E3 2018: Xbox Is Investing In Its Future--And That’s A Big Deal

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karmakid

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The same could be said of any franchise, yet GOW just got Game Of The Year.

Better hang that one up too, eh. Same for UC, Halo, Zelda, Mario...yup.

Stopping any of those franchises would have been fantastic business moves. I mean really, no one wants to fight Ganon ever again, and the massive sales numbers and high review scores of all those games are completely pointless.

Hey, hey, heeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyy ;)

I wanna see uncharted 6 (10th really, if you don’t count the rerelease collection) with an all star cast and female lead, for my nieces :)

An alternate universe where Link dies and Zelda takes the mantle a la spider Gwen would be cool
 

Rollins

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https://www.engadget.com/2018/12/20/...review-winner/

Xbox is poised to dominate the next console generation

Microsoft spent 2018 learning from its mistakes.

Well, this is certainly a surprise. Xbox has been the bumbling underdog of the eighth console generation, playing catch-up to Sony's PlayStation 4 and watching from a distance as the Nintendo Switch reignited the passion of video game fans worldwide. However, over the past five years, Microsoft has doggedly climbed its way out of a PR and reputation pit with items like the Xbox One X and the Adaptive Controller as well as its public support of cross-console play. Today, Microsoft is better positioned than any other video game company to take control of the coming hardware cycle, which is expected to kick off in 2020.

First, let's appreciate how deep that Xbox pit really was. Microsoft's reveal of the Xbox One in 2013 was a clownish disaster, as spokespeople spewed conflicting answers about the new console's most disruptive feature: a consistent connection to the internet. The Xbox One was going to be the first console to require an internet connection, allowing Microsoft to implement new features on a regular basis, but executives sold this idea in the most confusing, anti-consumer way possible.

After weeks of backlash from fans and no clear answers about how the Xbox One's online requirement would actually work -- or why it was a good idea -- Microsoft backpedalled. It removed the online requirement from the Xbox One and scrambled to get the console in shape for its launch in November 2013.

Meanwhile, Sony was on a roll with the marketing of the PS4. Its messaging was clear, the console was familiar but beefed up, it would work just fine offline and it cost $100 less than the Xbox One. With this imbalance at the start of the hardware cycle, the PS4 handily outsold the Xbox One for years.


The Great Xbox Comeback of 2018 has been brewing for more than a year, starting with the launch of the Xbox One X on November 7th, 2017. The One X is the most powerful console on the market, offering 4K gaming and Blu-ray. Microsoft has the edge here, since the Xbox One X is the only console with true, baked-in 4K capabilities. Sony's PS4 Pro does offer 4K gaming but only through an upscaling process, and it doesn't support UHD Blu-ray.

The One X was a tough sell at first. Both Sony and Microsoft decided to upgrade their latest consoles midway through the hardware cycle, and though the PS4 Pro didn't feature true 4K, it cost $100 less than the One X (mirroring the pricing model established by the original Xbox One and PS4). Both companies had already rolled out cheaper versions of their consoles in the Xbox One S and PS4 Slim too.

Post-launch, the Xbox One X proved itself as a cutting-edge console capable of delivering the most beautiful living-room gaming experiences possible. Today, buoyed by positive reception of the Xbox One X and S, Microsoft's console family sales are improving. On November 27th, NPD analyst Mat Piscatella tweeted the following: "Xbox One sales show the highest growth of the three major [hardware] platforms in the US this year, and the Xbox One X in particular has been performing phenomenally."

Microsoft is on the right side of history when it comes to cross-console play.

The Xbox One won't catch the PS4 in terms of sales -- Sony has sold more than 86 million PS4s while Microsoft has sold an estimated 40 million Xbox Ones -- but a strong upswing at the backend of a console generation will only help the company in the future. And Microsoft certainly has plans there.

