Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming
Larry Hryb: Hi, it's Larry Hryb, Xbox Live's Major Nelson, welcome to the show. We're back at it. You get two shows this week. Earlier this week we talked about the brand new Microsoft store on the show on the console. Talk about that in a minute. Now hold on a minute. There we go.
Jeff Rubenstein: Hey.
Larry Hryb: Now it feels better. There it feels better. I'm starting-
Jeff Rubenstein: Two shows, twice as many complaints.
Larry Hryb: I started to do the show without you, and now I feel terrible. But here you are.
Jeff Rubenstein: Larry, I can't even see you. I see a microphone. I don't see anything but a microphone there. Are you there?
Larry Hryb: Are we really going to do that right now? Are we really going to do that right now?
Jeff Rubenstein: Why wouldn't we do that?
Larry Hryb: For those of you who don't know what Jeff is talking about-
Jeff Rubenstein: [crosstalk 00:00:35] Would it be us if we didn't do it?
Larry Hryb: ... we were going back and forth on Twitter with some folks. Scott Hanselman who works at Microsoft hosts a YouTube channel, and he was talking about hiding behind a mic. And no, I just want to give you really good audio quality, and I want to hear my guests and make sure they sound good. See, not that different.
Jeff Rubenstein: It's a really different show. I wanted to call that Major Nelson Unwired, right there. That's the wireless Major Nelson cast.
Larry Hryb: Anyway-
Jeff Rubenstein: Knowing that Scott will see this, we're just giving him crap, that's all.
Larry Hryb: Well, you know what this is? Can I show you this mic? This is actually the mic that I used to use when Laurel was on the show. I had it hooked up to a bunch of stuff because her voice was a little bit thinner, so I had to put some stuff in it. But I had this extra mic and I've always loved the sound of this mic. So I'm sure-
Jeff Rubenstein: [crosstalk 00:01:29] You sound so much smarter than you did, than before I knew Laurel used that mic.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:01:32] Well. Exactly. She's left some smarts on here for me.
Jeff Rubenstein: All the intelligence came through the sponge there.
Larry Hryb: Anyway, we've got a couple of-
Jeff Rubenstein: [crosstalk 00:01:40] Some residual there.
Larry Hryb: ... interviews for you this week. We talked last week about this guy. This is the brand new Microsoft store on your consol that's coming soon. Insiders, some insiders have it now, some insiders are getting it in the future, but everyone's going to get it very soon. But later on in the show we've got two interviews. We've got Kareem Choudhry who is the corporate vice president of xCloud, how'd you like that for a title, and I've known Kareem-
Jeff Rubenstein: [crosstalk 00:02:03] Great job.
Larry Hryb: ... for 15 years. He used to work on the Xbox team with me. He was two offices down. So I've known him for quite some time and he's just lovely to talk to, so he's going to talk about the xCloud news this week. A lot of that. And then, we're going to talk about Shredders, Jeff. Have you seen this game?
Jeff Rubenstein: With the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Krang that had the brain in his... What are we talking about Larry?
Larry Hryb: We're talking about Shredder's game. This is a new snowboarding game that's coming-
Jeff Rubenstein: Snowboarding.
Larry Hryb: ... next year.
Jeff Rubenstein: I'm excited about that. I'm excited because we didn't get to go on the mountains yet. The season was cut short.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:02:43] I was thinking about that. You never got to the mountain at all this year up in Canada, did you?
Jeff Rubenstein: I did get to go once, and then I had passes right before, we had a hotel booked and all that stuff. We just drive across the border to Canada. It's relatively close.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:02:56] Ah, a simpler time-
Jeff Rubenstein: [crosstalk 00:02:57] So much snow up there.
Larry Hryb: ... [crosstalk 00:02:57] when we were allowed to do that.
Jeff Rubenstein: Yeah. Now might as well be Tahiti, because it's just as inaccessible. So actually it's funny, I missed snowboarding so much because I didn't really get to do much this year, and I downloaded Steep, which is a snowboarding game from Ubisoft that came out a few years ago, and they have some real life mountains-
Larry Hryb: Did it scratch the itch?
Jeff Rubenstein: It did. It made me actually fearful of snowboarding because the wrecks that I had, and I was like you know what I'm going to-
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:03:28] I don't want to jinx you.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... you can only stick on the greens in that game. I was like, I don't care about the points. My goal is to get down alive.
Larry Hryb: I don't want to jinx you, but have you ever been injured snowboarding?
Jeff Rubenstein: Oh, yeah. Oh. I broke these two ribs. I hit an icy patch in Tahoe once before. Let's see, I actually starting wearing the helmet because I learned the hard way that you should wear a helmet even when you don't go all that fast you can still wipe out pretty good. So some knees-
Larry Hryb: Heads are hard, but they're also soft.
Jeff Rubenstein: Yeah. Helmets are harder.
Larry Hryb: I just noticed what you had on in the background.
Jeff Rubenstein: Wise words, from someone who's [crosstalk 00:04:02] had a lot of concussions.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:04:02] I noticed what you have on in the background on your screen there. [crosstalk 00:04:08] You want to talk about that?
Jeff Rubenstein: [crosstalk 00:04:09] Yakuza Kiwami 2.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:04:10] Yeah.
Jeff Rubenstein: I mean, we can. That's what I'm playing. Just came to Xbox Game Pass last week. We talked about it on the previous show. I'm in love with this game. We talk about game passes being great because it can introduce you to games that you might not normally play, but I'm living that. The Yakuza series is one that I played it one time at TGS like 10 years ago and I was like I don't get it. I don't get it. [crosstalk 00:04:35] And I walked away-
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:04:35] I think that would've been called number two, I believe it would've been in back in the day.
