What I Hope to See in Microsoft’s Xbox Digital Event this July

This past May, Microsoft organized its first digital event of the year highlighting upcoming games produced by their publishing partners and independent developers for its next-generation Xbox Series X console. In case you missed that, watch the video.

Okay. There were several games showcased but in my honest opinion, the event felt underwhelming overall due to the presentation – there was just not enough real-time gameplay sequences shown as there was too much emphasis on showing the games’ concepts in a more cinematic fashion. Even The only games from that digital event that interested me were Dirt 5 and The Ascent.

This July, Microsoft has another digital event coming only this time it will be a showcase of upcoming Xbox Series X video games made by varied game studios working under the Xbox banner. A date has yet to be announced as of this writing.

As this will be a showcase of products from the 1st party game makers and announcements from Microsoft to prove their dedication with the next-generation of gaming, I hope to see the following happen.

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  • Halo Infinite showcased in both cinematic and real-time gameplay demonstration – It has been two years since Halo Infinite was first announced and with the expected Xbox Series X launch happening late this year, the time is right to emphasize that game’s concept with real-time cinematic scenes and show how it plays and what new gameplay features have been implemented by 343 Industries. Here is hoping that the developers have learned from the mistakes they made with Halo 5: Guardians.
  • Forza Motorsport 8 and Forza Horizon 5 announced together – this is a long shot but I hope to see the next-generation games of both Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon to be announced in the same event as this will be Microsoft’s chance to show why Xbox Series X will be the console of choice for gamers who love cars and racing (be it simulation or open-world) as well as the machine that will give racing-driving car developers all the resources and opportunities they need to make their dream projects come true. There’s no telling yet if the expected Forza Motorsport 8 will be a launch title with Xbox Series X but it is clear that a follow-up to Forza Motorsport 7 is already due. As for Forza Horizon 5, I don’t expect it to be released until 2022 but an early announcement would not hurt. Going back to Forza Motorsport 8, if any gameplay footage will be shown, here is hoping it will run in 4K resolution with 120 frames-per-second frame rate and ray-tracing turned on.
  • New Fable – Considering how long the next-generation Fable RPG (popularly referred to as Fable 4) has been rumored to be in production under Playground Games, this year is the right time to finally confirm it and show at least some concept art if no gameplay footage is available. The game makers should also make clear if the new Fable is a sequel or a reboot, and more importantly, emphasize what its fantasy concept will be, what kind of gameplay can be expected, and what the game’s tone will be like.
  • Brand new, 1st party open-world video game – When it comes to open-world games involving Microsoft, I am NOT a fan of the Crackdown franchise of games and I certainly don’t want to see that game series to continue at all. Considering how many game studios are working under the Xbox banner, I’d rather see a brand new open-world game that will not only be different from Crackdown but be a lot of fun (regardless of what its concept will be), be very engaging and be made with high-grade quality production values. It will also be an opportunity for an Xbox game studio to make an open-world adventure game that can be different from the fantasy, crime or post-apocalyptic concepts.
  • The Outer Worlds sequel plus new RPGs from Obsidian Entertainment – I love playing and replaying The Outer Worlds on my Xbox One, and I certainly hope to see Obsidian Entertainment announce a sequel (at least show a video), only this time it will be Xbox-exclusive now that they are owned by Microsoft. Given the very positive critical and commercial success of The Outer Worlds, making a sequel that can be bigger and even better is the way to go. Going beyond The Outer Worlds, I hope that brand new RPGs will be announced.
  • More from Ninja Theory – I hope to see more of what Ninja Theory could do. They already showed a video of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II some months back and I hope they will show actual gameplay of it this time. Apart from that upcoming sequel, it would be nice to see what new games they are working on will be announced.
  • The Initiative’s first game – The Initiative is a new game studio set up by Microsoft which reportedly has a lot of very talented game developers working together in Santa Monica, California. What they are working on remains unknown but I hope that at least an announcement about their first game will be made.
  • Xbox Series S console – While I personally want the Xbox Series X to replace my aging Xbox One, to see the rumored Xbox Series S console (expected to be smaller, less powerful and more affordable) get confirmed and showcased will still be welcome. I hope to see it having a very compact design (note: most likely it will come without an UHD Blu-ray drive), very good graphical and technical performance and a $199 tag price.
  • At least one new game each from the other Xbox game studios announced – The other Xbox game studios like Undead Labs, Rare, inXile Entertainment, Double Fine and Compulsion Games should each have something new to be announced. I’m talking about new, Xbox-exclusive games that gamers are willing to wait for to be completed and released. As for The Coalition, I don’t expect a new Gears of War sequel to be announced yet.
  • $399 launch price for Xbox Series X – This is something I really hope will be confirmed by Microsoft. Considering that Microsoft itself can afford to lose some money on launching hardware as they make money from Xbox Game Pass and paid services and game sales via Xbox LIVE, a $399 launch price will definitely make Xbox Series X a very attractive next-generation console for consumers. Granted, the technologies and components for Xbox Series X are surely expensive (apart from the amount of money spent on developing the console) and the Xbox One X itself was launched at $499 in 2017, but still a $399 launch price is not impossible for Microsoft to pull off. In terms of competition, the attractive launch theoretical launch price will add tremendous pressure to Sony to follow suit with PS5.

