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Microsoft Launches Bleeding Edge on Xbox Play Anywhere and Steam

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Microsoft has released a new game called Bleeding Edge. Billed a team brawler, the title is now available on Xbox One, Windows 10, Xbox Game Pass, and Steam.

Announced by Major Nelson on his official blog, Bleeding Edge is an Xbox Game Studios exclusive. Like other titles under the umbrella, the studio services as the publisher of the game. In terms of Bleeding Edge, the game is developed by Ninja Theory.

You may recognize the name as the company behind Devil May Cry and Hell blade II. This marks the first time the developer has released a game under Xbox Game Studios.

Major Nelson says Bleeding Edge is a 4 vs. 4 brawler, with an online multiplayer element where players compete in a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA). Players can choose different classes, such as Tanks, Fighters and Support.

Availability

Because Bleeding Edge is an Xbox Play Anywhere game, it is a one-time purchase. Xbox Play Anywhere allows gamers to have one copy of a game and play it across Windows 10 PC and Xbox. This play anywhere ability extends to in-game progress, DLC, add-ones, achievements, and unlocks across devices.

In terms of Bleeding Edge, customers pay $29.99 for the game and receive a download to play on Xbox One and Windows 10. Xbox Game Pass subscribers will see the game in the catalog on the service. Game Pass costs $9.99 per months and gives users access to hundreds of games, including all Microsoft exclusives.

The Play Anywhere service does not extend to Steam, where the game also costs $29.99.

Source Winbuzzer

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Microsoft Project Acoustics Details Point to New Era of Audio on Xbox Series X

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Last month, Microsoft discussed its audio ray-tracing solution for the Xbox Series X. Called Project Acoustics, the software “models wave effects like occlusion, obstruction, portaling and reverberation effects in complex scenes without requiring manual zone markup or CPU intensive raytracing.”

In a blog post last year, Microsoft said the solution is similar to static lighting meshes that are integrated, allowing shadows and light sources to be calculated beforehand. Now, the solution is available in the Unity engine for developers to access.

“Ray-based acoustics methods can check for occlusion using a single source-to-listener ray cast, or drive reverb by estimating local scene volume with a few rays. But these techniques can be unreliable because a pebble occludes as much as a boulder. Rays don’t account for the way sound bends around objects, a phenomenon known as diffraction. Project Acoustics’ simulation captures these effects using a wave-based simulation. The acoustics are more predictable, accurate and seamless.”
Last month, Microsoft confirmed some core specs of its upcoming Xbox Series X console. During the announcement, the company said audio raytracing delivered by Project Acoustics was already part of the Unity game engine.

It is available on Unity as a drag-and-drop middleware. Developers can leverage the software into Unity’s audio source audio through a C# controls component on each audio object.

Workflow

On its page, Microsoft details the workflow for Project Acoustics:

Pre-bake: Start with setting up the bake by selecting which geometry responds to acoustics, by, for example, ignoring light shafts. Then edit automatic material assignments and selecting navigation areas to guide listener sampling. There’s no manual markup for reverb/portal/room zones.

Bake: An analysis step is run locally, which does voxelization and other geometric analysis on the scene based on selections above. Results are visualized in editor to verify scene setup. On bake submission, voxel data is sent off to Azure and you get back an acoustics game asset.

Runtime: Load the asset into your level, and you’re ready to listen to acoustics in your level. Design the acoustics live in editor using granular per-source controls. The controls can also be driven from level scripting.”

Source Winbuzzer

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Microsoft Xbox Game Pass to Lose Five Games in March

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Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass is a fantastic service that allows players to access games on subscription. While Microsoft Studios titles are always available, the service is a revolving door for third-party games. As such, Microsoft has announced it has removed five games from the Game Pass library.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Shenmue I, Shenmue II, Thimbleweed Park, and Lichtspeer: Double Speer Edition are all being removed. Microsoft says all those titles will be taken of Xbox Game Pass by the end of this month.