Jeff Rubenstein: Oh, that was a huge haul. I think was there to play Valkyria Chronicles on PSP or something like that, and I was like while I'm waiting I'll play this. And I was like yeah, I don't get it, whatever. But I played Yakuza zero when it first came out on Game Pass, I want to say end of last year, early this year. And I was like oh, I was very wrong about these games. And then Kiwami one came out this spring, about the time we went into lockdown-
Larry Hryb: So very wrong.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... and I played through that. And now Kiwami 2. And you would think, "Oh, it's just incremental." And it's actually the biggest jump in the series. It's a completely new engine, a completely new interface, new battle, the visuals are significantly stepped up. If you thought Kiwami one was just like Yakuza zero or like 0.5 or something like that, this is not the same thing. I mean, it is a big jump forward. The voice acting and everything else is still melodramatic and awesome. Within five minutes, I was just in love with this game. I was so all in, and this is what I'll be playing for the foreseeable future.
Larry Hryb: Well, that's good. Yeah. I mean, I haven't had a lot of chance of playing. What is it? Don't swim, or swim. What is that swimming game that I've been playing? Let me take a look here hold on.
Jeff Rubenstein: [crosstalk 00:05:49] That swimming puzzle game that you were playing. Yeah.
Larry Hryb: Take a look at this. Hold on.
Jeff Rubenstein: Sure. All right. Puts me full screen. I get to tap dance. I could play Yakuza Kiwami 2, big fan, big fan.
Larry Hryb: Swim Out. Swim Out is what I've been playing.
Jeff Rubenstein: Swim Out.
Larry Hryb: God I love the aesthetics of this game. It's a puzzle game where you have to really guide your swimmer. This is your swimmer down here, and these are the other swimmers. And it's basically you move. Like watch this. So you move, they move, you move, they move, so you kind of have to-
Jeff Rubenstein: It's like those GO games. Like if you've played Hitman GO or Tomb Raider GO, or something like that, and then you have to just anticipate what they're going to do. [crosstalk 00:06:27] They don't move until you do. It was a head-to-head. I hope you bring a helmet while you're swimming. A head-to-head collision in the pool could be very dangerous.
Larry Hryb: I don't know why but this game I just love the aesthetics and it's just so calming. So I've been playing that. That's what I've been playing. But I haven't had much time because when we're doing these... Let me turn this down. When we're doing two shows a week, Jeff, I got to tell you, I don't have a lot of time.
Jeff Rubenstein: The grind. The grind, Larry. [crosstalk 00:06:49].
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:06:49] I don't know. No time at all. We got a lot going on. We've got the new store which we talked about on the last show was released. Everyone's enjoying that, or at least people on the insiders. Doing the interviews lined up that we're going to talk about later. So yeah, I don't know if you want to talk about news now, then we can just roll right into those interviews, Jeff?
Jeff Rubenstein: Let's talk a little bit more about what we're playing. Because actually can I get a little screen real estate. I don't ask for much.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:07:14] Oh, you can have as much as you want.
Jeff Rubenstein: I just want a little bit.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:07:15] Hold on. Let's-
Jeff Rubenstein: [crosstalk 00:07:15] No, I just want 50/50. I want to feel like I'm talking to you. No, no. This is too much, too. This is too much. I want 50/50. That's the stuff. So reading these previews about Flight Simulator, Microsoft Flight Simulator, and it just looks so beautiful. And I'm looking at my-
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:07:34] And you're itching to get back into a plane aren't you?
Jeff Rubenstein: ... wheezing, old, gaming computer. Well, in a way. And I pulled the trigger, I found on sale, an Alienware gaming PC that I think is going to do a bang up job on Microsoft Flight Simulator. I'm super excited to virtually take that flight down to LA that we do many times each year.
Larry Hryb: Yeah. Used to.
Jeff Rubenstein: [crosstalk 00:07:59] And so I got it. It showed up yesterday. And I began setting it up. And what do you think was the first game that I loaded up on my new computer? I will tell you it's part of Xbox Game Pass for PC, so I'm narrowing it down to about 100 games.
Larry Hryb: I was going to say either Gears or Sea of Thieves.
Jeff Rubenstein: I mean, those are solid guesses. Gears five would be something to push the hardware and see what kind of frames per second.
Larry Hryb: What'd you do?
Jeff Rubenstein: I don't know what got into me and I just went ahead and I loaded up Halo Master Chief collection, and I started playing Halo CE.
Larry Hryb: Yes.
Jeff Rubenstein: You really want to push your 2080 card with a game that is-
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:08:41] That's what you have? A 2080 card in that?
Jeff Rubenstein: ... [crosstalk 00:08:41] 19 years old.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:08:42] Whoa, by the way-
Jeff Rubenstein: [crosstalk 00:08:43].
Larry Hryb: ... I think that's what the kids call a low key flex.
Jeff Rubenstein: I just sort of slid it right in there. And then I started playing Halo CE, and I got sucked into it for a couple of hours because-
Larry Hryb: Why weren't you doing co-op?
Jeff Rubenstein: I started downloading a bunch of stuff and it was the first one to download, and I was like I'm going to play this. And that's all I ended up playing last night. We should play co-op. I was thinking about bringing my daughter through. She plays first person shooters, and playing co-op that might be fun with her. But actually what might be really fun is playing on xCloud and sitting next to her. She's on the Xbox and I'm sitting right next to her on my Android phone.
Larry Hryb: You know it's funny you say that-
Jeff Rubenstein: [crosstalk 00:09:19] This is what they call in the business, this is called a segue.
Larry Hryb: No. This is very good because Kareem was talking exactly about that in the interview. So should we stop and do the interview right now?
Jeff Rubenstein: We should do that. Let's hear from Kareem.
Larry Hryb: Big xCloud news this week. Very excited to have joining me on the show Kareem Choudhry. Kareem, great to see you. The head of xCloud. Great news this week, right?
Kareem Choudhry: Yeah. Exciting times. And always great to get a chance to work with you, Larry.
Larry Hryb: Oh, my pleasure. My pleasure. You and I have worked together for quite some time. I remember you and I were working on the Xbox Live team 10, or 12, or 13 years ago, right? It seems like a long time ago?
Kareem Choudhry: Yeah. I think our hair was blacker between the two of us then.
