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3 Budget Gaming Setups Possible with Xbox Cloud Gaming

Chris Rausch

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Xbox Cloud Gaming is an online gaming service from Microsoft which streams game data from a Microsoft datacenter to your device through the cloud. The data centers use the Xbox Series X configuration which allows for the optimal console experience without the same resource requirement to run the games locally at high resolution on your device. 

As a result, there are a ton of different ways you can play high-quality Xbox titles without investing in an expensive Series X – including just about any device with a display and web browser or app store access.


3 Affordable Ways to Play Xbox Without a Console

Old Computers with a Controller

When a game is played directly on a console or computer, the device is responsible for all aspects of processing, transferring, and displaying the data from the disc or hard drive. This puts a strain on the device which limits its ability to process the files correctly, resulting in poor performance or quality.

However, when streaming games the receiving computer or console simply needs to render the visual aspect because the data center handles the rest. This means that outside of some light resource requirements to process the image, the device acts mostly as a monitor (with some controller input handling) which means you don’t need a strong computer to play 1080P modern titles.

To make things better, you can connect an old laptop to a new monitor via HDMI for better resolution and quality that the original screen may not be capable of handling.

Your Smartphone with Accessories

You already spend a lot of money on your phone, so why not turn it into a mobile Xbox? Whether through the Android app for Xbox Cloud Gaming or a mobile device’s internet browser, your smartphone can act as a mobile game console (with some help from accessories).

With the simple addition of a Bluetooth xbox controller, you can enjoy a familiar controller-based experience with the phone as the display. You can even get a phone mount to attach directly to the controller for easy viewing. There are also gaming-specific accessories to add on such as the Backbone One that integrates your phone directly into the “controller” (similar to the Nintendo Switch), which contains the joysticks, buttons, D-pad, and console buttons on two controller handles.


Surface Duo

If you’re looking for a self-contained, multi-use gaming setup that doesn’t require additional hardware (in many cases), the Surface Duo presents a unique opportunity.

The Xbox Cloud Gaming app for Android includes the ability to emulate a controller directly on the screen. For a 2-screened tablet like the Surface Duo, this means that the bottom screen (when in landscape mode) can be used as a controller similar to the Nintendo DS’s layout.

The result is a tablet that doubles as a mobile Xbox without the need for additional hardware, making it perhaps the most portable option (although it may end up costing close to the Series X).


In my 4+ years as a professional tech copywriter, I've written about everything from laptops & routers to the software that facilitates billions in online sales each day. If it relates to, connects to, or belongs on the Internet, I'm in. Equipped with my Associate's in Computer Science and a computer I assembled myself (no big deal), I write about all things hardware, software, gaming, and digital tech to keep you up-to-date on important news, releases, and tips & tricks.

Consoles

What Video Games Get Wrong About Firearms

Jesse Hoyt

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Video games are full of fantastical elements and unrealistic representations of real-life things, but that’s what makes them fun. But sometimes, there are just things that irk you a little. Firearms are one of those things for me. I’m an avid shooter and video games will pretty often get them wrong, so I thought it might be fun to talk about some of video games’ biggest mistakes when it comes to guns.

Shotguns

Shotguns in video games were what actually inspired this article. Video games get these things wrong every time without fail. They’re most often portrayed as weapons that are basically pea-shooters if you’re more than 10 feet away. That’s just not the case. In real life, a shotgun’s effective range is much longer. Think more like 38 yards (35 meters). Shotgun loads do spread a good bit, but not nearly as much as most people have been led to believe. The spread is roughly that of a baseball for the first 20 yards or so. Of course, it is important to note that most of the time shotguns are programmed this way in video games for balancing reasons since video games often misrepresent fighting distance as well. 


Engaging at Range

I’m not a veteran or anything, but I do consider myself a little bit of a “war/history nerd.” I had to do a little digging on what actual combat looks like these days. I was surprised to find out that most infantry vs infantry fighting is done at distances where you can barely see who’s shooting at you or at least where it’s difficult to be bang-on with your aim. Most video games prefer to portray combat as close quarters, notably like Call of Duty and Battlefield. 

Full Semiautomatic

The burst of machine-gun fire is a given in almost any FPS, especially from submachine guns, assault rifles, and light machine guns. You’ll find that most accurate fire is done by way of semi-automatic shooting. That means one pull of the trigger equals one shot. At most distances, full auto fire is difficult to control and burns through ammunition too quickly. Usually, automatic gunfire can be seen from light machine guns. This automatic fire is typically used to pin enemies down/ prevent them from moving as well as provide cover for squad members.

Video games get a lot wrong about firearms, but that’s not really the point. Games are designed for escapism and having a good time not being incredibly realistic (although that is a great bonus sometimes). I won’t hold it against devs for getting things wrong now and then, if I even notice it in the first place.

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Essential Game Boy Games That Should Be Added to Nintendo Switch Online

Colin Edge

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By now, you’ve likely heard the rumors that Game Boy games could be coming to Nintendo Switch Online, Nintendo’s subscription-based online gaming service. First of all: it’s about time! 

Handheld gaming has been integral to Nintendo’s identity since the company’s beginnings. 


