xCloud is Coming to Xbox One

Xbox Unveils its Biggest Exclusive Games Lineup Ever by Will Tuttle for Xbox Wire via Tom Warren at The Verge

For the millions of people who play on Xbox One consoles today, we are looking forward to sharing more about how we will bring many of these next-gen games, such as Microsoft Flight Simulator, to your console through Xbox Cloud Gaming, just like we do with mobile devices, tablets, and browsers.

Yours truly with my own 2021 predictions:

I think Microsoft will announce that an xCloud app will come to Xbox One consoles. Most likely the One S and One X, since they both can output 4K video. If my phone can “run” The Master Chief Collection, I think the One S and One X can stream some games. Not only would this technically mean that you can play these games on your older hardware, but it also helps bolster Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions, which is what Microsoft and Xbox really want their customers to sign up for.

And while talking about the cross-generation bottleneck in September 2020:

Xbox could and probably will back out of this two year promise with some games. It’s already had questions pop up around it. Frankly, I think Xbox needs to cut ties with hardware support for Xbox One and somehow transition those consoles (Xbox One S and One X specifically) to xCloud boxes. Then, their hardware cap is mostly removed freeing up developers.

Also in July 2020, when Phil Spencer said you were the future of gaming:

Speaking of xCloud, an official public launch window has finally been given. I wonder if older Xbox One consoles will support xCloud streaming. Say you own an OG Xbox One (like I do) and Halo Infinite runs below 1080p when natively installed. What if you could stream the 1080p version via xCloud? I know that the Xbox One S has 4K video output capabilities. Why not allow users to stream the native 4K version of Halo Infinite to their Xbox One S? Microsoft may lose the initial sale of the shiny new box, but they could be gaining a new monthly subscriber to Game Pass Ultimate. At $15 a month, that may seem like the more appealing choice to folks hesitant to upgrading their box, especially if it can run the newer games through streaming.

I do love it when I am right.

Cross-Generation Games are like Movies at the Theater

It’s vital Sony maintains its PlayStation 4 support | Opinion by Christopher Dring for GamesIndustry.biz

In reality, people will want the best version of these games. Spider-Man: Miles Morales is more popular on PS5 than PS4, and that will be true of Horizon: Frozen West, Gran Turismo 7 and God of War. It’s the difference between watching the new Marvel movie at the cinema compared to getting it on Disney Plus. The hardcore fans will want the big screen experience. But as the film industry also discovered during the pandemic, there’s a huge opportunity in the TV space.

I like this analogy. Movies have totally shifted in the last year, bringing the direct-to-digital future to living rooms sooner than big theater chains ever wanted. I certainly rented my fair share in the last year. Heck, Warner Bros. bringing their movies to HBO Max on day one made me keep my subscription.

And Dring is right about people wanting the best versions. Movie theaters are opening back up. People will buy the PS5 version of Spider-Man or God of War, if they can. They may even opt to wait until they get a PS5 to buy those games (or, as I’m sure Sony hopes, double dip).

I’ve always agreed that cross-generation support makes sense, as a business, especially with an install base of 120+ million PS4 consoles.

In the bloody confusing aftermath of the PlayStation 5 stream, Sony confirmed that Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, and Horizon Forbidden West are also launching on PS4. After believing in generations it seems that Sony also believes in its PS4 install base.

It’s no secret that I have voiced concerns about Xbox’s own public promise to support cross generational support for its Xbox consoles. The wider the range of supported hardware, the more work it is for the developers and the more it can limit the upward potential of the game. Now Sony has promised three major first party titles are cross generational.

This is great (just like it is for Xbox) for those consumers that don’y want to or can’t upgrade to the next gen consoles. You aren’t left behind. Nintendo has done this before with popular Zelda titles. It is definitely a win for consumers.

I guess they should have just confirmed Gran Turismo 7 and God of War were cross-gen too.

My stance is firmly rooted in limited development potential. With such technological strides in next-gen with the SSDs, native 4K, and so on, developing games for nearly decade old hardware has to cut off forward progress and new, previously impossible ideas.

Colin Moriarty pointed out yesterday that the only first-party PS5 exclusive we know about is Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and that is out in one week. Hopefully, E3 2021 changes that soon, but man that is weird for Sony to have all these games close to the chest after the open-book that was the PS4 catalog.