Larry Hryb: You're absolutely right. But so you've been around gaming for a long time, and then a few years ago Phil tapped you to head up the xCloud initiative. Tell us about that journey and what we've learned. And of course, what we had for news this week.
Kareem Choudhry: Yeah. It's been an amazing journey. One that we've taken really as a team. I'm always looking for projects as a leader that are going to deliver great value to our gamers and our customers, and are right on the bleeding edge of what's possible with technology. What we did with Xbox 360 backwards compatibility is a great example. And it was probably about four years ago I started talking with Phil about the content that we have, the capability that Microsoft has with our Azure data center rollout and build out and saying, "Hey, Phil. I think it's time for us to go and build a streaming service where we can bring our games to other devices."
And I have to give credit to Phil. He was a believer before there was a belief. And he liked the idea. He chose to invest. We're always investing in all kinds of projects. Not all of them come to market. Obviously this one is. And the news that we shared this week is that we're launching cloud gaming and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on September 15th in 22 countries to Android phones and tablets. And I couldn't be more excited to give gamers and members another way to play their favorite games.
Larry Hryb: And that's something to point out, is being part of Game Pass Ultimate and coming to all those countries is, and people know now, with Game Pass you get this massive library. So right off the bat, you can pop open the client on your Android tablet or your phone and you have all these games you can start streaming immediately, right?
Kareem Choudhry: Yeah. And that's the goal. I mean, Game Pass is a fantastic offering where you can just discover and play your next favorite game and enabling cloud gaming, it just gives you another place where you can do that. We announced a bunch of titles this week, including Gears five and Grounded and Minecraft Dungeons. I'm super excited about all those. And we'll share the full catalog of over 100 titles as we get closer to launch.
Larry Hryb: When you look back at what you did in the preview over the past months and beyond, what are some of the learnings? If you can share something that you learned from the usage, the types of games people play, or from the technology you go oh, wow, we didn't expect that? Tell me about some of the perhaps ah-ha moments.
Kareem Choudhry: It's very interesting. We had a bunch of theories and hypotheses about what we were going to see. Hey, people are going to like these types of games and gravitate towards these other types of games. And what I've learned personally is something that gaming has already taught me over my two decades in gaming, is that there's so much diversity in the gamers that are out there and the types of content that they like to play. And what we're finding in the preview is that people are just playing everything. They're playing it on their tablets, they're playing it on their phones. And the way in which they're playing kind of surprised us.
We thought initially this was going to be a real on the go play, but what we're finding is tons of people just love to play in a different place in their home. Or perhaps when their main TV is occupied. Or the way that I've been playing it quite a bit is I just create couch co-op out of every single game that's in the library because I sit on the sofa next to my kids or next to my friends who are playing on my console on TV, and then I'm there playing multiplayer with them streaming from the cloud.
Larry Hryb: Yeah. It's interesting you say that, because that was one of those things I remember talking to you and the team where it was like couch co-op. And I was like wait a minute. And I was like oh. It's that ah-ha moment when you realize that you have essentially a second console in your hands that can play with somebody else in your TV or in your living room, right?
Kareem Choudhry: Yeah. And the fact that it's the exact same ecosystem, my saved game, my profile, my achievements, my entire Xbox Live multiplayer network, it's all exactly the same. Part of what I love about this confluence of gaming and technology and customers is that I get to go and build a brand new platform, and then sit back and see what it is that people do with it and give their feedback, and try to continually improve it. It's kind of what's kept me in this industry for so long.
Larry Hryb: Well then people like you and your team are what kept me in the industry for so long, because there were so many great stories to tell. And you and I have chatted many times over the years, so this is just one of many times we've chatted. When you look back at what you guys have done with xCloud, tell me a little bit about what it's like to work, we all think about the cloud and the data centers, but tell me about what we think about that in terms of what you guys have done there?
Kareem Choudhry: Hmm. Well first of all, it's been a collaboration across Microsoft, right?
Larry Hryb: Yeah.
Kareem Choudhry: I get to work with the entire Azure organization, and some of those initial conversations of, "Hey, we would like to show up with Xbox based hardware in the Azure data center." And we found a way to make it work. And just a little bit of inside story, our very first rack was literally Xbox One consoles zip tied to a rack that we put into the data center. And that's what we did our initial testing on. And then we used all of our hardware engineering knowledge to look at the components of the Xbox One console and say okay, let's change this, let's improve networking over here, let's do this, improve power consumption, cooling. And really, we leveraged all the expertise that the rest of Microsoft has.
We made a server version of the same exact content in terms of silicons. So the same content run. And then we put it all together. It's been a fascinating journey. As an engineer, I love those one plus one equals three scenarios. And so, to be able to take a console that we originally designed for consumers in the home where you have to worry about cooling, you got to worry about a cat coming and laying on it for five hours in the day, and then taking that same hardware, applying the Hovis method that we perfected with Xbox One X, and then putting it in the data center and then streaming games to consumers. It's been fantastic.
Larry Hryb: Well, if you could talk about when you're developing a piece of silicon and hardware like we did for people in their living room, I imagine okay, maybe you don't have the cat lying on it in the data center, but I'm sure there's other challenges like oh now we have to do this because now it's in this massive data center that has a whole other series of components and challenges. Is that accurate?
Kareem Choudhry: Yeah. It's a different operating environment. There are some aspects of it that become way simpler. I don't have to worry so much about consumer level acoustics. Power delivery and cooling is very, very well thought of in the Azure data center. It's very power efficient in the data center. It's actually more efficient for us to run in a Microsoft Azure data center than in consumer's homes.
Larry Hryb: Interesting.
Kareem Choudhry: So that's been fantastic. But we've had to think a lot about networking and management, and we've deployed a large number of these. So how do they plug in, how do we check status, how do we manage them all remotely? Because we're in data centers all around the globe, and every time I need to go investigate something, I don't really want to put an engineer on a plane and send them out. So it's amazing how much of the work that we've done in the consumer console space is just translated directly into the data center. It's been almost magical at times.
