TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: NOVEMBER 18

In gaming industry news this week, Microsoft looks like the early winner in cloud gaming, Amazon looks to join the game streaming fray too, and Valve reemerges with news of a Half-Life game in VR, coming soon.

Microsoft announces launch date, additional information for Project xCloud following the launch of Google Stadia
During X019, Microsoft’s corporate VP Kareem Choudhry released more details about the company’s game streaming service, Project xCloud, ahead of launch. Coming to the US in 2020, xCloud will be compatible with Android devices upon launch, with support for iOS, Windows 10, and international markets coming later. Press were quick to compare xCloud with Google’s newly-launched Stadia, with consensus being Stadia does not live up to expectations. The Verge, Windows Central, and CNET listed price, compatibility, features, and a small games library as pain points for Stadia. xCloud, on the other hand, will launch with access to Xbox Game Pass’ library of hundreds of titles, compatibility with Sony and Razer controllers, and will not need any additional hardware. CNET said, “Project xCloud already gives me something I need and it’s only in beta…If there is a ‘Netflix for video games’ service that has a shot at going mainstream, it’s Microsoft that’s almost there.”

Amazon to enter the game streaming market as soon as next year
According to The Verge, PC Gamer, and Comicbook.com, Amazon will soon be joining the competitive cloud gaming market with its own streaming service next year. New job postings for an “AWS Gaming Initiative” and engineers that would work on “cloud games” recently surfaced online, prompting press to speculate that Amazon could launch the service in time for Xbox Scarlett and PlayStation 5. While the outlets note that it makes sense for Amazon to launch a streaming service due to its ownership of Twitch, Forbes wasn’t convinced. It said, “I have no reason to expect an Amazon game streaming service would make any more of an impact than Stadia seems to be at the moment, short of some sort of massive shift in the model that unveils a huge catalog of games offered as part of a low cost subscription…Good luck Amazon, you’ll need it.’

Valve bringing popular Half-Life series to VR with new game, Half-Life: Alyx
After more than 12 years, Valve announced a new game in the beloved Half-Life universe this week, though to mixed sentiment and reaction from press and fans. Half-Life: Alyx is a VR game coming in 2020, and is set to be a prequel to the games already released in the series. Forbes wrote, “It’s Valve’s first (of three) AAA VR games and I find the news so, so very depressing,” echoing fan sentiment that the project isn’t the Half-Life 3 fans wanted and were expecting. Other outlets like PC Gamer and The Verge honed in on the VR aspect and wrote, “It’s about time VR had a system-selling game”, while Quartz commended Valve’s decision to release the game on a variety of difference VR devices instead of exclusively on its own VR headset.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: NOVEMBER 11

In this week’s gaming news breakdown, Google will be releasing Stadia without core features, Apple announced its foray into the Mixed Reality industry, and Twitch launched an app to assist new streamers in content creation.

Concerns raised for Google Stadia launch
Google’s cloud-based gaming platform Stadia launches next week, and the company recently unveiled the lineup of games that will be available upon release. However, many have expressed concern over what Google Stadia will not have at launch. In an official thread on Reddit, Stadia representatives explained that several key features, including Stream Connect and Crowd Play (multiplayer), an achievement system, family sharing, buddy passes, and more, will not be available until sometime next year. This has caused Kotaku, The Verge, and Ars Technica to call the success of the platform into question. Forbes went as far as saying, “I have been a Stadia skeptic for a while now, but frankly, Google is making it kind of hard not to be.”

Apple to enter the Mixed Reality market
Apple will officially enter the Mixed Reality (XR) market as early as next year, reports Bloomberg. Apple’s engineering team has already begun working on XR hardware and software, and plans to have AR functionality for the iPhone and iPad by 2020, a VR headset on the market by 2021 or 2022, and AR glasses by 2023. IGN and Eurogamer wrote that the VR headset will not only be used for playing games, but also for watching videos and even holding virtual meetings. “The news comes as no surprise, as Apple CEO Tim Cook had previously expressed great interest in VR and AR,” said Hypebeast, especially after Apple’s recent acquisitions of XR-focused companies such as Facshift and Emotient.

Twitch launches broadcast software to assist new streamers
TwitchStudio, the new broadcasting software meant to assist new streamers, quietly launched for PC this week. The app offers users a quick setup process and streaming tools to make their videos look and sound professional, even without prior broadcasting experience. The app will also help streamers interact with viewers through built-in alerts, an activity feed, and integrated Twitch chat. TechCrunch, The Verge, and Rock Paper Shotgun noted that the app was created to make streaming less intimidating for those who are on the fence, therefore widening the content creator community. PCWorld was optimistic about the new software and said, “With Twitch Studio, Amazon could start bringing in new homegrown talent to replenish its ranks and extend the streaming service’s considerable reach even further.”