I’m starting to get a little whiplash from Sony talking out of both sides of their mouth. They need to communicate a clear message. If that message is “We are supporting PS4 and PS5,” then they ought to embrace it, clearly share which games will do that, and incentivize the upgrade to PS5 beyond being new and shiny. Eventually, first-party development will leave PS4 behind and wholly focus on PS5. Sony needs to be better about communicating when that change will happen.

The Cross-Generational Bottleneck: Cyberpunk Edition

Cyberpunk 2077 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 Review by Destin Legaire for IGN

While I had just as much fun playing Cyberpunk 2077 on PC as Tom did playing for his review, on the base PlayStation 4 or Xbox One it is a different game entirely. It fails to hit even the lowest bar of technical quality one should expect even when playing on lower-end hardware. It performs so poorly that it makes combat, driving, and what is otherwise a master craft of storytelling legitimately difficult to look at. It is not an exaggeration to say that I’ve felt nauseated after playing because of the terrible frame rate. It really is that bad, and it’s very suspicious that CD Projekt Red refused to provide console review copies ahead of launch.

I’d say it is more than suspicious. It was downright intentional. They knew the state the console version of the game was in, deliberately showed PC-only footage, and took people’s money anyway. CD Projekt Red figured it would be easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.

Seeing is believing though.

This is the type of bottleneck I feared for cross-generational games. Cypberpunk 2077 “runs” on 11 different platforms (PS4, PS4 Pro, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox One S, Xbox One X, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, PC, and Stadia). From a business perspective, I understand wanting to launch on last generation consoles. There are 165+ million PS4 and Xbox One consoles out in the world. I think it is safe to say the vast majority of purchases this past week were for those platforms. CD Projekt Red spent a lot of goodwill this past week.

Halo Infinite is supposed to run on nine different consoles. I think Xbox will slowly kill off their cross-generation support by running out the clock for the promised two years of support. Sony may have made the right call by not promising all their games will be cross-generational and instead announcing them as they see fit.

I bought Cyberpunk for a couple of my friends for Christmas and now I’m starting to think coal would’ve been a better present.

– Logan Moore via Twitter

I was one of the friends. If he bought me coal, at least it’d work as intended. Thankfully, I can wait until the proper PS5 version is released in 2077.

Xbox Series X at First Blush

The next generation of console gaming has begun today with the Xbox Series X | S. I picked up my Series X this morning at Best Buy at 6:00 AM. Despite each customer requiring an appointment before 9:00 AM, Best Buy was not prepared for the 20+ folks that were there this morning. After buckling up and making it home, I was able to set up the Tower of Power before needing to start work. Here are some of my first impressions with the latest and most powerful from Microsoft.

The Console

It may not be as tall as the PS5, but the Series X was far more dense than I expected. It fits well next to my TV and I imagine once the new factor wears off, the console will just fade into the background in my mind.

The Controller

The matte black finish is much nicer to my eye than the Xbox One controller’s more glossy accents. I am curious how oils from my hands will look over the years. The textured grip feels great in my hands, although not as grippy as the rubber grips on Elite Series controllers. The nicest surprise is the D-Pad. Delightfully clicky and comfortable. I’ll have to test a 2D platformer for the accuracy, but it feels like a real treat.

Speed

Coming from an OG Xbox One, I cannot believe how fast the Series X boots. Gone are the 30~ second boot times from “Instant On” mode. Hello blink-of-an-eye start times.

Set-Up

Microsoft wants you to use the Xbox app to set up the console, so I did. The process is slick. While the console updates its firmware, you are logging in, establishing preferences, and deciding if you want to transfer games/info from an Xbox One. I did a clean set up and just downloaded the few games I wanted to play.

I do wish that the app allowed me to see the download status of the games. It simply shows what is installed, which left me to pop into the living room every couple hours to check the status of my installs. I also could not figure out some sort of rest mode, so I left the console on most of the day for the downloads to do their thing. Even though I left it on, the console was dead silent. I’m curious what it will sound like when running a game.

One fun tidbit is that the console identifies itself as “SCARLETT” to the network. A nice little easter egg to the product codename.

Games

The absence of Halo Infinite is a major blow. The only “new” game I am going to play is Tetris Effect Connected and that is simply adding 4K60 support and multiplayer. I am stoked to finally play Forza Horizon 4 for the first time. The updates to the Halo: Master Chief collection sound dope, but those will be released next week. As cool as the hardware side of a launch is, I am feeling an emptiness for games to play on the Series X. Thankfully, the PS5 and its launch lineup will fill that hole later this week.

Now it’s time to go play some games!