Larry Hryb: So we created this great hardware, you've got it all racked now. But now you have to work and modify some elements, because it's not just plugging a console. You talked about originally it was just plugging a console in and streaming it. But I'm sure there's a lot of other network level optimizations that you have to do all the way down to our customers, right?
Kareem Choudhry: Absolutely. And working with Azure and working with mobile operators around the world across all the different markets where we had our preview, the end goal is how do we ensure optimal routing and a great connection between that Microsoft Azure data center, that console that's in the data center, and the end consumer, whether or not they're connected via wiFi in their home network or through a 5G connection or a 4G connection. So optimizing that end to end is something we've really worked a lot on.
Other things we've had to focus on. When you have a console in your home, it's yours. Your profile's on it, you sit down, you turn it on, it's connected to your cloud account, all your customizations are there, all your DLC, all the entitlements that you have, they're all there. When you're logging into a console on the cloud, we have to, as fast as we can, blast all that profile information onto there, make it look seamless to the user, and as the game crops up, it's your saved game that you've had for years. I don't want consumers to have to think about any of that. I want it to all just work, so we've done a tremendous amount of engineering to make all that happen behind the scenes.
Larry Hryb: Yeah. It's interesting you say that, because you're right. I remember the first time I logged in I was like, "Oh, here's all my games." Then I fired one up, and there was a game, I don't remember what game it was, but it was a game say that I was I think four years old. I mean, it was ridiculous. And it just happened and I was like, okay, here we go. I love how I've seen the experience and working with the insiders, the experience has gotten better, and better, and better. And I'm really excited to see what you guys have planned. This announcement this week of coming to other countries and Game Pass Ultimate, it's just the beginning, right? This is quite the journey we're on.
Kareem Choudhry: Yeah. Yeah. This is just the start. I view this as a very multi year journey. We're starting on Android phones and tablets. We have desire to really come to all sorts of devices to really fulfill that player-centric dream of playing the games you want, with the people you want, anywhere you want. We're starting with controller support over a wide variety of controllers. It works best with the Xbox One family controllers connected via Bluetooth, but there's a whole bunch of third party announcements that we made this week, mobile specific controllers. Ones you can split apart. The Razer Kishi is one I especially fond of. And we even work with the Dualshock 4. So if the Android operating system you're running on has great support for a controller that surfaces up, we're going to leverage it and give consumers choice in how they play.
Larry Hryb: And that's important to point out as you talked about, there's a lot of people out there, PlayStation fans that may have a PlayStation, they may want to check out some Xbox games. This is how you do it. You just come on over here, check out Game Pass Ultimate, and boom you are playing this tremendous library, and you get access to some great games. So check it out with your controller of your choice as you said. The news that we had this week, and then of course we had some Samsung news as well. Tell us a little bit about that.
Kareem Choudhry: Well, Samsung is an incredible manufacturer of phones and tablets, and we formed a partnership with them where they want their devices to be the greatest gaming devices out there. So for people who are preordaining some of the devices that they announced this week, they're going to get three months of Game Pass Ultimate as well as a controller and a clip. So they're going to be able to participate in a fantastic way. Go ahead, Larry.
Larry Hryb: No, I was just going to say I also noticed, I was going through there. We also have some support if you don't have a controller. We've got some touch support as well, right?
Kareem Choudhry: Yeah. So going back to this being a multi year journey, we also announced this week as part of games back live and demoed the touch controls that we've worked on with a coalition with Gears Five. So when we launch on September 15th, we're doing to have a selection of titles that work touch, and then we're going to continue to work with game developers for them to bring that experience forward. So putting the player at the center of everything we do, I spend a lot of time with the team thinking about, "How can we reduce all the friction in the system? How can we enable them to enjoy the content that they love, that they know, with their friends, with their achievements, their saved game, on the devices that they already have?"
And it's going to be fantastic with a controller, but as you see touch get adopted more, that's going to be just another additional way to play. And it's not for me to tell people what's a good way to play and what's a bad way to play. So part of what I love about what you're doing is if you want to play on console, we've got a fantastic option for you. If you want to play on PC, great. Game Pass Ultimate's got you covered there. You want to play on your Android phone or tablet? Fantastic. And if it's a game that happens to support touch, you can play with the controller or you can play via touch. We just want you to play.
Larry Hryb: Yeah. Now working on xCloud, you've been working on it for quite some time, and the team's been building up and solving all these challenges and problems, and finding all these opportunities. What's it like? Because I mean we've got hardcore gamers, and frankly anybody who's using the system now, but more importantly in the early days, what was it like getting those feedback emails from Phil? Because I know his office was right down the hall from where your team was. That must have been challenging.
Kareem Choudhry: Yeah. Phil's very, very involved. And ignore his position and his role within Microsoft. He's just a gamer, and he knows the game industry, and he has great instincts. So getting his feedback was incredibly valuable. And when we put early prototypes and demos in his hands, it was a really signal for us. He was like, "You know what, this feels pretty good." The notion that someone who's played on a console or a high-end PC for years and years is going to enjoy a streaming-based experience, it's actually not that intuitive. If you had said to me Larry that I was going to watch an entire movie on my smartphone five years ago, I'd be like, "What are you talking about?"
Larry Hryb: No way. No way.
Kareem Choudhry: [crosstalk 00:23:24] I'm never going to. But now, people all over the world, they watch an entire Netflix series on their smartphone only, so I think being able to play on your phone or tablet when you're away from your console, when you're away from your PC, it's a great additive. And there's a bunch of people out there that are going to play only on smartphones and tablets, and we welcome them in as well. Phil's feedback on how we shape the experience, what elements of the guide UI do we want to bring in? He was very, very adamant like, "Look, this needs to be an extension of our ecosystem. It can't be a different ecosystem."
And he and I together, we really challenged ourselves on how can we bring this to consumers in a way where we're not creating a brand new platform. It's an extension of everything that we've already done. And some of the greatest moments that we've had on this journey is when we get to go and meet with publishers and developers all around the world, I don't want in with a bunch of PowerPoint slides. I walk in with phones and tablets and I had the to the publishers and developers, and it's got their game on it.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:24:26] One for you, one for you, one for you, one for you, let's go.