Microsoft is on the right side of history when it comes to cross-console play. This year, the company has demonstrated a willingness to open up the Xbox ecosystem and allow players to join games with folks on PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac and mobile platforms. A few games already support cross-console play among Xbox, PC, mobile devices and Switch, but Sony has been sluggish to join the revolution. It's kept the PS4 walled off while Rocket League and Minecraft players on Switch and Xbox One have been happily bouncing balls and building walls together for months. Fortnite supports play among PS4, Xbox One, Switch and other platforms, though that only happened after a chaotic launch period and weeks of bad press forced Sony's hand. A $2 billion franchise has that kind of sway over publishers, after all.

And then there's the coming console generation. It's too early to tell if Microsoft learned its lesson about messaging, especially when pitching a disruptive piece of technology to an ornery video game crowd, but it seems to already be setting the stage for the next hardware cycle. Rumors about the next Xbox started leaking in July, stating that Microsoft was building a console specifically for streaming video games and other media -- in other words, a console that requires an internet connection. This time around, the idea of a constantly connected Xbox didn't incite mass hysteria across the video game industry. In fact, plenty of players and critics seem pretty stoked about the idea of high-quality game streaming (as long as it actually works).

The Xbox squad also expanded its market in 2018 in an unlikely, yet truly important, way. The Xbox Adaptive Controller is a $100 gamepad built specifically for people with disabilities, and it's the first accessory of its caliber. A team at Microsoft developed the controller over the course of three years, gathering feedback from charities like AbleGamers and Warfighter Engaged as well as beta testing a one-stop gamepad for people with a broad range of mobility concerns. The end result is a sleek controller that works with just about every disability accessory already out there. The Xbox Adaptive Controller brings video games to 1 billion people who have been poorly served or left out of the market for decades, and its full impact on the future of gaming remains to be seen.

Xbox has turned itself around in 2018 (you could even call it an Xbox 360). Microsoft is generating positive buzz and slowly, delicately preparing players for the 2020 console cycle, which will surely feature at least one constantly connected Xbox. It's bolstering its game-development capabilities too: Microsoft Studios bought seven companies this year alone, adding Fallout New Vegas house Obsidian Entertainment, Wasteland 2 studio inXile Entertainment, Hellblade developer Ninja Theory and other big names. Meanwhile, Microsoft is preparing developers to work in a streaming ecosystem with a public beta for its Project xCloud service launching in 2019. Compare all of this with Sony, a company that has backed away from courting independent developers, refused to implement cross-console play and just recently pulled out of E3 2019 entirely.

It took about five years, two mid-generation console releases and a brand-new gamepad to get us here, but Xbox is back. Microsoft is finally in control of the video game conversation once again, and in 2019, its runway is clear. Xbox is about to blast off.
 

Rollins

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Microsoft's Xbox Project xCloud will take a new approach to game streaming

We rounded up the rumors backing Microsoft's Xbox game-streaming technology – and assembled thoughts on how the company's research will make it a reality.

Game-streaming has faced a troubled past, from the decade-old missteps of OnLive to the struggle to gain traction in 2018. Beaming high-quality gaming across the globe is no easy feat, and while networks are better than ever, gameplay is often compromised in the process.

Project xCloud is poised to be Microsoft's next major gaming endeavor, mobilizing its Xbox platform with a cloud-based streaming service. With strong foundationsand internal trials underway, early reports indicate Microsoft aims to distance itself from rivals by overcoming these early hurdles.

Alleged details are now surfacing. Here's how the technology might be shaping up.

Tackling game streaming latency

The logistics of game-streaming come with considerable complexity, with the need to ensure a high-quality image and timely delivery. Unlike music and video, the real-time nature of gaming emphasizes latency, the principal weakness of past failed services. Especially in fast-paced genres like shooters and racers, sub-second delays can make games unplayable.

Project xCloud's rollout pairs with dedicated data centers, comprised of server blades boasting custom Xbox One hardware. These servers will host games for clients region-wide, emulating full Xbox hardware without the reliance on a full-fledged console. Existing reports indicate a unique approach that merges local and cloud processing.

