Chief Operations Officer, Microsoft Gaming
- Games in this podcast range from E to M.
- Hey welcome to the official Xbox Podcast. You can already tell this one is going to be a bit off the rails. If you're joining us on Xbox's YouTube, you should know you could be listening to us also on the go on Spotify, on Apple Podcasts, or on Google Podcasts. And if you happen to be listening to us right now, you can always check us out on youtube.com/xbox.
So let's think back to last week. We had Malik here, actually his last show. He is now in sunny San Diego. And as I dodged the raindrops to get here, I'm not jealous in the slightest. And also Tina, Tina is out of the office this week, which means the cheese couch is occupied by two people making their debuts here on the official Xbox Podcast.
I got to say Brittney Brombacher from--
- Bacher, Jeff.
- Brombacher from What's Good Games.
- Wrecked. Wrecked.
- I've slipped back into my Philly accent immediately.
- Bacher. It's OK. The show notes has my name spelled wrong anyway. It's fine.
- Xbox, what kind of professionalism do you have over here at this joint?
- We're off to an amazing start. Assuming we don't restart the show, Britt--
- No, don't.
- Right now What's Good Games is on a hiatus.
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: Yes.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: And I will say that my initial thoughts were selfish.
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: That's OK.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Because I listen to you all every week. I think it's-- What's Good Games is one of the best podcasts like on gaming that you could find anywhere, along with Andrea and Rihanna. And I knew that I couldn't wait to hear you talk about Like A Dragon Gaiden. And knowing that you all were stopping or temporarily, I wanted to have you here. So I'm very excited. We'll be talking about that. But just tell us like how have things been going.
- Things have been going good. We're only two weeks into our hiatus. So Rihanna, one of our members, is expecting her first child here in just a few weeks. And Andrea and I were talking about it. And we're like, you know what, we haven't really taken a actual break, except for maternity leave, which is not a break, since we launched in 2017. So why don't we take some time, be with the family during the holidays, and just kind of give ourselves some mental R&R.
- I love that.
- So like I said, we're only two weeks into it. So I'm still kind of like every Wednesday when we normally record the show, I'm like, oh, got to get ready for the show tonight. And it's like, no, actually you don't. You can just kind of like chill out and play some games. So things are going good. It's definitely an adjustment. You have-- you know what it's like running a podcast.
- I do now.
- You do now. See? Now that you're the commander in cheese because of the cheese couch.
- See, this is the type of quality that we aspire to reach.
- I'm very good at-- what did you call me? The--
- The disruptor. The derailer.
- Chief derailment officer. I don't know what you call me, whatever it was. It's what I'm good at. But no, things are going really good. And we'll be back in February. But I was also sad when I realized that I was not going to have the opportunity to go on a podcast and talk about Like a Dragon Gaiden. But you know what, I'm here now.
- We are very excited to be talking about that. You're someone who I always look to for how I should interpret different things, breaking down trailers, especially with that. But other games as well.
- I love breaking down a good trailer.
- Like Resident Evil and all the horror games. We have plenty to talk about. But I would also like to move a little further down the cheese couch and introduce you to somebody that has previously been on the Xbox Podcast. But it's been some time. Jenn Panattoni, you're the head of social impact here at Xbox.
- What does that mean?
- So social impact at Xbox means a couple of different things. For us, this team is a very lean and kind team. We are not big. And we oversee social impact for the world. And I'll get into how we do that. We oversee community campaigns. So if you see us celebrating International Women's Day, International Day, The World's Indigenous People, Pride, et, that's centralized out of this team. We also do the nonprofit partnerships for Xbox, and so we either will drive them, or we will consult on them just to make sure. There's a lot of paperwork that goes with nonprofit stuff. So we figured out all the hard stuff, so no one has to.
Humanitarian relief is our newest program that we elevated. It was generally kind of part of nonprofit relief or nonprofit partnerships previously. But there's just been a lot of it going on right now. I mean, the gaming community donated Microsoft rewards points to the effect of $50,000 in two weeks. Right? Right?
- And then sustainability marketing, so what we're doing to make Xbox a more sustainable company, whether it be through our hardware, our products, all that stuff. So we are busy. And with this tiny team that we have, we want to make sure that we are globally relevant. So we have global scale, local relevance.
So to do that, we actually have a V team or a bunch of individuals across the business who it's not their day job to do this, but they have a portion of it dedicated to doing this type of work. That makes up I think now it's 61 different teams and 155 people.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: So you're busy.
- A smidge.
- Busy and important.
- Busy and important.
- It is. Everyone else. It is a lot of good stuff. I'm just lucky to be able to talk about this stuff, honestly.
- One of the things we love talking about is what people can do at home. And you mentioned it very briefly. But as you're playing games, like as you play a game on Game Pass, sometimes you see a thing pop up. And you're getting these points. But you can take those points, and you can donate those to worthy causes.