Kareem Choudhry: Yeah. And it's been magical. Because the initial reaction we get is they kind of look around the room and they start asking themselves questions of, "Okay, well who did this? Who enabled this? Did somebody write this?" And we just get to say no. We've done a completely lift and shift of your content. You're playing from a data center, here's your experience. And the delight and joy that we've gotten to see in creators as they're playing their content on a form factor that they did not develop it for has just been incredibly rewarding.
Larry Hryb: And that's something I want to point out, because a lot of people forget this, is that when you're developing a game, you're developing it for Xbox. You don't have to go and say oh I want to stream from the cloud or do any of that, because we let game developers do what they do great, which is make great games. And we're going to do what we do great which is figure out how to get that to everybody. So imagine that's got to be a real, real great position to be in where we just can tell developers, "You don't really have to do much extra work, if at all."
Kareem Choudhry: Yeah. It's been a core part of our philosophy. But we didn't just stop there. We didn't just say to developers, "Hey, we'll make it right in the cloud and do anything." We actually gave them the capability to know that they were running in the cloud in case they wanted to change anything. So we're having a lot of great examples that we talked about in Game Stack Live where they're making subtle, subtle changes. Like I think we demoed in Gears Five that you can actually control aim via the gyroscope. So that's what we refer to as a cloud aware title. So I love the menu of options we have for publishers and developers. Don't have to do anything and we'll make sure it runs fantastically in the cloud. But if you want to, we'll give you the notification real time via our XDKs, our Xbox development kits, that you are in a streaming scenario and they can change whatever they want to their liking.
Larry Hryb: I urged everybody to go check it out. If you're a Game Pass Ultimate subscriber, there's no reason. You just need to try it out. It could change the way that you're going to game. I know that I was talking to Stallion83, who's our gamer score leader on a lot of levels, and he was excited to start unlocking achievements outside of his house, or in new and exciting places. Wherever he is he can now unlock achievements, and frankly you can, too. So that's really exciting. So Kareem, I want to thank you for your time today. Great news. And I'll put links in the show below about where you can find out about all of the news that you guys had, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you guys are doing in the future.
Kareem Choudhry: Thank you so much, Major Nelson. I look forward to playing with you online.
Jeff Rubenstein: Thank you, Kareem Choudhry, for spilling all the tea on xCloud or cloud gaming coming to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. And then also, if you have a Samsung, the brand new Samsung Galaxy Note 20 which was just announced this week, and by the way, very interested in picking that up, how that comes with a free trial for multiple months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, as well as talking about a number of the different accessories that we are going to be carrying or working with partners which are going to enhance that mobile gaming experience by giving you dual sticks and bringing everything that you love, the right feel to gaming, but just taking it wherever you want. We have blog posts on Xbox Wire-
Larry Hryb: We do.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... that detail all of those things. The details on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, having cloud gaming, having that be a part of it, a note on all of the things that we're doing with Samsung. Because it goes beyond Xbox even, and so there's quite a bit there on the Microsoft Windows blog, as well as looking at some of the accessories like the Razer Kishi and what, PowerA is making a cool clip, and a number of other things, and 8BitDoes. We're working with a number of folks if you want to have something that goes around the edge of your phone. That's good. It kind of almost has a Switch sort of feel. If you want to use your standard controller and clip the phone to it, sure, do that.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:28:17] And as Kareem said, if you have your Android device and you decide, "Hey, I want to Dualshock it up," you can do that, too.
Jeff Rubenstein: That you can do. That you can do.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:28:31] I don't even know where my Dualshock is.
Jeff Rubenstein: [crosstalk 00:28:32] What a world we're living in.
Larry Hryb: I don't even know where it is.
Jeff Rubenstein: It's funny. Well, actually I used it more this couple of weeks than I have in probably the rest of the year, because I just finished The Last of Us Two. So I have to say that was a brutal game, but my kudos to Neil Druckmann and the rest of Naughty Dog, Josh Scherr, I'm just naming people I happen to know there, that that is a heck of an accomplishment. I will say, for all the drama of Yakuza, Yakuza is practically a light breeze, a breath of fresh air, compared to this super dense and intense experience. So yeah, congrats to them.
Larry Hryb: Speaking of breeze, you know what's breezy, Jeff, that we talked about at the top of the show? Snowboarding.
Jeff Rubenstein: Go on.
Larry Hryb: Snowboarding.
Jeff Rubenstein: Ah, yes. Another great segue. So you got snowboarding right away. It was great seeing you on Kinda Funny, not once, not twice, but thrice last week.
Larry Hryb: Oh, you're very kind.
Jeff Rubenstein: One time with snowbike Mike, that's the segue, who lives in Tahoe, I wonder if he was there when I broke my ribs. Probably not.
Larry Hryb: Probably.
Jeff Rubenstein: But anyways, yeah. Big snowboarder, big snowbiker. But it was great seeing you on the show there. One was all about you called We Have Cool Friends, which I thought was pretty cool. I listened to your-
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:29:51] I don't know how cool I am, I just have to be a friend.
Jeff Rubenstein: Yes. Pretty cool. I think as someone who's your friend, [crosstalk 00:29:59] you're one of my cooler friends.
Larry Hryb: I like to keep surprising you though.
Jeff Rubenstein: That you do. I will say, that you do. Nobody puts Larry in a corner, I'll just say that much. And then you did Kinda Funny games daily last Friday and then over the weekend you were on an episode of [crosstalk 00:30:18] their new Xbox podcast, called the Kinda Funny Xcast. You were the Gary Whitta.
Larry Hryb: Yeah. Gary didn't show up.
Jeff Rubenstein: So your accent needs some work. I think he was on vacation. Give him some credit here.
Larry Hryb: Holiday. Holiday. Holiday.
Jeff Rubenstein: [crosstalk 00:30:28] But it was cool, Mike was here and Alana was here, and you were right there in the middle. And I did, I watched the first few minutes and the rest I listened to audio while I was taking a walk, but no, it was a cool appearance and it was just, I don't know, I like seeing you on there.
