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Microsoft’s Project xCloud Could Succeed for This One Key Reason

One of the major gaming news stories out of 2018 was when Microsoft announced Project xCloud. Microsoft’s very own game streaming solution hopes to bring console and PC games to mobile devices, allowing people to enjoy the games and franchises that they love any time, anywhere, and from any platform.

It’s an ambitious project and one that will require a significant undertaking and investment from Microsoft to make happen. However, if Microsoft puts in the time and resources, Project xCloud could succeed and it’s all for one simple reason.

Why Project xCloud is Poised for Success

Spoiler alert: that simple reason is accessibility. Project xCloud is Microsoft’s effort to reach out to mobile gamers specifically. While its own mobile operating system and devices have been a glorious failure, according to The Verge, by addressing the real interest in playing console-quality games on mobile devices and making it easy to do just that, Microsoft may have tapped into a gold mine.

Admittedly, Microsoft is a little late to the party as other developers and publishers in gaming have already made significant efforts to appeal to the mobile gaming market. In the traditional gaming space, Fortnite developer Epic Games has made its hit multiplayer title available on mobile devices and it has enabled cross-platform play (play with people on all platforms) as well. In the casino sector, online casinos such as CasinoCruise have tried to offer all of their games – including slots, table games, and roulette games – on mobile as well. Mobile casino apps generally offer all of these games in one place and are well-optimized too, meaning that players get the same experience no matter what platform they’re playing on. If Microsoft is able to deliver such an experience in making its Windows PC and Xbox One games available on mobile, then it could benefit similarly.

How Microsoft Has Already Embraced Accessibility

Microsoft has already made a real effort to embrace accessibility and recent moves by the company show just how important it is to its business to get everyone playing. WIRED shines a light on the Xbox Adaptive Controller, a peripheral that allows those with disabilities that limit their mobility to enjoy games. There are an estimated 30 million disabled gamers in the United States alone, according to that report, making it a smart business decision as much as it is a step forward for inclusivity.

Additionally, Microsoft offers programs such as the Xbox Game Pass – an all-you-can-eat feast of games offered with a monthly (or annual) subscription – as well as Xbox Play Anywhere which gives you a copy of a game on Xbox One if you own it on PC or vice versa. These services and Project xCloud reflect a willingness to adapt to the changing ways in which people are enjoying their games.

Project xCloud is still a while away from launching but, from what Microsoft has revealed, things are incredibly promising. Many will be interested in seeing what other accessibility-focused features the company is able to come up with next.

5 Tips for a Successful Gameplay Channel

Are you an expert gamer who is often asked for tips and suggestions on gaming? That’s awesome! But isn’t it tiring to explain the same tips and suggestions to each of your friends or newbie gamers individually? It is. The smartest solution here is to create a gameplay channel where you can demonstrate the gameplay and offer tips via recorded gameplay videos. This way, anyone who needs tips on gaming will get easy access to your gameplay and related suggestions. Besides, you will be relieved from explaining the same thing to each new gamer individually.

The post below offers expert tips on creating a successful gameplay channel.

Invest in a good gameplay recorder

You must be wondering how to record your gameplay while you are gaming on your computer. Well, you have screen recorder programs today that can record your screen activities and create a video out of them. But you should take a comparative survey on 3-4 screen recording programs before you make the final call. Movavi Screen Capture Studio will be a trusted solution here. Movavi is an internationally reputed software developer and its screen capture program can be easily used for live gameplay recording. The program also supports video editing and converting functions.

Make engaging videos

The best engaging videos are those that can portray a realistic ambience for the viewers. For example, when you are recording the gameplay, you can keep your computer webcam on. It will enable you to capture your expressions and excitement while playing the game. Your winning smile when you overcome a tough obstacle or your sigh when you lose a level is important to set an engrossing atmosphere for the viewers. It will make them feel you are playing sitting next to them only. And this feel of closeness will boost your viewership and subscriber base big time.

Post regularly

There are tens and hundreds of gameplay channels online. If you really want to secure an edge over the competition, you have to be regular with your posts in the channel. Try to post 3-4 gameplay videos every week. Your gameplay channel should also house your expert reviews on latest games.