- To nonprofits that you choose. We always try and add a bunch of nonprofits as much as we can. If you are into animal rescue, or humanitarian relief, or supporting underrepresented communities, we have options for all of that. You can also do things like donate your blood. We had-- that's one of my favorite ones actually.
- Wait, through the system?
- Unfortunately, not yet.
- You don't have that control?
- Is that a new feature? I know. A little prick comes up.
- And we haven't figured that out yet. Patents are still pending. But for Undead Labs or State of Decay, there's a blood plague. And in the beginning of the pandemic, we were trying to play on the theme of blood. And so they created this blood drive, and they got 169,000 people to sign up and donate blood, which if you're bad at math like me, that can save either 169,000 people or half a million because each bag of blood is one to three people.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Hmm.
- Today I learned.
- Tis wild.
- Wow. It's not just about games here. It's about--
- --education, bags of blood, what you can do at home. And also just playing games and then--
- Play with purpose.
- --it passively racking up money that you can donate to different causes.
- Exactly. Yeah.
- So thanks for what you do. We'll talk a little bit more about that. But what we always love to talk about here on the official Xbox Podcast is what we're playing. And we were having a conversation about is 2023 like the greatest games lineup of things to play ever. I'm landing on yes. And I say this as someone who came about in 2007.
So Jenn, we'll start with you because I already know what you're playing, Britt.
- What are you playing right now, Jenn?
- It really depends on my mood. I kind of oscillate between Stardew Valley, Rimworld, Starfield. Those are kind of my go-tos right now, but also Tears of the Kingdom, all these different types of games. It really is like what am I feeling.
- That is a wide variety of different genres.
- Yeah, basically anything that isn't spooky.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Which Rimworld?
- Well, we'll talk about that.
- Yeah. We'll talk about that. Rimworld is a top down 8-bit game. The creator calls it more of a story generator. And it's just kind of madness. I usually like to start in an Arctic zone because it's really tough. And then you have to make some really tough decisions. But basically the premise is you crash land and you have to rebuild to build a spaceship to get back to space. I think that's boring. I like building bases and again, making some real difficult decisions.
- When you say difficult decisions, like what? What is a difficult decision?
- One of the first things I usually build in my base is a people freezer.
- I love how she just says that with the straightest face.
- Totally straight face.
- I was thinking something like do I want to build a resource manager, or something. She's like, nah, people freezer.
- I mean, that comes too. But people raid your base, and it's cold. And things freeze. And I'm like, I have dogs to feed.
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: I mean, dogs are better than people. Yeah.
JENN PANATTONI: I always have a dog in my base.
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: Yeah, you have to.
- And I can either feed them people food which is a precious resource.
- I thought you were going to say I can feed them people.
- People food or food people?
- We're preventing them from eating the food that the humans eat.
- Got it. OK. Rimworld. You should check that out.
- It's a great game.
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: One heck of a pitch.
I love it.
JENN PANATTONI: I mean, there's different ways to play it. You can-- it's whatever you want to do, right? But for me, like, I mean, I always-- I love the Arctic. I love cold weather. I mean, these are boots that I have worn in the Arctic. So for me, it's-- I love it. It's whatever you want it-- it's whatever you want it to be.
- I love how you-- you do wrap up a day of making hard decisions and come home and play a game where you make even harder decisions.
No, it's in the blood. So there we go. Britt, I know what you're playing. You know what I'm playing. Here's the thing. This is-- I'm so glad we're getting together.
- Let's get comfortable. Let's do this.
- Yes, exactly.
- Get into it.
- Get on the cheese couch. Let's go.
- Yeah, I consider myself a self-appointed Yakuza influencer. Meanwhile, I am like-- I bow down to the patriarch of Yakuza influence.
- Oh, wow. Wow.
- Britt, you're someone who I've always looked to, again, how to interpret what's happening in these games because I got into the Yakuza Series over the pandemic.
- And I've jammed through it. And now I feel like I finally caught up. Like, how did you-- what did you start with?
- My start. OK. Let me talk about my start. Have you played any of the Yakuza games?
- I have not. And I really need to know about this shirt by the way. I mean, like Jeff doesn't have the shirt, so I'm just going to go ahead and say like the shirt is amazing.
- Thank you very much. My start is-- so the first RGG studio game I ever played was Judgment from start to finish. I did start Yakuza 0 when it first launched. And I never finished it. Something else came up. Years later play Judgment, loved it. And then during the pandemic, when I had bronchitis, which is probably COVID.
- You don't see the air quotes here.
- Back in the day--
- We had a bad cold around that time.
- Back before testing was available. I was really sick for a few weeks. And I was like, I need something that's going to make me feel good. And so I started playing Yakuza 0. And I absolutely fell in love with it became absolutely obsessed with it. And then in a matter of two months, I played all seven games.
- Oh my god.
- There was not a lot going on in those days. Jeff, there wasn't. So yeah, so I've played Yakuza 0 through 6. And then I was so obsessed, I didn't want it to end. I started playing Dead Souls. I brought out my old console.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: I've never played that one.