Larry Hryb: Thank you. Anytime I can be a guest I love it because I don't have to do any of the production. I have to worry about this and everything else and the interviews and all that. The other kind, I just show up. That's why I'm so relaxed in those. It's a very different experience.
Jeff Rubenstein: So the opposite of that is when you had to host interview, I'm teeing you up, for Shredders.
Larry Hryb: Shredders.
Jeff Rubenstein: I wanted to see more about this game. I looked at a trailer right before this. It looked pretty damn cool.
Larry Hryb: Let's stop talking and let's start snowboarding, shall we? Shredders is coming to Xbox Series X next year and we'll be talking about that in just a moment. But I want you to take a look at this trailer, because I think it's going to remind you of some of the great snowboarding games of the past.
Voice Over: We are building this massive mountain range to get you on top of coolest slopes for Xbox and snowboards. It's full of cool next gen tech and kick ass physics, but ultimately it all comes down to one thing, epic shredding.
Larry Hryb: All right. Joining me is Dirk Van Welden. Dirk, welcome to the show. Great to see you and Shredders. That's a good looking game. Tell us about it.
Dirk Van Welden: Shredders. Well, thanks for having me, Larry.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:32:01] No problem.
Dirk Van Welden: [crosstalk 00:32:01] Shredders is our dream of creating a next gen snowboarding game. We've been big fans of for example Amped snowboarding and a lot of those early snowboarding games. And yeah, Shredders is actually just you could call it a next gen Amped, I guess. It's just a big mountain range, a lot of physics, a lot of high physics fidelity. A lot of control and a lot of freedom, what people are expecting from a thing that's coming out in the next few years.
Larry Hryb: Yeah. I've got some screenshots here that we're showing, and I want to just talk a little bit how you're tapping into this next gen technology because these screens look gorgeous, and were these rendered in-game, right?
Dirk Van Welden: That's all in-game, yeah.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:32:50] Yeah. So tell us a little bit about the game play, what we can expect, and then I want to talk to you about some of the technology that you've captured or that you're tapping into for Xbox Series X.
Dirk Van Welden: Well, since we're so fans of the Amped series and any of those typical games, and like the Tony Hawk and Skate and all those kind of games, we really want to do those typical missions like flow a pro mission, do some tricks and all that stuff. But you can also do racing and border cross. And actually it's kind of a big playground because there's stuff to do, and there'll be a story as well.
And throughout the whole month a range of different typical areas like one is a typical French Alpine ski village, the other one is like a Russian industrial site with a lot of concrete stuff, one is a very high mountain range Alaska kind of environment, and then there's for example an old Italian village that's somewhere on a mountain full of snow. It's an abandoned village. So there's a lot of different environments you can go to. And you have typical missions and you have for example epic missions that could let you go to the next environment, just like Forza Motorsport is doing with their games. I was always a big fan of those kind of epic missions, and so we want to do something similar in this game.
Larry Hryb: When you look at the game, I mean, you talked about the different areas, but I want to be clear, this is a fictitious mountain range, so you kind of took the best, and it sounds like the best of European, some of the European, because you're located in Europe, correct?
Dirk Van Welden: Yeah. It's like coded by us and Let it Roll that's Sweden and Belgium. We have some people throughout Europe and even America, so it's a team that comes from all around the world. But they're all snowboarders or skiers, so yeah.
Larry Hryb: But you've created this winter wonderland that it's fictitious, but a lot of it is inspired by various places I assume you and your team have been, correct?
Dirk Van Welden: Yeah. Just like I guess Skate did it in the same way, they recreated some of the spots. I had some favorite spots in the Alps for example. [Averia 00:35:16] it's one of my favorite ski domains, and there's stuff that is there that's actually going to be in the game, as well. So we've also watched a lot of snowboard and skiing movies in the past few years, and some of those were doing a lot of cool stuff on concrete, and that's why we have the old facilities that will be there. There's a movie As the Crow Flies it actually happens in some old Italian village full of snow. So we take a lot of inspiration from there as well, and try to make it and to put it into the game into one mountain range. So it's all connected to each other.
Larry Hryb: It's the best. It's the best of the best, right? You went through and said, "I like this. I like..." None of the fat, all the meat. All the good stuff, right?
Dirk Van Welden: Totally.
Larry Hryb: Now in the trailer, I'm going to go ahead and roll the trailer again, and we can talk over it. There's a lot going on, man. I mean, this is rendered in engine. So tell us about some of the technology you're tapping into with Xbox Series X.
Dirk Van Welden: First of all, there's a lot of memory available so we can show a lot of stuff, even distant stuff. That's actually all accessible. Every point you see, every single detail you see there, even in those distant mountains you can access immediately. There's no loading time. It's all memory and it's all streamed. And everything is just built for that kind of fast loading. And then all those clouds for example-
Larry Hryb: Yeah. We see them here.
Dirk Van Welden: Yeah. They're all volumetric. So people are expecting a lot now with Flight Simulator coming out, these clouds are pretty awesome looking in my opinion as well. And so, there are true volumetrics so you can actually, if you snowboard down there, you don't see. It's mist. You can't see nothing.
Larry Hryb: Yeah, man. It's interesting you say that because Flight Simulator which is coming out soon, we've all seen the beautiful photos of that, they kind of raised the bar when it comes... but this is very different. This is flying around versus you're down on the ground and there's a lot of different types of physics. Tell us about what the actual game play and what we can expect from that.
Dirk Van Welden: Yeah. Well, we want to focus on animations and physics. That's really important for us. And also, the reason why we made this game, I always wanted to make snowboard games, I made a few prototypes in the past, I actually expected I would never make another snowboarding game again because you need such a big team. But at some point, two years ago I met Marcus, who was the CEO of [Slay the Troll 00:37:57], and now is the CTO of the publisher company. But he was working on a physics engine for like three, four years, and actually made a snowboarding game on his own called The Snowboard Game, and so we clicked in a way that our vision was similar and we wanted to bring something that was accessible to a lot of people, took that kick ass physics engine and make it even better, and to create actually the Skate of snowboarding, the same feeling, as realistic as possible while still maintaining fun.
