Frame-rate boost for backward compatible games on Xbox Series consoles has begun with five initial games!

Playing previous generation video games on your Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S console is becoming a smoother experience as Team Xbox officially rolled out the FPS Boost enhancement for backward compatible games which gamers playing any of the five initial games – Far Cry 4, New Super Lucky’s Tale, Sniper Elite 4, UFC 4, and Watch Dogs 2 – can benefit from.

On Xbox.com, Senior Program Manager Paul Eng made the official announcement dated February 17, 2021. Below is an excerpt from the said article…

As we detailed in October, with the increased CPU, GPU and memory from our new consoles, all of your existing games look and play better. With certain titles, we can make the experience even better, all with no work required by the developer, and no update needed by the gamer. To that end, the backward compatibility team has developed FPS Boost, which employs a variety of new methods for nearly doubling (and in a few instances, quadrupling) the original framerate on select titles. Higher, steadier framerates make games visually smoother, resulting in more immersive gameplay. We partnered closely with developers to enhance the experience while maintaining the game’s original intent. And while not applicable to all games, these new techniques can push game engines to render more quickly for a buttery smooth experience beyond what the original game might have delivered due to the capabilities of the hardware at the time.

We’re excited to announce the first assortment of backward compatible titles that will support FPS Boost – available beginning today –  are Far Cry 4, New Super Lucky’s Tale, Sniper Elite 4, UFC 4, and Watch Dogs 2. We chose this initial collection of titles not only because they are popular among fans, but to highlight several different ways that FPS Boost can improve your experience. For example, New Super Lucky’s Tale can now run up to 120 frames per second (fps) and UFC 4 delivers improved framerate performance specifically on Xbox Series S and can now run at 60fps.

This is just the beginning. We will announce and release more titles featuring FPS Boost soon, as well roll out new menu icons and system settings in an upcoming system update. Starting this Spring, you can go into the “Manage Game” section for any title, where you’ll be presented with a new “Compatibility Options” button that will allow you to toggle FPS Boost (as well as Auto HDR) on or off. There will also be a new indicator informing you when a game is running with FPS Boost whenever you hit the Xbox Button on your controller. You decide how you want to play your favorite games, whether in its original form or with FPS Boost.

And FPS Boost doesn’t only benefit gamers who own these titles – you’ll be happy to hear that many of these upcoming FPS Boost games will be available in Xbox Game Pass.

As you can see in the above content, Team Xbox and its backward compatibility team are continuing to not only make as many past generation games playable on the Xbox Series consoles, but make the gameplay experience even better by means of improving the frame rates. With FPS Boost, the wholesome platform game New Super Lucky’s Tale can be played on Xbox Series S at more than three times higher than the frame rate of its Xbox One version. More than three times meaning up to 120 frames-per-second (120FPS) on the newer console!

And then there is another game from the initial five…Watch Dogs 2 from Ubisoft. I played and finished Watch Dogs 2 on my Xbox One back in early 2017 and while it was not great, it proved to be fun and satisfying enough. For the newcomers reading this, Watch Dogs 2 is an open-world game with San Francisco as its environment. To have that game upgraded to 60FPS is pretty impressive even though its resolution was not upgraded. Regardless of resolution, to have an open-world game run at sixty frames-per-second is a big achievement in itself. By today’s standards, 30FPS is no longer satisfying for me especially when it comes to open-world games.

As mentioned in the Xbox.com article, FPS Boost is just beginning and Team Xbox will reveal and release more games that will run with FPS Boost in the near future. I personally hope to see a variety of previous generation games run on Xbox Series consoles at 60FPS such as Lost Odyssey (the Final Fantasy game without the name), Saints Row 2 and Saints Row The Third to name a few.

It is great to see that Team Xbox continues to work hard to not only make backward compatible gaming even more accessible, but also justify all the investments gamers made with their collection of video games released on all Xbox console generations. That reminds me, this year 2021 will mark the 20th anniversary of Xbox itself.

