Largest launch in Xbox history declared

Welcome back fellow Xbox fans, geeks and gamers! The new generation of console gaming has begun with the twin-launch of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S done around the world. Even though there were not too many images of gamers and long-time Xbox fans lining up at retailers or at special launch-related events to buy the new consoles (due to the pandemic which changed life and business the way we know it), the launch has been declared the largest in Xbox history.

On Twitter, Xbox chief Phil Spencer posted: Thank you for supporting the largest launch in Xbox history. In 24 hrs more new consoles sold, in more countries, than ever before. We’re working with retail to resupply as quickly as possible. You continue to show us the connective power of play is more important than ever.

As you can see above, Spencer declared the launch as being the largest just as he thanked those who supported it. While no sales figures were provided, he stressed that more new consoles were launched in more countries this time which means that they already exceeded the respective launch of Xbox One in 2013. In retrospect, Microsoft sold over a million units of Xbox One at launch.

The new generation of console gaming has officially started with Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S now making their way through retailers worldwide.

With regards to supply, Spencer stated that they will resupply their retailers so that those who failed to secure a unit at launch won’t be left behind. It should be stated that retail giant Amazon told a certain number of their customers that Xbox Series X units ordered through them won’t be available until the end of the year. It should be noted that Amazon itself is a rival a Microsoft’s when it comes to cloud-related business and making gaming available to billions of people around the world. Delays regarding the two Xbox Series consoles also hit Canada and the United Kingdom. When it comes to launching games overseas, Yakuza: Like a Dragon reportedly (note: local publication Game Watch the source) has been delayed. Team Xbox needs to work on these issues.

In relation to the launch, EA Play has been made available to Xbox Game Pass (XGP) ultimate subscribers. This means that the said subscribers who own Xbox consoles – including the brand new Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S – will be provided EA Play membership for free and this will enable them to are able to play many games. Think about the many sports games, first-person shooters, role-playing games (RPGs), racing games and many other games from EA being offered apart from the many games already listed under Xbox Game Pass own lineup. Definitely there is no shortage of games to play at launch and backward compatibility is also a factor. With regards to the Xbox ecosystem, XGP Ultimate subscribers will be able download and play games from EA Play’s library on their Windows 10 personal computers starting this December.

By the way, do you own a copy of the acclaimed Xbox One-exclusive Gears 5? The said game has been relaunched along with the Xbox Series consoles with technical optimization for the said machines. The main campaign of the game has been updated and includes Dave Bautista (presented as WWE’s Batista) as Xbox icon Marcus Fenix. This is the closest thing Xbox and Gears of War fans will have to a live-action movie adaptation. For the newcomers reading this, Bautista appeared in two Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame and the James Bond movie Spectre.

More on Gears 5, the game takes advantage of the new technology of the Xbox Series consoles and this means heavily reduced load times, utilization of Quick Resume (now one of the most notable new features only on the new consoles), reduced input latency (meaning improved responsiveness), variable rate shading (a key feature of AMD’s RDNA 2) and the super smooth 120 frames-per-second frame rate in Versus mode. With regards to Xbox Series X, the game is presented in 4K resolution thanks to the Ultra-HD pack and Ultra-Spec graphics that were previously only made available to PC gamer. As if that was not enough, developer The Coalition prepared new features for the Gears 5 campaign, new achievements (worth almost 100 Gamerscore points), etc.

Gamers of Gears 5 transitioning from Xbox One consoles into Xbox Series consoles will be delighted to know that it will take only a push of a button to download the update and download the next-generation version of the game via Smart Delivery for free!

In relation to the availability of Xbox Series consoles, over forty new games (including 30 games optimized for the new generation) have been made available and Team Xbox made the effort to ensure that Xbox Series consoles owners will play the best versions of the games they owned (for consoles) across the generations. While a lot has been showcased about the acclaimed Forza Horizon 4 optimized for the new consoles, it should be noted that Halo: The Master Chief Collection has also been optimized and ALL Halo games have been improved to run at higher resolutions and higher frame rates as well. Being a long-time Halo gamer myself, being able to replay past Halo games way above the 30FPS limits alone is very enticing.

When it comes to the near future, be aware that starting November 18, 2020, cloud gaming will debut in Australia, Brazil, Japan and Mexico via the Project xCloud Preview program.

Project xCloud General Manager and Head of Product Catherine Gluckstein wrote: In each of these four markets we’ll begin with this Preview to test, iterate, and gather your feedback. And next year, we’ll move to the next step and bring cloud gaming to these markets as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate; this is an important step in our journey as we look to reach more gamers around the world. 

2020 has brought challenges to all of us, but we hope that cloud gaming simply opens up new ways for you to play when and how you choose. Enjoy Master Chief anywhere and everywhere when you play on your phone, get some laps in on Forza while someone else occupies the TV, or to try out a new-to-you Xbox game. Cloud gaming makes it possible to play those top titles on your Android phone or tablet. 

