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Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming service enters iOS and PC beta this week

Microsoft is rolling out Xbox Cloud Gaming (previously known as Project xCloud) on iOS and Windows 10 this week. Select Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can participate in an open beta starting tomorrow, April 20, 2021.

Microsoft previously announced that its cloud gaming service would hit iOS and PC sometime this spring. Invitees will be able to play over 100 Xbox Game Pass titles through browsers such as Edge, Google Chrome, or Safari via Windows 10 PCs and Apple phones and tablets.

The beta supports Bluetooth or USB controllers across all titles, as well as custom touchscreen functionality for over 50 compatible games. This limited time beta is currently planned to launch in 22 countries and will roll out across other territories in the future.

This beta, as Microsoft explains, is to “test and learn,” as the company plans to evaluate feedback to improve the experience for all users. Ultimately, Microsoft wants to “bring gaming to the 3 billion players around the world.”

It’s unclear how Microsoft is going about selecting Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to participate in the beta, though the company stated that it will send out invites on a “continuous basis.”

Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming has been available on Android devices such as tablets and phones since 2020. The company was unable to bring the service to iOS initially, due to Apple’s restrictions for App Store games, which — based on its terms of service — would require each game to be downloaded individually from the App Store. At the time, Microsoft referred to it as a “bad experience for consumers.”

In an attempt to bypass this to make the service more consumer friendly, Microsoft has implemented a way for Xbox Cloud Gaming to function on iOS via a browser. Those who have received invites can visit the Microsoft website here to access the large list of Xbox Game Pass titles available with the Cloud Gaming beta.

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Joseph Yaden
Joseph Yaden is a freelance journalist who covers Nintendo, shooters, and horror games. He mostly covers game guides for…
Microsoft is making AI game-writing tools for Xbox with Inworld AI
The art for Xbox and Inworld's AI partnership.

Microsoft announced a partnership with Inworld AI to assist in creating game dialogue and narrative tools for its Xbox studios.
The partnership is detailed in a blog post by Xbox's General Manager of Gaming AI, Haiyan Zhang. In the post, Zhang confirms that this technology is meant to work in random with Microsoft's own cloud and AI tech to create both "An AI design copilot that assists and empowers game designers to explore more creative ideas, turning prompts into detailed scripts, dialogue trees, quests and more," and "an AI character runtime engine that can be integrated into the game client, enabling entirely new narratives with dynamically-generated stories, quests, and dialogue for players to experience." 
No specific Xbox-owned studios were named, nor were developers from them commenting as part of this announcement, so it's unknown how much those developers are truly interested in embracing this kind of AI technology. In general, AI is a very controversial topic in creative spaces as artists and writers are worried that it will replace their jobs while creating worse art. AI leadership at Xbox doesn't seem to think that will become an issue, with Zhang explaining that the main purpose of this partnership is to "make it easier for developers to realize their visions, try new things, push the boundaries of gaming today and experiment to improve gameplay, player connection and more."
The blog post also teases that Microsoft will be willing to share these tools with interested third-party studios. Ultimately, it will likely take several years before we truly know what the impact or utility of this partnership is for developers at Xbox Games Studios, ZeniMax Media, and Activision Blizzard.

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Every blockbuster reveal from the Xbox leak: new consoles, Bethesda games, and more
Xbox's logo used during the Extended Games Showcase