If you are unfamiliar with Game Pass, it is available on Xbox One consoles as Xbox Game Pass. The service allows users to pay a monthly subscription ($9.99) to have access to hundreds of games that are available digitally and on demand.
For users who want those games, once they leave Game Pass you will have to buy them. Now is the best time to do that because Game Pass members receive a 20% discount on the titles. Once they leave the service the discount will be removed.
Changing Catalog
Microsoft puts new titles on Game Pass more than it takes them away, which is why this removal is worthy of mention.
During this month, Microsoft has announced several new titles coming to the service. The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game, Mother Russian Bleeds, Train Sim World 2020, NBA 2K20, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and Pikuniku are all arriving in the coming weeks.
Critics of the Game Pass model believe the catalog should only grow and not have games removed. It is unclear how Microsoft handled licensing, but it seems similar to streaming services such as Netflix. In other words, licenses end, and content is removed sporadically.
If you are interested in signing up for Xbox Game Pass, it is worth checking what games are available at the official site here.

Source Winbuzzer

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Microsoft Announces Two New Xbox Wireless Controller Special Editions

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Microsoft has today announced two new Xbox Wireless Controllers. Namely, the company introduced the Special Edition Xbox Wireless Controller Phantom Magenta and the Xbox Wireless Controller Arctic Camo.

Microsoft is promoting the pair of peripherals as ideal for Xbox One users who collect Xbox Wireless Controllers. I never personally knew that was a thing, but Microsoft says that it most definitely is.

Either way, let’s take a look at the new controllers.
The new Xbox Wireless Controller Phantom Magenta Special Edition is the third controller in the Phantom Series. It has a clear sci-fi inspired design which Redmond says is similar to “Ghost in Shell” and “Ex-Machina”.
“Highlighted by an ultra-saturated magenta color effect transitioning to translucent, the Xbox Wireless Controller – Phantom Magenta Special Edition joins the Phantom Series in a bold way.”
Microsoft’s Phantom Magenta controller is launching March 17 and coasts $69.99. It is open for pre-orders from today from the Microsoft Store.

Arctic Camo Special Edition
The Xbox Wireless Controller Arctic Camp Special Edition is the second in Microsoft’s Camo series of controllers. It has a Winter Camo design colored in white and grey.
“By using frosted transparent resin in the camo pattern, the controller camouflages itself from the inside-out. The diamond-texture on its triggers helps maintain a level of extra technical precision in this series.”
Microsoft will launch the Arctic Camp controlled in May. Again, pre-orders are open today across the globe from Microsoft Stores and retail partners.
There is also separate charging stands available for the controllers coming to customers in North America for $49.99.

Source Winbuzzer

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Analysts Say the Xbox Series X and PS5 Could Be Delayed Due to Coronavirus

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So far, gamers outside of Asia have been largely unaffected by Coronavirus, but that could soon change. According to analysts at the Jeffries Group, potential shutdowns at factories could delay the Xbox Series X and PS5 releases or significantly hamper supply.

“The video game sector is currently manufacturing, or beginning to, a once-in-several-years’ product generation change for the 2020 holiday season,” said Jefferies Group. “If [company] shutdowns exceed a month or so, game schedules will be delayed. New consoles may likewise suffer supply issues from a prolonged disruption, ahead of their Fall 2020 planned launches.”

Basically all of the parts for consoles are made in China, meaning factory shutdowns could have a big impact. A delay beyond the holiday season would be disastrous for either company, with an early 2021 launch likely to reduce sales significantly.
The titles that launch on the consoles could also experience issues. While most AAA titles we play in the west are created here, many studios outsource artwork to Chinese firms – to the tune of 30-50% of art creation.
An estimated 638 people have died from Coronavirus so far. The infection count is thought to be at least 31,000, 15% of whom are in critical condition. The virus’s 2-14 day incubation period is particularly difficult, as patients can spread it to others long before presenting symptoms. Once issues are presented, they have to be quarantined, which means long stretches off work.
Those who passed away as a result of the virus were, for the most part, over the age of 60 or had pre-existing health conditions. Even so, limiting the spread of the outbreak must take precedence over shipping the devices on time.