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: Oh, I mean, it's a trip. You should definitely check it out, if you're feeling like desperate for more Yakuza content.
- And then yeah, Judgment, Judgment 2. And then we had Ishin just come out.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yes. We are eating-- if you're a Yakuza fan, you're eating very good. Technically three Yakuza games within about a one year period because Ishin came out last January or February I wnat to say.
- I feel like it was around that time.
- Around that time?
- Today, you're watching this. It's airing November 9th, which is the release date for what you're seeing here, Like a Dragon Gaiden, the man who erased his name.
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: Yes.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: What's happening here?
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: So this game I think serves three purposes. One, it is to tell you what happened to Kiryu between Yakuza 6 and Yakuza, Like a Dragon, because 6 was supposed to be the end of Kiryu's storyline. So this kind of tells you what was he up to because he makes an appearance in Like a Dragon. And you're like, what.
It also sets the stage for Like a Dragon Infinite Wealth, which comes out in January. And it ties-- I'm not going to say anything cause of spoilers. And then it is for new players who maybe just got introduced into the series with Yakuza, Like a Dragon to Kiryu because he does make that appearance. And a lot of people who don't know who he is are probably wondering, who is this guy, why is he important, why is he the legendary Dragon of Dojima.
And it does a pretty good job at introducing who he is today, the man he is today. Obviously, you can't take seven games and summarize that in a relatively condensed experience. I wrap this game up in 30 hours. But I did like most of the side content. But I know some folks are finishing this game's campaign in 12 to 13 hours.
So obviously, like with that time frame, it's really hard to wrap up seven games and kind of explain to you what Kiryu's history is and why he's so important. But I think RGG did a pretty good job at showing you who he is today and what his morals are and what he stands for.
- People often ask me-- thank you. Expert summary, so glad you're here. People will ask me sometimes like, hey, where should I start? And my default has always been like Yakuza 0. How do you feel about Like a Dragon Gaiden as an entry point for people who maybe have seen like the trailers for Infinite Wealth, and they want to play they want to go to Dondoko Island when it comes out in January, which I definitely want to do?
- Yes, we all want to go there. It's like Animal Crossing.
JENN PANATTONI: Delightful.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yes. How do you feel about this game as maybe if this was your first Yakuza or Like a Dragon game?
- I mean my go to is always going to be 0. That's always going to be because that's-- takes place in the 80s, that's where it sets the stage where you meet Kiryu and you meet Majima. So that's always going to be my go-to. But trying to play seven games between now and maybe January 26th when infinite Wealth comes out, that's a very, very, very tall order to ask.
So I would say if you have very limited time, go ahead, play Gaiden. Like I said, you'll meet Kiryu, and you'll understand the man he is today. But just be aware this game will spoil a lot of moments throughout the seven games. It will spoil the crap out of Yakuza 6 and out of Yakuza Like a Dragon.
JENN PANATTONI: Got it. OK.
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: But you know, listen, time is hard. Time isn't a thing people have a lot of these days. So if you don't have the time, I will say all games are on Game Pass.
- Look at you. This is why we had you on the show. So this is a day one Game Pass game. And it has a very different feel I felt like. So I played Yakuza 6 pretty-- I was trying to spread them out because it was a book that I didn't want to finish.
- Oh, yeah.
- Because if I knew the ending was there in Yakuza 6 The Song of Life, that I'd always have that. But when they announced this game, I was like, I got to play it. So I wrapped up Yakuza 6 just a couple of weeks ago. And I jump in here. And it really feels dramatically different. The vibes on Gaiden, quite a bit different. How does it slot in to the pantheon of all these Yakuza games you played?
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: Yeah, I thought Gaiden was actually a little bit more serious in tone, which I think makes sense if the story of Kiryu and why he's in the position he is. There's just not a lot of room for tomfoolery. But I think part of the charm of these games-- and we talk about this all the time-- is you can be having a super serious, crime drama, narrative moment, but then on the side, you're catching a panty thief. Like, it's super silly, silly stuff.
And I think overall like the tone of this game is maybe a little bit more serious. The story's a little bit more serious. But I think for that wacky silly side content, the side stories and the comedy network are absolutely there. And I think the fighting style is much different. So you have the Yakuza style, which is like your brawler. And then you have agent style, right, where you have these really cool gadgets.
You have the spider, which is like this tripwire you can upgrade. You have the hornet, which are these drones you can send after people. You have a firefly which is a lit up cigarette. So like you have all these really cool tools.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: That explodes by the way.
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: That explodes.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yes.
JENN PANATTONI: OK.
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: Yes, a cigarette that explodes. Thank you. That's very important.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Think of it a bunch of Bond tools like because--
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: That's what I was getting. It kind of is either somewhere between Inspector Gadget or Bond. You have this arsenal of stuff.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yeah, so Kiryu's working for a different group in this game. And so as opposed to just like walking down the street, which is happening here in the shot, of course, that I mentioned-- and that's such a great scene-- he's working for another group that has maybe a little bit more funding.