Include CTA

If you are looking to monetize through your gameplay channel on YouTube, you will have to gather minimum 1,000 subscribers & 4,000 hours of viewing within a year. And that calls for inspiring your viewers for increased share of your videos and steady clicks on “subscribe” button. But you have to remind your viewers of shares, subscription, likes and comments every time they watch your video. So, after you finish the gameplay, keep 5-7 seconds for the request of subscription, likes and shares.

Interact with viewers

Regular interaction with viewers is essential to keep your gameplay channel active. Respond as fast as possible whenever you see a comment on your video. If someone shows appreciation for your gameplay demos, thank the person and encourage him/her to check out further videos. If someone wants to start a conversation regarding a specific aspect of your video, encourage it and actively participate in the conversation.

Final words

Your job does not end with posting your videos on your gameplay channel. You should take steps to share and distribute it through various avenues. Embed them on your website and you should also share them on your social media profiles for maximum reach.

The top casino-themed Xbox One games

Since the 17th century, casino games have excited and engaged in equal measure. Fast forward to the present day and it is clear to see that casino action is still an adrenaline-fuelled gaming genre. Although video games console developers have not yet been able to create out-and-out real-money casino games for their customers, they have been able to incorporate the casino theme into many of the leading video game titles.

Casinos are so accessible both online and offline today. It’s easy to sit down with a cup of tea and a laptop and fire up a game of online blackjack or roulette. In fact, it’s easier to do this than get into your car or hop on a train to your nearest brick-and-mortar casino. Although land-based casinos are often open 24/7, the ability to get your casino fix on your desktop, laptop, smartphone or even your games console could be the death knell for physical casino floors.

You only have to look at this review of Spin Palace to understand that iGaming customers are treated far better than most brick-and-mortar casinos, with welcome bonuses of up to $1,000 on offer for signing up and making real-money deposits. However, for those that like the vibe and atmosphere of a casino but don’t want to have to spend real money on playing casino games should check out the following Xbox One games that are influenced by the land-based casino scene.

Red Dead Redemption

Although Red Dead Redemption is not strictly a casino-focused game, there are strong casino elements within its gameplay. The AI are by no means stupid when it comes to playing high-stakes poker, so don’t think that you can simply bluff the computer with every hand. Where this video game differs from a civilised poker game experience is that you can control your character to physically intimidate your opponents into letting you win!

Pure Hold’em

This Texas Hold’em video game is available to play offline on Xbox One and online as part of the Xbox Live multiplayer. The action is split across six different poker tables, with the stakes – and skill – rising with every table. You’ll begin your quest for poker glory at the Jokers table on the ground floor of this contemporary virtual casino. Once you get the hang of your opponents, you’ll be able to work your way through the tables before reaching the exclusive VIP penthouse where the stakes are highest.

The Four Kings Casino & Slots

This game, also available on Xbox One, has become one of the most popular virtual casino games of this generation. It has been developed almost as a massively multiplayer online game, where players can create their own unique avatars and meet other players from around the world in networked casino games. It offers all of the social benefits of visiting land-based casinos, with the chance to play a wealth of table games with people from all four corners of the world.

Whether you’re playing for real money or that much-vaunted ego boost, the casino genre remains one of the most engaging themes among today’s video game developers. In the years to come, the advent of virtual reality could create virtual casino games where players don’t even need to leave their home to get the feeling of being inside a land-based casino.

The Reason Why the Star Wars Battlefront II Controversy Refuses to Die Down

In November 2017, EA Games released its action shooter video game entitled Star Wars Battlefront II. Based on the Star Wars Film franchise and the seventh instalment in the Battlefront series, the game was supposed to be a blockbuster success, but instead it has been mired in controversy. The furore caused by the game should not be a surprise for players nor the game’s developer as the subject of contention had been already under intense discussion during an open beta for the game prior to its full release.

EA Games Backtracks on Loot Boxes Following Gamer Backlash

In the case of Star Wars Battlefront II the controversy comes courtesy of Loot Boxes, or in-game transactions, that have fans of the franchise up in arms. Loot boxes as they are referred to, are a way for players to purchase power-ups, character costumes, and even in-game progress rather than earning them through playing the game. One of the reasons why this model is so contentious is because of the initial cost that gamers have to shell out for of AAA games such as Star Wars Battlefront.  EA eventually got round to removing the offending micro transactions but by then the damage had already been done.