Now that those are the things I hope to see, we can only wait for Microsoft to announce exactly when this July they will organize their digital event. Stay tuned!


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

My Observations: COVID-19’s impact on crowded fun-oriented events should be taken seriously

For the past few weeks, the coronavirus disease COVID-19 halted much of the world’s societies and economies compelling families to stay at home as the authorities struggle to prevent infections from spreading.

Community quarantine and regional lockdown have been implemented which strongly limited people from traveling around and also negatively affected truck deliveries which really hurt manufacturing and other key economic sectors like food production (and the businesses that sell food), retailing and more.

Unsurprisingly, special events that attract a lot of people as attendees have been postponed or cancelled. In the city of Parañaque here in the Philippines, the planned 2020 cityhood anniversary celebration had to be scaled down dramatically because of COVID-19-related fear. The said celebration’s most popular events such as the Bb. Parañaque beauty pageant and the Sunduan Festival could not be organized and as of this writing, no new dates for organizing such events have been announced. Under the current quarantine procedures, mass gatherings have been prohibited.

That being said, it would be best to forget about crowded fun events for the short term and just focus on being safe at home, managing your precious funds and maintaining faith in the Lord (note: study the Holy Bible and pray in tongues to Him).

Speaking of fun events, Comic Book Resources (CBR.com) published a new article that caught my attention titled Coronavirus Could Be the Beginning of the End for Super Conventions. It caught my attention because I myself had attended several pop culture events, including the gigantic Comic-Con International in San Diego, California (AKA San Diego Comic-Con).

Let’s focus on this excerpt from Comic Book Resources:

Comic conventions long have been an integral part of fan communities. Before comic-book movies and TV shows were a multibillion-dollar enterprise, fans looked forward to these annual gatherings as a chance to be surrounded by people who shared their interests. They (were) a sacred place where fans could collectively celebrate something they were really passionate about.

And they were fun. Really fun. Fans from across the country would make the pilgrimage to get up close and personal with the writers and artists they idolized. It was a dream come true for members of what was then a tight-knit community.

Over the years, that’s all changed. The conventions that were so beloved by a small group of people have ballooned into massive undertakings, drawing thousands of people from all over the world. They’re not so much fan-driven conventions anymore as much as they are trade shows for the entertainment industry.

That’s not to say these super conventions aren’t fun in their own right; they absolutely are. They offer fans a chance to witness major announcements, take part in Q&A’s with their favorite stars and celebrate pop culture on an unprecedented level. They’ve become an annual staple for the promotion of the latest film and television franchise projects, and big names continuously turn up.

Now, however, with the justifiable closure of these conventions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s unclear how much we really need these super conventions.

To put things in perspective, any convention that is focused on fun would not be possible without the strong interest of multiple fans or enthusiasts who are not only willing to make time to attend such an event but also bring a good amount of money with them and spend on their respective interests.

