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Xbox Outsells PlayStation in the US by $200 million in June, Sets Hardware Sales Record

According to NPD data, Xbox just set a new hardware sales record the past month of June in the U.S., outselling PlayStation to the tune of a cool $200 million. The Xbox division cumulatively brought in a total $401 million dollars in the past month of June, marking a year-over-year (YoY) revenue growth to the tune of 112%. That large, $401 million number also marks a new record for Xbox and its Microsoft parent - the previous revenue record for the Xbox division was set way back in 2011. ten years later, it can be said that Xbox is better than ever before.

That same $401 million revenue from Xbox hardware clearly puts Sony's PlayStation in the rear-view mirror, as the company "only" achieved a $207 million revenue for June 2021 - a 1% decline YoY. That Microsoft managed to pull this off in the hardware shortage scenario we currently live in is impressive; and it does speak to the amount of pent-up demand that's still vying to enter the company's coffers. The record comes a month after Microsoft announced the deployment of Xbox Series X server blades to its xCloud programme, which occurred on June 26th. It appears likely that the company was distributing its Series X production capabilities between the retail sector and its own xCloud service before June 26th (with the additional time required for installation and all that entails), which would explain the sudden record in June. As Microsoft freed xCloud-bound capacity to the retail sector, the record thus ensued.

Microsoft Extends Xbox Cloud Gaming to PCs and Apple Devices - Powered by Xbox Series X

Microsoft has opened the floodgates, and allowed the huge PC and Apple devices market to enter the Xbox ecosystem via Cloud Gaming. Now you don't need to have a gaming PC or Xbox console. Now, you can be a part of Microsoft's ecosystem with whatever device you use - Xbox will always be there with you. This is the vision Microsoft is aiming at with the extension of Cloud Gaming to (almost) anything - with a simple browser, via its (currently Beta) xCloud for PC. Provided you subscribe to the Games Pass Ultimate subscription tier, of course. Which Microsoft is offering at $1 a month, with two extra free months, and then $12.99 a month.

However, there's a catch: if you want to be on the receiving end of Microsoft's franchises via Cloud Gaming, you have to possess a supported controller - Xbox offerings are the surest bets; however, PS4's controller is also supported). This happens because the stream is being originated in custom Xbox Series X consoles on the cloud - Microsoft's best performant hardware to date. However, it seems a way to adapt the stream from Xbox Series X's controller inputs and adapt them to the PC's native mouse and keyboard controller wasn't found. Streams will also be constrained by a less than optimal (but still very respectable) 1080p and 60 FPS limitations. Other than those caveats, if you don't have a gaming-capable PC or Microsoft's latest family of consoles, this is the way to enjoy gaming within Microsoft's franchises and all other partners through the ecosystem. Microsoft had already launched an xCloud app for Android smartphones, thus capturing most of the market in one fell swoop. The press release follows.

Amazon Luna Game Streaming Service Launching for Prime Members June 21

Amazon announced its Luna game streaming service as a competitor to Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud back in 2020. Amazon is now launching the service for Prime members with a free seven-day trial available from June 21st. This is the first time the service will be offered to those without an early access invite and will cost 5.99 USD per month after the trial has expired. The Luna game library includes titles from Capcom, 505 Games, and Team 17 with some highlights including Control, GRID, and Metro Exodus. Ubisoft games will also be offered however they are separate from the base library and cost 15 USD per month. Amazon is also offering the Luna controller for the first time with a limited 30% discount bringing the cost to 48.99 USD.

Microsoft Adds Backward Compatibility to Xbox Cloud Gaming Beta

Microsoft has recently announced an expansion of their Xbox Cloud Gaming Beta with the addition of backward compatibility for select Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members can now stream 16 backward compatible games through the Xbox Cloud Gaming Beta (formally Project xCloud). Microsoft has also enabled touch support for select titles while the rest will require a controller, the games are currently only playable on Android with no support for Apple devices. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers with a compatible device can now try out backward compatibility and you can view the complete list of available games below.

Microsoft xCloud May Bypass Apple App Store with Web App

Microsoft is reportedly planning to release a "direct browser-based solution" to bring their Xbox Game Pass xCloud streaming service to iOS and iPadOS devices targeting a 2021 launch according to sources familiar with the matter. Microsoft has faced numerous issues with bringing the service to Apple devices due to App Store policies requiring each game to be uploaded as a separate application for review. Microsoft has previously stated that this solution is unacceptable and they would be investigating other options, they seem to have concluded that a web app would be the best route forwards. This approach is very similar to Amazon's Luna game streaming service which will also utilize a web app for access on Apple devices.