As noted above, gamers began voicing their concern while the game was in beta testing, yet EA chose to ignore that feedback and persisted with loot boxes when Battlefront ii  was released and beyond. Consequently the controversy around Star Wars Battlefront II isn’t going away and continues to rage even now.

The issue of micro transactions and loot boxes has become so contentious that politicians have taken up the fight on behalf of gamers and are trying to create legislation governing in-game purchases. As a result, even though EA finally removed loot boxes the controversy around the practise refuses to die down. Ultimately, this may be because this is an issue that is much bigger than Star Wars Battlefront II itself. The game was one of the biggest releases of last year and thus has attracted a lot of attention around the subject.

The future of Video Games and Micro Transactions

However, micro transactions in Battlefront II are part of a wider practise being employed by video game developers and publishers and that is why the controversy won’t go away any time soon. As an example, the system of charging money through in-game purchases works for free mobile games and apps that have no other way of earning revenue. Because the initial content is free to access, players on mobile begrudgingly pay for these micro transactions in order to progress if they wish. But the concept is entirely different for console games which players have bought and paid for and therefore own outright.

At the end of the day the controversy surrounding the loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront II continues to rage because many game developers are going down the same rout in order to make more money. Understandably, gamers are infuriated by what they see as profiteering and therefore as long as loot boxes are around you can expect the controversy to rage on.

The Best Casino Games The Xbox Has To Offer

Casino games have always been extremely popular with us all, but you could say that over the last decade or so they have grown in prominence. First there were land based casinos, then online casinos and now we have mobile casinos. All of these businesses can stand alone in their own right, with one of the leaders in the mobile casino space, mFortune, being the perfect example of this. This growing trend has definitely helped develop a thirst and an interest in the actual games that are played at casinos themselves. It soon led to players wanting to play their favourite casino games for fun, and what better way than to do so on your next gen games console?

There have been casino games released on consoles over the years, but now thanks to the advancements in technology, they look and play a lot better. There’s also great multiplayer options now available for console players too as they can play online. If casino games are your thing and you own an Xbox One, here are the games worth downloading.

Prominence Poker

Prominence Poker by 505 Studios is a great poker game for the Xbox One for players who are looking for a more arcade style of play, with a bit more when it comes to customisation. Players can start by creating and customising their own avatar which will be fully animated when they’re at the table. The characters and settings are really brought to life by the great 3D effects, especially in the back room environments, which give a great authentic poker experience.

The game play is arcade-like, yet it retains the core values of poker itself and it’s a game that everyone will enjoy playing. There’s a great single player option for people to use to develop their skills but the stand out option is to play against others online, going up against other real life opponents.

The Four Kings Casino & Slots

You could say that Four Kings Casino & Slots is the best casino game available for any console, due to the fact that it has the most on offer in terms of both gameplay and customisation. There’s an array of casino games on offer such as poker, roulette, blackjack, bingo and slots and the game goes some way in providing a great simulated casino experience.

There are some superb customisation options for players to enjoy too, even before they begin playing, and as they win more they can unlock luxury clothing for example to further customise their player. Players won’t get an easy ride from the AI either as this game does its upmost to provide a proper casino experience where players make the right moves at the right times.

Pure Hold’em

If you love poker and want as close to an authentic poker experience as possible, then Pure Hold’em is the game for you. Other casino games on console have that video game feel to them, where there’s customisation available for example. With Pure Hold’em, the game is just about playing poker in as realistic a way as possible.

It’s a casino game that really uses as much of the power of the Xbox One as possible, in order to give players a superb gaming experience; plus the multiplayer side of things is superb. Players can quickly select a table and hop into a game but they can also create their own for up to eight players too. It’s a great option for those wanting to play poker against their friends online.

When will Gamers see Another Bond Game Released on Xbox?

The relationship between Hollywood blockbusters and their video game franchises is one that is littered with some bright spots and many others that failed miserably.

James Bond films on consoles such as Xbox are no different. In terms of bringing films to video games consoles, action and adventure movies are among the best candidates.

That makes the James Bond film series a perfect fit for porting to video games as the iconic spy movies seemingly have all the right ingredients for an amazing game.  However, the reality is it is easier said than done.

