Maja & Chad Moldenhauer
Principal Product Manager for Connected TV apps at Xbox
Director of Product Management for Gaming at Samsung
REBECCA GORDIUS: Games in this podcast range from E to M.
[GENTLE THEME MUSIC]
LARRY HYRB: Hi, it's Larry Hyrb, Xbox's Major Nelson. Welcome to the official Xbox podcast. We are so happy that you joined us, that you liked and subscribed and did all those great things and rang the bell. Let's bring in the gang here. We've got Jeff over there on the left and Rebecca on the right. How are you guys doing? Good to see you all back for another week.
REBECCA GORDIUS: We're all back together, yeah.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: But apart.
REBECCA GORDIUS: I guess it was just me that took last week off.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Together--
REBECCA GORDIUS: Yeah.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Together but apart. In our natural habitat.
LARRY HYRB: That's right, I totally forgot you were gone last week, Rebecca. You've actually been quite busy, and we're going to talk about that in just, a minute. But it's been a fun week of playing games, at least for Jeff and I. I know that we've had some fun stuff, and so we'll just get right into that. And Jeff, why don't we start with you? What do you got going on behind you?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yeah, yeah. So last week when we were talking about playing Fall Guys, and we ended up playing with Phil-- by the way, I've gotten zero more crowns since that time, but it is what it is. That's--
LARRY HYRB: I told you!
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: That's just how it goes.
LARRY HYRB: Phil and I are lucky, lucky, lucky ones.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Exactly. Well during that-- while we were playing, we were just talking about some other games. And he had mentioned Trek to Yomi as being just a visual masterpiece that looks like it's-- like a-- you know, like an old Japanese film. And so I started playing it. I mean, I've got to take the recommendation from Phil, right? I can't just be like, yeah, yeah, sure, whatever. So I download it--
LARRY HYRB: You can't dismiss it. Yeah, whatever.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Turns out--
REBECCA GORDIUS: The man knows games.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: --it's really good.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Yeah.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: He knows what he's talking about. So it's got this-- again, this old, sort of like Seven Samurai visual film-esque quality to it. And I have to say--
LARRY HYRB: Great movie, by the way.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Like visually, it just, it never gets old. And I will say the-- it's essentially a 2D hack and slash in a way. And so in terms of like-- you're usually one on one or one on a small group. And you can just parry and attack and you learn different slashes and things like that.
But the gameplay is relatively simple. And in my mind it's-- and there's a couple of bosses that I may have had some trouble with, but never for very long. It's just like, I get to keep seeing this world. And it sort of brings home that motif which we don't see all that often, I would say, in Western film, in a really interesting way.
And so I would say I highly recommend it. It's in Game Pass. So Trek to Yomi, give it a shot. I think it's only like six or seven hours long. And I just enjoyed every bit that I've played of it.
LARRY HYRB: You know, the Overwatch 2 beta is out now and you can go download that. But so the other evening, Jeff, you and I were trying to play and we had some timing issues because we had some family stuff going on. But I jumped on. So I was playing it and I was like, oh, this is Overwatch.
And Phil sends me a party invite. And so I take the party invite. We're chatting. And he's like, oh, I want to download it. And so he went-- you have to buy this add-on pack that allows you access to the beta, right?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: There's a couple of different ways. So they had sort of an application, or you could enter to be part of the beta. We'll actually be speaking with the VP of Overwatch-- which you know, I always considered myself to be that. But it turns out there's a real--
REBECCA GORDIUS: [LAUGHS]
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: VP of Overwatch. He probably makes the game-- a little bit later on, Jon Spector. And we can talk a little bit more about that.
LARRY HYRB: You do, yeah.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Exactly, looking forward to that. And if you were not selected for that and you definitely want to get in now, then yes, there's a pack that you can buy that will get you stuff for Overwatch 2's launch in October, but gets you into this beta now that will be going on for the next-- I want to say several weeks. So it's-- I didn't want to wait so I got it.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Yeah, like Junkyard Queen looks really cool. Like the cinematics for Overwatch are really good. So I've seen that. But haven't actually played, no.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Oh you should--
LARRY HYRB: Maybe we should play--
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: It's very team based.
LARRY HYRB: When it comes out, as Jeff said later.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: This is-- in a battle royale-- and I think a great example was when we were playing Fall Guys last. You could just go on like a run and hey, guess what? I won the whole thing.
In Overwatch, it's such a team sport that even if you've got someone who's just unstoppable, it still can be challenging for that one person to completely determine everything that's happening if the rest of the team is not on it. So I felt a team of like well collaborating amateurs can sometimes do really, really well as opposed to-- you know, you might-- an all-star that isn't playing really well--
REBECCA GORDIUS: Yeah.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: With the rest of their team. And team composition and all this stuff really matters. And saying, OK, we're not working out well. I'm going to switch to this other character who's going to really be able to counter what they're doing, and then they can do the same. And it's an ongoing--
LARRY HYRB: We need heals. We need buffs.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: That's why it's a good e-sport, I think, is no two games seem to necessarily play out the same way. So I've been playing-- really getting used to it. Because traditional Overwatch is six on six. Overwatch 2 is five on five, and that really opens up the map.
And I found that as a support character, I have to be a lot more careful. Because I've usually-- a lot of times I've stood close to a tank while doing healing and contributing where I could offensively. But there's only one tank if you're playing in the role queue, and there's two healers.
And if you're-- and so I found much more frequently the opponent's DPS is getting behind the lines and getting me in the back and I'm gone. And so I've got to really-- I have to smarten up, I think, the way I play. And improve my communication, I think, with other players or stick with maybe a more mobile support character like Lucio, who can get away from bad situations. And if I'm playing with a less mobile--
LARRY HYRB: Can't stop, won't stop.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: --character, may be sticking closer than-- exactly. Stick closer with the tank if I was using like Baptiste or something. So anyway, it's interesting to see that. But even the classic characters, Larry, have been reworked in ways-- sometimes in really big ways like Doom Fist or Erisa, or sometimes in very subtle ways which I'm still trying to figure out. I felt like some of my moves, I was like, wow, I'm doing a lot more damage.
LARRY HYRB: We talked about Bastion on text, right?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Bastion's also a really big rework because it could use that tank mode and then move like without its-- so I'm trying to figure like, when should I be scared?
LARRY HYRB: But then the ult is-- the ult is like-- the ult is kind of like this area of denial in some regards.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yeah, yeah. There are certain things where I'm like, that thing never used to give me trouble. And now you know, Molten Core--
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, like what was that?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: --was one of them where I'm like-- yeah, exactly. And Erisa throwing a spear at me and I was like, well that's not something I used to have to worry about. So--
REBECCA GORDIUS: [LAUGHS]
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: It's a cool adjustment and it's in the beta period. So I'm looking forward to talking to Jon Spector and asking him like, what the team is looking for in this particular beta, and what things we might expect to see added and change between now and October, when the full game launches. And by the way, that will be free to play so--
REBECCA GORDIUS: Hmm, thanks!
LARRY HYRB: And there'll be a story mode too. Looking forward to that.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Good time for me to jump in then.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: That will be coming in 2023 from what they've been saying.
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, further on.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: We'll talk about that.
REBECCA GORDIUS: OK.
LARRY HYRB: A lot of Overwatch 2. Rebecca, what have you been up to?
REBECCA GORDIUS: Yeah, it's been a busy month. So we did the podcast in studio with Jeff. And so I briefly talked about Minecraft Legends, which is the newest game from Mojang Studios, and it's what I've been spending most of my time on. But aside from that, my team also did a creator summit.
So we used to do these in person in Stockholm and invite content creators from around the world to come and hang out with Mojang folks at the Swedish office. Obviously with pandemic, we couldn't do that, so we transitioned to a virtual format. And so we actually did a get together a week and a half, two weeks ago--
LARRY HYRB: So an IRL get-together.
REBECCA GORDIUS: --where we-- oh, no no no, sorry. It was virtual. Yeah. So it was just like--
LARRY HYRB: OK.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Yeah, so we basically just did some presentations, some mingling, played games together, hung out on Discord. It was a cool experience. It was a lot of work for my team, but it's always really good to kind of foster those relationships with content creators. They're so important to the gaming community and to the Minecraft team in particular.
I also have a few goodies. So we sent out like little care packages to everyone. Like hi, hope you're going to be excited for the summit. So I have a few items I just want to share because I sent one to myself because-- why not?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: You got to test it out-- quality assurance.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Right.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: It's just good-- it's just good.
REBECCA GORDIUS: So I have a hat.
LARRY HYRB: A dad hat.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Oh.
