Just days before Microsoft’s big E3 livestream, company executives sat down to talk – er, read the remarks prepared by the communications team – on the future of Xbox. In a pre-recorded press conference, Xbox director Phil Spencer, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and others boasted about the performance of Game Pass and Azure. dropped news on the company’s cloud gaming and subscription strategies.
First, Xbox is working with global TV makers to get Game Pass on smart TVs. Since a Game Pass Ultimate subscription unlocks the capabilities of the cloud, this feature will allow people to play Xbox titles with just a controller, no console required. Additionally, Microsoft is officially building a video game streaming stick, like Spencer teased at the end of last year.
“We’re also developing standalone streaming devices that you can plug into a TV or monitor, so if you have a strong internet connection you can stream your Xbox experience,” said Liz Hamren, CVP of Gaming Experiences and platforms. It’s unclear when to expect the Smart TV app or streaming hardware to hit the market, but none seem too far away.
Spencer and his friends have broken down a handful of additional news nuggets, as follows:
Over the next few weeks, all Game Pass Ultimate subscribers – including at least 18 million – will have access to browser-based cloud gaming, supporting Chrome, Edge, and Safari. This feature launched in beta in April, and it also unlocks cloud gaming on iOS via a progressive web app.
Also in the coming weeks, cloud gamers will see improvements in load times, frame rates and optimized gaming as Microsoft completes a next-gen upgrade in its data centers. Until now, Xbox Cloud games have been powered by blade servers based on Xbox One S consoles, but with the move to the next generation and the ambition to support streaming to larger screen devices, Microsoft replaced many of these units with blades based on the stock Consoles.
Later this year, cloud gaming will be available through a Game Pass Ultimate subscription in Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Japan. In addition, Microsoft will integrate cloud gaming directly into the Xbox app on PC and launch cloud features on Xbox consoles, such as “try before you download”.
Xbox plays with new Game Pass levels designed to be more accessible to gamers around the world. Additionally, the company plans to expand the Xbox All Access program, which allows people to purchase a new Xbox Series console and Game Pass Ultimate membership for $ 25 per month over two years.
As for the massive cache of talented studios that Xbox currently has, including Bethesda, id Software and Arkane – the company plans to release at least one new proprietary title in the Game Pass library each quarter.
All of this underscores Microsoft’s ninth generation strategy, which radically diverges that of its longtime rival, Sony. While the PlayStation 5 follows a traditional console upgrade path with a focus on high-powered guts and proprietary software, the Xbox Series X and S are ships for Game Pass subscriptions and streaming, pulling part of the massive Azure network – something Sony can’t do (at least not without pay Microsoft first).
It is the pivot that Microsoft is ready to do since the launch of the Xbox One in 2013. Eight years ago, Spencer released a console that would be always online and always listening, designed for digital game downloads and media streaming. Only then, neither gamers nor broadband networks were ready to move away from physical drives. Today, it’s a completely different story.
the Xbox and Bethesda game showcase premieres Sunday, June 13 at 1 p.m. ET, and it is expected to include 90 minutes of software news and new trailers from third-party and proprietary studios. This is arguably the biggest live stream of E3 2021, although the Nintendo Switch show on June 15 may give it a lot of bang for its buck. Check out our full schedule for E3 2021 here, and stay tuned for live broadcasts on the Engadget YouTube Channel during the week.
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