In ending this, here are some selected YouTube videos related to FPS Boost for your learning and enjoyment. Colteastwood’s interview with Jason Ronald is a must-watch! Meanwhile, Zalker 87’s video is about a different yet highly relevant topic of discussion.

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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

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

For more Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch, Part 5

The past few weeks, I’ve been discussing the launch games lineup and future games for Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X, the significance of backward compatibility the new consoles have and the tremendous impact of the Xbox-Bethesda deal on the games industry as a whole.

Today, I saw Zalker 87’s YouTube video focused on the fact that Team Xbox hired several game developers from Sony to beef up the growing roster of very experienced game makers in The Initiative, the one Xbox Games Studios team that Microsoft established in 2018 to create great, big-budget games for the Xbox ecosystem. To say the least, the future for Xbox fans and gamers in general is looking very promising, and the fun will start with the launch of Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X on November 10, 2020. Watch the video below…

A lot really has been going on at the side of Team Xbox. Apart from the many developments that resulted from the Xbox-Bethesda deal, Microsoft continues to pour in more funds into the many game projects under production from the many game studios under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella, and hire more people to work on their projects. Clearly Obsidian Entertainment, Ninja Theory, inXile, The Coalition, 343 Industries, Playground Games, Turn 10 and other 1st party studios of Team Xbox are all busy making their respective games right now!

To put things in perspective, Sony and its first-party PlayStation teams have a solid track record of producing high-quality, fun-loaded, story driven 3rd person action-adventure games which went on to receive huge acclaim from the game critics and sold a lot. Such games are what are sorely lacking on the side of Team Xbox and it only made sense for Microsoft to use its massive resources to hire the great game makers from Sony’s 1st party studios and put them in The Initiative.

The logo of the all-star team The Initiative.

More on The Initiative, the studio recently hired more talents from Sony’s acclaimed studio Naughty Dog: Lee Davis who worked previously as the head of melee animation and Lauren Garcia who was the character shading technical director. Under The Initiative, Davis is the lead gameplay animator while Garcia is the senior shading technologies executive. The two former Naughty Dog experts were involved in the production of Sony’s The Last of Us: Part 2. In a Twitter post, Garcia expressed happiness about joining The Initiative calling it an incredible team. He thanked Xbox chief Phil Spencer as well.

Before hiring the two former Naughty Dog experts, Microsoft also hired Christian Cantamessa whose best known work was writing (as lead writer) Red Dead Redemption for Rockstar Games, Brian Westergaard (the lead producer on God of War), Remi Lacoste (director of Marvel’s Avengers and Shadow of The Tomb Raider), Christine Thompson (the lead writer for Destiny 2) plus many others which The Initiative studio head Darrell Gallagher confirmed.

As you can see, The Initiative is literally an all-star team of very experienced and high achieving game makers who were previously involved in blockbuster games as well as other ambitious projects. Their first project still has not been revealed so far, although it has been alleged that it could be related to the Perfect Dark franchise which Microsoft owns. Whatever story concept it will have, whatever game design it will come with (note: I personally expect a 3rd person action-adventure in design with a cinematic feel and highly advanced animation for immersion) and whatever new characters it will introduce, you can bet that The Initiative’s expected first game will catch a lot of attention once Team Xbox makes the official unveiling of it. When and where? We don’t know and only Phil Spencer knows.

Ultimately, The Initiative is contributing to Xbox Game Studio’s upcoming wave of high-quality, 1st party video games that will be released for each of the next five years through the Xbox ecosystem (targeting users of Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Windows 10 PC and mobile phones supported by Project xCloud). In other words, Sony and its PlayStation division have serious competition coming.

In ending this, posted below are assorted gaming-related videos for your learning and excitement for the next-generation! Do not forget that Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X will launch on November 10, 2020!