Come join us in Preview as we test and learn in Australia, Brazil, Japan and Mexico. During this Preview you’ll have access to a curated library of great games for free, including favorites from Xbox Game Studios such as “Minecraft Dungeons,” “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” and “Forza Horizon 4” in addition to some fantastic content from our partners such as “Black Desert,” “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” and “Yakuza 0.” 

Our Project xCloud Preview is currently supported on Android phones and tablets through the Xbox Game Streaming (Preview) app in the Google Play Store, available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese.

Anyone who wants to join can register online.  

Finally, GameSpot published a feature article highlighting their recent talk with Phil Spencer about Xbox and several related topics.

I find notable how the head of Xbox reacted towards GameSpot’s mentioning of a Bloomberg report which said that several developers in Japan have been approached by Microsoft about acquisition.

Let’s see how receptive gamers in Japan are towards the new Xbox consoles.

When asked if there was any truth to the report, Spencer responded: I don’t think so. I say, I don’t think so… I mean, I’m not in every meeting that every team has, but I’ll say not from me. Most of the opportunities that we’ve had to date have been a long-lasting relationship, and so, I don’t think we’re out there with our business card, throwing them out on the corner, trying to find people. I’ve talked about my affinity for Japanese studios and thinking back in the day when we had more games that were created in Japan as part of our first party, I’m excited when the deal closes to get to spend more time with Tango [Gameworks] and the work that they’re doing. So it’s an area that I’m interested in, but no, I don’t think it’s… I think that’s not accurate.

Spencer also expressed his view about the Asian market from a gaming standpoint and noted how different the Japanese market is compared to those in Korea, China and Southeast Asia. He also stated that he has an affinity for all the amazing creators based in Japan and he spent a lot of time there and wants to make sure those creators see Xbox as a great place for their games. It should be stated, in relation to what was said, that a free downloadable demo of Dragon Quest XI S is now available via the Xbox Store. The blockbuster Japanese RPG will be released in full on December 4, 2020 for Xbox One, Windows 10 PC and – via backward compatibility and XGP – on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

Back to the interview, Spencer mentioned Mistwalker and their notable Xbox 360 JRPGs Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon. Eventually, the interview focused on the upcoming RPG Elden Ring and when asked about it, the head of Xbox stated: I’ve seen actually quite a bit. I’ve played quite a bit.

In closing this article, here are some gaming-related videos for your enjoyment.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

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Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch, Part 7

How fast time flies. The much-anticipated launching of the premium Xbox Series X and the budget-friendly Xbox Series S next-generation consoles from Microsoft will launch 9 days from now. Have you already ordered a unit? If you really want to make the jump to the next-generation with Xbox, keep looking at the legitimate online retailers who are open to accepting pre-orders.

Before the end of October, an article was posted at Xbox.com which confirms what has been speculated for some time now – the next-generation Xbox consoles indeed have AMD’s RDNA 2 technology complete with unique technological features.

For the newcomers reading this, RDNA 2 is defined as follows: The custom designed processor in the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S leverages RDNA 2, the latest next generation graphics architecture from our partners at AMD. RDNA 2 provides a significant advancement in performance and efficiency as well as next generation graphics features such as hardware accelerated raytracing and variable rate shading.

More on the article by Technical Fellow Andrew Goossen and Director of Program Management Jason Ronald, Team Xbox congratulated and celebrated their amazing partners at AMD with regards to the announcement of Radeon RX 6000 Series of GPUs (graphics processing units) which use the RDNA 2 architecture. Microsoft and AMD’s business relationship has lasted fifteen long years and it started with the Xbox 360 console which was a very memorable, fun-led console I had.

For the next-generation of console gaming, Microsoft and AMD’s strategic partnership is already making things look exciting. Here’s a big confirmation from the Xbox.com article: Xbox Series X|S are the only next-generation consoles with full hardware support for all the RDNA 2 capabilities AMD showcased today.

Here’s a detailed excerpt: AMD’s latest RDNA 2 architecture delivers a significant increase in performance and efficiency over previous architectures, as well as adding new hardware acceleration capabilities including hardware accelerated DirectX Raytracing, Mesh Shaders, Sampler Feedback and Variable Rate Shading. Hardware accelerated DirectX Raytracing, showcased at launch by titles such as Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs: Legion, enables developers to deliver a new level of visual fidelity and immersion through techniques such as realistic lighting, shadows, reflections and acoustics. Mesh Shaders can manipulate geometry in real time to provide a high level of fidelity and flexibility that developers have never had before. Sampler Feedback greatly improves memory efficiency by allowing games to load into memory, with fine granularity, only the portions of textures that the GPU needs for a scene, as it needs it, providing an effective 2.5x memory and bandwidth multiplier beyond the raw hardware capabilities. Sampler Feedback also enables efficient creation and shading of textures on-demand.