REBECCA GORDIUS: [LAUGHS]
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: It's not a dad hat, Larry.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Got some socks because the-- so the Wild Update--
LARRY HYRB: Oh, I love those.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Aren't these so cute? Yeah. So the Wild Update just came out in Minecraft, which includes frogs. And we love frogs, so the whole summit was kind of frog themed. We even had little stickers and magnets that had the frog and our little logo on it. And then really cool is this big ceramic mug, and this is like an actual mug.
LARRY HYRB: That's like the mug you put on your table to hold pencils and things, right? Because it is massive.
REBECCA GORDIUS: I do have a plastic one of those back at my desk in Redmond, holding like highlighters and stuff. But this one is-- this one's nice. I mean you could put hot liquids in there. It actually is available on Amazon. And then--
LARRY HYRB: I was going to say, is any of this stuff available for people that can buy it?
REBECCA GORDIUS: [LAUGHS] Yeah. So this one, you could get it at Amazon or different retailers. I think I saw it at like Walmart, Target. It's pretty widely available. It's just Minecraft ceramic mug. There's like different mobs and different--
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: I feel like I've seen a creeper one.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Different mugs too. Yeah, exactly. The creeper one's so popular. The TNT one-- I think there was like a news anchor who had the TNT one on his desk one time. And our whole Minecraft team was like, oh my god. It was like the coolest thing ever. We were like, oh, we made it!
Anyway, so I've been really busy with that. I've been visiting some friends and family in the Bay and in Seattle and just kind of-- I don't know why I packaged these things around the busiest time of the year. But anyway, so I haven't been home that much.
But I have been home for the last like four days, and so I've been catching up on some TV. I finished Obi-Wan-- Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Ooh, yeah! I'm only like three or four episodes in. So-- uh--
REBECCA GORDIUS: OK.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: We'll keep this spoiler free. But I'm enjoying it.
REBECCA GORDIUS: So spoiler free but--
LARRY HYRB: I finished it.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Don't-- so I will say, don't give up. Because I was not super enjoying it all the way through. But the final episode and a half, I was like, OK. Like I actually came away with a pretty good feeling about it last night.
Briefly I'll mention, I started playing before I took off for like three weeks-- started playing Lost in Random. It's really good. I picked it back up. So it's a third person action adventure-- very Tim Burton-esque.
I think I talked about a little bit on the last episode we did before we went dark. But it's really good. Still playing through that, kind of learning the story and the rules of the world. It's a world that's bound by rules and dice and things like that. It's a pretty cool concept.
But then one other thing I wanted to ask was if you guys have played Marvel Avengers. I feel like I've heard a little bit about this. It's just an action adventure game but it kind of takes some of the storylines from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But I wanted to ask because I saw that we announced that they're adding Mighty Thor-- a.k.a. Jane Foster-- to the game. And I was like, oh, that's so cool. But I don't know, have guys ever played that one?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: I played through the campaign when it first came out.
LARRY HYRB: I-- yeah, Jeff has. I'm not a-- I don't really participate in the Marvel Universe. Not like Jeff.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Oh, that's right. Barking up the wrong tree there. I forgot.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yeah. No that was-- a lot of the story really focuses around Kamala Khan. And so that's why coming in with Ms. Marvel-- which I've really been enjoying, a new episode every week or so. I think we're up to three-- episode four maybe, this week. She's a character that you end up using within the game.
It's definitely a little bit different than in a TV show, but ultimately she was sort of a fun and interesting character. And you do get to go through the different-- you choose Iron Man at one point and Black Widow and Captain America and Hulk. And I think that might be it. But then they've added characters since. So I have not played since I beat the campaign very early on. But yeah, very cool to see them adding in Jane Foster, right?
REBECCA GORDIUS: Yeah, yeah. I figured it's on Game Pass. So Thor, Love and Thunder comes out next week--
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Today, is it?
REBECCA GORDIUS: I believe?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: It's soon--
REBECCA GORDIUS: No.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: It's definitely soon.
REBECCA GORDIUS: I thought it was July 8.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: You--
REBECCA GORDIUS: Or 7th.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: I'm not going to argue with you. You're probably right.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Well, I figured that after watching that, it'll be a good time to hop in. It's on Game Pass. New content's been added. So anyway, just throwing it out there.
LARRY HYRB: Jeff, we've got some news that we want to roll over before we get into these beefy interviews. Can you bring us up to speed, if you would please?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Sure can. Actually there's a lot of games that have updates. And that was one of the ones I had on there. So additional games with updates-- a big one that we saw, and a lot of people were playing at Play Days at Key Three is Outriders Worldslayer.
So Outriders, you know, that was a day one Game Pass game-- last year, I want to say. Spent a lot of time with that. But this Worldslayers update is a huge new-- it's a add-on.
You have to pay for it-- content with a new campaign, new features, a new endgame, so a whole lot of stuff. It's like a really big addition. And that is available now in Early Access. So if you enjoyed Outriders, you want more of it, you want to see some of the new features that they're bringing, this is a huge meaty update for that.
Tiny Tina's Wonderlands also has a big update called Molten Mirrors. And so there's new bosses-- there's four weeks of bosses, loot, combat, all kinds of stuff there. That is the game I've been meaning to get to and is prominent on my stack of shame. And a few other games-- The Hunter, Call of the Wild; Roller Champions-- also have new updates.
And in more Japanese gaming news, very excited that this week, Star Ocean, The Divine Force-- which is the latest Star Ocean game. That series goes all the way back to the PlayStation One, which is when I first played it. So looking forward to playing Star Ocean, The Divine Force, coming to Xbox October 27. It's published by Square Enix. It's made by tri-Ace, so really a great pedigree and classic JRPG action. Very much looking forward to that one.
LARRY HYRB: Fun. Far Cry 5 is available now with Game Pass. He and I have spent a lot of time in Hope County getting into a lot of trouble. The--
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Punching cows for achievements. Not my proudest moment.
LARRY HYRB: Let's just say the bovine-- the bovines are not happy with us. So--
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: We were tenderizing, Larry.
LARRY HYRB: That was a lot-- [LAUGHS] That was the silliest. Remember it was like-- it was like, it was dark. It was like at night, and we're out there just punching cows. It kind of felt like I was in college again. It was weird.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yeah, I think that was the first Far Cry where you could play like all parts of it in co-op, if I recall correctly.
LARRY HYRB: Yeah.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: And so we immediately honed in on some of the weirder achievements and decided, let's go for these at the very beginning of the game. Because I think we wanted to get like a-- that game's all about the silent sniper rifle. Once you get that, you're like-- you're pretty much--
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, game over.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Set for much of the game. Yeah.
REBECCA GORDIUS: OK.
LARRY HYRB: It's OP. But yeah, Far Cry 5 available now. So if you have a Game Pass buddy-- if you have a friend who has Game Pass-- and you should. All your friends should have it. Go play the co-op. I highly-- Jeff and I highly recommend it.
Another title that's in Game Pass now is something called House Flipper, which is, uh-- it sounds like it's pretty much exactly what you think it is. Buy a house, renovate it, and sell it. So that's-- apparently it's now Real Estate Simulator. That's now available in Game Pass.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Hey, those sims are-- they're relaxing. They're a good way to unwind at the end of the day.
LARRY HYRB: I did the lawnmower one a couple of times. I mean, you're right, they absolutely are. And there's sims for all sorts of crazy stuff. I have a friend of mine-- one of the kids in the neighborhood up the street plays a lot of-- he plays Lawn Mowing Simulator in his VR, and he won't cut the real lawn in his mom's lawn.
It's the strangest dynamic. Anyway--
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: When do they start giving out achievements for that?
REBECCA GORDIUS: Yeah. Ignoring real-- ignoring real world chores to do online chores.
LARRY HYRB: Virtual stuff. I don't-- I have to go double click on that a little more. Anyway, we've got some interviews. Rebecca, can you bring us into these interviews? Because it is quite a week of interviews.
REBECCA GORDIUS: It's a lot. All right, so first up as you might have guessed from Jeff's shirt over there, Cuphead-- So first up, we have Maya and Chad Moldenhauer. They're going to come on and talk to you-- I think Larry-- about Cuphead-- The Delicious Last Course.
LARRY HYRB: Yep.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Excellent naming for everything Cuphead. Then we have Jon Spector coming to talk about Overwatch 2. As Jeff mentioned, he is the VP of Overwatch 2, not Jeff. Then we have Mike Lucero and Harrison Hoffman, both from the Samsung team. But Mike's going to talk about Samsung TVs, and then Harrison is going to talk about the Samsung Xbox app. So let's get into those.