Several developers have tried their hand in the past and the consensus among gamers is that GoldenEye is the best of the lot. However, there have been several James Bond games that failed to reach the heights scaled by GoldenEye and so it is understandable that not many publishers want to produce another 007 game.

And with the last James Bond video game to be produced being the first-person shooter game 007 Legends, maybe it’s time for another developer to give it another crack?

Developed by Eurocom and published by Activision, 007 Legends was released on PlayStation and Xbox in October of 2012. To put that into perspective, the last released James Bond film was 2015’s Spectre, with another slated for release in 2019.

On the other hand, there are no confirmed James Bond games in development, or even rumours of one being made at the moment.

Time for another James Bond Game on Xbox?

Xbox Gamers of a certain age will remember the good old days when that same tag team of Eurocom and Activision released GoldenEye on the Xbox 360. Since then subsequent games have struggled to match a game that came to be known as ‘thinking man’s shooter’.

That moniker was bestowed upon the fast paced first –person shooter thanks to the ability to complete each mission in different ways. In addition, GoldenEye featured destructible environments as well as allowing for multiple control scheme options. For retro fans of 007, there are number of non-Xbox Bond games which were pretty good too.

So all in all good times, but that was a full 5 years ago and things have moved on a bit in the gaming world. Imagine playing as James Bond in a game the calibre of GoldenEye as it was then on the recently released Xbox One X console.

Unfortunately, the way things are going players on Xbox will need to have the luck of Sean Connery at the roulette wheel if they are ever going to see another Bond game on the platform again. Why that is the case is baffling as James Bond films have all the attributes required to turn into a respectable and enjoyable shooter game.

Looking ahead the prospects of another James Bond game appearing on Xbox any time soon look slim due to a distinct lack of any credible news or announcements.

The Bond film series has settled into a regular 4-5 yearly cycle for new movies and no doubt Daniel Craig is already hard at work playing the famous British Spy in preparation for the next films release in 2019. Whether a new game based on that film or previous ones is released on Xbox any time soon remains pure speculation.

What does the rise of eSports betting mean for FIFA fans

What does the rise of eSports betting mean for FIFA fans?

The market for eSports is now worth $900 million globally, while revenues for the FIFA video game franchise grow by 23% each year. As a result, it’s only natural that the two cross over to create a huge, mutually-beneficial market. As with any sport – especially those that enjoy this kind of success – you’d expect a healthy betting market to develop around it.

While a black market hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent years, it is now possible to wager on eSports via legitimate betting sites. With the news that eSports betting is worth billions, it’s no wonder that efforts were made to bring it into the mainstream. With this in mind, how could its rise affect fans of the FIFA video game?

More chances to play and watch

eSports has now gone mainstream, with reputable networks like the BBC and ESPN now covering events. In fact, 1.2 million players entered the FIFA eWorld Cup (FIWC) in 2016. The money from legitimate betting should allow eSports and FIFA to expand their reach beyond what was previously possible.

Ordinary fans could become eSports stars

The rise of eSports and eSports betting means there’s room for eSports stars to make a very good living out of it. Many real football teams have betting operators as shirt sponsors and this brings in millions to the relevant clubs. With such lucrative sponsorship deals available to the best eSports players, they could soon become millionaires.

And the fact that ordinary people (some of whom are just kids) can become stars is part of the appeal of eSports and FIFA for many fans. Because we see ourselves in the stars of eSports, we’re more likely to root for our favourite players, or to spend time perfecting our skills in the hope of joining the FIFA elite.

Added excitement

Since 2014, all major sportsbooks have offered wagers on eSports events. And you don’t even have to bet a lot; if you’d put just £40 down on August Rosenmeier to win the FIWC in 2014, you’d have come away with an attractive £332. As eSports is a rapidly growing market, it stands to reason that the types of bets will diversify and that this will add to the excitement for punters.

More in-game options and authenticity

Just over a year ago the Guardian stated that the FIFA video-game franchise changed football – and this is hardly an exaggeration. In fact, the player ratings have proved so accurate over the years, that real clubs have used it to scout and improve their squads. With player profiles that include 30 different traits, Electronic Arts (EA) has certainly done a good job of making their flagship title as authentic as possible.

