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Xbox Series X to launch with thousands of backward-compatible games

The Xbox Series X, scheduled to launch later this year, promises to be “the most compatible console ever.” The Series X will launch with thousands of games from all three previous Xbox generations.

“Thousands of games are already playable on Xbox Series X today,” Jason Ronald, Director of Program Management said in an Xbox Wire post. “By the time we launch this holiday, the team will have spent well over 200,000 hours ensuring your game library is ready for you to jump in immediately.”

The games available at launch will include popular franchises and fan favorites spanning the last 20 years, although no specific titles have yet been named. Accessories and peripherals from previous generations will also be supported by the Series X.

Microsoft’s Xbox Velocity architecture will improve the performance of these legacy games. They will look better, load more quickly, and run more smoothly on the Series X than on their original consoles, according to Ronald. In many cases, these games will be playable at a higher resolution than ever before, and some will see their frame rates double, up to 120 fps. The Xbox Advanced Technology Group has developed new HDR reconstruction methods that automatically add support for HDR on older games, and the Series X’s new hardware allows for faster, high-quality rendering and higher framerates. Loading times will also be substantially quicker, thanks to the new custom NVME SSD.

All of this processing happens on the console itself, without requiring help from the original title developers. This eliminates the time-consuming porting process, so more games will be playable on the Series X more quickly, and with substantially less effort.

Microsoft’s focus on renewing old favorites has always been an important part of their strategy, but the Series X will go much deeper into the Xbox back catalog than its predecessors. The Xbox 360 was able to play a limited number of Xbox titles, while the Xbox One offered a stronger showing, with compatibility for more than 500 Xbox 360 games.

The full lineup of backward-compatible games has not yet been finalized. The Series X team is still adding new titles to the compatibility program based on community feedback, according to today’s announcement.

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Games on Xbox Game Pass.

Xbox Game Pass is changing. On Tuesday night, Microsoft quietly announced that it was retooling its game subscription service. The change would bring new tiers, including one that doesn't feature "day one" releases, and a price hike to the Ultimate tier. Naturally, fans didn't take the news well. The decision has already been dissected by players who theorize that the end of Xbox's subscription service is nigh -- or at least that it's turning into a bum deal.

Are players overreacting over a couple of dollars or is there legitimacy to the doomsaying? It's likely a bit of both, but there's no doubt that Xbox Game Pass' value wanes with the new change. The question is whether or not it's still a good deal even if it's a pricier one. That's where things get complicated. What used to be a no-brainer for all Xbox players now feels like its geared toward a narrower audience. And I know for sure that I'm not the target anymore.
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Let's recap what exactly is changing on Xbox's service. For starters, Xbox Game Pass for Console is going away for new subscribers. That will more or less be replaced by Xbox Game Pass Standard, a new tier that is missing one key perk: It will not feature "day one" games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 6. Each remaining tier is getting a price hike. Xbox Game Pass PC will go from $10 to $12 per month, while Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will jump from $17 to $20 per month. Those are the tiers players will need to subscribe to in order to get "day one" games.

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It was only a few weeks ago when I gave cloud gaming an earnest shot. For a full week, I resolved to replace my Xbox with a Samsung smart TV equipped with Xbox Game Pass. I'd only stream my Xbox games through the cloud during the time, even playing the entirety of Still Wakes the Deep that way. It went much better than expected. Sure, the image quality wasn't tip-top, but it ran smoothly enough that I could picture integrating a Game Pass-enabled smart TV in a home setup with multiple TVs.

That experiment just so happened to line up with another significant push in Xbox's platform expansion. Game Pass is now available on select Amazon Fire TV streaming sticks. That means you don't need a console or even a specific smart TV to enjoy Game Pass on a big screen; all you need is a very portable and relatively inexpensive stick.

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Xbox's gamescom logo with a city at the bottom.

Microsoft just announced some price hikes and tier changes for Xbox Game Pass, its video game subscription service. The changes, which go into effect on July 10, were quietly announced on Xbox's support site before being noticed by Wario64 and Windows Central.

The most notable change is that Microsoft will no longer allow people to purchase Game Pass for Console. While existing subscriptions won't be affected, people will have to instead opt for Xbox Game Pass Core or the new Xbox Game Pass Standard tier, which is launching "in the coming months." Xbox Game Pass Standard will cost $15 a month and give subscribers access to online multiplayer on consoles, but won't support cloud gaming or have immediate access to "some games available with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on day one."

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