Microsoft came out with a series of announcements today ahead of their Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase on Sunday. There are no megatons here, but it’s worth summarizing what Microsoft has had to say about what’s coming next for the Xbox across console, PC, and the cloud.
First, Microsoft announced a plan to roll out the ability for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members to play, from the cloud, select games they already own or have purchased outside of the Xbox Game Pass library. It’s coming later this year.
Next, from June 30, you will be able to play cloud-enabled Game Pass Ultimate games without a console via 2022 Samsung smart TVs. Microsoft’s plan is to roll out this feature to other TV channels throughout the year.
Microsoft unveiled Project Moorcroft, a new program that will bring demos of upcoming games to the Xbox Game Pass. Expect it to roll out within the next year.
The desktop version of the Microsoft Edge browser will soon have new gaming features, including some Xbox Cloud Gaming integrations. There’s a new gaming homepage, a new clarity boost feature, as Microsoft said, makes gameplay from the cloud look sharper and clearer when playing in the Edge browser on Windows, and an efficiency mode that helps improve performance on Windows 10 and 11 by automatically reducing the browser resource consumption when a PC game is launched.
New updates for Windows 11 include optimizations to improve latency and unlock Auto HDR and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR). There’s a new HDR calibration app that helps players improve the color accuracy and uniformity of their HDR screens, a Game Pass widget and a controller bar that lets players jump back in their games or access the Xbox Cloud Gaming without the use of mouse and keyboard.
If we move on to the Xbox Design Lab, there are new pastel colors: Soft Pink, Soft Orange, Soft Green and Soft Purple, and new Camo Top covers with matching side caps: Mineral Camo, Arctic Camo, Forest Camo, Sandglow Camo and Blaze Camo.
Microsoft talked a bit about how the Xbox is doing without giving away sales of the Xbox Series X and S. It focused on how well the Xbox Game Pass has performed on the PC, comparing the number of Game Pass- compared to November last year. members who play on PC have tripled.
In terms of Xbox Cloud Gaming statistics, Microsoft said the addition of Fortnite without subscription or installation had seen millions of players on iOS, Android and PC, with 20 percent of them new to Xbox.
This year, Microsoft is adding thousands of new custom Xbox Series X server racks around the world, increasing cloud gaming capacity by 125 percent to meet demand.
And finally, Microsoft touched on its first-party plan for releasing video games. It said that during its final fiscal year, it launched five new games across console, PC and cloud. “We are on track to reach or exceed this amount in the next fiscal year,” Microsoft said.
So what are those games? Microsoft’s next fiscal year begins on July 1, 2022 and ends on June 30, 2023. Arkanes Redfall will be released next year. A new Forza seems like a given. I suppose Microsoft will consider the 1.0 release of Obsidian’s Grounded as the launch of a new game. Bethesda’s Starfield is currently down in the first half of 2023. What about Ninja Theory’s Hellblade 2 and Avowed? More for more?