Tag Archives: XBOX

Microsoft acquires Beam interactive livestreaming service

Today, Team Xbox is proud to announce that Microsoft has signed an agreement to acquire Beam, an innovative and interactive livestreaming service that gives viewers the ability to watch and play along with their favorite game streamers in real-time.

Based in Seattle, Beam has evolved game streaming from a passive, watch-and-chat experience into one with real-time participation by the viewer; directly into a streamer’s game play and live broadcast.

Bringing Beam, their award-winning team and their inventive technology into the Xbox family supports our ongoing commitment to make Xbox Live more social and fun. Using “Minecraft” as one example, with Beam you don’t just watch your favorite streamer play, you play along with them. You can give them new challenges and make real-time choices that affect their gameplay, from tool selection to quests to movement; all through simple visual controls. In the highly anticipated “Sea of Thieves,” which is all about emergent adventures in a shared world, you can watch the drama play out between different crews from multiple player perspectives.

One of the best parts about Beam is that interactivity is easy for streamers to enable and customize, and is designed to work with any game.

We at Xbox are excited about this convergence between playing and watching, and want to provide gamers with the freedom and choice to have great multiplayer experiences across all of Beam’s platforms. This acquisition will help gamers enjoy the games they want, with the people they want, and on the devices they want.

We know that Beam is part of a vibrant community of gamers and streamers and we plan to provide a great experience for all of our fans. As Beam’s CEO Matt Salsamendi says in his own blog post, Beam remains committed to its mission of empowering users and streamers across platforms and will now be better positioned to grow and give more back to the community.

We look forward to sharing more about Beam and our vision for interactive game streaming in the future. And, if you haven’t tried Beam yet, I encourage you to do so. In the meantime, we look forward to the continued growth of the Beam service and community.

The post Microsoft acquires Beam interactive livestreaming service appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

We believe gaming should be fun for everyone

Each year, I have the honor and privilege of taking the E3 stage to talk about the future of gaming at Microsoft, and to inspire and excite our amazing fans with the most anticipated games, new hardware and accessories, as well as the new Xbox Live platform features coming to Xbox One and Windows 10.

Phil Spencer

Phil Spencer

What we reveal on stage is often a year or more in the making, so it’s a tremendous moment for TEAM XBOX and our partners when we unveil our vision and share our announcements. Throughout the week, we celebrate all that is great about gaming – the gamers, the creators, the characters and stories, and everyone responsible for an industry focused on FUN.

For some, playing games is a way to unwind and relax alone – at work, after school or on the go. For others, it’s about the spirit of connection, competition and achievement amongst a group of like-minded friends. But, at its core, gaming is about fun. “Fun” is defined differently by different people, and we feel a responsibility as a team to build and protect that experience for everyone, and to offer more choice in how they play, who they play with and the devices they play on.

A little more than a year ago, we organized a project team within TEAM XBOX to lay the foundation for an internal movement: Gaming for Everyone. We saw the opportunity for the industry and felt compelled to do more to make gaming an inclusive environment that embraced everyone. We fundamentally believe that what we build for our fans and the way we show up – inside and outside the walls of Microsoft – is a reflection of who we are. We designed the program to reflect the core values we have as an organization and believe that the program could result in positive change – not only in our workplace but in the products we build for the gamers we serve.

To truly have a lasting impact requires a culture shift, one that won’t happen overnight. However, our team is committed to get better each day, to teach one another to pause in our decision making process and think about the amazing diversity of needs, abilities and interests amongst gamers around the world. It has forced our team to think differently across the entire gaming experience – from hardware, to games and service. And it has helped us ask the big questions:

  • How do we ensure a safe and supportive environment – for all gamers – on our Live services?
  • How do we make product decisions that give gamers more choice in how and with whom they play, while respecting developers’ creative choices?
  • How do we help our engineers better understand the needs of those with varying levels of physical ability?
  • How do we build even more diversity in TEAM XBOX talent so we can better understand, relate to and reflect the variety of gamers and needs in our community?

