Microsoft announces Game Streaming Service: Project xCloud

Have you ever wanted to play your video games on any device? The idea of being able to play console games from any device has been an idealistic dream. Many gaming and tech companies have been trying to develop a cloud service that can provide gaming experiences to phones, computers, and gaming consoles. Microsoft announced their new game streaming service: Project xCloud.

The worry about game streaming is the quality, graphics degrading, and latency in the games will worsen. Microsoft is developing Azure to be their cloud solution. Azure supports 54 regions in 140 countries. They are developing hardware to support the cloud servers to ensure it doesn’t crash. You’ll be able to play Xbox games on your phones or tablets using an Xbox controller or using the in-tablet controls.

Don’t worry about Microsoft discounting the Xbox. They are still focused on releasing the video game console and believe its the ideal gaming experience. Their mindset is to provide Xbox games to everybody; even people who don’t own an Xbox. In the video, you’ll be able to see them demo the game.

Depending on the success, Microsoft could greatly change the industry. The launch of xCloud remains to be determined.

 

Sea of Thieves’ Player Pool Expands

Sea of Thieves release this March and was criticized for the lack of content. It found a niche with players and content creators who took advantage of the cooperative gameplay and quick gameplay. According to Xbox News, Sea of Thieves racked up 300M views on YouTube and more than 40M live broadcast hours on Twitch. With weekly challenges and a consistent stream of free content, Sea of Thieves continued to grow and now has 5 million “pirates” spanned across Xbox and PC platform.

Upcoming Content kept the game afloat

The early criticism was justified on Sea of Thieves. Considering the game was released for full price, players skeptical of the luster of the game. Microsoft and Rare announced released six free DLC at E3 which kept players invested in the long run. The Hungering Deep was released earlier this year and added more dangers to the sea. Cursed Sails releases today, July 31st, and will add time-limited content to bring players back. It will also have Skelton Ships, ghost bullets, and alliances to shake up the world.

Players raise their own stakes

The biggest gameplay influence is actual players. Forming crews, exploring islands, collecting treasure, attacking other player ships, and open negotiations are unique game features that players control. There is no set meta or a “proper” way to play Sea of Thieves which gives players the freedom to play however they like. Gameplay is fairly simple and it is easy for new players to jump in.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t think Sea of Thieves was going to do well but I am glad to see the game become a success for Microsoft and Rare. Many old fans of Rare worried that the company had died under Microsoft‘s acquirement. Rare’s most recent success was their Rare Replay which is a just collection of their past games. Hopefully, Sea of Thieves brings new energy to the studio. I hope to sea future impressive changes to the game.

Sources:

Xbox News

Polygon

Codemasters Defends huge layoffs and the Cons for Video Game Developers

Codemasters is a video game company with a focus on racing games. They are well-known for their racing games series such as Dirt, F1, and GridThey have been in the industry since 1986. Despite their longevity, not all of their games have been successful. Earlier this year, they released OnRush, a unique racer with a focus on destroying other cars during a race. The game sold extremely poorly and barely sold 1,000 units in Europe according to Eurogamer.

Whether in response or to make back the money from the development of OnRush, Codemasters laid off many senior staff members and lead designers -including Driveclub and OnRush director Paul “Rushy” Rustchynsky. Junior members were also let go. Some employees had to re-interview for a position at the company.  Employees felt the lay-off was sudden as most expected to support upcoming Codemasters titles and help develop less ambitious games.

Image result for onrush game

In response to the Layoffs

While it is common for Video Game companies to have large layoffs after a game has finished, releasing the senior staff will make it difficult for making future games. Despite this, Codemasters defends the layoffs by stating “It is normal course of business for game teams to evolve as projects launch and move into service, and as other new projects start.” The spokesperson is partially correct. To keep the cost of development down, many companies hire developers as contractors.

Image result for video game development

Difficulties of the Industry

According to TargetCW, a recruiting company, ten to fifteen percent of developers are contractors for big games. Since contractors don’t receive employee benefits, companies save 30% in cost. It is rare for contractors to ever be converted to full-time employees. Often, contractors stay on for a year or more in hopes of conversion. Many young developers will be contractors for many years. The gaming industry is idealized. As huge game budgets increase, more companies found alternative methods to save on cost. Perhaps what Codemasters said is partially correct that is common to lay off contractors and employees after a game development, it doesn’t mean it’s okay. With this news breaking, hopefully, more unions or changes to protect employees in the gaming industry.

Eurogamer – Original Interview with Former Employees

Polygon – Difficulties of Contract work

Gamersrevolutions