The San Diego Comic-Con in California, the New York Comic Con in New York, and the AsiaPop Comicon here in the Philippines all require paying a fee (for the ticket or badge) in order to enter the venue which has most entertainment events and booths that fans can go to.

When it comes to special activities, private screenings of trailers of upcoming blockbuster movies occasionally get organized as well as Q&A panel sessions with entertainers or industry professionals, press conferences and more.

However, we are now living in the age of social media, wide access to the Internet and smartphones which enable users to take pictures or videos in high-definition and upload them for people to see online. Think about it carefully.

What good is a closed-door press conference with celebrities when a fan in attendance can capture everything on video and beat the bloggers and members of the press by releasing content on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?

What good is a private screening (which restricts attendees from taking footage) of a trailer or a short scene from a highly anticipated blockbuster movie when such content will only be released by the movie studio on YouTube, Facebook and other sites where Internet users can watch for free at the comfort of their homes?

What good is a fan convention if attendees post pictures/videos of embarrassing moments (example: someone throws a pie on the face of a movie star in front of the fans) online within minutes and become viral?

What good is buying classic comic books at the comic convention when the comic publishers themselves failed to wipe out the widespread online piracy (note: entire issues of comic books in digital form) of their comics which people can find and read for free?

One key point here is that fan conventions and other fun-oriented events that attract a lot of people are slowly losing their relevance. Convention organizers will have to come up with ways not only to stay relevant, not only to ensure exclusive stuff in their event is truly exclusive, but also innovate and raise the convention’s overall quality.

Going back to COVID-19, it is clear that the said virus is highly infectious and this alone defeats the purpose of organizing a huge event for as long as the risk of infection remains. As of this writing, local authorities are struggling to clean and disinfect places. Killing the virus is a costly and time-consuming affair.

Recently, the 2020 edition of the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) had to be canceled due to COVID-19 which was a huge blow to many video game and technology companies that had signed up for the event. Microsoft, which was supposed to showcase their upcoming Xbox Series X console at E3, promptly announced it will organize a digital event instead.

Think about those words: digital events. Digital events can be done by companies to make a special presentation of their products or services in the form of a lengthy and detailed pre-recorded video or by organizing privately their showcase event (held in a venue that the company has all to itself) live via livestreaming. With the access of the Internet and the massive reach that social media provides, digital events can make fan conventions even more unnecessary. Digital events are also very useful for companies because they not only have complete privacy but also a lot more control in terms of creativity as well as amount of information to be released. This also spares companies from the hassles of crowd control as well as rampant questioning from members of the news media.

Together, COVID-19, wide Internet access and social media are factors that make organizing crowded fun-oriented showcase events more challenging than ever before. Why bother attending a local beauty pageant live in Parañaque City when viral infection, live-streaming and even crime incidents could happen?

Even after the end of this COVID-19 crisis, the community quarantine and regional lockdown, I foresee that it will take a lot more time before life really goes back to normal.

By then, I don’t think enthusiasm for crowded fun-oriented events would be restored to high levels immediately. Sports events, in my opinion, have a better chance of resuming given the nature of sports competition which remains very important with Filipinos. Other events like food fairs and shopping bazaars are more important to people in the local communities than beauty pageants or fan conventions. What people clearly want once this current crisis is over is worshiping the Lord together at church on Sundays.

Attending church is more essential than a crowded beauty pageant or a fan convention. There is no doubt about that!


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

My Observations: The Official Specs of Xbox Series X

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The components of Xbox Series X. (photo source – Xbox.com)

Very recently Microsoft and some members of the gaming press revealed the official specs of the next-generation console Xbox Series X. As a long-time gamer, this newest development is nice and exciting even though I am still enjoying my basic Xbox One console a lot for my video gaming and movie viewing (note: I’m a Blu-ray movie collector). The current generation console I bought way back in 2015 still works well and so far showed no signs of breaking down or slowing down (when compared to my previous console the Xbox 360). Even so, I intend to acquire the Xbox Series X to replace my Xbox One although not necessarily during the new system’s launch. Here is hoping that Microsoft will announce a launch price of not more than $499.