Existing game-streaming services like PlayStation Nowand Google Project Stream feed full titles from servers via compressed low-latency video. Microsoft's rumored hybridized solution could set Project xCloud apart, leveraging the strengths of both local and cloud gaming. Such a system could see inputs, image processing, physics, and other latency-sensitive components processed locally while demanding elements are handled by the cloud.

This isn't Microsoft's first attempt at offloading processing to the cloud, as demonstrated by "Kahawai," a Microsoft Research and Duke University collaboration. The project aimed to split processing between mobile devices and cloud servers, primarily aiming to reduce bandwidth requirements. Dubbed "collaborative rendering," this allows devices to create a "rough sketch," while GPU-intensive textures and shaders pull from the cloud.



Using Doom 3 as an example, the Kahawai tool managed to cut the bandwidth required to stream the game over a 1MB line by more than 80 percent while avoiding major cuts in visual quality. All this occurs while eliminating the delay usually associated with cloud gaming.

Project xCloud might predict your future






A recent report also detailed additional moves to clamp down on latency, "predicting" player actions in real time. Leveraging deep learning advancements, it appears Microsoft plans to anticipate inputs before they're made, while seamlessly correcting inaccuracies as they occur.





The technology seemingly derives from "Outatime," a 2015 Microsoft Research project that explored how speculation can eliminate latency issues. Time-traveling references aside, the publication demonstrated perceivable gains to counter delays. This also reportedly pairs with Microsoft's Project Brainwave platform, designed to accelerate real-time AI calculations in the cloud for further reduced latency.

Outatime explored analysis of gameplay, predicting what players will do next, and applying this to improve real-time streaming. The project could mask up to 120 milliseconds of latency at publication, achieved by preparing "speculative frames" of likely outputs before the action occurs. If correct, this image will be instantly reflected on-screen, while mispredictions can be locally warped before being displayed. The systems could also improve predictions over time by learning playstyles and reducing miscalculated frames. All this occurs in milliseconds, and in theory, retains smooth gameplay.





Microsoft also published side-by-side comparisons of Outatime technology and a standard baseline. Tested using DOOM 3 and Fable III, the demonstration showed improvements when aiming the camera, moving, and firing weapons. Although both are older titles, Microsoft claims these benefits transfer to modern titles due to similar foundations.

Reducing load times





Microsoft-registered patents also hint at an AI-enhanced backend, with instances of Xbox One titles cached in xCloud's active memory. These remote instances aren't linked to profiles, allowing players to seamlessly "boot" and request these preloaded titles without perceptible initial load time. Upon request, your unique player profile will be loaded into each instance, with save data, languages, and other preferences.

Comparing the concept to browsing TV channels, Microsoft hopes this will allow for a seamless boot-up across your library. This further enhances the on-demand nature of xCloud, reducing overall wait times. Paired with usage data, the service can anticipate demand, scaling resources on a regional basis and ensuring consistency. It's that extra feature that could showcase the parallels between xCloud and conventional media-streaming platforms.

Your thoughts on Project xCloud

Microsoft's Project xCloud is being pitched as the next major addition to the Xbox platform. Existing leaks look promising, and hopes are high for the game-streaming service. However, big challenges lay ahead. Let us know if you're looking forward to Project xCloud, and why, in the comments section.



https://www.windowscentral.com/xbox-...logy-explained
 

Edge BC

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A Lost Odyssey 2 anouncement at the next E3 would be awesome.
 

wshowers

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Hell, imagine it coming from a full-fledged Microsoft studio in Japan?
As long as they get the guy who wrote the Memories of 1000 years, it could be a third party colab from where I'm standing.
 

Edge BC

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Hell, imagine it coming from a full-fledged Microsoft studio in Japan?
If not they're gonna have to make a deal like how feelplus developed for Mistwalker.

The new job description for their Asia Xbox Division read they were looking for someone to lead partnership and business development in Japan, China, and South Korea to make Microsoft the global leader in Gaming.

It's really ambitious, but I don't see it happening without MS having at least a development studio in Asian territories of their own.
 