Source Winbuzzer

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Microsoft’s Game Stack Chief: We’ll Never Reach Over 100 Million Gamers with Xbox Alone

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In a rare case of casual candor, Microsoft Game Stack chief James Gwertzman invited press to dinner to chat about the next generation of game development. The executive is the co-founder of PlayFab, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2018 and is now part of its Microsoft Game Stack offering, which helps devs build cloud gaming services.

The chat was wide-ranging, from Xbox’s competition to exclusives and the changing role of gaming in user’s lives. However, perhaps the most stand-out quote from Gwertzman concerned Phil Spencer’s dogged mission to reach the world’s 2.8 billion gamers.

“Phil says, over and over again, that we in the gaming division need to find a way to reach the 2.8 billion gamers in the world that we believe there are. That’s a number that you hear over and over again in internal meetings. 2.8 billion gamers in the world, and we need to reach them all,” he said, according to a summary by VentureBeat. “We acknowledge that we will never reach more than 100 million of them by selling them an Xbox. The only way to reach the remaining 2.7 billion is something else, whether it’s xCloud or things like Playfab.”
Indeed, Statistica estimates Xbox One unit sales at almost 46 million as of December. However, Microsoft projects that Windows 10 will reach 1 billion devices in 2020. It’s a goal that’s been postponed several times, but at 900 million devices as of September 2019, it’s a good bet.
Reaching the World Through Tools, Not Consoles
Clearly, though, Gretzman does not define reach as having gamers on Microsoft’s front-end software. Through the use of PlayFab and other supporting services, the company can aid developers to have influence in player’s lives that they don’t even know about. It’s a bold ambition, but one that would ultimately be more profitable.
Speaking of GamePass, though, another interesting tidbit surfaced about its PC counterpart. Gretzman says one of Microsoft’s biggest challenges has developer’s current reliance on Steam and Steamworks.

“There’s a bunch of entrenched technology there. One of the biggest requests I got at GDC last year from developers was about helping them get off of Steamworks,” he said. “They want to be on the Epic store. They want to be on the Discord store. They want to be on Game Pass. But they have a hard dependency on Steamworks. They need an alternative open platform version that will work across all of the above. I started hearing that about a year ago at GDC.”
When it comes to next-generation consoles specifically, Gwertzman sees some future in the use of AI development. According to the executive, a studio inside Microsoft has been using machine learning models to generate assets with great success. So much so, that the company is considering shipping low-res textures with Xbox titles and using machine learning models to upscale them in real-time.
Clearly, game development is poised to get more and more complex. That could eventually create a barrier for smaller developers without the resources of AAA studios, but Microsoft thinks it could play a roll in simplifying tools and doing much of the heavy lifting to democratize such technology.

Source Winbuzzer

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Microsoft Joins Winners At the Future Tech Awards

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At this year’s Future Tech Awards, more than 100 winners were named for their role in tech innovation. Furthermore, many major tech companies also received awards for their efforts in the PC market.

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon was named laptop of the year, which the ASUS ROG Mothership was giving the award for the best gaming computer.

Looking at some other categories, the HP Envy 13 was voted as the best value computer. Elsewhere, the Netgear Nighthawk R7800 was named the best Wi-Fi Router.
Microsoft was a winner at the Future Tech Awards. The company’s Xbox Elite Controller 2 was named the best PC accessory. This award comes despite Microsoft confirming several problems with the controller after it launched.
For the Future 50 category, the Future Tech Awards named Microsoft Panos Panay as one of the 50 people it recognized in 2019. Panay is the head of the company’s Surface division and has become notable for his entertaining product launches.
Other Future 50 winners include:
Austin Ratner, Affiliate and Partnerships Marketing Manager of HP
Brian Leonard, Vice President of Design, Intelligent Devices Group at Lenovo
Christian Teismann, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Business at Lenovo
Taylor Wilson, Global Social Media Content Manager at Lenovo
Hall of Fame
Finally, the Future Tech Awards also named its inductees into the Future Tech Hall of Fame. This award recognizes individuals who have made a consistent contribution to tech.
Lisa Su, President and CEO, AMD
Jason Johnson, Co-founder and CEO, August Home
Marques Brownlee, MKBHD