Finally, Variable Rate Shading (VRS) delivers much finer grain control on how developers can leverage the full power of the Xbox Series X|S by enabling developers to focus their GPU resources on the areas of a frame that most benefit without reducing the overall image quality. By leveraging techniques like VRS, games such as Gears 5 can see performance increases up to 15% and beyond resulting in higher, more consistent frame rates and resolution at the exact same image quality. All of these next-generation capabilities are available via hardware in both the Xbox Series X and Series S and we are excited for them to also come to PC, providing a common set of features that developers can rely on when developing their games across console and PC.

At the very beginning of development of the Xbox Series X | S, we knew we were setting the foundation for the next decade of gaming innovation and performance across console, PC and cloud. To deliver on this vision we wanted to leverage the full capabilities of RDNA 2 in hardware from day one. Through close collaboration and partnership between Xbox and AMD, not only have we delivered on this promise, we have gone even further introducing additional next-generation innovation such as hardware accelerated Machine Learning capabilities for better NPC intelligence, more lifelike animation, and improved visual quality via techniques such as ML powered super resolution.

In our quest to put gamers and developers first we chose to wait for the most advanced technology from our partners at AMD before finalizing our architecture. Now, with the upcoming release of Xbox Series X|S and the new AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series  GPUs, developers have a common set of next-generation tools and performance capabilities that will empower them to deliver transformative gaming experiences across both console and PC.

Boom! The two Xbox Series consoles have the complete features of RDNA 2 technology. The wait that Team Xbox had to go through was worth it. In the years to come, the terms DirectX Raytracing, Mesh Shaders, Sampler Feedback and Variable Rate Shading will be more discussed as game designers create more of their projects for Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PCs equipped with RDNA 2-based GPUs.

To make things clear to everyone, here are the definitions:

Hardware Accelerated DirectX Raytracing (DXR) – From improved lighting, shadows and reflections as well as more realistic acoustics and spatial audio, raytracing enables developers to create more physically accurate worlds. For the very first time in a game console, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S include support for high performance, hardware accelerated raytracing. Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S use a custom-designed GPU leveraging the latest innovation from our partners at AMD and built in collaboration with the same team who developed DirectX Raytracing. Developers will be able to deliver incredibly immersive visual and audio experiences using the same techniques on PC and beyond.

Mesh Shading – Mesh shading will enable developers to dramatically improve the performance and image quality when rendering a substantial number of complex objects in a scene. As an example, mesh shaders could enable the player to experience asteroid belts and fields of flowers in more pristine detail without seeing a loss in performance.

Sampler Feedback Streaming (SFS) – A component of the Xbox Velocity Architecture, SFS is a feature of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S hardware that allows games to load into memory, with fine granularity, only the portions of textures that the GPU needs for a scene, as it needs it. This enables far better memory utilization for textures, which is important given that every 4K texture consumes 8MB of memory. Because it avoids the wastage of loading into memory the portions of textures that are never needed, it is an effective 2.5x multiplier on average on both amount of physical memory and SSD performance.

Variable Rate Shading (VRS) – Variable Rate Shading increases GPU efficiency by concentrating shader work where it’s most needed and reducing shader work in areas where it won’t be noticeable. With minimal developer effort, VRS significantly improves GPU performance resulting in more stable and higher resolutions and frame rates with no perceptible loss in visual quality.

Remember when I mentioned many times before that Xbox is an ecosystem composed of Xbox game consoles, Windows 10 PC and smartphones (supported by Project xCloud) backed with the fast-growing Xbox Game Pass (XGP) subscription service? With all the technical information and explanations above, the strategic partnership between Microsoft and AMD is much greater than just hardware and features…it also serves as a foundation for supporting Xbox ecosystem users regardless of what hardware they use.

While it is a fact that AMD also partnered with Sony for the PlayStation 5 (PS5) consoles, so far the Japan-based corporation has not boldly stated anything about having full-featured RDNA 2 on their next-generation consoles. While we don’t know what exactly Jim Ryan and Mark Cerny know behind the scenes at PlayStation headquarters right now, it is clear that their team strongly focused on the PS5’s SSD (solid state drive) and tried to manipulate people into believing it is the next big thing. It seems like the PlayStation guys, whose idolaters are still restless and agonizing over the Xbox-Bethesda deal until now, just could not admit that the AMD technology PS5 has is actually inferior to what the Xbox Series consoles have.  

Going back to RDNA 2 and Xbox, Ubisoft recently presented Watch Dogs: Legion running on Xbox Series X with raytracing implemented. Watch the video below…

In ending this, here are more gaming-related videos for your viewing pleasure. Right now, the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are the only next-generation consoles with full hardware support for all the RDNA 2 capabilities and that ensures great value in return for the respective $499 and $299 prices of the consoles.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com