So let’s get on with the specs of the next-generation Xbox starting with the CPU (central processing unit) and the GPU (graphics processing unit).

CPU: 8x Cores @ 3.8 Ghz (3.6 GHZ w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU

GPU: 12 teraflops, 52 CUs (compute units) @ 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU

Die Size: 360.45 mm2

Process: 7nm Enhanced

Memory: 16 Gigabytes GDDR6 w/ 320b bus

Memory Bandwidth: 10GB @ 560 GB/s, 6GB @ 336 GB/s

Internal Storage: 1 terabyte NVME SSD (solid state drive)

I/O Throughput: 2.4 GB/s (raw), 4.8 GB/s (compressed with custom hardware decompression block)

Expandable Storage: 1 terabyte Expansion Card (matches internal storage exactly)

External Storage: USB 3.2 External HDD Support

Optical Drive: 4K Ultra High Definition Blu-ray Drive

Performance Target: 4K @ 60 frames-per-second, up to 120 FPS.

On face value, those specs are very impressive and worthy of being referred to as next-generation at least in terms of potential. The Xbox Series X, with those specs, unsurprisingly surpassed my Xbox One and even the Xbox One X (released in 2017) which is currently the most powerful game console in the world. With a performance target of 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160) with a frame rate of 60 frames-per-second and even up to 120 FPS, now is a great time to upgrade your HDTV by means of replacing it with an UHDTV (or 4K TV).

Apart from improved speed and efficiency, the Xbox Series X will come with Xbox Velocity Architecture (XVA) which features the tight integration between hardware and software. It’s a new architecture optimized for streaming of in-game assets and should be useful for game developers who in turn will have instant access to an estimated 100 gigabytes of the said assets.

“It’s about revolutionizing how games can create vastly bigger and more compelling worlds,” Technical Fellow on Xbox Series X Andrew Goossen described XVA.

When it comes to video games with those large in-game environments, nothing can be more annoying than load times, delayed textures and noticeable drop of frame rates. In my experience playing Mass Effect on my Xbox 360 way back in 2007, the game’s long load time (with the overly long elevator ride designed to conceal the loading) was so bad it took me out of the game. And then there were newly loaded segments in which the polygons lacked the proper textures for the first seconds. Open-world games I played before such as Saints Row: The Third, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2 each had their own bouts of annoying load times or delayed loading of key visual elements. If the XVA delivers the promised benefits for both the game developers and the gamers, then such technical hiccups should be a thing of the past and the immersion should be much better for players. More on load times, they should not be a problem anymore in the next-generation now that the Xbox Series X will have SSDs.

Check out these official Xbox Series X videos about quick loading and quick resume.

As far as my Xbox history is concerned, I am a multi-generational Xbox LIVE user and my account has lots of Xbox 360 and Xbox One titles recorded with regards to playing history and achievements made. I also enjoy the backward compatibility feature Microsoft launched in 2015 which makes playing my old Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One possible without having to pay anything extra. I also love the fact that Xbox LIVE allows me to select and buy Xbox 360 games (via digital download) that I never played before and there are hundreds of titles of the 360 offered all the time!

That being said, the backward compatibility experience will continue with Xbox Series X guaranteeing that all the Xbox 360 and Xbox One games I have will never go to waste! For the next-generation, backward compatibility on Xbox Series X will see benefits like improved booting time, shortened loading times, improved resolution, more stable frame rates and enhanced visuals. I can imagine playing the Xbox One versions of Red Dead Redemption 2, Grand Theft Auto V, Resident Evil 2 remake (and very soon the remake of Resident Evil 3) and Gears 5 on the Xbox Series X in the near future with the technical improvements in place.

Going back to the announcement of the specs, it has been declared at long last that the memory of Xbox Series X is set at 16 gigabytes using GDDR6 which is a more advanced RAM (random access memory). By comparison, my Xbox One has 8 gigabytes of DDR3 RAM and the Xbox One X has 12 gigabytes of GDDR5. Honestly, I was anticipating that Xbox Series X would come with 24 GB GDDR6. I’m not saying that I’m disappointed with the declared 16 GB GDDR6 and I will look forward as to how that memory of the new console will be beneficial for both gamers and game makers.