Source Vanguard

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Project XCloud Gets 15 New Titles, Including Civ VI, Destiny 2, and the Master Chief Collection

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Project xCloud has received an expansion of its games catalog. Microsoft has ramped the total to 80, far outdoing Stadia’s 32. Among them are some big titles, including Destiny 2, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and Sid Meier’s Civilization VI.

As a beta app, xCloud is currently free for preview members to use. However, the service is currently limited to Android devices in the US, UK, and Korea, with Western Europe, Japan, and India coming in early 2020.

As well as the titles above, xCloud will get several Telltale Games titles, including The Wolf Among Us, Batman: The Enemy Within, and Batman: The Telltale series. Also notable is Wasteland 2, which is likely a result of Microsoft’s acquisition of developer inXile Entertainment. The company’s relations built through Xbox publishing are also starting to shine through, with the full list (via Windows Central) as follows:
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Destiny 2
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
Batman: The Enemy Within – The Complete Season (Episodes 1-5)
Batman: The Telltale Series – The Complete Season (Episodes 1-5)
The Wolf Among Us
Wasteland 2: Directors Cut
The Surge
SUPERHOT
Portal Knights
GoNNER – BLÜEBERRY Edition
Kingdom Two Crowns
Sparklite
Tracks – The Train Set Game
Train Sim World 2019
Of course, you’ll have to play all of them on your phone in 720p for now, which isn’t ideal. xCloud will be coming to PC this year, but Microsoft hasn’t given a firmer date than that. Strategy games like Civilization VI are particularly fiddly with a controller, so let’s hope some kind of keyboard and mouse support will arrive soon.

source Winbuzzer

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Microsoft Unveils Its Next-gen Xbox Series X Console, Announces Hellblade 2

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Microsoft has shocked fans with an early reveal of its next-generation console at the 2019 Game Awards. The formerly code-named Xbox Scarlett will be known as the Xbox Series X, a confusing and controversial name.

Critics say the name is too close to the Xbox One X, Microsoft’s improved last-gen console. Undoubtedly, a few fans will be getting the wrong console from unsuspecting parents next Christmas. Naturally, everyone is just going to call it the Series X.

Thankfully, Xbox head Phil Spencer also revealed the design, which has been relatively well-received. Microsoft is going for something much closer to a mini PC tower this time, with a vertical square cuboid. Its top curves pleasantly into the center with holes for ventilation. The Xbox logo sits minimally in the top right corner, with the disk drive underneath it coming from the bottom.

However, though the promotional material is all vertical, Spencer confirms that it’s designed to work in both orientations. That’s good news for anyone with a traditional TV entertainment stand.

“Xbox Series X will be our fastest, most powerful console ever and set a new bar for performance, speed and compatibility, allowing you to bring your gaming legacy, thousands of games from three generations and more forward with you,” said Spencer in a blog post. “Its industrial design enables us to deliver four times the processing power of Xbox One X in the most quiet and efficient way, something that is critically important in delivering truly immersive gameplay. We also designed Xbox Series X to support both vertical and horizontal orientation. It’s bold and unique, very much like our fans around the world and the team of collaborators and innovators who built it.”

The console will launch with a new controller that looks very similar to the previous generation. Microsoft says its size and shape is more accommodating, while a new share button will make screenshots and video capture easier. More importantly, it’ll steal the advanced D-pad from the Xbox Elite Series 2.

source – Windbuzzer

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