Because that's always a very tough balance to make. And that's really, we want as much control as possible. And while we were looking at, for example, snowboard movies, we can see that there's so many ways to do just a simple jump with turning around. Like you can bend your board in any way and that's style that defines how you're snowboarding. And that's something we wanted to put into the game while still... You can just go down a mountain and cruise and do some tricks anyway, but you can define your own style while cruising.
Larry Hryb: When we look at the game, I mean, we talked about the vastness and open of it, is it completely open or are parts of it open? Tell us about that.
Dirk Van Welden: Well, we won't make it all accessible from the start, but there will be lifts that you can unlock, and then once you go on that lift, it's completely open for you to go anywhere you want. With games like Steep, we found that while it's super big like the whole mountain range, and it's beautifully done, it's hard to find typical characteristics of certain slopes, and those typical flow tracks, you need the line that you always try to better and better. So we manually scoped a lot of really cool tracks in those mountain ranges, and I think people will actually go look at those. For example, the way how we do it is we actually draw some lines already in the deep snow, so you can see, oh, there's a bunch of snowboarders going that way. There's probably some cool stuff there. So we're trying to push players in a certain direction, but it'll be open. Yeah. It'll be fully open.
Larry Hryb: One of the things about the games that you mentioned earlier was the competition and the leader boards. Tell us about what you guys want to do in that area.
Dirk Van Welden: We want multiplayer, of course. From the moment you boot it, there will be NPCs, but you have to see if there's another player. And probably all of the good snowboarders will be real players. There will be ways to communicate with the other player, or just to start sessions. I think that's very important also, for the longevity of the game, or maybe put a kicker somewhere for a certain session and do something you couldn't do in the game, like jump over a house or whatever. Stuff like that. Yeah. That's really something we want to achieve with this game as well.
Larry Hryb: I'm talking to you right now and you talked about your team that's all throughout Europe and parts in the US. Tell us about what development has been like for the past eight or nine months as we've all been dealing with the COVID situation? Has it been more challenging, or because you guys are distributed you're like, "Well, okay. This is the way it is for now?"
Dirk Van Welden: Yeah. Well, there is a part of our team that works here from Belgium, and we meet each other just every Wednesday and Thursday, and the rest of the week everyone is working from home so we already have a work from home atmosphere, and people now have to deal with it. And so Marcus and Felix are in Sweden, and so we only see each other a couple of times every year. And so we're used to it, I guess. For us personally it didn't change much [crosstalk 00:41:54].
Larry Hryb: Well, you see each other a couple times a year in person, but I imagine you're doing things like this, videoconferencing, all the time as well, right?
Dirk Van Welden: There's a lot of stuff being thrown on social media. We use Discord, for example, for a lot of work stuff.
Larry Hryb: Yeah. Works great. When can we expect Shredders? I mean, it looks great, this looks fantastic. I know people are dying to get down some of the hills that you've created here. When can we expect it?
Dirk Van Welden: You should be able to play it by the end of next year, so it should be in time for winter season next year.
Larry Hryb: Well, I know folks are looking forward. They're itching. Hopefully they can get on the slopes for real this year, but if not then I know they're really going to be dying to get onto that. So I really appreciate it. Dirk, I appreciate you taking the time to tell us about Shredders the game. They can go to shreddersthegame.com to check it out, correct?
Dirk Van Welden: Yep. Shreddersgame.com-
Larry Hryb: Shreddersgame.com.
Dirk Van Welden: It's still a teaser, of course. There'll be a much bigger trailer with much more reveals next year. But yeah this is for now. There's some info, hopefully we'll share more later through our social channels.
Larry Hryb: Well, maybe we'll get you back on to talk about it then. I appreciate you taking the time and I know a lot of folks are looking forward to that, so thanks again, and have a great evening. Thank you, Dirk.
Dirk Van Welden: Thank you, Larry. Bye, everyone.
Larry Hryb: Shredders coming next year to Xbox Series X, looking forward to checking that out. Jeff, I know you are as well. I can't guarantee it-
Jeff Rubenstein: Absolutely.
Larry Hryb: ... but I'm pretty sure you won't break a rib on this game. Maybe you will.
Jeff Rubenstein: You never know. I've hurt myself without leaving the house more than once.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:43:29] People say you do that a lot.
Jeff Rubenstein: [crosstalk 00:43:31] Not proud.
Larry Hryb: I've heard that.
Jeff Rubenstein: Who's saying these things? I'm going to do the thing where you show me the paper. Are you going to show me the paper? I'm number one in hurting myself in the house.
Larry Hryb: It says right here. It says right here.
Jeff Rubenstein: It says it right there.
Larry Hryb: Can I say that? Or you can't say that.
Jeff Rubenstein: You can't say that. Wow. Anyways. Why don't we get to the news here. I'm going to tee myself up here.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:43:56] We got a couple things before we ramp up the show, so.
Jeff Rubenstein: Exactly. So this week, one of my favorite things is just waking up in the morning and going over to majornelson.com or Xbox Wire and seeing the good old folks at Game Pass, Mary and Melissa at Game Pass announced a bunch of new games coming to the service. And so, a few of them, I mean, were announced this week. One of them is Darksiders Genesis. And this was a completely different take on Darksiders. We were playing a little bit of this together a few months ago. It's a top down, almost a Diablo-esque take on Darksiders. So that's coming to Game Pass. Man of Medan: The Dark Pictures. So those two are just for console. These next five titles are all for both console and PC. It Lurks Below, Xeno Crisis, [crosstalk 00:44:42] Trailmakers.
Yeah. They're not there yet. They're not there yet. Although, Tourist is there. You point out I saw a really interesting video on Tourist, which looks like pixel art, but it was the good folks at Digital Foundry showing that actually it is a really very technical masterpiece. I went and I downloaded it. At some point I'm going to take a break as a palette cleanser for Kiwami 2, but The Tourist, also part of Game Pass. Check it out on both console and PC. Hearing some really good things about that, and Carrion as well, which I'm also hearing just fantastic stuff about it. A great game that I heard you can get a 1K on in four or five hours. Two more games.