And while we do not have all the answers, we are committed as a team that if our mission was to put gamers at the center of everything we do, we need to better understand – and better represent – the needs of ALL gamers.

Today, we announced that we’re giving you the choice of who you play with through Clubs and Looking For Group on Xbox Live, so you can better connect with people who share your interests and version of fun.

Titles like “Sea of Thieves” and many others give you the choice of how you want to play, to be the pirate you want to be, with hundreds of ways to customize your character. In “Gears of War,” we give gamers a choice to play co-op play as either Del or Kait, or as one of many powerful characters in multiplayer mode. With Xbox Live, you have the choice to play anywhere you want, without boundaries.

And with Xbox Online Safety features, you choose your level of exposure to violence, language or interactions with other people so your gaming experience is as controlled as you want it to be. With Xbox Design Lab, fans can even choose a controller that is a reflection of their personal style.

As Xbox and the industry around us has grown over the years, we haven’t always facilitated fun and gaming for everyone. But in that time, one thing that has never wavered is the team’s dedication to be better. Every day. We continue to listen to our fans and make Xbox a place where everyone is welcome, respected and supported.

While we have a lot of work ahead of us, I’m incredibly excited about what the future holds as we put all of our products through the lens of reflecting the diversity in our audience and inclusion, support and choice for all gamers. I encourage all of our partners and fans to join us on this journey.

We can and we will do better as an industry moving forward.

The post We believe gaming should be fun for everyone appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Microsoft hiring program opens more doors to people with autism

Kyle Schwaneke’s bank account was approaching empty.

He’d been unemployed for a year and a half, since the indie game studio he’d been working for shut its doors. His parents, looking for ways to help while he job hunted, had paid the remainder of his apartment lease, but he’d reached the end of that, too.

“I interviewed at a bunch of companies, but really didn’t have any luck. Sometimes, I would send in my resume and hear nothing. Other times, I’d go to an interview, and I’d think I did well, and then hear back I hadn’t done well – but they also couldn’t give me any feedback about it,” Schwaneke said. “I eventually started applying at places like Target and Radio Shack for the chance to interview for a minimum wage retail job. I was pretty much out of options.”

A promising young developer, Schwaneke graduated from of one of the top gaming design schools in the nation. He also has Asperger’s syndrome, a disorder on the autism spectrum.

His situation is far from an anomaly. An estimated 80 percent of people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are unemployed, though many are fully capable of holding down a job, and some possess exceptional skills in areas such as science, mathematics or technology. The 80 percent unemployment rate becomes even more significant considering an estimated one percent of the world’s population has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

On April 1, about the same time Schwaneke was wondering whether he’d soon need to move back in with his parents, Microsoft’s Mary Ellen Smith stepped before the representatives of 193 countries at United Nations (U.N.) Headquarters in New York City. It was World Autism Day and Smith, corporate vice president of worldwide operations, announced that Microsoft was about to launch a pilot program to hire people with autism. In the months since the program began, Microsoft has hired 11 new employees who have autism and is actively seeking candidates for more open positions.

Kyle Schwaneke came to Microsoft through a unique hiring program for candidates with autism.

“For the first time, I felt like I was in place where I understood other people, and they understood me,” said Kyle Schwaneke, an Xbox software engineer recruited by Microsoft’s program for candidates with autism.

“These are people who may not be able to pass an initial interview or screen because their social skills might not be 100 percent in line with what’s expected in a typical interview, but what amazing talent are we missing as a result?” Smith said, after recounting her memorable day at the U.N. “There are unique minds being underused and overlooked.”

Announcing the launch of Microsoft’s new pilot program to the United Nations was especially meaningful for Smith, whose 19-year-old son Shawn has autism. She recalled a heart-wrenching moment from when he was diagnosed 15 years ago.

“I think they understand,” she overheard one doctor say to another on her way out of the medical center. It was the same two doctors who had just told Smith and her husband they needed to seriously limit their expectations for their toddler and what he could achieve, because he had autism.

