Gaming at Microsoft) and Xbox App and creating a unified system.

          Backward compatibility is also in the cards, which is not surprising considering how well it’s doing on Xbox One.

          All of this information has not been confirmed officially, so we have to take it with a grain of salt for the time being. If the console is indeed coming in 2020, we will finally hear more about it sometime next year, possibly at E3 2019; after all, Microsoft already announced the Xbox One X console a year and a half before it actually shipped.



          • Blaze_ATX
            Editing a comment
            Monster 2.0 Or Beast 2.0 on the making.

            Last edited by Blaze_ATX; 12-06-2018, 03:05 PM.

        • Anthem’s Closed Alpha Will Reportedly Support Ultra HD 4K and HDR 10 on Xbox One X

          And apparently, its file size won’t be too heavy either.

          BioWare will be holding a closed alpha testing period of its upcoming shared-world shooter Anthem this weekend, and apparently, they’re not taking any chances with the game’s technical aspects, alpha or no. Apparently, at least on the Xbox One X, the game will be leveraging the powers of the hardware it is on.

          As per True Achievements, who have come across a listing for the game’s closed alpha, it won’t require too much storage in your system’s memory- but it’s not exactly light either, at 20.05 GB. More importantly, Anthem’s closed alpha will also feature Xbox One X enhancements, which come in the form of ultra HD 4K resolution, while also making use of HDR 10.

          If you’re looking for more info on Anthem, check out this recently released gameplay video, which focuses on the lore, the ins, and the outs of Fort Tarsis, the main hub location in the game. Meanwhile, if you want to see even more of Anthem, BioWare will be presenting a new trailer for the game at The Game Awards in a few hours.



          • Brian Fargo: “I spent 50% of my time raising money”

            InXile on Game Pass and why becoming a part of Microsoft is the 'holy grail' for ambitious games developers

            Life as a mid-sized independent games development studio must be terrifying at times.

            Companies like Remedy or Ninja Theory, which make these wonderful, high quality games that are sort-of-but-not-quite AAA projects. Games that are single-player, mostly, with a dedicated audience that isn't quite big enough to justify the big budgets.

            We speak to these companies all the time about survival. And it's often about trying new things, being careful with budgets, and always, always, always raising money -- hoping to find that magic hit to take them to the next level.

            "It's always been difficult for development companies to become self-sustaining no matter which business model you are using," says Brian Fargo, CEO of InXile.

            "At least 50% of my time is in fundraising and we have so little room for error. It generally takes a mega hit to break you out of the cycle and that is always hard to come by. A mid-size hit is nice, but the after-tax monies from that generally support another five to six months of payroll and leave you back on the hamster wheel. It turns out that talented game developers are expensive. My friends always like to comment that I should 'just make a Fortnite or Minecraft'."

            So it must be exciting to those stuck on the funding treadmill to hear that Microsoft, which has historically been only interested in high-end AAA studios, is openly acquiring mid-size game developers such as Ninja Theory, InXile, Obsidian and Undead Labs.

            "A mid-size hit is nice, but the after-tax monies from that generally support another five to six months of payroll and leave you back on the hamster wheel."

            Or at least it would be exciting if it were not for Microsoft's inconsistent track record with development studios. Although the likes of Rare, Turn 10, and Mojang might speak warmly of their parent company, the former employees of Ensemble, BigPark and Lionhead might feel differently.

            "It's a natural thing for gamers to worry about, but Microsoft was very clear in their desire to give us resources to improve our quality while we continue to bring our unique style of games to our fans," Fargo reassures.

            "We also spent quite a bit of time with the development groups they purchased and their teams could not have been more enthusiastic about how fortunate they felt to finally be given the time and money to create. I only know the Microsoft under Phil Spencer and Matt Booty and they are passionate gamers who care deeply about supporting talent. More important than words and promises will be the games that come from us in the future, that will be the proof."

            InXile makes RPG experiences such as the upcoming Wasteland 3

            Microsoft's decision to acquire these businesses comes from a different place, too. InXile's titles are not exactly expected to drive hardware adoption of Xbox consoles. The studio has been picked up to deliver games into the Game Pass subscription platform.

            Halo, Gears of War, Forza, Sea of Thieves... these titles are expected to drive adoption of the subscription service. Yet these games take years and years to craft. Xbox is looking for content to fill the months in-between the big launches. They're looking for titles to keep people engaged in Game Pass as they await the next major game in the Crackdown universe.

            Some of those games will be legacy titles from third-party publishers, some will be from indie creators, and some will come from the likes of InXile, Obsidian, Compulsion Games and Undead Labs.

            On paper, you can see how this appeals to mid-sized development teams. They can create the games they want without the pressure to deliver big numbers. They can also reach an audience of people who perhaps would not have played their games previously. Similar to how Netflix encourages people to try different shows as they await the next series of Stranger Things.

            "Game Pass immediately provides us that audience and gives us more energy to focus on creativity rather than worrying about things like monetisation."

            "As a creator, all I care about is getting our games in front of millions of people so we can watch them play and hear about their experience," Fargo enthuses. "Game Pass immediately provides us that audience and gives us more energy to focus on creativity rather than worrying about things like monetisation. I also see it as a vehicle to allow developers to take more creative risk with their games. I think Netflix is a good example of a subscription service that allows an offering of artistic content that was unlikely to be financed otherwise. Buster Scruggs seems like a fine example of that."

            He continues: "It is an absolute benefit to have a business model that allows Microsoft to support our dreams. The stable of development support we'll have access to is unlike anything that we've used before. We were blown away by the tools we'll be able to use that will allow us to hone our craft."

            InXile says Microsoft offers more than just the freedom from worrying about money. There's the resources of all those development teams (Microsoft's development family now features 13 studios), and the possibility to work on some of Xbox's existing brands (although Fargo says the team is currently focused on their own IP). There's also the financial backing that will enable the team to add experts in cinematics, audio and animation to the team.

            "Our money raised through crowdfunding was a wonderful catalyst to get us back in the saddle making the kind of games that speak directly to our fans. That said, we were always well aware of the in-house disciplines we were missing. The benefit to having talent focused on specific areas of game creation can have a profound effect on the overall experience. A few key positions we're looking to hire will allow our games to shine like never before. Gamers are very discerning, and they notice when a team adds that extra little touch or when things are tightly integrated."

            Fargo concludes: "Spending 100 per cent of our energy making games with the resources we only dreamed of in the past. It's the holy grail for an ambitious developer."




            • Blaze_ATX
              Editing a comment
              I just finished reading it and what an amazing article, it really inspires confidence in what Microsoft is doing.





            • Xbox One Family Settings get cross-play filters

              Family Settings just got even better.

              Family Settings on Xbox One are an important tool which let parents monitor and restrict the types of games and the duration to which their children play those games. Microsoft already provides options to limit a variety of features in screen time management, purchase limits, content filters, and privacy, but there is more that the company could do.

              Today, Dan McCulloch, General Manager for Xbox Live, shared new settings that will be available to parents. On Xbox Wire, he said the following.
              We've heard feedback and questions from parents whose kids enjoy playing cross-network enabled games. Available today, Fortnite is the first game to feature our new cross-play settings, which provides parents and caregivers with more choice in managing cross-network scenarios for their children who play on Xbox. This includes two new settings parents can turn on or off, which empowers them to allow or block both cross-network play and cross-network communication, on their child's account. As with the rest of the family settings, these can be changed in the parent's Microsoft account. We expect other cross-network enabled games will be updated in the future to include these settings and offer more choice for parents.
              It's great to see that Microsoft is giving players control over more settings. However, at the end of the day, communication is the most important tool at a parent's disposal.