The fact that the Switch is a hybrid docked/handheld console would make the addition of games from Nintendo’s classic handheld device perfectly fitting – and oh so sweet. Here are some Game Boy games that would be essential entries in a Nintendo Switch Online collection:

Super Mario Land – Nintendo R&D1, 1989

Of course, Super Mario Land will be near the top of every Game Boy wishlist for Nintendo Switch Online. It was the Game Boy’s debut title (along with Tetris), so a GB collection would have to include at least the first Super Mario Land game, if not all three. 

They were genuinely entertaining and innovative games (not to mention that bomb soundtrack). And the Super Mario Land trilogy made significant contributions to the Mario franchise, including Princess Daisy and Wario’s first appearances.  

Pokémon Red and Blue – Game Freak, 1998

Take me back to Kanto, where it all began. The Red and Blue games were quality RPGs. Iconic generation one Pokémon like Mewtwo captured the imaginations of gamers everywhere, and characters like the infamous Team Rocket created a rich plot and rewarding gameplay. Grueling gym challenges and rivalry with Blue made for a satisfyingly high degree of difficulty. 

The historical significance of Red and Blue can’t be overstated, considering what Pokémon has grown to be (TV shows! Trading cards! Movies! Toys!). To think that it all started with this little Game Boy game…


The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons – Flagship, 2001

The Oracle games have been sitting on the shelf for too long! These dual Game Boy Color titles haven’t yet received big makeovers or major re-releases. So Oracle of Ages/Seasons have a special nostalgic draw. Dungeons and puzzles stay true to the franchise’s high quality expectations. And the fact that beating both games unlocks a secret final scene is too enticing to ignore. 

While we’re at it, why not throw in Link’s Awakening? Yes, it already got a remake for the Switch. And yes, it was great. But we want the OG too!

Metroid II: Return of Samus – Nintendo R&D1, 1991

This GB title is pivotal to the Metroid story, and cemented the franchise’s bad boy rep. With Metroid Dread coming in October, the chance to play through the entire Metroid story would be a pure delight. And not a bad marketing strategy either. 


I hope Nintendo considers including Game Boy Advance titles on Nintendo Switch Online as well. Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Zero Mission were GBA games that were meant to precede Metroid Dread. But Dread was shelved back in 2006 – until now. Letting fans relive the 2D side scrolling journey of Samus would build massive hype for the arrival of Metroid Dread.

Tetris – Nintendo R&D1, 1989

Tetris is a staple of gaming. The Game Boy version represents an intersection of one of the greatest games of all time and a groundbreaking handheld console. It marks a profound moment for a visionary company in the early days of its tremendous history. The planets aligned to make Tetris on the Game Boy a giant huge massive intensely significant game. 

So, yeah it should be on NSO. It’s kind of a given.

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Consoles

Why Has PlayStation Been Outselling Xbox Every Console Generation?

Jesse Hoyt

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At this point in gaming culture, no one is a stranger to the “console wars’ that ignite every new console generation. Fans go to work comparing every last detail like resolution and potential exclusives. You’ll usually find two sides to that debate: PlayStation and Xbox (Nintendo excluded since they outsell both companies every time). You might be surprised to find out that worldwide sales numbers aren’t as close as we might think. PlayStation has dominated the numbers between the two companies. Last generation the PlayStation 4 sold nearly 115 million units, over double the amount that the Xbox One did (51 million). Why is PlayStation beating out Xbox so badly? 

Different Markets

The biggest reasons don’t have to do with hardware specs or minute differences. It’s partially a matter of preference in other parts of the world. You’ll find that here in the US there’s not as much of a difference. PS4 still outsold the Xbox One, but the gap was considerably smaller. Worldwide sales are where we start to see that huge gap. Over half of the Xbox One sales are from the United States alone. PlayStation’s sales in the US were only a quarter of its total sales. Xbox did significantly worse in Europe and West and East Asia. Part of that could be due to the higher concentration of JRPG’s available on PlayStation since it’s manufactured in Japan. Not to mention that most games on Xbox are targeted towards Western culture and don’t always catch the interest of an Asian market. This regional difference in game preferences spans all of the PlayStation and Xbox console generations excluding the Xbox 360 and PS3 generations where Microsoft almost beat Sony.


A Disastrous Launch

If we focus on the Xbox One’s launch, we’ll be able to zero in on why it sold so poorly compared to the PlayStation 4. If you were around for the launch of these consoles, you know that the Xbox One had an extremely rough start. Microsoft had a hard focus on its potential role as more than a game console and included a handful of features that people hated. First was that the Kinect would come with the console. People did not like the idea that the kinect could constantly hear you which made it a major concern for privacy. To make things worse, the console started out at $500, $100 more than the PS4. 

The Xbox One would also require a persistent internet connection which would obviously be a problem where internet is slow and has spotty connection. There was also the question of why Xbox would even require such a thing. 

To add onto the pile of things was the fact that players wouldn’t be able to play used games at all due to DRM.

Microsoft would roll back plenty of these “features” but it couldn’t “untarnish” the launch and sales suffered badly as a result. Now, Microsoft is still trying to repair its reputation. The Xbox Series X and S might just tell a different story though.

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