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: Yeah, lots of funding this time.
JENN PANATTONI: I'm seeing a lot of mini games. Like there was a golf mini game. You mentioned you go track down theifs.
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: How much time do we have? Because, like, let me introduce you. And I mean, you're seeing the golf mini game. There's a mini game called pocket racer where you customize your little go kart and you get to race it against other people.
JENN PANATTONI: Fun.
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: There's a hostess cabaret club mini game. And in the past it's been like you're running a hostess club like right here. You can see it. But this time what they did is they took-- they held a contest. And actresses tried out to take on role of these hostess. And you--
JENN PANATTONI: Oh, no way.
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: That's why it looks like this. And so that's why it's all FMV now. And the idea is that you go to these hostess clubs, and you chat with these women. And then you raise their affinity towards you. And you start dating them, air quotes here. But there's like-- look at this. Like this is the karaoke mini game.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: This one where he dresses up as--
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: As Ono Michio.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: And he's Santa Claus.
- Santa Claus. He's wearing a silly orange helmet. And so that's like the beauty of these games is the stories are very serious and there's a lot of gut punches in this game and a lot of heart wrenching moments. But the belly laughs and the silly antics are just absolutely there. Jeff, have you messed around with dressing up Kiryu?
- I very much have.
- OK. What do you put them in?
- All right. So I went with a Peaky Blinders look where he's got the flat cap, and he's got the three piece suit. And I'll drop some video in here.
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: We should mention too this is new to this series where you can actually dress up Kiryu in a costume of your choice, any outfit you want.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: He's undercover, and you see that here in some of the footage.
JENN PANATTONI: Oh, right there. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
- I feel like I already the answer here. But--
- OK. I put Kiryu in a red latex bodysuit.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Not where I thought you were going.
- Absolutely. I mean, I know where you think I'm going. And I did go. I'll tell about that. No socks, no shoes, and then the onomichi hat. So he's in a skintight red latex bodysuit with a big orange tangerine as his helmet as his disguise.
- I dig it.
- But also, I know where you think I'm going, which is, yes, I did dress him up as Goro Majima.
- The shirtless blazer.
- The snakeskin boots, the leather pants, absolutely. And that is such a fun touch to this game. And it's actually something I want them to do more going forward. Question for you. How do you feel about Kiryu in this series? Because I'm seeing a lot-- and I'm starting to think I'm the only one who wants him to always be involved in the Like a Dragon Series. But I'm seeing a lot of people be like, let the man rest.
- I'm a bit mixed. Here's the thing. I really love Ichiban. And part of it came from right before the game came out. We had Kaiji Tang who is the English voice actor on the show. And I always have played these games in Japanese. But now we know Yong Yea is going to be voicing the English language Kiryu.
So I ended up playing Like a Dragon in English. I ended up falling in love with Ichiban who you see here. And so it was great when we did see Kiryu show up. It was a true like ah, literally like visceral moment to react and the deep intake of breath. And so I'm hoping that Kiryu does not overshadow Ichiban. So I'm very interested to see in Like a Dragon Infinite Wealth, which by the way, has a demo that is part of Gaiden.
So if you're excited for what you've seen about Infinite Wealth, once you beat the game, you get to play this demo afterwards. And how they balance the two out, what's your take?
- Oh, man. I thought-- I mean, I'll never be over Kiryu. But I thought after 6, I thought that was such a good send off. I was obviously sad to see him go. I knew he would have some part in Yakuza Like a Dragon. But after playing Gaiden, man, I missed him. It felt so good to step back into his shoes. I know I'm obsessed.
- I love it.
- And I would be very sad and devastated if we don't get more Kiryu in our Like a Dragon games because there's just something about him to me. It's such a nostalgic feeling, a comforting feeling. He's such an awesome character. And after playing like, what, 7, 8, 9-- I don't know-- 10 games with him, I'm not sick of him. I'm not.
- Well, you're not sick of Mario? No one's saying like in Mario or wonder why is Mario in the game.
- That's true. That's true.
- But I would say that Mario doesn't really talk a lot, so he can't have an annoying personality. You know when you get character fatigue on certain characters, the way RGG has written Kiryu I think is so well because again, like every situation he's in, I'm always surprised by how he reacts. It's always entertaining. It's always fascinating.
I want to put him in the wackiest positions and see what he does. So yeah, that's what she said also.
- The wackiest positions in the wackiest outfits.
- Absolutely. Yeah, so I mean just a testament to him. And that's why I do not want to see the man rest. I feel bad for him. But I want him to come back again and again and again. But I could talk about this forever.
- Just want him to be happy. And it does seem like--
- I mean, listen.
- --that's elusive.
- Yeah, I feel like that's just a hard ask for him to be happy.
- This is making me want to play this game, actually. Like I want to go home and play it.