The additional exposure that eSports betting brings should mean that FIFA video games will only get better – with more options and even greater authenticity as time goes on. This will surely make the game more exciting and add yet further to its popularity.

High Stakes: Poker Edition (PS3)

Poker is a game that people literally can’t get enough off. They play it with friends, at online and land based casinos, as well as on games consoles. High Stakes: Poker Edition is certainly the title of choice when it comes to playing for fun on the PlayStation 3. It is in fact the first ever poker title to ever hit the console, and it allows players to enjoy Hold’ Em in different variations both online and offline, in a simple yet very effective way.

First of all, what the game does well is keep things simple, in terms of both the game play and the interface. Poker enthusiasts prefer to be able to pick up and play at will, and this game certainly succeeds here. There are five different Hold ‘Em variations for people to choose from: Billabong, Shanghai, Tahoe, Texas Hold ‘Em and Super Hold ‘Em; so if players want options they have just the right amount.

Furthermore, it is not a game without features. There are 3D visuals to make things seem a whole lot more realistic and players can even customise their players. The betting map is easy to get to grips with, in terms of being able to call and fold; while players can also fast forward the game when it comes to the CPU taking their turn. The fast forward option is one that will certainly come in handy for a lot of people.

In terms of AI players, the game once again impresses. They make solid calls more often than not, and they pick up on how others are playing; throwing in a bluff here and there whenever necessary. The AI has to be spot on in poker games or people will quickly be put off and here, in every game mode, the AI will certainly let players know that they’re in a game, rather than making silly calls and decisions.

The ability to play poker both online and offline is another great aspect to High Stakes. Online, it does seem to be a whole lot more competitive which makes the game a lot more gripping and intense but for those looking to just relax and enjoy playing a few rounds of poker, offline is perfect. With the online modes there’s also the added bonuses of leader boards to see just how good you rank and voice chat too. It is most definitely a game that can provide the experience to go on to play for real cash at established online brands like Unibet or Foxy Casino.

However, if anyone wants to play poker on a console, this is definitely a title that one should consider. It’s the original and seems to get everything spot on. There are the extra features such as player customization should people want them but for the most part the game is just geared towards the actual playing of poker and that’s what sees it be a title of choice for many people. The AI really helps to bring the game to life and with the ability to play online too, it adds that social aspect that is often lacking in other poker games.

Video Game Style Casino Games: A Good Or Bad Idea?

The casino industry, both land based and online, is one that rarely ever stands still. It’s constantly moving with the times thanks to the advances made on the technology front. Not only that but companies are always looking for new ways to engage their respective audiences, providing them with games that could be more fun and immersive to play. Most recently there has been a step towards incorporating more casino games based on video games, adding a skill aspect at the same time. So is this another step in the right direction for the multi trillion pound industry?

For many people, the step towards a video game theme brings with it the skill based element that is seen as the future growth area of casino gaming. This is in an attempt to attract millennials to play slot games who just don’t seem to be interested in playing the more traditional games on offer. Millennials and people from the newer generation of gambling have been brought up with video games being a big part of their lives. There is a solid argument that there is a mutual relationship between console and casino gaming because the games that they play require skill and there’s a competitive edge and this is replicated in these new types of casino games.

The addition of video game styled slots won’t take anything away from the industry as it stands, it can only add to it. This is because it is likely to appeal to a whole new raft of gamblers, both young and old. Video games are well known for being extremely immersive, with people have to game for hours on end. If the games are developed off of the back of games that already have been a hit, it’s a sure fire way to pretty much guarantee success in pleasing customers.

We’ve so far seen the likes of Tomb Raider and Call of Duty make it as slot games and these sorts of game always go down well with players due to them being globally recognised franchises. The next step would to incorporate these sorts of styles into casino games that look and play more like video games, with that skill based edge that is in huge demand right now.

When it comes to the more traditional slot games, they can become repetitive very quickly due to the fact they are purely down to luck. The player selects their stake and spins the reels hoping to win big money. With video game themed casino games, they would just play a lot better. The games would keep the player engaged for longer, providing them with a better gaming experience on the whole.

The real positive about casino games that have the video game theme is that they will attract a whole new audience to the gambling world. These sorts of games will inevitably suit millennials down to the ground and thus, we have already seen these games being introduced to many casinos. In an industry where younger people have sometimes become bored very quickly, they’re likely to hang around a lot longer now.