LARRY HYRB: The Delicious Last Course for Cuphead is now available. And joining us today is, oh, our good friends from StudioMDHR. How are you guys doing, Maya and Chad? It's always great to have you on the show!
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Fantastic. It's always great to be here. We love you, Larry, and the whole team. So we're very excited to be able to celebrate a day like today with you.
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: Thank you so much for having us.
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, this is exciting! I mean this is-- this DLC, I mean, it's this many years in the making, right? I mean--
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: I know. It depends on where you read it. 10 years, 15 years, eight years. In truth to be honest, we probably announced it a little bit too early.
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: Yeah. It's fair to say.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: We got very-- we get very excited. But we really put pen to paper in 2019. But at the end of the day, quality comes first. And until it was exactly what we wanted it to be, it wasn't going to come out before that. So we're very proud of what we delivered.
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: And I think we can honestly say this is a really good lesson for, don't announce too early, you fools.
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, well that's always one of the things. You know what? You learned a valuable lesson. But--
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Yeah.
LARRY HYRB: I mean, let's talk about it. You guys have had-- since we talked-- we talked I think about-- boy, I think when you originally announced it, like probably or like confirming it a year ago. But a lot has happened since then. I see Cuphead on Netflix. You certainly have the DLC.
There's like merchandise. I mean, this thing is just-- the rocket ship continues to go like this for Cuphead. How has that been? Because I remember both of you-- Chad and Maya, of course, your brother, Chad, when we would meet at E3-- 2015 or '14 or--
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Oh my god.
LARRY HYRB: --whatever it was, right? And you guys were on this journey. And so to be-- and certainly I was watching it from an arm's length away. It's just been so exciting to see Cuphead become this video game, and frankly cultural phenomenon in the late 2000s. So I want to congratulate you on that. Thank you.
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: Thanks for that.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: It's just as foreign to us as well. Looking backwards, you can connect all the dots. But back in 2014, 2015, there was no way we could have forecasted or foreshadowed where we would be today. We're so grateful for Netflix for giving us this opportunity and bringing the IP to like a whole new genre of entertainment. It has been a wild year.
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: Yeah, it's--
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: I don't know how to place it.
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: Humbling too, in a way. It just-- to be in this situation. And we're super, super lucky for how everything worked out. It's just-- we always say this, but we're pinching ourselves all the time.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Yeah.
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: It doesn't feel quite real. It's almost like a fairy tale.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: I know. We've been so repetitive in terms of saying like, we're shocked, we're stunned. We're so excited. We're thrilled. But that feeling has not gone away at all. And so it's hard to come up with some new--
Feelings because it's just-- it's been a wild ride.
LARRY HYRB: All right let's get to it. What are-- what is The Delicious Last Course all about? I mean, you kind of see it here. Let me bring down the audio. It looks like Ms. Chalice. We got some good platforming action. But how would you describe The Delicious Last Course for Cuphead?
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Yeah. Well the DLC in a nutshell is our biggest island yet. It's five supersized bosses, lots of secrets. Don't let any rock go unturned. There's lots more to discover that we're trying to, you know, keep under wraps for people who may not have had a chance to play it in the last day.
But what you're seeing here is one of our bosses, Mortimer Freeze, and this is his last phase. And we see Ms. Chalice who's using her super just now. And some of her new movesets in terms of the fact that she has a double jump, she comes with an extra HP, she has a-- she uses a dash to parry. And she has an invincible role as well.
So one of the key things about DLC is that it comes with this new playable character, Ms. Chalice, who is built from the ground up. She's not a reskin of Cuphead and Mugman. Thousands and thousands of new frames just for her alone. And we think it's going to give experienced players a whole new way of playing the game all over again in kind of a new way.
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: Yeah. We're super excited that our fans get to take Ms. Chalice and play with her in the original game as well, not just in DLC. And that was a big thing we always pushed for. Because it-- she plays different enough that the game almost feels new in a way.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Yeah, it definitely does.
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: And aside from that, we-- the other fun things are that we kind of pushed our craft to the limit within the 1930s era boundary-- we still pushed ourselves towards that Fantasia realm. You know, we amped up the amount of animation and the large scale of the big band and orchestra. So everything is kind of like ratcheted up to that next level.
LARRY HYRB: Now it's interesting, because you talked-- Maya talked a little bit about Ms. Chalice, who you can play in the new-- in the downloadable content. You said a couple of things there. She's got a double jump, she's got increased HP. But she's not like God mode, right? I mean, it's not like--
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: No. No, no, no. Definitely not. In fact, to play as Ms. Chalice, you have to equip a charm. And so you actually lose that charm. And so to kind of bring it back-- she's a bit of an amalgamation of all the other charms.
But to say that she's like an easy mode or God mode or anything like that is not-- is not the way that we built her or intended her for her to be. It's just a whole new-- and a different way to experience it. For me personally, I love her double jump but I don't do well with the dash parry. I prefer Cuphead or Mugman's timing the parry instead. So I think it's just going to cater to a wider audience maybe, in terms of different capabilities.
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: Yeah, it's about having more options. So somebody might be struggling with a certain boss fight. And instead of equipping the charm for Cuphead and Mugman, they'll play as Ms. Chalice. And because she plays so much differently, that might be the edge they need for that boss. But there also could be another boss where Cuphead and Mugman feels more natural. So it's just adding to our-- the player's toolkit.
LARRY HYRB: You know, you guys, you talked about, Maya, just a moment ago about there was all new animation and so forth for the DLC and thousands of frames and so forth. But other than not announcing too early, what else have you learned from this DLC? [LAUGHS]
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Um, it's-- we're very bad at putting a line in the sand in terms of scope, and where to stop. The beautiful thing about 1930s animation was, there were no boundaries. And you could-- the sky was the limit. You took inanimate objects, you turned them into something totally different. There were no restrictions.
And so we kind of really take that to heart in terms of constantly pushing the boundaries, and like what if the wizard turned into this and did this and had this much longer of an intro? And so we really need to pull it in sometimes, and learn to kind of stop and say, OK. This is good enough for this boss and let's move on to the next.
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: And it's a little--
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: But it's been fun. Like--
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: No, it's been amazing. But it's a little bit of coming into animation like-- well, let's call this film quality animation a little green. So you do these things where you have stretch goals to make an intro for a boss look really cool and have a lot of energy in it. And you-- not blindly go into it, but you go into it thinking it's going to be a lot of work. But some parts of Cuphead DLC-- the intro for a boss has almost as many frames as an entire boss in the original Cuphead.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Yeah
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: And it's that kind of stuff that can add up fast. And part of DLC maybe is just our studio growing and learning too.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Yeah.
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, I mean it looks beautiful. I want to point something out though. Because the game is famously unforgiving-- the base game-- to the point of embarrassingly. I haven't finished it yet. So for the DLC--
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: Don't admit it.
LARRY HYRB: I will admit it. I'm always open and honest.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Be proud about it. Be proud.
LARRY HYRB: But I do-- you know, I've got it up here behind me. But do people need to finish the base game to get to the DLC? Or how will they access-
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: No.
LARRY HYRB: The DLC? So I wanted to ask you that question. Because this-- a lot of people want to know.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Yeah, no. So DLC in itself is a natural progression and extension to the core game, but you don't have to finish the core game in order to experience it. You only have to beat one mausoleum, and then a mystery character will appear at a nearby shore or dock. And you talk to them and they will take you over to DLC Island.
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: So if a player has already played the game and has a save file, a lot of people will just be able to jump into that save file, find the mystery character.
LARRY HYRB: So if I-- if I'm far enough in the game, will it proactively unlock? Is that the way it works?
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Yes.
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: Yeah.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Yeah, if you're far enough, as long as you beat that first mausoleum, that character will be at a nearby shore-- shoreline-- that you can talk to.
LARRY HYRB: Another excuse to go explore this fantastical island that you all have created and that's straight out of the '30s and '40s animation. I absolutely love it. It's really-- it's such-- it's such a delight to be able to play the game and enjoy the-- just artwork.
I mean, I've always talked for many years. I've talked about the artwork of video games. And I will never-- there's two games that stop me dead in my tracks, in my years in gaming. One of them was Bioshock, because I love art deco and I was a diver. So I was like, what? And the second is your game. As a--
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Oh my god.
LARRY HYRB: As a fan--
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: That's a tall order. Oh my goodness.
LARRY HYRB: No, I'm serious. Because as a fan of animation, my sisters and I grew up with that animation when we were little, much like you guys do. We've talked about this on previous shows. That it stopped me dead in my tracks, and it spoke directly to my youth. And that's what I love.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Oh my gosh, that makes us so happy. Because that's exactly what we intended to do for ourselves, being like, what would be a cool game that we would want to see?