Amazon Launches Luna Cloud Gaming Service

Amazon has joined the ranks of fellow tech giants in launching their very own cloud game streaming service. Luna is a cloud gaming service that lets you play games on compatible Fire TV, PC, and Mac devices as well as through web apps on iPhones and iPads. The new service will compete with Google Stadia, Microsoft xCloud, NVIDIA GeForce Now, SONY PlayStation Now, and more boutique services such as Shadow or Vortex. Luna is currently in an invitation-only stage with initial pricing of 5.99 USD per month for Luna+ while in early access. Luna+ supports gameplay on two devices at once with resolutions of up to 1080p 60 FPS with 4K support coming in the future for select titles.

Luna offers game channels which grant access to a specification selection of games for a monthly fee currently, only Luna+ is offered with a Ubisoft channel coming soon. Luna+ features a variety of action, adventure, platformer, indie, shooter, RPG, racing, and classic games from Ubisoft, Capcom, 505 Games, and Team 17 with more games to be added over time. Some of the major games on the platform include Control, Grid, Resident Evil 7, Metro Exodus, ABZÛ, Overcooked 2, and Two Point Hospital. The Ubisoft channel will include a variety of games including Watch Dogs: Legion with all DLC unlocked for play on a single device for an as of yet unannounced monthly fee.

Microsoft Project xCloud Beta now Live for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Subscribers

Microsoft Project xCloud is set to officially launch next month on the 15th of September however Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can access an early beta version starting today. The beta will only be available on Android devices via the Google Play Store or Samsung App Store due to Apple banning the program as we've previously reported.

Microsoft Project xCloud beta includes over 100 launch titles that can be played with an Xbox Wireless Controller or supported Bluetooth gamepad. A select number of games including Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice and Gears 5 can be played via touch control and Microsoft expects more games to receive touch support over time. Microsoft Project xCloud beta is now live in 22 countries and will run for one month until xCloud is officially launched.

Apple Says Cloud Gaming Services Like Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud Violate App Store Guidelines

Cloud gaming is the next step in mobile gaming, with services like Microsoft project xCloud aiming to bring AAA titles right to your mobile phone. Microsoft has already been testing its xCloud application on Android and iOS devices for some time, and the application was supposed to launch sometime in September. However, it seems like Microsoft is only going to serve the customers on Android, as Apple says that these types of applications violate App Store guidelines. This doesn't only apply to xCloud, but also Google's Stadia gaming platform. When developer uploads application to App Store for iOS, the application goes through a review by Apple, for security reason and for Apple to check if it meets its guidelines.

Being that xCloud and Stadia are types of applications which offer a way to access many more applications (games in this case), this is against Apple's policy as they can't control the applications these services offer.

Microsoft Discontinues Production of Current-Gen Xbox One X, Xbox One S

Microsoft in a statement announced they have halted production of the Xbox One S and Xbox One X, the current-generation consoles that are currently being sold under the Xbox brand. The move comes in preparation for the "Holiday 2020" release of the Xbox Series X and its badly-kept secret sister, the (likely?) Xbox Series S. This will allow the retail channel to digest available inventory and open up space for the impending consoles' release.

This move by Microsoft all but confirms that the company will be launching a companion, lower-priced, lower-performing console alongside the Xbox Series X. Microsoft knows that launching the most powerful console also means (most likely) launching the most expensive one, and the company knows they must cater to more budget-conscious consumers as well. Check after the break for the complete Microsoft statement.

8Bitdo Preparing to Release Sn30 Pro Microsoft Project xCloud Controller

Microsoft is preparing to launch its xCloud game streaming service in September as part of Xbox Game Pass. The new service is positioned to take on Google Stadia, GeForce NOW, and Amazon's upcoming game streaming service. Accessory makers are busy preparing new products to coincide with the launch, 8Bitdo is adapting it's popular SN30 Pro retro NES controller in a new partnership with Xbox to create the Sn30 Pro controller specifically designed for Microsoft's Project xCloud.

The new Bluetooth controller is compatible with all Android phones and tablets and is officially licensed as Microsoft Project xCloud compatible. The built-in battery provides 18 hours of use and can be juiced up via the USB-C port. The controller comes with an optional mount to attach a phone to the controller. The Sn30 Pro is now available for pre-order via Amazon for 44.99 USD and is expected to ship on September 21st.

Microsoft Project xCloud Servers to be Powered by Xbox Series X SoC

Microsoft is preparing to launch a competitive product to Google's Stadia and Amazon's Project Tempo, which are both game streaming services. To Microsoft's advantage, the company has experience in building gaming systems and using cloud technology to integrate them. While both Google and Amazon are cloud providers and have the infrastructure to implement game streaming services, Microsoft has its Xbox division, which has been in the gaming industry for a long time. Despite already owning the infrastructure, Microsoft wants to use the hardware from its Xbox consoles as a base of the upcoming game streaming service called Project xCloud.