Unredacted documents submitted and made publicly available to view as part of the ongoing Microsoft vs. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) trial just led to what may be the biggest leak in video game history.
A flood of files have revealed deep secrets about Xbox's upcoming plans for the bulk of the decade, giving us unprecedented insight into what's on the horizon for the gaming giant. That includes information on upcoming hardware refreshes, next-gen consoles, and unannounced Bethesda titles, as well as a further peek into Microsoft's acquisition ambitions. It's a lot to trudge through, so we've rounded up five key revelations that you'll want to know.
A new Xbox Series X model is coming next year
https://twitter.com/stephentotilo/status/1704121068519133313
The most shocking thing to leak as part of the trial is a new Xbox Series X model. Referred to as "Brooklin -- Xbox Series X Refresh" in the leaked documents, this is a diskless, cylindrical version of the Xbox Series X with 2TB of internal storage, a USB-C port, and smaller technical improvements to the system's Wi-Fi, PSU, standby mode, and more. An upgraded Xbox Series S code-named Ellewood may also be in the works and released before Brooklin.
If Microsoft still follows the plan laid out in this "Roadmap to 2030" document created in May 2022, it would release Brooklin in late October 2024 for $500. If Microsoft still plans to release Brooklin next year, it does contradict recent statements from Xbox chief Phil Spencer, who acted bearish on the idea of a mid-gen refresh in Gamescom interviews. It's possible Microsoft's plans have changed since these leaked documents were made, but if not, we now know what to expect in terms of Microsoft's console refreshes.
A new Xbox controller is in the works
https://twitter.com/charlieINTEL/status/1704088621475598345
Throughout that Brooklin leak, a new version of the Xbox Series X controller is also teased. The Xbox Series X controller is great, but lacks the unique features of controllers like the DualSense or Joy-Cons, so it makes sense Microsoft would want to change that. Referred to as "Sebile -- The New Xbox Controller," this controller can seamlessly pair and connect to the cloud.
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First details on Microsoft's next-gen console leak
https://twitter.com/AR12Gaming/status/1704102055206322389
It's hard to believe we're almost already three years into this console generation and that Microsoft is planning for its next major console release, but that is the case. Unfortunately for Microsoft, its current technical ambitions for the platform were included in this leak. A leaked document states that Microsoft's ultimate goal is to "develop a next-generation hybrid game platform capable of leveraging the combined power of the client and cloud to deliver deeper immersion and entirely new classes of game experiences." 
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This next-gen console is currently slated for a 2028 launch.
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Enough about hardware -- several upcoming Bethesda games also leaked. A document from 2020 outlining Bethesda's game road map through fiscal year 2024 includes some games we don't know about. Alongside games we know of like MachineGames' Indiana Jones project, the list also includes several code-named projects, remasters of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3, a GhostWire: Tokyo sequel, Doom Year Zero, and Dishonored 3.
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Microsoft considered acquiring Nintendo and Warner Bros. Interactive
https://twitter.com/tomwarren/status/1704021807341203802
A leaked email from 2020 gives some insight into Spencer's acquisition ambitions at that point. Namely, it sounds like he'd love to acquire Nintendo as it would be a "career moment" for him.
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Microsoft gives Activision Blizzard cloud gaming rights to Ubisoft
Microsoft's Xbox Cloud Gaming Service Enters Beta This Week

Microsoft announced its intention to grant Ubisoft, the publisher behind series like Assassin's Creed and Far Cry, the cloud streaming rights for Activision Blizzard titles if Microsoft's acquisition of the Call of Duty publisher goes through.
This deal was made in order to appease the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Microsoft has not had an easy time trying to acquire Activision Blizzard as it has run into heavy resistance from regulatory bodies like the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.K.'s CMA. The CMA's complaints centered around the potential monopoly Microsoft could have on cloud gaming if the deal were to go through. There was speculation that Microsoft would divest its U.K. cloud gaming efforts to appease the CMA, but it has now presented this new plan that would technically make it give up control of Activision Blizzard game-streaming rights worldwide for the next 15 years.
In a blog post, Microsoft President Brad Smith explainsed that if the Activision Blizzard acquisition happens, Microsoft will give "cloud streaming rights for all current and new Activision Blizzard PC and console games released over the next 15 years" in perpetuity following a one-off payment.
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Ubisoft has been cloud gaming friendly over the past several years, eagerly putting its games on services like Google Stadia and Amazon Luna. With this deal, Ubisoft says it plans to bring Activision Blizzard games to its Ubisoft+ subscription service. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick also commented on the deal, saying that he approves of the deal, but that "nothing substantially changes with the addition of this divestiture" for Activision Blizzard and its investors.
The current deadline for Microsoft's Activision Blizzard acquisition is October 18.

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