LARRY HYRB: Yeah.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: And so to find that parallel, and you as well, is huge. [LAUGHS]
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: But there's so much stuff that we haven't showed yet that like-- it's people like you who want them to see.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Yes!
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: Because there's some-- we pushed ourselves in a lot of ways. And we have to give a big shout out to the entire team. It's--
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Oh my gosh.
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: Even when you think of the art side-- it's a 2D game. And it seems like, oh, maybe it's not-- doesn't push the limits. But we-- in a lot of ways, we're pushing the video RAM limits for having that many frames stored in memory. So there's a ton of moving parts just to get this right. And we hope that our fans are blown away.
LARRY HYRB: I mean, in some ways, creating a standard regular cartoon that you tried to recreate in a video game is much easier. It's 24 frames a second, right? It's one-- you have so many more things to-- you know, areas to look at.
So it's just-- it's so great that you guys are finally shipping Cuphead's Delicious Last Course, available now. And it's available on-- I mean, this is an Xbox podcast. Certainly available on Xbox podcast. It's available on all the other platforms as well. Feel free to give those a shout out if you want to.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Yeah. Xbox like you said, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and GOG--
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: And Steam.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Steam. Yes.
LARRY HYRB: Don't forget Steam.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: We're tired.
LARRY HYRB: And again-- yeah, I know you guys are. So again, congratulations to you and the entire team on shipping The Delicious Last Course, available now. And it's, it's-- you know, you-- it's reasonably priced as well, right? Depending upon what platform you're on, but it's just--
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Absolutely, $7.99 USD, and then respective in your whatever currency--
LARRY HYRB: Whatever region you're in--
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: You shop in.
LARRY HYRB: Maya and Chad from StudioMDHR, great to talk to you about Cuphead. I mean I just-- I say this all the time. I love-- I could talk to you guys forever. I just don't want to wait another five years to talk to you again. So good luck.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: No.
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: We're getting smarter. It's going to be quicker.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Yeah.
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: We promise.
LARRY HYRB: All right. Again--
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Well--
LARRY HYRB: Congratulations on the launch. And on behalf of all the gamers and animation fans out there, thank you very much.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: Thank you.
CHAD MOLDENHAUER: Thank you so much.
MAYA MOLDENHAUER: And thank you guys. Thanks to all of our fans, thanks to everybody who made this possible. It would not have been possible without the response and feedback and love that we received over the last five years. We're very grateful.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: There is no game I have played more over the last decade than Overwatch. It has just completely resonated with me, my family-- and I got to tell you, when the Overwatch 2 beta became available this week on Xbox, I was in there hour one. And I've got a lot of questions. I'm wondering a lot of things. And well, who better to speak to than someone with probably the best title in gaming? Jon Spector, the VP of Overwatch, thanks for joining us this week.
JON SPECTOR: Hey, Jeff. Thanks for having me. It's awesome to be here.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: So I would love to know, just sort of like in the arc, from Overwatch 2 getting announced in 2019, to coming out in October 4. Where are we sort of in this timeline right now with Overwatch 2?
JON SPECTOR: Yeah, I think we're in the sort of most exciting phase now of the homestretch to launch. So we just started our second beta test this week. And now we have players on Xbox and PlayStation getting a chance to join us and test things. And this for the team, is I think both a just really important and exciting milestone, but also as we look ahead to October, it's another really good opportunity to go gather player feedback and make sure that we're setting ourselves up for success with the launch later this year.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: So I know there's a lot of types of things you could be looking at with this beta. There's sort of like metrics on the backend-- stuff that just by playing it, Blizzard is able to benefit. And know, OK, there's choke points here on this new map. Or maybe we need to tweak this you know, damage from this character, or something to that effect. Is there also sort of like that qualitative feedback that you're looking for from the fans that are playing? And if so, how would they be able to communicate that to you?
JON SPECTOR: Yeah, so the beta is incredibly important as a source of feedback for really the entire team. And we all kind of have our different things that matter to us. And so if you're on the hero design team, right, you're much more attuned to-- we've just released Junker Queen. How is she performing?
We'll be looking at pick rates, which I assume will be incredibly high because everyone wants to try her. But then also, win rates for players of different skill level. We'll be reading comments about how she feels to play. Is she fun? Is she exciting? Impactful?
And then if you go to other parts of the team, right, we'll be looking at, how is server stability working as we're adding more and more players? Even in the first 24 hours since this beta started, we've not surprisingly logged a fairly decent list of, hey, we need to fix this type of thing, or polish that type of thing. Where the ability to test at scale now just dwarfs even what we're able to do internally.
We've been play-testing this stuff. And we have an incredible QA team that spent a ton of time on this build. But getting it out to players, seeing it tested at scale, and gathering all that feedback is huge. So we have our teams listening on our various forums, social platforms.
And then also we'll just be monitoring all of the data as we look at, what are people playing? Which heroes are they picking? How are they performing? All of that type of stuff too.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: All right. Pretty comprehensive, and that's what you would expect over the course of the next few weeks as this second beta is going on. First beta for Xbox. So as you mentioned, see a lot of people picking Junker Queen. Usually out of the two tanks that I'm seeing, it's double Junker Queens on either end. And a lot of Sojourns as well because it's on Xbox, our first chance to get a hold of her. And having as a support character, been on the wrong end of Sojourn, I need to figure out-- I need to figure out how to counter her as soon as possible.
So let's talk about-- I think if you were coming as an Xbox player and you've been playing Overwatch several years at this point, and you've probably heard things like, OK, it's five on five-- you know, going at least with roll queue going to the single tank. But what are the other things besides new maps and some very reworked characters-- what are the things people should really be looking out for and making sure that they appreciate and sort of understand here in this Overwatch 2 beta?
JON SPECTOR: Sure, yeah. Just the scope of the shift, I think, from the Overwatch 1 experience into-- even just this beta test, right, let alone Overwatch 2 and when we launch in October, is massive. And that's-- as you mentioned, the new heroes and the new maps and we have a new game mode push.
The transition to 5v5, I think, is one of those things where-- from my perspective at least as a player, it feels a lot more impactful to go play in that 5v5 environment of like, I have more of an individual opportunity to really have an impact when I'm playing well in the game. And I think that's one of those shifts as well, where actually playing it and experiencing it-- like I can talk about it at length here. But I think the best way for players to really understand what that means for the game and the positive shift there is to go experience it, to test it out in the beta, to play it in October.
Under the hood we've also just made a ton of changes too. There's been a lot of engine optimization and tools optimizations. There are some features even when we look at where Xbox was when Overwatch 1 came out, versus some of what you can do on the platform today. Our sound team has had a really good time going through and making sure that we're taking more full advantage of the capabilities that are newer to Xbox now.
And there's some of those types of things too, where-- I forget the exact number, but it's tens of thousands of new voice lines that we've gone and added for the heroes. They make them come to life in a way that's just-- we know so many people love and are interested in the stories of these heroes. And some of the types of things we've done on Overwatch 2 are a little bit less flashy than, hey, look at this new hero, but I think still incredibly impactful in terms of, what are players going to see and feel when they jump in and get to check it out.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: All right. So this beta will be continuing through, I believe, July 18th or so. And right now the-- if you haven't been selected, there was an opportunity over on Overwatch.com to sort of submit-- I don't want to say an application, but sort of sign up to be part of it. Right now the guaranteed way is to pick up the Watch Point Pack, which I know contains a number of skins and other features that will be valuable once Overwatch 2 comes out in October, but gets you into there directly. Are there other ways that you're looking at, in being able to widen the pool of people who will be able to get into the beta as this continues on, or for other things that might be coming down the line?
JON SPECTOR: Yeah, so I mentioned before, right, like one of our primary goals-- actually the primary goal for this beta-- and it's less flashy, right? But the number one thing that we're trying to do with this beta is get ready for October. And so that means things like scaling up server stability and making sure that login flows are smooth and all of that. Like it's number one, even above hero balance or testing out other new game features or things like that.
And so what we've done is, we opened up that free sign up page and we let in a bunch of those players yesterday too. And then every couple of days for the next few weeks, we plan to let in more players off of that list. And then finally, we think kind of as we head into the last phase of this beta-- really, I think it's the middle of that final week, so four or five days before the beta wraps. That's when we've planned to say, hey, if you're on that signup list and you have not gotten in yet, we're going to pull everyone in then.