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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

For more Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

My Observations: Bethesda now part of Team Xbox

As I start to write this, I still am in a state of shock over the most ambitious video game business announcement that I never anticipated would happen particularly with Xbox. People are already talking about it a lot right now. I’m referring to Microsoft’s megaton acquisition of ZeniMax Media which is the parent company of game publishing giant Bethesda Softworks. The deal is worth $7.5 billion (in cash) and it includes acquiring Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios. The said studios have a combined work force of more than 2,300 employees. This megaton development alone makes me want to acquire an Xbox Series X unit even more!

To put things in perspective, below is an excerpt (with key parts in bold) from the Xbox.com blog post by Xbox head Phil Spencer:

Bethesda’s games have always had a special place on Xbox and in the hearts of millions of gamers around the world. Our teams have a close and storied history working together, from the amazing first DOOM, and its id Tech engine, innovating games on PCs to Bethesda bringing their first console game to the original Xbox, the groundbreaking The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Over the years I’ve had many deep conversations with the creative leaders at Bethesda on the future of gaming and we’ve long shared similar visions for the opportunities for creators and their games to reach more players in more ways.

Just as they took the bold first steps to bring The Elder Scrolls franchise to the original Xbox, Bethesda were early supporters of Xbox Game Pass, bringing their games to new audiences across devices and have been actively investing in new gaming technology like cloud streaming of games. We will be adding Bethesda’s iconic franchises to Xbox Game Pass for console and PC. One of the things that has me most excited is seeing the roadmap with Bethesda’s future games, some announced and many unannounced, to Xbox console and PC including Starfield, the highly anticipated, new space epic currently in development by Bethesda Game Studios.

Like us, Bethesda are passionate believers in building a diverse array of creative experiences, in exploring new game franchises, and in telling stories in bold ways. All of their great work will of course continue and grow and we look forward to empowering them with the resources and support of Microsoft to scale their creative visions to more players in new ways for you.

All of our work, and the foundation of our relationship with you, starts with a commitment to deliver a breadth of amazing games to discover and play on Xbox.  Over the last few weeks, we’ve been excited to share more detail on important elements of a plan we’ve been building towards for years. A plan that is the fulfilment of a promise, to you the Xbox player, to deliver the most performant, immersive and compatible next-generation gaming experiences, and the freedom to play blockbuster games with your friends, anytime, anywhere. Today is a landmark step in our journey together and I’m incredibly energized by what this step means for Xbox.

As confirmed by Spencer, the acquisition of Bethesda is more than just adding to Xbox Games Studios existing lineup of game makers and more than just adding games for Xbox and PC gamers to play. The acquisition also means adding even more games to the fast-growing and successful Xbox Game Pass subscription program which recently saw its subscribers reach 15,000,000+ (a jump of 50% in less than six months’ time!). The addition of Bethesda’s iconic franchises – Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein and Dishonored to name some – will surely add tremendous value to Xbox Game Pass and even more exciting is the confirmation that Bethesda’s upcoming sci-fi Starfield will also be added! These developments are already exciting gamers to order Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X as I write this.

Think about it. If you are already a paying Xbox Game Pass subscriber by the time Starfield gets released, you can simply visit Xbox LIVE and download the said game for free (because you already paid for the subscription). Those who are not XGP subscribers will have to pull out a lot of money to buy Starfield at the retail store or elsewhere online.

Already Team Xbox and its many Xbox Games Studios are already creating new and exclusive games for Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X plus PC. Microsoft no longer has a shortage of console exclusives and all the criticism thrown at them (“Xbox has no exclusives!”, “Xbox has no great games!”) are meaningless now. The addition of Bethesda studios into the many Xbox Game Studios further ensures more exclusive games in the years to come and this alone gives Microsoft a huge advantage over Sony and Nintendo!

This brings me to another sensitive topic: the Bethesda projects that are exclusive to others or are multi-platform in arrangement. Bethesda currently has two games that are exclusive to Sony’s PlayStation 5 (PS5) and Phil Spencer made clear that Microsoft will honor the exclusivity commitments of those games. In short, the Bethesda-Sony deal for those two games won’t be scrapped. Other Bethesda games coming to platforms that are not Xbox-related will happen on a case-by-case basis with Microsoft having the final decision. All of these are part of the complications that come with acquiring a huge game publisher with existing deals made with other platform makers.