- All right. I would say decent place to start-- so Like a Dragon Gaiden The Man Who Erased His Name, it is a $49.99 game, or day one with Game Pass on console and PC. And I'm happy to report if you're someone who uses a portable, I've tried this on the ASUS ROG Alai. You can actually go back and forth. It's an Xbox play anywhere game. So the save just comes with you. It plays really well on that, which is why I ended up doing so many of the side missions.
In previous games, I generally would just like dabble and then just shoot through the game. In this, I did all the coliseum stuff. I did all the Akamai network stuff.
- I did everything. And it literally when I got the final chapter notification, I audibly said, no, because I didn't want it to end because I milked this game for everything I could. So that's why I think it's important to tell people you can do it in 30 hours, 32, 35, whatever. Or you can mainline it, if you just want to see the narrative. But I loved the side content. I thought there were so many fun throwbacks there for fans that have loved the whole series.
- If you love Judgment, there's a really cool mission.
- Oh my god, that was so cool. And even some characters that were in Kwame 2 and Yakuza 0, and other games like-- it was such a fun nod. But again, like they did that really nice balance of making it so new players can play it but older players will also have a really good time with this.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yeah, this was the most pulling Kiryu I think out of like the characters that he sees in every other game. And really puts him in a different place. So yeah, I do think this is a pretty accessible one. And I think if you liked what you were seeing for Infinite Wealth, and you really want to do that, and you just want to get up to speed, I think you could start here because Infinite Wealth is coming out in two months and two weeks. It's very--
- Yeah, January 26. Math is hard.
- Very soon, very soon. So you won't have to wait too long. I could literally talk same all day with you about this. Is there anything else you're playing, or you're about to play?
- I'm about to play Alan Wake 2 finally.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Same.
BRITTNEY BROMBACHER: Same. Yeah. I had a bunch of travel coming up, so I really was-- I mean, I previewed it a while ago and I got to get four hours of hands on. Absolutely, loved it. So blown away by what Remedy has done. But I haven't actually been able to sit down and play it from start to finish yet. So that's my next big game.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: You're a big horror fan, right?
- Oh, yeah.
- I feel like I learned a lot about the Resident Evil Series from you. RE 4 remake was one of my favorite games so far this year. I thought they just killed it, so. This Alan Wake shift into true survival horror, I will say I'm sweating it a little bit.
- Oh, me too. I've been talking with-- do you know Danny Pena from Gamertag radio?
- Yeah, yeah.
- Man, he said-- he's like the Remedy expert, right? He's like, even this game made him jump and made him scared because it's that Remedy horror, right? It's that-- I'm getting comfortable again. OK, it's like that Remedy 4--
- Feet off the cheese couch. No, it's fine.
- It's called the cheese couch. It already smells bad probably, right? But it's that psychedelic slash survival horror slash creepy jumpscare slash what are they going-- you never know what Remedy is going to come up with. It's so unpredictable. And that's why I'm really excited to actually like milk this, and get in with it.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Very good.
- I love people's excitement around Alan Wake. It's so palpable. And all the different just like horror spooky games, people who love that genre lean all the way in.
- Oh, yeah.
- All the way in.
- It's been so long since the first one too. And I just played the first one the first time maybe like six months ago.
- Oh, really? Did you play the remaster or the original?
- Yeah, I played the remastered. And that game still holds up. I know you're not a horror fan really. You, Steven said that. But it's still super fun.
- That narrative.
- It's less of a traditional horror game. But it is definitely pretty spooky. I played the original, actually, through backward compatibility. So I had somehow bought Alan Wake back in 2014.
- And just sort of like never got around to it. And during the pandemic-- when you were learning Yakuza, I was like, yeah, I'm just going to pop this in and try it. And I just became hooked.
- And then, of course, they announced the remaster like the day after I beat it.
- Of course, of course.
- Really consider--
- You got that cred.
- Would you?
- You're like I'm an OG player.
- They were watching your socials.
- Yeah, they were like, OK, this is time.
- It's time.
- It's time now. All right.
- Is that what it is? You need to play games, and then people watch your socials, and then they remaster games?
- I would like to think that the world revolves around me.
- I have a list of games I would like you to play.
- Yeah, same actually.
- It's a whole Truman Show thing.
- Anyway. All right, so a lot of amazing stuff that we're playing and that is coming out soon.
- Um hmm.
- And so much to be excited about here. There's something really cool that I'm excited about, Jenn, that you're working on.
- With the Special Olympics.
- Can you tell us about this? You've got quite a history really with the Special Olympics.
- We do actually. Yes. So for this weekend, actually on the 11th, we have the-- goodness. I think it's the third Gaming for Inclusion Tournament.
Xbox has been partnering with the Special Olympics since 2018. Back in 2018, the USA Games were just across the lake at the University of Washington. And, usually, it takes like six months to do an eSports tournament. Like, hey, you have three months. Can you make something happen? And I was like, yes.