And from talking with our team, we're confident that we'll be able to do that, even though the list of players is really long and we've been just blown away by the interest in Overwatch 2 from our players. As you mentioned, that Watch Point Pack is another way in now. And players who go out and have bought that pack are granted immediate beta access when that comes in. Really is kind of a thank you for the early support of Overwatch 2 ahead of our October launch.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: So if you haven't already applied, go ahead and do that. And if you-- and if you have, keep an eye on the inbox. Just because you didn't get that invite here in the first couple of days doesn't mean it's not coming. And then stay tuned for-- I guess I would-- if you're not already following Overwatch social accounts, to figure out when there might be an opportunity for a larger group to get in.
So let's fast forward if we can. I'm sure you all are going to be very busy over the course of the next three, four weeks. But let's say it's now July 19th. The beta has closed. What is the first thing-- what does the team do? And how do you then sort of take what I'm sure are just reams of data, both numerical and qualitative, and make that final push to October 4? What is the team going to be doing then?
JON SPECTOR: Yeah, we actually don't even wait until the end of the beta to get going on some of this stuff. So even if it's been 24 hours and the team has-- hey, let's play-test this change or let's think about how we respond to that feedback or what we're seeing. This isn't-- we're going to wait the three weeks and then, oh, now we have everything we need. We're getting valuable information every day from our players and working to act on that.
We also have a whole bunch of different features and content and systems that are not in this beta test that we're planning to deliver in October. And so a lot of how we'll spend the next few months is adding all of those various things to the build, getting our new support hero ready to launch in October as well, and finalizing some of those types of things.
On top of, we're going to discover new opportunities to polish things up, to address bugs, to potentially make some additional balance changes, and other things. And that's kind of the new information, that I would say, will come out from this beta test. Whereas a lot of what we know we need to do for October, we've known for a while and the team has been working on.
LARRY HYRB: Well, when that support character is announced, please make sure to share that information with us here so we can share it out. Because you know, I'm in danger of becoming like a Moira one-trick, and I need to branch out here. So looking forward to more options there. So--
JON SPECTOR: We've got some Moira changes coming for you in the middle of this beta. The team has been working on that stuff, and we've teased it a little bit. But there's-- there actually is some fun coming for Moira players shortly. And then-- yeah. I think the-- you know, the biggest thing, right, like the new support hero is amazing. We can't wait to introduce them to the world. And we'll do that ahead of our launch too.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: I don't know that anyone introduces new characters quite the way you all do. Because it's not just, here's what they are and what they do, but here's their story and all kinds of good stuff. So we'll be looking forward to that. And if you do read Xbox Wire-- which if you're watching this-- we will have all of that information for you. Making that commitment now.
So let's talk about those of us playing Overwatch 1. I know I'm still grinding towards another gold gun, which I'm pretty close to getting. I would love to have in time for October.
What happens to those who have Overwatch 1? You've got-- you might have invested a lot of money into different skins and sprays and, you know, emotes and a million other things. Of course you have a whole history of playing with all of these characters. What happens on October 4 to you?
JON SPECTOR: So a core goal for our team this entire time has been to bring our players along for this journey with us, and to do that as seamlessly as possible. And so on October 4, if you're an Overwatch 1 player, you'll effectively be prompted to just go download Overwatch 2 and to have that come through sort of as the way that you would typically download an update, except using that language really sells short what it is. But from a technical perspective, that's effectively how it will work-- where hey, you're now downloading Overwatch 2.
And ahead of that, we're going to be sharing more details with players leading up to this moment. But we're also doing some of the tech work behind the scenes for things like being able to link up your accounts for cross-progression-- which for players who have played on console and want the opportunity to bring their collection with them to PC, or vice versa, that's a pretty exciting thing that we're going to be able to do. Where I've heard countless-- hey, I unlocked this super cool exclusive skin back when I played on PC and now I play on Xbox. And I don't have it and I wish I did.
And we're going to be sharing more about how that works, but we'll do that ahead of October 4, And then on October 4, we're going to be bringing all of our Overwatch 1 players into that Overwatch 2 experience and doing that as seamlessly as we can. And you mentioned too, right, we know that players have put a ton of time, energy, and sometimes money as well into building their Overwatch 1 collection and obtaining skins that they love for these heroes. And we're making sure that you bring your collection along with you into Overwatch 2 as well.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Very much appreciated. I have a daughter who has unlocked every single Diva unlock, and it's good to know that will be intact and there'll be some cool stuff coming down the line. So last thing I just wanted to ask you. Like you said, I mean, between the-- you know, under the hood and the very visible changes with new characters and skins and everything, new modes, so many different things-- is there one thing that you can just point out and say, I'm just really proud of the team and really proud that we're going to be bringing this to the Overwatch playing faithful on October 4, or even now in this beta?
JON SPECTOR: Yeah, for me it really is kind of the everything. Like it feels unfair to say this is the one thing that I'm most excited about, because the team has just done so much to build and deliver an incredible experience to players. I think the thing that I'm proud of now is the team's ability to really pivot and shift our strategy to get a polished, amazing PvP release out this year.
And Aaron and others on our team have talked about this-- our game director-- have talked about this at length. But this was a shift in strategy for the team, where we'd been planning all of the PvP content and all of the PvE content to come out all at once at some future date. And we realized and have really shifted a lot of time, attention, and effort toward changing our strategy, where we wanted to be able to bring all of this amazing PVP experience to players sooner.
And the team has done an incredible job of building the new heroes and the new maps and the new looks for all of our heroes, and all of those under the hood improvements, different systems-- in a way where we can deliver that in October. And then continue to build on top of that with our season two update nine weeks later, our season three update nine weeks later, and then in 2023, starting to deliver those PvE experiences as well. So I'm just really proud of our team, I think, for being able to make that pivot and to deliver something that we're all really proud of for players this year.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: An exciting couple of weeks here for us beta players. And only three months really, and change, until we get to really begin this journey with Overwatch 2. Jon, I know you've got a lot going on as the VP of Overwatch-- again, coolest title. So thanks for taking time to join us here on the official Xbox podcast.
JON SPECTOR: Thanks for having me, and I hope you continue to have a great time in the beta.
LARRY HYRB: The Xbox app is now available across all 2022 Samsung Smart TVs where cloud gaming is available. Joining me today is Harrison Hoffman, who helped build this amazing experience. Harrison, great to see you.
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Hey, it's great to see you too, Larry. Thanks for having me on.
LARRY HYRB: You know, It's funny. I know you've listened to the show for a long time, but this is the first time I've had you on the show. So welcome, and apologies. You know, we've had opportunities I guess in the past. But we're thrilled to have you here today. Before we get into the news and the Samsung app availability, which is now available, tell us a little bit about what you do at Xbox and your journey and what brought you here.
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Yeah, for sure. I'll just tell a quick story about my history with Xbox if that's cool. So I got my first Xbox when Halo 2 came out, when I was in high school, and like totally fell in love with it then. And you know, getting on Xbox Live and playing with friends, it's just such a kind of a formative moment. And then in the lead up to the Xbox 360 coming out in 2005, is when I actually started listening to your podcast.
So the summer before the 360 release, I had a summer job at a golf course and had all sorts of different jobs, you know, where I was cleaning cars and cleaning bathrooms and taking care of customers and all sorts of things. But my favorite part of the job was, I got to drive the golf cart that picks up balls on the driving range. So people are you know, trying to--
LARRY HYRB: Trying to hit you.
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Aim at you and hit you with golf balls basically. And the good part about that job is I could bring my old-school iPod, which was loaded up with the Major Nelson podcast. And I listened to your podcast while I was doing that job. So from there to-- you know, I joined team Xbox back in 2015 and have worked on a bunch of different things since then. You know, most recently before this, I worked on the user experience for Series X and S for about three years before launch. And then after that shipped, I started to look at Smart TV and how we can start bringing the Xbox experience to more people. So--
LARRY HYRB: So and that's-- so first of all, thank you for that. I'm so glad you-- that people aren't hitting balls at you anymore.
HARRISON HOFFMAN: It's a little bit better now.
LARRY HYRB: It's so great to have you on the team and work on this. And of course you're here today to talk about the Xbox app on Samsung televisions-- the 2022 Samsung televisions. Tell us a little bit about it. Because it shipped a few days ago in the middle of the week. Tell us what this enables and what it does. And I have a little bit of video here to show you, but I want to have you kind of deliver-- deliver the information here.
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Yeah, for sure. So just a little bit of context first. So obviously, you hear my background. Like, I'm a console guy. I kind of come from the console world. I worked on Series X and S. And you know, myself and the team just have tremendous appreciation for the gaming experience that consoles bring to the TV and we look forward to continuing to innovate in that space.