The art and complexity of video game development

It took one man to invent probably the most famous early video game. Allan Alcorn developed Pong as a prototype, with 2 colours, 2 paddles, a single square ball and digits to keep scores. The analogue video game ran on a Hitachi black and white TV that cost $75 and went on to turn Atari into one of the biggest video game developers of the 20th century.

Fast forward to 2017 and we’ve come a hell of a long way. Currently, the writer of this piece is busy trying not to get lost in Ancient Egypt in Assassin’s Creed: Origins, an RPG / fighter / puzzle / sneak ’em up (we don’t really have single genres any more). Clocking in at around 42GB on PlayStation, the game files made up of graphics files, sounds and endless amounts of code is roughly big enough for 450 million games of modern ROM Pong, which can be as small as 110kb.

Although technology has helped greatly when it comes to creating games of such vast proportions as Assassin’s Creed, the scale and epic value of a game that boasts over 100 hours of gameplay still requires huge teams of people to deliver the finished product. Ubisoft Montreal, who created Origins, has 3,000 people, supported by tens of thousands of employees in other Ubisoft studios around the world. Creating a game isn’t the bedroom business it used to be (roughly 16 people developed and released the first Tomb Raider game).

Functions and form

Let’s start with how the game behaves. Each character, animation, storyline, dialogue option and gameplay interaction needs to be planned out, mapped, coded or written, usually using a game engine, a task which can eat up resources and requires dedicated programmers, software experts and developers. This part of the process is often the starting point for many games after the storyline or concept is decided. When Grand Theft Auto 5 was released in 2013 for example, the entire RAGE engine that was used had to be overhauled completely to accommodate greater draw distances, more NPCs and vehicle’s and of course the life-like animations that make GTA games what they are.

Graphics and textures are also a make or break aspect of the gaming, integrating seamlessly with wireframes and meshes to make the game world more attractive and sometimes realistic. In the current generation of gaming, which is stepping into the world of 4K and high dynamic range displays, photorealistic textures are required for many games, upping not only the storage required, but the work needed to collect and manipulate often hundreds of thousands of images. The next Forza game boasts hundreds of cars capable of displaying in 4K at 60fps with an Xbox One X, so it’s no surprise that the texture mapping and images used to bring these cars to life make the whole experience are starting to look very close to reality.

Sound is vitally important for next-gen games too, with similar techniques borrowed from the movie industry and full scores now very common on high profile releases. It’s no surprise that video game budgets are now averaging around $40 million to produce, with Grand Theft Auto the most expensive game ever produced at roughly $265 million.

Multi-platform gaming

It isn’t just console games that are getting a lot more TLC when it comes to design and production however. Mobile and browser-based gaming have also upped the stakes, with better mobile devices and developments like HTML5 and faster connectivity helping studios to improve mobile gaming significantly.

Take online poker. Although quite simple in terms of graphics and coding, virtual games of poker are now starting to match the excitement and ‘realistic’ gameplay you’d find in a casino. 888 Poker boast dozens of poker varieties, all playable on a massive range of phones, smart devices and computers, with everything from 3D poker rooms to themed tables playable on Android, iOS and Windows. With vastly improved user interfaces, customisable profiles, and even video-fed live casino poker, which transmits professional dealers directly from the casino to device screens, poker has come on leaps and bounds from the basic layouts seen in the early days of online casino gaming.

The next step in gaming

We’re currently at a crossroads in game development too. VR has well and truly arrived with HTC, Occulus Rift and now PlayStation making virtual reality headsets more accessible. Although still in the early stages and limited by computing power, gaming will certainly transform as players becoming more engaged in digital environments. Games like Doom, Fallout 4 and Skyrim are all either on their way or released, acting as benchmarking tools for user interaction when the action is coming from several directions at once.

It’s easy to see how video game production costs will keep climbing too. With limits on imagination slowly beginning to lift and the number of gamers growing significantly since the first consoles appeared in the 80s, there’s a lot of money in the market and a constant demand for more exciting games. Let’s hope this unbridled creativity and artistic approach to game design continues and doesn’t go the way of the movie industry, which saw 47 reboots and remakes hit screens this year.