Did I know that? No idea. But we did it. When you have enough people who are motivated and passionate about this stuff and wanting to come together and support people from the community that have intellectual disabilities, it's just amazing to see what people can do when they want to come together and support Special Olympics.
So we really started our partnership in 2018. And then we just kind of kept it going really every year. And so on the 11th at 10:00 AM, you can tune in to the Gaming for Inclusion Tournament. We are playing Rocket League.
- Yes. And it is Unified Partners. And so Unified Partners are somebody with intellectual disability and someone without.
- And so you all come together for teamwork. And one of the most exciting things we did this year, I was recently in New York. And we had three Special Olympics athletes who came out, and they got a two day workshop on shoutcasting.
- It turns out it's really hard.
- Oh, yeah.
- As a person who can be social, I'm like, oh, it's easy.
- No, my friends, it is really not.
- That's awesome. How cool?
- It was so awesome. The first day, we brought in some industry talent to the pros. We want them to learn from the pros. So we brought them in. At the end of the first day, there's an IMAX theater at the Microsoft Experience Center.
And so we just played a bunch of Rocket League Twitch streams up there. And they were practicing shoutcasting. And it was incredible. And then the next day, they had an another day of training. And then at the end of that day, we brought in some folks from the Battle of the Boroughs teams that were the whole Minecraft Education event that they did in New York.
We brought in some of their folks, and they had a live practice session. We have a bunch of video from that. I'm so excited to share it. But these individuals who were learning how to shoutcast will be shoutcasting and interviewing in the tournament.
- Very cool.
- That is so cool.
- It's so exciting.
- So I know this is something that Xbox and Microsoft, in general, and you specifically, Jenn, have been very closely involved with. But something that a lot of people come together like NFL, people WWE Superstars.
- What's going to be happening here coming up in the next couple of weeks?
- I don't want to spoil it too much.
- All right. Keep it cagey.
- So on the 11th, that is the prelims. So tune in for those. And then on the 18th, it's going to be the Celebrity Showcase. And that is where the WWE Superstars and talent that I am not going to tell you about--
-- Show up. And they all play together, and it's going to be amazing.
- Where can you watch?
- You can watch it on Twitch. Xbox Twitch.
- Twitch dot TV slash Xbox.
- Twitch dot TV slash Xbox.
- Very good.
- That's the one I know. Yep.
- All right.
- Crushed it. Thanks.
- All right, so let's talk about some other stuff that's coming up. This coming week, we have a few games. Stop me if there's anything that you've played before or you want to talk about. So Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 3, we talked about the campaign last week.
Tomorrow, I want to say, multiplayer is when the servers spin up and everyone gets to play, all of that. I got to jump in a little bit in the campaign. Played some of the open combat missions. I think it's the only time I ever get to use a kill streak is in these modes.
I'm usually the person who dies so that other people can get kill streaks.
- That's me too, Jeff.
- That's me. Yeah.
- I was like, oh, this is what it's like to have a cruise missile. OK. It was a good time. The Invincible, which seems a pretty interesting game where you and your crew end up on an unexplored planet. Jenn, this might be something that you would be into.
- I would do this.
- The scientific journey quickly turns into a search mission for lost crewmates. Follow its trail, but be fully aware, every decision you make bring you closer to danger.
- I'm going to play that.
- That's actually based off of a book, right, from, I think, the 1960s or so? I was looking into this earlier.
- And from what I understand, there's no combat. So I know the walking sim genre is one that's kind of tossed around a lot. But it sounds like it can be a very kind of fun, therapeutic experience. Maybe a little stressful, but if you're into space sci-fi, sounds like it might be--
- I can do that.
- Yeah, there you go.
- I'll play that.
- Very cool. For all you football fans, Football Manager 2024. That's going to be out on Game Pass day one, both on console and on PC. When we say football, we mean soccer just in case we're-- just so we're all on the same page here.
- We're all clear here.
- And then another game coming to Game Pass, Dungeons 4.
- OK, so this is where you build a cozy and comfortable dungeon, and then you have creatures that you then send out. And they spread evil like they do.
- I want to play that.
- I'm really excited for this. Yeah. So I started to play Dungeons 3 back in the day. I think the last one came out in 2017 or something. I feel like it was. And what was cool about it is it supported online co-op.
So you can play these games with people, and I feel like-- friends, it's not very often that you get a strategy sim game with this interesting premise of you build a dungeon, and then you send your minions out into the world to destroy and wreak havoc. And you can play it with a friend. I think that sounds really cool. I have watched some previews, and, actually, it looks very, very fun.
- Oh, I'm playing that.
- I know, right?
- That sounds so good.
- Again, day one Game Pass game. So you can try it. And if you like it, you can just keep playing.
- Keep playing.
- There you go. A couple of major updates. This one may catch your eye, Jenn. So Microsoft Flight Simulator, over time, the team has been just continually going back and really fine tuning different regions of the world.
This time, World Update 15 adds new content to Northern Europe and Greenland. Free for all players. So you got to go to Greenland for work.
- I did.