But we also know that not everybody is going to buy a dedicated gaming device, like a game console, to play for a variety of different reasons. So this is really all about just expanding access to Xbox gaming to more people. So what we've released today is the Xbox app for Samsung Smart TV, and that's going to be available in our cloud gaming markets across Samsung's 2022 line of TVs.
You can just go into your Samsung TV, find the app in Samsung's Gaming hub, and launch into it. All you have to do is pair your favorite Bluetooth controller-- like an Xbox controller, or even a PlayStation controller. And then you're off and playing games on your TV via cloud gaming with no console required. So obviously as we announced about a month ago now, you can get in here and play Fortnite for free, just logging in with a Microsoft account. And then if you're a Game Pass Ultimate subscriber, that's when you unlock hundreds of high quality games that you can just play directly via the cloud.
LARRY HYRB: And I was showing a little bit of the-- of the user interface here, which you worked on certainly. And it's interesting because you're showing here that you can use all sorts of controllers with it. You don't even need an Xbox controller.
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Yeah. And like now that we've taken dedicated hardware out of the equation, the biggest barrier to entry for people trying the app is going to be just having a controller. So we wanted to make this work with as many controllers as we possibly could. So we partnered with Samsung on that to support all the top Bluetooth controllers here. So we really just wanted you to be able to pick up any controller, connect it to your TV, and just start playing.
LARRY HYRB: And I know that the-- so, and here we are. I mean, you're just going through here and you're browsing. And this may be slight-- this view may be slightly familiar because it's kind of inspired by the Xbox Series X and S user interface, and what we know and are comfortable with. But to your point, you don't need a console anymore. I mean, your console essentially is in the cloud.
But for those folks that are used to-- I mean you don't buy-- nobody buys a Netflix device. Right? You just get Netflix on your devices. It's kind of opposite. And that's kind of the same thing with what your team has built, where you already have the TV.
And people may want to play, as you said, Fortnite which is free to play-- Minecraft Dungeons, Sea of Thieves. All the great games that you've heard about, you can now stream them directly to your device. That's pretty incredible.
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Yeah. And I just think it's a really exciting moment in home entertainment. Because obviously over the past decade plus, like people have really gotten used to streaming movies and TV shows via apps like Netflix and Disney Plus and Hulu, et cetera. And we just want to make it as easy to stream a game from Xbox on your TV as it is to stream a show from Netflix. Like, it should be that easy.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yeah, and the most important thing is, as we've said a couple of times, you don't need a console so you don't need dedicated hardware. You can just jump in and there's-- you know, and your team which built the app, works very closely with the X Cloud team. Because obviously you need them to enable this experience. So what will--
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Yeah.
LARRY HYRB: Tell us a little bit about what-- some of the optimizations. Because I know you've been working on this for quite some time.
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Yeah, for sure. So you know, tons and tons of people have contributed to this project across all of our different organizations. So we've had people working on this project specifically for the past year plus. But we're really building on top of decades of foundational work in the Xbox ecosystem to make this happen.
You know, obviously the amazing cloud gaming work that the X Cloud team has done over there-- we have cloud game saves that are supported here. So you can play on any of your devices and pick up right where you left off-- achievements, friends, multiplayer, all that stuff that you'd sort of expect from the Xbox experience is here. So while there is a bunch of people working on the immediate project, we're really kind of standing on the shoulders of all the previous Xbox teams who have built things up here.
So really, the biggest thing for us with this app was making sure that the gameplay felt great and was fun. Because like, you have to have that responsiveness. The game has to feel right when you play it, or else it's not going to be fun to play and then we don't really have anything.
So the first part of this project, we spent a lot of time working on and optimizing the video streams and the audio streams and the quality of those and how they're delivered. We spent a lot of time on our side as well as in partnership with Samsung, just reducing the latency as much as possible and making the controls feel as responsive as they can possibly be. And the end result is a very fun and responsive gameplay experience that you can just jump into here.
LARRY HYRB: Yeah and I mean, we've seen it here, you're playing Halo-- Halo Infinite via on a Samsung television. And it's great because it's just familiar. It's just like-- and there's the guide. You've got a little mini version that's like a cloud guide in there, so it's a little bit different.
But it's-- again, it's familiar. All the elements are there that you know and that you love. So it's just-- it's so great to see all of that. But what I'm excited about is-- you know, you and I and everybody listening and watching knows, Phil Spencer has talked about reaching the 3 billion gamers. And this is one of the bricks in that 3 billion gamer path. Right?
This is one of the ways we get there. Certainly we're going to have consoles for people that want to play consoles and so forth. But allowing people that already have a television to test out our services and play great games, that's an amazing on-ramp, isn't it?
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Yeah, totally. And at Xbox, we're really just about giving gamers choice. Like if you want to play your games on a console or a PC or a phone or a web browser or a TV, we just want to open up more ways for you to play games. And that is how we're going to get to those 3 billion gamers, by just making our games and our services as accessible as possible to people. And you know, I referenced Netflix and Disney Plus and some of those other apps earlier. And like, you've really seen the way that they've been able to scale by just being ubiquitous and just being on every device and just giving people access. So its straight forward.
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, and I also want to point out something that maybe folks don't know, in that, this is a great opportunity if you're-- if you have an Xbox console. Maybe you go to your friend's house or your brother's or sister's or mom or dad or whoever and they've got a Samsung TV. Maybe you can log in and show them how to play a game, right? And kind of get started with them.
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Yeah, totally. So you know, I have my Series X hooked up to my big TV in my living room. And then downstairs, you know, I've got my 2022 Samsung TV mounted to my wall, just playing with cloud gaming. Like, I don't have to hassle with figuring out a place to get my console set up or anything. It's just-- it's just simple and ready to go.
And I think that what you mentioned with being able to kind of introduce friends to gaming is really interesting as well. And you know, I'm always the one who's trying to get more people into gaming or get my friends to play or bring people in. And this just makes it that much easier. Oh, you have a TV that has the Xbox app? Here, take one of my extra controllers and now we can just play together. And I'm just excited about all the new social opportunities that that opens up.
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, and it's also-- something I want to point out, and that people may know, but it's worth pointing out-- is that when you sign in and you pick a game to play over X Cloud on your Samsung TV-- or frankly stream on any of our devices-- your saved game is right there, right?
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Yeah.
LARRY HYRB: And that's-- you know, I'm sure we all remember that first time where we stopped playing a show on Netflix and went to another device a month later. It's like, do you want to continue? Yeah, I do. You just keep going.
And it's obviously-- it's a little bit more sophisticated for us because we've got a game save up. But all of that stuff just happens. You don't really have to worry about anything. We're following you around to where you're going as a gamer and bringing the gaming to you and make sure you have all your stuff, right?
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Yeah. We're just really taking care of everything behind the scenes for you. So if you play on your phone or your PC or your console or your TV, your progress is saved automatically-- synced up to the cloud. So you can pick up right where you left off. Obviously you can unlock achievements on the TV as well. And all of that is going to be saved in sync. So it really is the Xbox experience that's built into an app on your TV. So--
LARRY HYRB: And I know that a lot of folks are interested in, hey, I have an older Samsung TV. Is it going to come to that? What should we-- what's going on there?
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Yeah, so we're launching today on 2022 Samsung TVs. Clearly we're going to evaluate opportunities to get this to more devices and more people in the future. So don't have anything new to share on that yet today, but I think you can see our 3 billion gamer goal and understand that this is something that we want to expand on. So--
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, I mean to your point, Harrison, is as we've said, the 3 billion gamers-- it's not that maybe we don't want to bring it to older TVs. Maybe there's a technology reason that doesn't-- maybe your TV's like-- I know my older TV doesn't even have Bluetooth. Right? So it's--
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Yeah, exactly.
LARRY HYRB: Which it needs for the controller.
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Yeah, so I mean there are certainly some baseline requirements of devices in order to be actually able to have this experience. And then the other side of it is just like working really closely with our partners to test and optimize on these devices. So we've been working super closely with Samsung over the last year, with their 2022 hardware, iterating with them on the actual firmware on the TV, iterating in our side to really just tune the app and get the gameplay experience just right. So that's really what it's about for us, is making sure that the experience is going to be great when we deliver it to you.
LARRY HYRB: Well it's-- again, as Harrison said right at the top of the interview, the Xbox app is now available across all 2022 Samsung Smart TVs. You can play cloud gaming right there. Check it out, let us know. Hit the-- hit Harrison and I up on Twitter. I'll put your Twitter handle up here right now, Harrison.