Rollins

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https://gamefragger.com/xbox/xbox_o...-an-unannounced-new-xbox-one-exclusive-a12929

The GEARS OF WAR 4 Studio Is Currently Working On An Unannounced New Xbox One Exclusive
It looks lie the Vancouver-based Coalition Studio, the creators of the acclaimed Gears of War 4, is not only busy with development on this year's Gears 5, but also yet unannounced Xbox One exclusive...

As expected, Microsoft announced two new major Gears of War video games developed at The Coalition Studio at E3 2018 - Gears Tactics, a Windows 10 exclusive strategy game similar to the XCOM series and Gears 5, a Windows 10 and Xbox One title that will continue the story of Marcus Michael Fenix, Kait Diaz, giving you a chance to revisit the beautiful fallen world in the post-Locust War era.

It looks like the Vancouver-based Coalition is working not only on the aforementioned games, but also a brand new Xbox One IP. After taking a closer look at Technical Art Director at The Coalition Colin Penty's LinkedIn resume, we can learn that he's a "CG Supervisor" developing an "Unannounced New IP (Xbox One)." Penty previously worked on GOW: Ultimate Edition, GOW4, and is supervising Gears 5.

The fact that it's an Xbox One exclusive may suggest that it's an older project that has been scrapped at some point, as GoW4 and Gears 5 are both Xbox One X-enhanced. While it doesn't mention Windows 10 either, it's clear that this mysterious game will be available for PC (if it's still in the works and will be released), as the vast majority of Microsoft Studios' future titles will support Xbox Play Anywhere.
 

Edge BC

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Could the Coalition be working on Perfect Dark.


Or maybe they continued working on Shangheist?
 

The Sunset Limited

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Do you guys think Microsoft supports a VR headset next gen? Either by creating one in house or partnering with a company like Oculus or HTC?
 

karmakid

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Do you guys think Microsoft supports a VR headset next gen? Either by creating one in house or partnering with a company like Oculus or HTC?
Maybe in-house, seeing their surface branding expanding into things like headphones now, the headset/screen seems like the next logical step
 

The Sunset Limited

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Maybe in-house, seeing their surface branding expanding into things like headphones now, the headset/screen seems like the next logical step
I hope you're right. Sony seems all in on VR. It'll be interesting to see if Microsoft follows path. Could be an interesting differentiator for next gen if MS chooses not to. 2019 is going to be fun as we learn more about their plans.
 

Frozpot

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Do you guys think Microsoft supports a VR headset next gen? Either by creating one in house or partnering with a company like Oculus or HTC?
I hope so. If they can use the proper VR controllers it would give them a leg up on the PSVR. I'd hope Sony develops some proper VR controllers for next gen as well. I'd have a PSVR already if I had a PRO... I am not interested in running it on the base console...
 

Hedon

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I hope so. If they can use the proper VR controllers it would give them a leg up on the PSVR. I'd hope Sony develops some proper VR controllers for next gen as well. I'd have a PSVR already if I had a PRO... I am not interested in running it on the base console...
Needs to be wireless VR.
 

Rollins

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Microsoft's The Initiative studio hires a batch of new staff

These staff members are reportedly from Rooster Teeth, Sledgehammer, Activision, and Crystal Dynamics.



Back in June 2018, Microsoft announced during their E3 conference that they would be opening a new studio in Santa Monica, California. This studio is called The Initiative, and is led by former Crystal Dynamics studio head Darrell Gallagher, who is also joined by other figures like former Sunset Overdrive director Drew Murray.

Microsoft is really pushing this new studio, and since last November a handful of new people have been hired, according to a new post on ResetEra, which lists these staff members:
  • Ex-Sledgehammer member Andrameda Martinez as Executive Assistant and Office Manager
  • Ex-Rooster Teeth member David Wyka as Game/Art Recruiter
  • Ex-Activision member Irma Ward as Associate Producer
  • Ex-Crystal Dynamics member Joe Stinchcomb in an unknown position


ResetEra user Noble adds that "5/15 employees on LinkedIn are ex-Crystal Dynamics. Probably Darrell's doing."