- Tell us about that.
- I did. So for those of you who don't know, Xbox partners with the USO. They are an organization that's focused on supporting active duty and their families, active duty military. And we have been partnering with them to really figure out how to solve their difficult problems.
And last year, it was places that are really kind of in the nonaligned regions. And Thule, Greenland, now Pituffik, Space Base, was one of them. So we went up there because we wanted to provide consoles. Because when you're up there literally-- I'm not joking. Like if you face away from the base, there's nothing.
It's ice and snow and muskox. And so what we did is we brought consoles up, Game Pass. And so now they have the USO Center to go to to go play games. And when I was talking to the colonel of the base, he was like, I play Minecraft with my children to stay in contact with them.
- And for us when we think about our partnership with USO, it's really, how can we leverage gaming to keep people in contact? And so even I was at Fort Myer a couple of weeks ago, they have consoles and PC. And they're all playing games together and staying connected with people they've either been deployed with or their families.
So it's a lot of goodness, but Thule, Greenland will always have a very special place in my heart. It was wild.
- Wow. I feel like if you're playing a game there, you need something like a Far Cry where you're in this tropical jungle. Give you had a change of scenery or something.
- Exactly, like something green that's not just ice.
- Yeah, like the ocean was all frozen.
- It was amazing.
- That is really cool.
- I've seen the pictures. You'll have to show Britt later.
- It looked otherworldly, I guess, is the only thing I could say.
- They don't have raccoons that eat their trash. They have Arctic foxes.
- Much cuter.
- Oh, so cute.
- Much cute.
- Rabbits the size of corgis.
- Oh, my gosh. Well, those polar bears got to eat something.
- I know, right?
- Circle of life.
- It was magic. So now I am going to go play Microsoft Flight Simulator and go fly over Thule.
- Yeah, I've seen that snow.
- Yeah, I wonder if it's there? You'd be surprised like how accurate it is. And I've found like the apartment building my cousin lives in Philly.
- That's amazing.
- And that's like the first place I went. So it was really fun.
- I love that. Well, I'll report back.
- Please do. Yeah, not as many Arctic foxes in Philly, by the way. More of a trash panda situation. So anyway, you mentioned--
- We still love them.
- Yeah? I had a bad experience.
- Oh, no.
- With a raccoon as a child.
- OK, well, how much time do we have? I feel like this is a good story.
- We're here. We're comfy.
- So I'm a city kid. I've always been a city kid. I grew up in Philly. Like squirrels was about-- squirrels and large dogs, like German shepherds.
- That's the wildlife you would see in Philly. And I was enrolled as a Cub Scout.
- This may have been into Webelo territory, Webelo? Whatever-- like somewhere in between Cub Scout and Boy Scouts, the awkward age--
- Ah, yes.
- In a boy's life where he's a Webelo. So--
- So they did a camping thing where you went out into wherever the mountains are west of Philly or north of Philly-- not in the city. And so we shared a tent. And the kid next to me was like he reminded me of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. Like he was blonde, spiky hair, and bad. And he was like--
-- I brought so much junk food. And I was like, yes, awesome.
- Oh, no they can smell it.
- Doritos, whatever. Well, look, again, I've never been out in the woods before. So this is the first night I've ever spent like with not a roof over my head.
- And so in the middle of the night, we're on like these cots in this wooden platform. And I feel like scratching like underneath. And I'm like, what the heck is going on? And then I go, and I open the tent flap, and I shine my flashlight. And I see just all these eyes looking back at me. Because their eyes are reflective. And I scream.
I just absolutely like freaked out. And it turns out, yep, they came in because they smelled the candy and the junk. And I mean to say somebody had a real bad asthma attack the next day and had to go back to the city.
- Oh, man.
- Because I was not having it. That was not the introduction to the great outdoors for me.
- Is this why you hate possums too?
- No, that's a whole other story that I don't know if--
- We don't have to go into it, it's fine.
- But I'll tell you afterwards.
- I would love to hear. Wow.
- That's a story for another time. But let's just say a similar experience.
- If you ever want to desensitize yourself, you come to my house. We live in 22 acres of forest.
- There you go.
- So it's safe. There's a building. There will be.
- Yeah, I think, it's too late for me.
- Well, you're in the Pacific Northwest now. Are you more acclimated to our--
- Yeah, yeah?
- Absolutely not.
- No. OK.
- I mean, you know, it's like I'll look outside any given day, and there's like two coyotes in my backyard. And I'm like, OK, cool.
- Yeah, no. I live in a place where it's like coffee shops and bars. That's my great outdoors.
- Coffee shops and bars.
- Like I consider that a hike. I take urban hikes.
- Urban hikes to get coffee.
- You know what? I support that.
- Thank you.
- I absolutely support that.
- Look, I love the wilderness. I like donate to the Nature Conservatory. Save it for somebody who will appreciate it. Because it ain't me. But it could be my kid eventually.
- You see one squirrel, and you're like, that's enough wildlife for the day.