According to sources of Tom Warren, senior editor at Verge, Microsoft will be re-using the Xbox SoCs found in their consoles. According to the source, in the beginning, Microsoft is going to use Xbox One S blades to power its game streaming service. After that, the company will upgrade its servers with more powerful Xbox Series X SoC. As a reminder, the Xbox Series X SoC has 8 Ryzen CPU cores based on "Zen 2" µarch, RDNA 2 GPU capable of delivering 12 TFLOPs, 16 GB of GDDR6 memory and a mighty fast SSD. This will be enough to satisfy game streaming service demands and power all of the AAA titles users will be playing once it is available.
Xbox Series X SoC

Xbox Project xCloud & Game Pass May Be Coming To Samsung TVs

RosetEra user 12Danny123 has discovered a new Samsung page dedicated to Samsung Access for TV, a subscription rental service that includes reference to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Microsoft and Samsung have existing partnerships in the game streaming arena so its not much of a stretch to see them bring Xbox Project xCloud and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to Samsung's TVs sometime in the future.

The page includes a snippet stating "with Samsung Access, you get your choice of a streaming or gaming service (up to a $120 value), included at no additional cost. Choose from Showtime, Sling TV, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, YouTube Music Premium, YouTube Premium, or YouTube TV." This isn't the first time a company has included game streaming directly from their TV, Sony previously enabled Playstation Now support on select Bravia televisions however this was later discontinued. Take all this information with a grain of salt as this may be just a code for use on Xbox or PC and not an indication of future support.

Xbox Game Pass Surpasses 10 Million Subscribers

During Microsoft's Q3 2020FY Earnings call, it was confirmed that Xbox Live was seeing record levels of engagement with over 90 million monthly users. On top of this, Microsoft announced that Xbox Game Pass had surpassed 10 million subscribers for the video game subscription service. Xbox Game Pass is available for Xbox One and PC giving users access to a library with hundreds of games including many large recent games such as Gears Tactics, Halo Master Chief Collection, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. This makes Xbox Game Pass the largest game subscription service far outnumbering EA Access and Origin Access. Microsoft also noted that interest in Project xCloud the experimental game streaming service was high with "hundreds of thousands" of active users.

Project xCloud Preview Set to Expand Into Western Europe

Microsoft's Project xCloud was first launched as a preview in October 2019 for a limited number of countries. Microsoft has now expanded the preview to Western Europe as announced by Atherine Gluckstein, GM & Head of Product for Project xCloud in a recent press release.

Bringing the Project xCloud preview to gamers across Western Europe is a top priority for us. We know gaming is an important way for people to remain connected, particularly during these times of social distancing, but we also recognize how internet bandwidth has been impacted with strain on regional networks as large volumes of people responsibly stay home and go online.
xCloud

Amazon planning its own Cloud Gaming Service dubbed "Project Tempo"

In a report by the New York Times, plans by Amazon to launch a new cloud gaming product in the already crowded field were detailed. Dubbed "Project Tempo" the project has reportedly been in development for several months and at the cost of several hundred million dollars. Amazon hopes to develop new AAA games to accompany the launch of the service which will integrate with its popular game streaming platform Twitch.

The project is one of Amazon's largest investments in original entertainment since its founding, and places them in a prime position to compete with Google's Stadia, Microsoft's Project xCloud, NVIDIA's GeForce NOW and the countless other game streaming platforms. One advantage Amazon possesses is its vast network of data centers as part of Amazon Web Services which will play a significant role in ensuring the service achieves the minimal latency required for an optimal experience. Amazon's vice president for game services and studios has stated: "The big picture is about trying to take the best of Amazon and bringing it to games" in regards to the game making process. The first of Amazon's major game releases will be New World a fantasy MMO in May which will be followed by more games throughout the year, primarily targeting hardcore gamers.
New World Game

AMD Reports Third Quarter 2019 Financial Results

AMD (NASDAQ:AMD) today announced revenue for the third quarter of 2019 of $1.80 billion, operating income of $186 million, net income of $120 million and diluted earnings per share of $0.11. On a non-GAAP(*) basis, operating income was $240 million, net income was $219 million and diluted earnings per share was $0.18.

"Our first full quarter of 7 nm Ryzen, Radeon and EPYC processor sales drove our highest quarterly revenue since 2005, our highest quarterly gross margin since 2012 and a significant increase in net income year-over-year," said Dr. Lisa Su, AMD president and CEO. "I am extremely pleased with our progress as we have the strongest product portfolio in our history, significant customer momentum and a leadership product roadmap for 2020 and beyond."