The internal storage declared was 1 terabyte NVME SSD. I’m surprised that just one terabyte will be used to launch the Xbox Series X. That’s because games as well as their respective patches, expansions and other digital stuff nowadays consume a lot of storage space. My current Xbox has only 500 GB storage and the Xbox One games alone in our household could not be fitted. This means uninstalling games and other digital pieces. I was hoping that at least 2 terabytes would be offered at launch. In fairness, Microsoft announced that the storage can be expanded with an Expansion Card (1 terabyte).

The way things are right now, I intend to buy the Xbox Series X not because the specs are impressive but also because of the very bright future of games coming. Microsoft in recent years acquired a whole lot of game studios to produce content for the Xbox and Windows platforms. Already a whole lot of new games are in the pipe line being produced gradually. Clear to say, Microsoft’s 1st party games lineup in the next generation will no longer be limited to the Halo, Forza Motorsport, Forza Horizon and Gears of War game franchises. At the same time, I am also excited for new games from 3rd party developers for this coming new console generation and soon we will find out how great their games will be on Xbox Series X.

Due to the coronavirus scare happening worldwide, we won’t see a new E3 this year and it is now up to the game publishers and Microsoft to come up with new ways to announce, emphasize and promote their next-generation games. I’d watch out for the upcoming Xbox digital event from Microsoft if I were you.

If you want to immerse yourselves with the very, very technical examinations of the Xbox Series X, I highly recommend you watch these embedded videos below.


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

 

E3 2020 Cancelled!

This coming June, the usual excitement for video gaming won’t happen as the 2020 edition of the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) got officially cancelled and already its effects on the game publishers, the game developers, the City of Los Angeles and the gamers are strongly felt.

For your reference, here is the official statement at the website of the E3 Expo:

After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry – our fans, our employees, our exhibitors, and our longtime E3 partners – we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020, scheduled for June 9-11 in Los Angeles.

Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global situation. We are very disappointed that we are unable to hold this event for our fans and supporters. But we know it’s the right decision based on the information we have today.

Our team will be reaching out directly to exhibitors and attendees with information about providing full refunds.

We are also exploring options with our members to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020. Updates will be shared on E3Expo.com.

We thank everyone who shared their views on reimagining E3 this year. We look forward to bringing you E3 2021 as a reimagined event that brings fans, media, and the industry together in a showcase that celebrates the global video game industry.

As you can see above, the raging coronavirus (COVID-19) negatively impacted the organizing and worldwide there are a lot of people who have gotten so scared by it their livelihood and lifestyles have been altered dramatically.

Going back to the E3, the cancellation is very unfortunate as a whole lot of game makers and publishers had previously signed up with the organizers to be part of the convention as exhibitors. All their plans to present their games and sell just vanished which will most likely affect their respective finances negatively. No amount of refunds can make up for that.

Also disappointed are the gamers who are fortunate to gain access into the event as attendees, plus the many millions of other gamers worldwide who could only view the E3 via video, blogs and website coverage. Speaking of the Internet, there are a whole lot of bloggers, YouTubers and social media personalities who won’t be able to cover the event live together this year. For Xbox-related coverage of E3 of 2019, I followed the updates from Colt Eastwood who attended the convention. Eastwood’s updates of that particular E3 were so engaging and exciting.

Speaking of Xbox, Microsoft had big plans to organize their media presentation at E3 2020 to formally showcase to the whole world their next-generation console Xbox Series X.

With the cancellation of the big event, Microsoft now has to do a digital event to show off and explain their next-generation plans. Check out Xbox head Phil Spencer’s Tweet below.

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I myself have been anticipating the Xbox Series X not only for playing video games but also for my household’s home entertainment. I have been looking forward to not just new, cutting edge technology and special features, but also the many upcoming games that are already being produced by the many game studios that Microsoft acquired to strengthen the Xbox brand.

From this point on, in the absence of E3, those who are anticipating Xbox Series X and future games will just have to wait for new details from Microsoft as to when their planned digital event will be held, how will it be presented, how much will they be able to show, etc.

Watch out for updates right here.


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