Larry Hryb: Two.
Jeff Rubenstein: I like that. Final Fantasy VII HD, and Undermine. Undermine, another game that is debuting directly into Xbox Game Pass. I've heard some really good things about this from its, I think I want to say original Steam release.
Larry Hryb: Does that clock behind you actually work or is that just a prop?
Jeff Rubenstein: No. It doesn't work. It's right twice a day, Larry. It's right at 11:10 at AM and PM. It works both ways.
Larry Hryb: Sorry. [crosstalk 00:45:52] I just happened to notice.
Jeff Rubenstein: One last post I wanted to point out is FIFA '21, so soccer just wrapped up at least for me last week since my team is out of the MLS in the bubble. MLS is that cup and Arsenal won the FA cup. I knew you'd care, Larry. I got that congratulatory phone call.
Larry Hryb: Hey. [crosstalk 00:46:08] I was giving you the hand clapping emojis on Instagram.
Jeff Rubenstein: Any emoji you do on Instagram is completely facetious and I know it.
Larry Hryb: And it's funny because you know me so you're like, "I know what he's doing here. I know what he's doing."
Jeff Rubenstein: Of course. But I think you've gone past the point where it's facetious, and now you're like, "Well, I actually feel..." You want to say something, you just don't feel like, I'm psyche 101-ing you here, you don't think an emoji carries enough weight to respond, so you're doing it facetiously, but at the same time, deep down, you care.
Larry Hryb: I do. I do.
Jeff Rubenstein: You care.
Larry Hryb: I do. I do the same thing to somebody else that I follow on Instagram who posts the same thing every, not that you post this every day, he posts the same thing every single day and I'm like okay.
Jeff Rubenstein: Oh. At least I only post about soccer once a week. Well anyway, FIFA [crosstalk 00:46:52]-
Larry Hryb: Not anymore.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... [crosstalk 00:46:52] soccer '21, FIFA '21 is ramping up. Well, it is. It is. And so, a really good poster, our good folks in the UK that are on the Xbox On Team, wrote us the post-
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:47:04] Oh, that game, yeah.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... that got to see FIFA '21 this week-
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:47:06] Good lads they are. Good lads.
Jeff Rubenstein: They are good lads. And you tend to see a nice jump for generational leaps and sports game, so very eager to see FIFA on Xbox Series X and very eager to see NBA 2K21 on Xbox Series X as well.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:47:22] Is he back? Is he back?
Jeff Rubenstein: That's always the game.
Larry Hryb: Is he going to be back?
Jeff Rubenstein: Not yet. Yeah. Of course he's going to be back, Larry.
Larry Hryb: [Jeffrey Dean 00:47:28][crosstalk 00:47:28] is back there.
Jeff Rubenstein: Jeffrey Dean the millionaire right now is in the bubble in Orlando. We have a lot in common. And he'll be rejoining a team to be named later sometime this fall.
Larry Hryb: Excellent. That's so much goodness.
Jeff Rubenstein: I can't wait.
Larry Hryb: So much goodness. We've got a-
Jeff Rubenstein: It's good times.
Larry Hryb: August. I can't believe we're in August now. It just blows my mind.
Jeff Rubenstein: No. No. Yeah. I read a very disturbing news story the other day and it said Seattle's march to winter gloom begins today. And this was like on August 3rd, and it's because that was the first day with average temperature over history goes down by like 0.1 point. We peak. We peak on August 2nd, and so we have like three weeks of summer, and we're already more than halfway out of it, and then we just sort of go woo.
Larry Hryb: Well, that's why I'm going to move this studio to either Palm Springs, Maui, someplace with more than I don't know, 15 days of sun a year.
Jeff Rubenstein: Wow.
Larry Hryb: I'll look [crosstalk 00:48:36].
Jeff Rubenstein: [crosstalk 00:48:36] This is why you get great music out of here. You get great video games come out of Seattle. We're inside a lot. We get to be indoors a lot.
Larry Hryb: Write code.
Jeff Rubenstein: Oh, the code. Chef's kiss.
Larry Hryb: All right. We're going to wrap it up here. I hope you guys enjoyed the interviews. I know, Jeff, you've got to run to another meeting, I've got to go to another meeting. Because we have a console to launch later this year.
Jeff Rubenstein: We have a console to launch this year.
Larry Hryb: We have a lot of meetings that we're going to do. But we hope you enjoyed the show. Do they have to hit a bell or something? Or what do they have to do, Jeff?
Jeff Rubenstein: I think you should like, you should subscribe, you should ring that bell, so you get the notifications. Look, subscribing's not enough. You still don't always see the stuff that you subscribe to.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:49:14] And just maybe-
Jeff Rubenstein: And that's why you have to do the bell.
Larry Hryb: Just maybe you may see my drop down or reply in the comments on YouTube. It's rare.
Jeff Rubenstein: You got to do it, Larry. You got to do it.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:49:20] It's rare. It's rare when it happens. Anyway, on behalf of Jeff and everybody here at Xbox, thanks for all your feedback on the new store that we showed you in the last show, and it's rolling out to folks now, and beyond. We'll have more details on that in the future. Thanks to Kareem and the rest of my guests for coming on the show. So Jeff, I won't see you again for another week, right?
Jeff Rubenstein: I've got to rest. Two shows in a week? I'm like phew.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:49:44] I know. I know. I hear you doing this to the contract going, "I don't think that's what we're supposed to be doing."
Jeff Rubenstein: Your people will be hearing from my people, Larry.
Larry Hryb: I got to pay extra for this. Anyway. All right, gang. We'll see you guys on the next show. Thanks for watching, thanks for listening, and stay safe out there. Jeff, anything you want to say before we go?
Jeff Rubenstein: Goodbye, everybody.
Larry Hryb: Bye-bye, everybody. We'll see you guys next time. Bye-bye.