“For us, the console is vital and central to our experience,” Spencer said during a media event that showcased 60 new games for Xbox. Xbox battles in the console gaming arena with Sony, which is working on a new generation PlayStation. The commitment to consoles by longtime contenders in the market comes with the rise of video games hosted as subscription services streamed Netflix-style from data centers in the internet cloud. Xbox said at the E3 event that it is adding the ability for players to stream games in their libraries for play on mobile devices with Game Pass subscriptions.
“We will bring Xbox to the cloud with Project and console streaming,” Spencer said. “Where you play is entirely your choice, you decide.” The new service will be previewed later this year, according to Microsoft.
Heads in the cloud
The E3 opens with gamers gradually moving away from traditional console play and Google seeking to capitalize on that trend with a new Stadia service allowing people to play cloud-powered games on any connected device.
Adapting to the new trends will be critical for contenders in the massive video game industry, which last year generated more than $135 billion globally, and $43.4 billion in the United States. According to the Entertainment Software Association, which runs E3, more than 164 million adults in the United States play video games, and three out of four US households have at least one video game player. “This right now is the single most creative and energizing time in gaming history,” Spencer said. “In under two decades, the number of players in the world has more than tripled; now more than two billion of us play games.”
Games on smartphones have accounted for a lot of that growth. Microsoft also announced the launch of a beta version of an Xbox Game Pass that lets people using computers powered by the latest Windows software access a library of more than 100 video games. Included in the line-up is the entire “Master Chief ” collection of the popular “Halo” science fiction shooter franchise on Xbox. The Game Pass for PC will be priced at $9.99 monthly.