Hit us up. Let us know what you think. And I know your team is hard at work on continuing to evolve that story and bring gaming wherever people are. Phil always says, we put the gamer at the center, and this is a fantastic example of that. Right?
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Yeah, for sure. And we're just really excited for people to start using it and tell us what you think. Like, we are here to learn. We're here to make it better. So yeah, we'd love to hear from folks. And just hope that folks enjoy playing on their TV.
LARRY HYRB: All right, Harrison. Harrison Hoffman, working on the connected TV apps. Appreciate all your help today. And shipping it for the Samsung Smart TVs-- the 2022 Smart TVs. Looking forward to having you on again in the future to tell us more news, all right?
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Excellent. Thanks, Larry.
LARRY HYRB: As you heard from Harrison, the Xbox app is now available on 2022 Samsung Smart TVs. And joining us today is Mike Lucero, who works on gaming over at Samsung. Mike, welcome to the show.
MIKE LUCERO: So excited to be here. It's such an exciting day for Samsung and Xbox, and thrilled that I'm able to share the excitement with the venerable Major Nelson.
LARRY HYRB: I have to tell you, Mike-- and a lot of people don't know this-- you and I know this. I have been at Xbox for a long time, as a lot of folks know, but you are one of the people that is responsible for me being there. You are absolutely-- you-- you were back working on Xbox back in the day when I joined the team and you were on my interview loop, if you remember correctly. And I remember it as if it was--
MIKE LUCERO: I do recall.
LARRY HYRB: I remember having that chat in the Millennium-- at the Millennium campus. So I want to thank you for many years of gaming awesomeness and bringing me into the team. But you are on Xbox. Tell us a little about your journey from Xbox and then onward into Samsung.
MIKE LUCERO: Sure, yeah. So and I'll try to keep it relatively short. But yeah, I would say Xbox Live was transformative in terms of its impact on gaming in general and the overall gaming experience. You know, online multiplayer and all the other things that came with Xbox Live were really transformative. So I did Xbox Live. I was what's called a product planner there, and built that community up with your help.
You were obviously the community leader there, which was what we were missing. That was like-- we learned a really important lesson about community thanks to you. So thank you for having a great interview so I could give you a two thumbs up. And then I went to-- I did a couple other things. I eventually ended up doing the bringing OTT to Xbox as well. So when they watch Netflix--
LARRY HYRB: Explain OTT, because a lot of people might not know that term.
MIKE LUCERO: Yeah actually, I brought that acronym-- OTT. It's Over The Top video. So people don't-- Xbox does not get credit for this.
But there is a period of time when more video was viewed on an Xbox than any other platform, and it began with Netflix. And when you-- so these Over The Top video apps-- which is now standard streaming, which is-- so it's ironic, but you know, bringing game streaming to the TVs as well. It's like it's kind of coming full circle.
But at the time, bringing video streaming to the Xbox was a whole new thing. And I actually talked to the product manager at Netflix a few years later. And he said, when we launched the Netflix app on Xbox-- I think in 2008-- that changed-- they changed their entire business model. It was transformative for them.
LARRY HYRB: Yeah.
MIKE LUCERO: That's when they stopped sending DVDs and started just doing Over The Top video. So that was-- I was part of that whole movement. And then I joined-- I was-- I brought Twitch to the Xbox. And then-- and that was transformative because we did a-- it was a great partnership. And then it was transformative for me because I eventually went to Twitch.
And the last time I saw you actually in person was-- actually, it was at the Xbox anniversary party. But previous to then, it was in Melbourne.
LARRY HYRB: That's right.
MIKE LUCERO: At PAX.
LARRY HYRB: I just got back from Melbourne, by the way.
MIKE LUCERO: Because I'd gone-- right, I saw that. Yeah, you had that Fanfest.
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, I was down there at Fanfest.
MIKE LUCERO: I'm jealous.
LARRY HYRB: So it was just so funny that's-- I'm back again. But yeah, it's-- anyway, so as you were saying, we chatted at PAX in Melbourne.
MIKE LUCERO: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And then-- yeah, so I was at Twitch. I learned all about streaming-- live streaming for games, which was like a whole new phenomena. And then I joined Samsung because they-- our president Won-Jin, wanted-- he had this sort of obvious epiphany that we have known for years, that gaming is the biggest form of entertainment out there.
And our gaming-- our TVs are really optimized for media consumption, not gaming consumption. And so he said, Mike, I want you to figure out what-- how do we actually take a bigger role in gaming? How do we actually become a member of the ecosystem, versus just being sort of the last mile where people see the pretty pictures? But he said I want you--
LARRY HYRB: You plug something in the back and just kind of make it happen. Plug a console or a PC--
MIKE LUCERO: Yeah.
LARRY HYRB: --in the back. Right?
MIKE LUCERO: Exactly, exactly. It's, how do we actually derive-- just like with-- obviously we have all those-- Netflix, Hulu, we have all that in our TV without requiring a Roku or a Fire TV or anything like that. So likewise, how do we do this similar thing for gaming? And I said, well you know, now is the time for gaming to become-- game streaming to become mainstream. Because we've got experts like the X Cloud infrastructure has been in the works for years. And it's profoundly effective.
And we've got great TVs. And he said-- I said, we've got-- with the combination of the tech that's out there with great content partners, and also the tech we have on our TVs, I actually think we can create a great gaming experience that doesn't require a console. And I'm sure Harrison was effusive about how amazing the experience is. But--
LARRY HYRB: Yeah.
MIKE LUCERO: I think I feel so proud of what Harrison and I have built-- and obviously hundreds of other people. But you know, we now have an experience that really democratizes gaming on our Samsung TVs. And that was-- Won-Jin hired me to do that. And the fact that I was-- been here for a couple of years now, and took some time to build, but it took less long than a console to build, so for what it's worth.
LARRY HYRB: Well, and that-- first of all, congratulations. Because as Harrison said just a few minutes ago, it's available now on 2022 Samsung televisions. And I know that he kind of alluded to the fact that you're trying to figure out what other TVs you can bring it to in terms of models and so forth. But it's a moment because now for the first time ever, people can just take any-- not only just an Xbox controller, but a PlayStation controller or any controller they have, and connect it to their Samsung television and be playing Halo Infinite in five minutes. Right?
HARRISON HOFFMAN: Yeah. Yeah, it's amazing. It's so fast. I mean, the fact that you don't have to do downloads, there's no storage requirement to-- erase Call of Duty off your hard drive so you can load a few more games. It's just-- it's work-- it works seamlessly.
And then the most exciting thing about it-- I was just talking to Jared West actually about this-- is that it really allows you to go between games-- from game to game to game to game, just like you're flipping channels. You don't have to-- you know, it's not this huge Herculean task of switching games. It's like, I'm in the mood for Psychonauts. Ah, I'm really not in the mood for Psychonauts. Maybe I want to do Flight Sim. I want play a zen Flight Sim moment.
So maybe I'll do that and I'll fly over Italy or something like that. So the fact that you can seamlessly switch between games is just so just refreshing and so sort of liberating as a gamer. It's like, I can play whatever I want whenever I want. And boom, you're in instantly.
LARRY HYRB: So we talked to--
MIKE LUCERO: So it's great.
LARRY HYRB: We talked to Harrison about the experience. But tell people a little bit-- if you can just quickly breadcrumb them through what-- they've got a 2022 Samsung TV, where do they find this experience and how do they get going?
MIKE LUCERO: Yeah, no, that's a great question. So obviously you buy your 2022 TV. And if you already had one, starting today-- or starting yesterday, actually-- we started doing a software-- just like you guys do it on the Xbox team. We do a firmware update to all the 2022 TVs. So the Gaming Hub then live-- is downloaded to your TV along with a lot of the apps as well, including the Xbox. And then basically you-- so you have-- I wish I could have my TV with me here.
But basically you've got your Media row, and then you've also got your gaming-- the Gaming Hub, which is a different-- it's like a system level menu. So you have a little Controller icon. You go to the Gaming Hub. And then you've got a much-- completely different experience. It feels very much a virtual console.
It's got different colors. It's got your consoles there. It's got your game streaming apps. It's got Twitch, it's got YouTube, it's got Spotify. All these-- just like, I mean-- there's a lot-- there's no surprise that there's a lot of the things that people do on consoles, we wanted to do that here too.
So we wanted to do that-- those types of integrations. So all that stuff, gaming in one place. And then if you have an-- if you want to sign up for any-- we've got obviously-- we announced some other partners as well. But I'm here to talk about Xbox. But we have-- with Xbox you can-- you know, if you're a current subscriber.
