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While the hype of Windows 11 is understandably controlling the spotlight for Microsoft, the future of gaming is quietly expanding in the background.
Xbox Cloud Gaming – originally xCloud – is the name of the cloud-based gaming program that allows gamers to access and stream games directly to their PC, tablet, or laptop through the cloud. Games are played at an Xbox datacenter instead of locally. This means users’ devices will only have to process video streaming and controller inputs, removing the Xbox hardware requirement and allowing lower-end devices to still get the optimal experience without hogging all the CPU and GPU resources.
As of June 28th, Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming technology has graduated from closed beta testing and backdoor access to a publicly live beta for the most popular platforms. Xbox released the full web app to the public at xbox.com/play where any device that can use a web browser can act as a virtual Xbox Series X to play any of the 300+ Xbox Game Pass titles. The Microsoft account user must be subscribed to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to access the full library, but if it is available, the game can be played in any supported browser on any supported device.
Xbox Cloud Gaming is currently supported on Windows 10 PCs, iOS devices, and Android devices through browsers. Tablet and mobile devices may also use an app to access the web app, which was previously the only way to access the service when it was in beta. Many games will require a controller for optimal performance (either wireless or wired depending on the device), but controller emulators are expected to roll out for certain devices to make gaming even more mobile and compact.
What Video Games Get Wrong About Firearms
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 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.
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.
Essential Game Boy Games That Should Be Added to Nintendo Switch Online
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.
Why Has PlayStation Been Outselling Xbox Every Console Generation?
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?
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.