Beta for Microsoft Project xCloud to be Available in October in Select Regions

After continuously testing its Project xCloud streaming gaming service in an internal group, Microsoft is now looking to expand its testing of the service for a broader audience. This will be done via a Beta launch of the service, available at first only for residents in the US and UK (click here, and (South) Korea (click here). The idea is to stress-test the service, since according to Microsoft, "It's time to put Project xCloud to the test in a broader capacity, with a range of gamers, devices, network environments and real-world use-case scenarios, and this is where you come in." There is no end in sight for the Beta: Microsoft wants it to last "until customers are consistently reporting a great, fun experience and the technology meets our internal quality standards."

The only thing that's needed to participate is a Bluetooth Xbox One controller that you can connect to whatever device you want, be it a smartphone, tablet, or other streaming-capable device. The idea here is to test the xCloud service in as broad hardware and network configurations as possible, and it's a Beta, so remember to cool your expectations adequately. You won't be able to play games that are already connected to your account - Microsoft offers a curated selection of titles that includes (for the time being) Halo 5: Guardians, Gears 5, Killer Instinct, and Sea of Thieves.

Jon Peddie Research: 20 Million Shift from PC Gaming to Console Gaming by 2022

Jon Peddie Research has released a new report on the state of gaming and its future, with the research firm estimating a total of 20 million PC gamers will make the shift to console gaming by 2022. It does make sense, as the no-frills architecture of consoles and highly specialized hardware and development - alongside the lower cost of entry) have been calling gamers from all ages and budgets. Add to this the fact that IQ considerations are becoming smaller and smaller between a high-end gaming PC and their console counterparts - at least when it comes to global, base IQ of settings - and it does make sense that makers make the shift.

Adding to this is the expectation of increased doubling-down on exclusives from games consoles, with the exception of Microsoft, which will be bringing all of its exclusives to the PC market as well. The increased attention to game streaming, with Google's Stadia and Microsoft's own xCloud will prompt change in the way gamers consume content - no dedicated hardware may mean no consoles, but it will also mean no need to purchase expensive, high-end PC gaming hardware to run the latest games with the latest graphics technologies - that will all be run in the cloud. Smart TVs, for instance, may be all the investment required for a premium, lag-free gaming experience with maximum details, should worldwide internet access improve as it has been. Of course, the ratio of high-end PC gamers making their way to consoles is lower than that of gamers with basic or entry-level PCs that are capable of gaming - those will make up the vast majority of the quoted 20 million shift.

Could Microsoft and Steam be Looking Into Enabling Crossplay Between Services?

Crossplay has become an interesting point of contention for the industry, with some very popular games and companies advocating for a unified, non-fractured player audience enjoying their games across different media consumption screens, and even gaming platforms. Microsoft has been pushing this kind of capability for some time now, launching their Xbox Play Anywhere initiative which aims to bring PC, Xbox (or both) gamers to parity - acquiring a game on one platform equals having it on both, with all game data being synced.

A new update in the Steam beta update code explicitly refers to Xbox, with an "Xbox_pairwise_id" being present, which could point towards exploration of a future feature. Microsoft adding keyboard and mouse support to their Xbox consoles, news of a new streaming-based console for Microsoft's xCloud efforts, and Steam already offering controller support are some of the little details that could make this a winning bet for both companies.

Microsoft's xCloud is a Push Towards Game Streaming Future, Powered by AMD

Microsoft has announced their xCloud initiative, a game streaming effort that looks to bridge the gap between local and stream-based gaming. xCloud is looking to bring true, platform-agnostic gaming with much lower bandwidth requirements due to a number of technologies being researched and worked on by Microsoft. Chief among these are low-latency networking, encoding, and decoding advances - all crucial parts of the puzzle for solving latency and poor image quality issues. xCloud aims to allow for "high-quality experiences at the lowest possible bitrates that work across the widest possible networks" - with 4G and 5G support. For now, the test version of xCloud only requires a minimum 10 Mbps connection, which is already very impressive in abstract - though of course it would require more info on the rendering specs being delivered to the recipient's system for deeper analysis.

One big takeaway here is that this xCloud initiative is fully powered by AMD's own hardware - as it should be. Using AMD custom hardware such as that found within Microsoft's Xbox consoles takes away the work and investment in building even more emulation capabilities on a server level, which would only add additional overhead to the streaming service. By using AMD's own custom hardware, Microsoft circumvents this issue - but entrenches itself even more on AMD's own product portfolio, both now and in the foreseeable future.

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