Microsoft laid out some of its big plans for games ahead of Sunday’s Xbox and Bethesda Showcase, and those plans include a steady stream of other big exclusives, expanded Game Pass perks, and bringing video game cloud streaming directly to smart TVs . Most plans are forward-looking, but Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer and others in Xbox leadership have given themselves about a year to fulfill the promises while the company tries to build on the dynamics of the past year.
“Last fiscal year [year] We released 5 new games for console, PC and cloud. We are on track to reach or exceed that amount in the next fiscal year [year]’ Microsoft said in a briefing to press (the next financial year of the company ends on June 30, 2023). Xbox Studios head Matt Booty referenced the release of games like Halo: Infinite, ForzaHorizon 5, Age of Empires 4and the console version of flight simulator, and said the next year of Xbox will be built on that “same regular cadence” of hit games. That might come as a shock to many, considering Microsoft still hasn’t confirmed any first-party exclusives for a 2022 launch starfield and redfall have been postponed until early 2023. New exclusive content is one of the main attractions for Game Passand they start to dry.
The company also previewed its plans to double Xbox Cloud Streaming and Game Pass, starting with the service coming to smart TVs on June 30, but specifically only for 2022 Samsung models. With an app, gamers can launch games directly on their TVs via Game Pass subscription without the need for a console or dongle. You can even use a PS5 DualSense to play them. In the meantime Fourteen days, since it’s free to play, will also be available to anyone without a subscription. Microsoft says its “intent” is to “explore other TV partnerships” in the future. Last month, It confirmed that a universal dongle attachment called “Keystone” that could plug into any television is still not ready.
Here are some of the other highlights:
- Next year, subscribers will be able to stream games they already own in addition to the rest of the Game Pass catalogue.
- Updates to Windows 11 to add a new HDR calibration tool, PC gaming optimizations, and a controller bar for accessing gaming and streaming without a mouse and keyboard.
- Updates to the Microsoft Edge browser to add a gaming homepage, better graphics when streaming games, and better browser efficiency while running games.
- New demos are locked behind Game Pass membership to showcase independent developers.
The last piece is particularly interesting. While demos have typically been free ways to try out games in the past, Microsoft appears to be following in Sony’s footsteps by making them a monetized benefit as part of paid Game Pass subscriptions. The PlayStation maker is doing the same thing with PS Plus starting June 13, but there’s one big difference. While Sony’s initial message to developers was about timed trials for games would be mandatoryMicrosoft says its demo program will be optional, allowing developers to be “compensated” for sharing their games with Game Pass audiences.
However, as with most of the company’s other plans, there are currently few details and no clear timeline for the rollout of these new features. Hopefully we’ll get clearer details along the way Microsoft’s showcase on June 12th.