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Phil Spencer, CEO of games at Microsoft, said in a video that in the wake of its 20th anniversary the Xbox team is envisioning a different world of gaming over the next 20 years.
The vision includes cloud gaming such as a deal being announced today where Microsoft will launch its Xbox Game Pass games on Samsung connected TVs starting on June 30.
“We’re building a platform that can reach billions of players — whether it’s on console, whether it’s on PC, whether it’s through Xbox cloud streaming — where players on any device they want to play on should be able to find the content they want to play,” Spencer said.
Spencer made the remarks in a video released ahead of Sunday’s Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase, where the company will show off its new games. Spencer said the company will focus on games at the event, but he wanted to offer an update on the company’s progress on its mission of “bringing the joy and community of gaming to three billion gamers on the planet.”
Samsung smart TVs and new Game Pass territories
Microsoft said it is bringing the Xbox app to Samsung 2022 smart TVs and it is expanding Xbox Cloud Gaming to more countries including New Zealand and Argentina. Players will now be able to play hundreds of cloud-enabled games without a console on the smart TVs. That includes hundreds of games in the Game Pass Ultimate library as well as Fortnite, without a subscription.
Microsoft promises that playing Xbox games on Samsung’s TVs will be a seamless experience like using any other app on your TV.
The company is also bringing new gaming experiences to Microsoft Edge and Windows 11.
It is also rolling out updates for Xbox Game Pass members, and it is introducing more options to express yourself with Xbox Design Lab.
For the Samsung games, players will be able on June 30 to get to the Xbox app from the Samsung Gaming Hub or Media Hub. You can log into your existing Microsoft account, and connect your favorite Bluetooth controller.
If you’re a Game Pass Ultimate member, you’ll have access to play loads of great cloud-enabled games, or you can jump into Fortnite without a subscription.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members in Argentina and New Zealand will be able to play hundreds of games from the cloud on Apple and Android phones and tablets, Windows PCs, Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One consoles, and soon on smart TVs with Samsung.
Like players in other countries, Argentina and New Zealand gamers can play Fortnite with Xbox Cloud Gaming for free and without any membership required.
Windows 11 and Microsoft Edge
Microsoft is also unveiling updates coming to Windows 11 to deliver an even better gaming experience. That includes optimizations for windowed games currently being tested in the Windows Insider program. These are designed to significantly improve latency and unlock other gaming features, including Auto HDR and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR).
A new HDR calibration app will enable players to improve the color accuracy and consistency of their HDR displays.
The Game Pass Widget will allow players to browse and discover games from Game Pass and jump back into their recently played titles.
The controller bar features a list of most recent games, and shortcuts to popular game launchers, including the Xbox app. The controller bar enables players to jump back into their games or even access Xbox Cloud Gaming without the need for a mouse and keyboard.
This is also currently being tested in the Windows Insider program. Exclusive new gaming features are coming soon to the desktop version of Microsoft Edge, including some Xbox Cloud Gaming integrations.
That includes a new personalized gaming home page featuring news, game guides, live streams, game highlights, tournaments, upcoming and newly released games, and the Xbox Cloud Gaming library, including easy access to recently played games and related content.
It also includes Built-in Clarity Boost, which makes gameplay from the cloud look sharper and clearer when playing in the Microsoft Edge browser on Windows.
The new games menu in Microsoft Edge offers easy access to free, popular games like Microsoft Solitaire, Atari Asteroids, Microsoft Jewel, and Microsoft Edge’s exclusive Surf game, plus helps players discover new ones.
And efficiency mode helps improve gaming performance on Windows 10 and 11 to keep them running fast and smooth by automatically reducing browser resource usage when a PC game is launched.
Later this year, Microsoft will roll out the ability for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members to play, from the cloud, select games they already own or have purchased outside the Xbox Game Pass library.
Microsoft is also revealing the first details of Project Moorcroft, a program that brings the fun and discovery of playing new, curated demos of upcoming games to Xbox Game Pass members. That means that Xbox Game Pass could become a tool for marketing games for indies.
The program will begin rolling out within the next year, beginning with a focus on providing independent developers from around the world more opportunities to build excitement for their games.
Participating developers will be able to see how their demos perform and be compensated, enabling them to bring their creativity to Xbox and reach new audiences with Game Pass.
Xbox Design Lab
Xbox Design Lab allows players to express their personalities and opens up billions of possible combinations for game controller options.
Microsoft expanded that audience and the range of customization options and colors. This includes new pastel colors – Soft Pink, Soft Orange, Soft Green, and Soft Purple. As well as new Camo Top cases with matching side caps – Mineral Camo, Arctic Camo, Forest Camo, Sandglow Camo and Blaze Camo.
Xbox Design Lab is also launching in 11 new countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Slovakia, and Switzerland. Taiwan will be added later this summer.
The changes and improvements to the Xbox experience the company announced today are all part of its mission to bring the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet, Spencer said.
It’s a big goal, with multiple steps throughout the coming years. Gaming will evolve every day, but we see empowering and connecting the people who create games, with the people who play them, as a constant and rewarding pursuit, he said.
Spencer said the teams are back in the office and he was upbeat about the strong holiday results and Xbox’s healthy market share.
He was proud the team launched two consoles at once.
“I love the fact that we’re reaching new consoles,” he said. “We have a lot of demand. We’ve got to meet that demand with the supply as we can.”
Microsoft had big games last fall with Forza Horizon 5, Halo: Infinite, and Age of Empires IV. Gamers are getting antsy again for new games, given delays in some titles like Redfall and Starfiedl until 2023.
But content shouldn’t be a problem if Microsoft completes its acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the owner of the Call of Duty franchise, the King mobile games, as well as Blizzard’s titles.
Microsoft also has a lot of games coming from Bethesda, which Microsoft acquired for $7.5 billion. And Microsoft bought Two Hat to create a trusted, inclusive, and safe online gaming space. Microsoft’s divisions are working together on AI technology and cloud computing.
“I love the progress we’re making,” Spencer said. “We’re building a platform that can reach billions of people, whether it’s on console, whether it’s on PC, whether it’s through Xbox Cloud.”
He said players will be able to play games on web browsers or in apps. More than 100 million people play on Xbox.
What’s coming next?
As for what is coming next, Spencer said that the mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.
The company should do more to make both its gaming creators and gaming communities happy. It will continue to invest in first-party studios, as we’ve seen through acquisitions.
Spencer noted that PC Game Pass numbers are up 300% from the same time last year. And he said the company is making progress in the PC market with titles like Flight Simulator and Age of Empires IV.
Spencer said the push into accessibility for gamers with the Xbox Adaptive Controller and other efforts will further widen the company’s reach.he said he was glad the rest of the industry stepped up as well.
Spence acknowledged that the company has been on a long journey when it comes to improving diversity and inclusivity at Microsoft and making sure that the people making decisions aren’t a monolithic group, he said.
He said the organization needs champions for diversity and mentors, with the end goal of making sure the teams represent everybody.
He said it was important for teams to foster their internal cultures and tell their own stories and lived experiences.
“Every team’s culture ships in the games that they ship,” he said.
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