But if you look into the far future, the Xbox-Bethesda megaton deal will eventually lead to sequels of Fallout, Elder Scrolls and other franchises that will be released exclusively on Xbox platforms and PC, and the Bethesda brand will remain. Bethesda’s famous role-playing game (RPG) franchises alone makes Xbox an even more attractive ecosystem for gamers who love RPGs. Think about it! Imagine playing Fallout and Elder Scrolls sequels (or remastered versions of Skyrim or Fallout 4) on Xbox Series X years from now enjoying all the massive content presented with 4K resolution, 60 FPS frame rate, great visuals and much shorter load times. With Microsoft having the more technologically superior console (Xbox Series X compared to PS5 with disc drive) and a much bigger and stronger 1st party game lineup, gamers will realize the benefits of the Xbox-Bethesda deal.

If Microsoft wants to make even more money and sell more, they can always decide to make Fallout and Elder Scrolls sequels available on PS5 and other platforms (even on Nintendo’s next-generation console). Microsoft acquired Mojang years ago and kept Minecraft available on multiple platforms (including those of Sony, Nintendo, iOS and more). When it comes to the next console generation with Bethesda’s many games being played, I expect their multi-platform games to look and play better on Xbox Series X than on PS5.

With Bethesda and Obsidian Entertainment together with Team Xbox, producing a sequel to Fallout New Vegas is no longer an impossible dream!

I should also state that Microsoft having Bethesda under its extensive corporate umbrella and ownership of the many intellectual properties (IP) of the company means that the dream of producing sequel to Fallout New Vegas is no longer impossible! Microsoft also owns Obsidian Entertainment, the very same team that worked with Bethesda for Fallout New Vegas, and they can decide to assign them to produce a sequel complete with a lot of human, technological and financial resources to back them! While I love the idea of Obsidian making Fallout New Vegas 2, I personally prefer they keep focusing on making their major fantasy RPG Avowed (ironically an ambitious game described as something to rival Bethesda’s Skyrim) and making a next-generation sequel to The Outer Worlds (which I love playing). A new Fallout New Vegas can be released on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X AFTER the respective releases of Avowed, Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI many years from now.

Apart from the very promising benefits gamers will soon have from the Xbox-Bethesda deal, Microsoft also deserves praise for their transparency with gamers about their next-generation consoles, their expanding 1st party game studios lineup, Xbox All Access, Xbox Game Pass and the like. Transparency aside, Team Xbox also proved to stay honest and well organized with gamers unlike Sony’s PlayStation division. Watch the videos below regarding Sony…

The Xbox-Bethesda deal alone motivates me even more to acquire an Xbox Series X console and also sign up at last on Xbox Game Pass. I am certain that I am not the only geek experiencing the excitement about the very bright future of fun, engaging and high-value gaming with Xbox. With Bethesda’s RPG franchises alone, Xbox is already the best and definitive ecosystem for people who love playing role-playing games (note: Microsoft has Avowed coming and hopefully a The Outer Worlds sequel from Obsidian, plus established support from Square Enix with a Dragon Quest game coming out this December). This is something that Sony (even with Final Fantasy XVI a timed exclusive on their PS5) and Nintendo cannot match! Going back to Bethesda, they really had gone a long way and their decades-old history of doing business with Microsoft is undeniable. The very first time I played a Bethesda game on Microsoft hardware was none other than Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion on Xbox 360 and that was way back in 2006. In the past decade, I played Skyrim on Xbox 360 and Fallout 4 on Xbox One. Personally, I am happy that Microsoft acquired Bethesda with not only the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X in mind but for the long term…the far future!

In ending this, watch these videos from Dealer Gaming, Colteastwood, Rand al Thor 19 and Zalker 87 for additional insight about the Xbox-Bethesda deal!

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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