It is not yet known what The Initiative is working on, but judging by their staff, it's going to be something big.

What could it be?




https://www.gamereactor.eu/news/7231...+of+new+staff/
 

karmakid

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Could the Coalition be working on Perfect Dark.


Or maybe they continued working on Shangheist?
Maybe they’ll call their B-Team that....wait, B-Team? B.T.?? Black Tusk??? Returns???? Half life 4 confirmed?
 

Mcmasters

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Microsoft's The Initiative studio hires a batch of new staff

These staff members are reportedly from Rooster Teeth, Sledgehammer, Activision, and Crystal Dynamics.



Back in June 2018, Microsoft announced during their E3 conference that they would be opening a new studio in Santa Monica, California. This studio is called The Initiative, and is led by former Crystal Dynamics studio head Darrell Gallagher, who is also joined by other figures like former Sunset Overdrive director Drew Murray.

Microsoft is really pushing this new studio, and since last November a handful of new people have been hired, according to a new post on ResetEra, which lists these staff members:
  • Ex-Sledgehammer member Andrameda Martinez as Executive Assistant and Office Manager
  • Ex-Rooster Teeth member David Wyka as Game/Art Recruiter
  • Ex-Activision member Irma Ward as Associate Producer
  • Ex-Crystal Dynamics member Joe Stinchcomb in an unknown position


ResetEra user Noble adds that "5/15 employees on LinkedIn are ex-Crystal Dynamics. Probably Darrell's doing."

It is not yet known what The Initiative is working on, but judging by their staff, it's going to be something big.

What could it be?




https://www.gamereactor.eu/news/7231...+of+new+staff/
Microsoft going bonkers at the Initiative. Legit All-star team right hurrr!
 

Dno69

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I hope it's an action adventure game along the lines of Soul Reaver.
 

wshowers

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Moon studios would give them a solid platforming/Metrovania Dev.

Though again if they want any type of Japanese appeal in the future, I'd at least look at acquiring a small to mid size Japanese studio. Level-5 seems particularly vulnerable to acquisition right now.
 

yankeessuck

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Moon studios would give them a solid platforming/Metrovania Dev.

Though again if they want any type of Japanese appeal in the future, I'd at least look at acquiring a small to mid size Japanese studio. Level-5 seems particularly vulnerable to acquisition right now.
I still don't understand this thinking. Do you think anyone in Japan would care if they did that?
 

karmakid

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I still don't understand this thinking. Do you think anyone in Japan would care if they did that?
At first they may not but with time, for they need to start somewhere. If they want to be the device, around the world, that sits in your living room and extends to each device you have then they need a foot hold in Japan (Asian market)....or just by Nintendo, would be the easiest step.
 

The Living Tribunal

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I still don't understand this thinking. Do you think anyone in Japan would care if they did that?
I think at this point in time the Xbox strategy in Japan is about the long game.
Even if they were leading everywhere else appealing to the Japanese crowd would do good in the long run.
If you have the resources why not try? Made some inroads with the 360 but lost pretty much all ground early this gen.

Nothing ventured nothing gained. Pick yourself up and try again.
 

yankeessuck

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I think at this point in time the Xbox strategy in Japan is about the long game.
Even if they were leading everywhere else appealing to the Japanese crowd would do good in the long run.
If you have the resources why not try? Made some inroads with the 360 but lost pretty much all ground early this gen.

Nothing ventured nothing gained. Pick yourself up and try again.
I can buy the logic but only if its about gamepass being on other systems because the Xbox is a lost cause there
 

The Living Tribunal

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I can buy the logic but only if its about gamepass being on other systems because the Xbox is a lost cause there
To be completely honest I think you are right in that it is an insurmountable challenge for the Xbox to ever be relevant there.

I just personally love underdogs and the drive to make a change of the status quo. So part of me is hoping they never give up there and actually make themselves somewhat relevant. Not a full-fledged victory (not possible IMHO) but a small victory in mindset nonetheless.