The young family drove the 15 miles home in complete silence.

“We didn’t know what to say,” said Smith. “But we do now.”

Read the full story.

Read the inside story behind the making of ‘Halo 5: Guardians’

Jeremie Sloan’s garage in Oregon City teems with life-size “Halo” helmets, chest plates and codpieces. All are built with the goal of perfect fidelity to the “Halo” series of video games.

Elsewhere in his labyrinth of basement workspaces, Sloan uses pepakura, a Japanese papercraft technique, to match and glue thousands of tiny serial-numbered paper tabs into the models for his costumes. It takes weeks to construct a single Master Chief helmet out of pepakura — and that’s before the sanding and other tedious steps can even begin.

“Some people assume that ‘Halo’ cosplayers are a bunch of teenagers with nothing better to do,” said Sloan, a 6’ 4” crane mechanic, Marine and soon-to-be grandfather. “But ‘Halo’ got me through months in a wheelchair after I broke my pelvis in a construction accident. I love the game. And I want to keep giving back to the ‘Halo’ universe that has been such an important part of my life.”

Sloan is not alone in his dedication to all things “Halo.” He is a member of the 405th Infantry Division, a global network of “Halo” cosplayers, prop builders and superfans. The wider fan base, called The Halo Nation, numbers in the millions. Since the launch of the first “Halo” game almost 15 years ago, they have elevated it into one of the world’s largest entertainment franchises, with more than 65 million copies sold and 6 billion hours of gameplay logged.

The much-anticipated “Halo 5: Guardians” is the newest installment of the blockbuster game. However, the gaming industry evolves at the speed of light and “Halo 5: Guardians” finds itself up against ever-growing legions of games and platforms clamoring for attention.

Fremont, California-based 405th Pacific Regiment Commanding Officer Danielle Yuan argued, “No parts of the game can just be good, everything has to be great. It’s ‘Halo,’ after all.” In order for “Halo 5: Guardians” to separate itself from the crowd, all of the game’s components, from multiplayer modes to narrative to visuals to music, must come together to exceed the enormous expectations.

343 Industries, the Microsoft game studio that created “Halo 5: Guardians,” is more than aware of the pressure. Josh Holmes, studio head of Internal Development, stated: “Fortunately, as ‘Halo 5: Guardians’ is on Xbox One, we have the opportunity to make the game come to life in ways that haven’t been possible until now.”

Kiki Wolfkill, studio head of “Halo” Interactive Entertainment and Channel, agreed, “Since the day we started working on ‘Halo 5: Guardians,’ we’ve seen it as our chance to put a stake in the ground and show everyone where we’re going with the franchise.”

Read the full story.

The post Read the inside story behind the making of ‘Halo 5: Guardians’ appeared first on Proactive Computing. #PCH3lp

Microsoft unveils new era of Windows 10 devices at event in NYC

In New York Tuesday morning, Microsoft unveiled a new era of Windows 10 devices, including new Surface, Lumia and Band devices.

“Our approach to hardware is to create and reinvent categories – like we did with Xbox and Xbox Live, with Surface being the tablet that can replace your laptop, with Lumia and Continuum, with Surface Hub, and of course with HoloLens being the only platform enabling you to mix holograms into your world,” writes Terry Myerson, executive vice president, Operating Systems, in a blog post.

Among the new devices built to make the most of Windows 10: Surface Book (the new, ultimate laptop that brings together best-in-class performance with the versatility of pen and touch), Surface Pro 4 (now thinner, lighter and faster), new Lumia Phones (Lumia 950, Lumia 950 XL and Lumia 550) and the Microsoft Band 2.

Myerson also shared news about the Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition and Xbox, including an upcoming update that brings Windows 10 to Xbox One.

Read more about these new additions and what’s ahead on the Microsoft Devices Blog.

Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

The post Microsoft unveils new era of Windows 10 devices at event in NYC appeared first on Proactive Computing. #PCH3lp