So first thing you do is, you pair your controller, which is very simple, through-- we go out of our way to make sure that it's-- that you can easily pair the controller. Requires a remote control to actually go to the menu. But once you actually go to the menu to pair it, then you can basically navigate through the entire TV with your controller, which is--
LARRY HYRB: That's kind of cool, too.
MIKE LUCERO: Obviously super important.
LARRY HYRB: Here's an example of--
MIKE LUCERO: And yeah--
LARRY HYRB: What it's like--
MIKE LUCERO: Lighter.
LARRY HYRB: Yeah I mean--
MIKE LUCERO: I just think that's-- you guys are really treating us like first class citizens, which is really what it's all about.
LARRY HYRB: Well I think-- I think your point is that you've got the display technology and we have all these TVs in living rooms. And Harrison and I were talking about, this is one of the many ways that Xbox gets to 3 billion gamers. You have so many--
MIKE LUCERO: Absolutely.
LARRY HYRB: You're the-- Samsung is the top leading manufacturer out there with your technology and so forth.
MIKE LUCERO: Yeah, we've been the market leader since 20-- I think 2008 or something like that. Some absurd amount of time.
LARRY HYRB: You remember back in the day when we all had the little Samsung HD TVs in our offices?
MIKE LUCERO: Oh yeah.
LARRY HYRB: Remember those?
MIKE LUCERO: I do remember.
LARRY HYRB: The ones with the red frame and everything? Anyway, but that's--
MIKE LUCERO: Exactly.
LARRY HYRB: Because that was also a moment you talked about-- a moment ago, you talked about the transformative for Netflix and how Xbox streaming. But it was actually when 360 launched. That was really a-- that was from the SD to the HD era, right? That was real-- everything was 16 by 9 and 720, 1080. And now we're up to 4K. But it was really a transformative moment, wasn't it?
MIKE LUCERO: Absolutely, yeah. I mean, that was huge. I mean, it changed the whole-- sort of made it more theatrical, which is kind of what it's all about-- to see these immersive experiences really became immersive. And now even-- and even now with-- we've got a 1080p stream coming in from Xbox. But we-- with our TVs, we can do 4K upscaling.
LARRY HYRB: Right.
MIKE LUCERO: So we can make it look like 4K. So again, this is where our companies working together is such an amazing partnership. Because you guys have great games, you guys have great streaming tech. We have-- we take latency out on our TVs. We reduce 30% of the latency through our gaming mode.
And then we do this AI upscaling. And we do a similar thing with audio. So we really do make it a great-- we take it to that next level in terms of the actual user experience.
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, you talked about that. Because a lot of people get confused when they're playing games. Do I have gaming mode on? But if you're using the app onboard, it handles all of that, correct?
MIKE LUCERO: Yeah, it's all in the background. Yeah, it happens automagically. We tried to take as much friction out of the equation as possible. Also obviously, support voice. So you can pair any Bluetooth headset.
So voice chat, which again, is a feature near and dear to my heart from the Xbox Live days. That was-- having voice chat was an integral part of that. And so that continues to live on in the cloud, and able to take some of the things that I really am proud of from my Xbox Live days and continue them into the future as well, which is remarkable.
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, it's just fascinating how you talked about, you started with Xbox Live and then you came-- we were over at Twitch for a little while. And now you just-- games and internet have always been side by side for you. And now they're one, right? Now they're one thing. It's fascinating.
MIKE LUCERO: Yeah, yeah. No, I feel very lucky. And that's what I love about gaming in general is, it's like-- it never is dull. It's like-- and I was talking to somebody. It's like, so what does this mean for the console? And I said, well, now the consoles need to push a little harder and they're going to push us harder.
It's like we-- there's always going to be this tension, and that's the beauty of gaming. It's like, we're always going to be pushing. It's not like in video, where it just sort of continues on its linear growth phase. It's like, we are innovating in a way that it's never been-- that continues to be surprising and unexpected and delightful for the gamers, and creates new communities, which is what it's all about. So--
LARRY HYRB: Well, Mike, I appreciate you coming on and talking about it. And Harrison explained it in a little bit more detail. But it's great to hear from the Samsung perspective about having Xbox app now available on the 2022 Samsung Smart TVs with cloud gaming, going to your brand-new Gaming Hub that's in there.
If you have a 2022 Samsung TV, go in there and check the firmware update. Take your firmware update, then go check it out. And as you said, if you're an existing Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriber, connect your account and you're off to the races. If you're new--
MIKE LUCERO: Yeah, I mean, Harrison and the team have done a great job making that as easy as possible. And we were trying to make sure it's as easy as possible to get new Game Pass subscribers as well. So--
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, so you can check it out.
MIKE LUCERO: But yeah.
LARRY HYRB: It's awesome. Mike, thanks again for your help and thanks again for hiring me many years ago. So great to talk to you, my friend.
MIKE LUCERO: Yeah. Great, great catching up with you again. And keep up the good work.
REBECCA GORDIUS: OK, those are some great interviews. Thank you to Maya, Chad, Jon, Mike, and Harrison.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Whew!
REBECCA GORDIUS: A lot of guests this week.
LARRY HYRB: It was a great week, and congratulations to Samsung for launching, and Overwatch 2 beta-- I mean it's a week of fun and congratulations for people that have launched off. Right, Jeff?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yeah, real quick about the Samsung experience of playing the Xbox app. Look, we work for Xbox and we're going to say good things about it. That's not going to be surprising to you or me or anyone here. I highly encourage you, if you know anyone with a 2022 model of a Samsung Smart TV-- and it hits really all of them. It doesn't have to be the highest end one.
Try it out because playing is believing with this. Even if you're someone who's been like, mmm, cloud gaming hasn't been for me. Maybe you've tried it on mobile or something like that and it hasn't been for you.
Try it on this TV, and you will be-- I-- we've shown it at different events. I've gotten to play it a few different times and I was like, oh, very quickly-- oh, I forget I'm playing on cloud. It really is that good.
So I would love to hear what you think about it. I know we all would. But I highly encourage you to look at it and it's just pretty cool to know, like the next TV I buy will probably just have an Xbox effectively built into it. And so I'll have another room that has an Xbox in it. Looking forward to that.
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, it's very exciting to see how that is received and how people play and what's going on there. I mean, it's just-- it's such an amazing experience and amazing time for us now. Because you can play Xbox games without an Xbox.
You can play some of them on PC, you can play some of them on your phone, but you know, your Xbox is in the cloud. So Samsung TVs are unlocking-- this is-- like I said in the interviews, it's one brick in the road to our 3 billion gamers. So there we go. All right, anything else? I think --
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Can't touch an analogy like that, Larry. I mean--
LARRY HYRB: No, I know. Rebecca, I think your mic is muted again for some reason. So you might want to check that out. Are you still there?
REBECCA GORDIUS: You know what, it's because there was street noise. I'm sorry. I need to be more responsible.
LARRY HYRB: That's OK.
REBECCA GORDIUS: I like muted myself because there was a loud truck going by. And then I forgot. Sorry, I'm usually a lot better about it.
LARRY HYRB: Oh, that's--
REBECCA GORDIUS: Out of practice. Been gone for three weeks. So--
LARRY HYRB: Glad we have back though. But listen, I want to thank-- Jeff, I want to thank you for the Overwatch interview. It's always great to talk to that team. Looking forward to that. Thanks to all the guests they came on, like you said, Rebecca.
And Rebecca, thank you to you. I know you're busy with Minecraft Creator and all the rest of our regular day job. So I really appreciate you all coming in and spending some time with us and the listeners. So thank you everybody. Any final words before we let everybody go?
REBECCA GORDIUS: This is the best hour of the week. I get to get all done up for once and chat with you guys and nerd out about stuff. So yeah, it's-- yeah, it's nice to be back.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Larry, where we supposed to be getting done up?
REBECCA GORDIUS: [LAUGHS] Yeah. I know, come on. Put in a little effort, guys! No.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Aw man. Sweat pants and promotional T-shirt.
LARRY HYRB: Jeff, do you have pants on this week, at least? I mean--
REBECCA GORDIUS: Yeah.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yes.
REBECCA GORDIUS: It's been hot in Seattle, right?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: There was one day, and we're back to it.
LARRY HYRB: It was one night.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: All right, no weather talk. No weather talk.
REBECCA GORDIUS: And we're back to talking about the weather.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Nope. You did this.
LARRY HYRB: All right, gang. We're going to let everybody go. On behalf of everybody here at Xbox, thanks again for listening. Thank you for all your support. We'll be back next week with more interviews, more games, and a lot of fun. Bye bye, everybody.
[XBOX LOGO CHIME]