- You would not believe what squirrels can do to you if they're significantly agitated.
- I've hand-fed squirrels my whole life.
- Have you really?
- Yeah, with peanuts.
- I used to do wildlife rehab. Yeah.
- All right, look at this sweet summer child.
- No. I open the window, I'm like, it's a beautiful day. I'll play games with the window open. I consider that getting fresh air.
- With a screen.
- We can't have bugs flying in.
- Yeah, exactly.
- A squirrel might come in and jump on his head.
- Or the errant squirrel that runs in, and is just like--
- I want to be a player too.
- Yes, exactly.
- Poor Jeff.
- So some time ago you mentioned the troops playing Minecraft. And actually a great way to play with your kids. The first game I played with my-- is your son old enough to be playing Minecraft?
- He's 2 and 1/2. So he--
- Not yet.
- He's been trying to play Super Mario Wonder. He tried to play Minecraft Legends. And he just likes to walk around and bump into things, and that's about as far as it goes. It's still fun.
- There will come a time. Anyway, you might be wondering, what are some of the safe servers that we could be playing on? So, fortunately, there is now an official Minecraft server list. Mojang and Gamer Safer teamed up to create the official Minecraft server list which will give players and parents a way to discover servers that align with how they and their family members want to play.
- I love that. Because when we think about gaming for everyone, it's not about making every game for everyone. Like how could you make Yakuza for everyone, right?
- I mean, some of us disagree.
- Hey, sure. Some of us disagree. But it's about with your play styles, like, how can we get people to if you think about a movie theater. Like you go, and you want to go see these couple of movies. And that's what you want to do, and that's what you enjoy. I love that so much.
- All right.
- Real quick.
- I actually just wanted to say that.
- That's good. No, I appreciate it. We'll be talking a little bit more about that in just a second. I just wanted to point out a few games that will be coming out next week. We're kind of coming into the final stretch I would say of just a ridiculous holiday season which is going on for months.
I think it was two months ago today that Starfield came out.
- Has it been really?
- Yeah. So there's been--
-- so many huge games that have come out since then. And, anyway, if you find the time, you're amazing. So a couple of things coming out, Persona 5 Tactica. You a Persona fan too?
- Oh, yeah.
- Me and you are just locked in today.
- Oh, man.
- Very excited for this one. We'll be talking about it next week, for sure. It is the tactics, as you would assume, spin off of the Persona 5 world. We have a great post on Xbox Wire about where exactly in the story this fits.
It's a bit of a interesting thing. It's not a sequel or something that tacks on to the end but something that sort of slides somewhere within the story. So anyway released on Xbox dot com. We have got more on that. Bluey, that might be more where your kids are at.
- Bluey's got a game. Bluey the video game is coming out on--
- How amazing.
- November 17th.
- That's awesome.
- What a time to be alive, man.
- I love that.
- Yes. And we also will have a couple of big updates for Lies of P and Forza Motorsport. We'll be talking about those next week. We have a special guest here to talk to us about Forza Motorsport. So a lot going on.
- So can we pause for a second? Because there's something I've been dying to ask you. And it's just I have to.
- Go on.
- I have to.
- So your sweatshirt matches my nails, which, love. Great taste. Good work. But I see a Halo 3 logo. I see Mountain Dew. Like tell me about this.
- Oh, this old thing?
- That old thing.
- Like this little thing that I've been trying to show off.
- I was asking for you to notice me the entire time, and you finally did 45 minutes into the show.
- So this is part of the Limited Edition Capsule Collection. And this is a Halo 3 Mountain Dew limited edition sort of hoodie. And I'll turn around.
- And do a little squat.
- Am I in the shot?
- Up a little bit.
- Oh, OK. There we go. Oh, there you go. Oh.
- There we go.
- I've got to bring it around. So this is available now. There's actually some really cool stuff going on with it. Let me just really quickly bring it up. So Mountain Dew Game Fuel is back. This reminds me of the days when I could drink caffeine right before I went to bed and just like hit the pillow and go right to sleep.
- Oh, yeah. You can't do that anymore?
- Instead of being up-- no, no that happens. But beginning November 6th, which we've already passed, Mountain Dew fans can celebrate the return of the iconic Mountain Dew Game Fuel Citrus Cherry, which was one of the good flavors with Halo Infinite. And another incredible flavor, Mountain Dew Game Fuel Mystic Punch, which is affiliated with Diablo 4. Diablo 4 was this year. Can you believe that? Like what a year this has been?
- Diablo 4 got me through being sick. Like I was very sick this summer. And I literally was just on the couch. I was a necromancer. Because I like to make my own friends.
- You take the vessels of other people and turn them into your friends.
- Exactly, they're my friends. And so I would like play Diablo 4 until I fell asleep, woke up, rinse, repeat, a week later, it was great.
- Absolutely. So wait. Mystic Punch is the Diablo flavor?
- I feel like it needs to be like Death Punch Blood Puss.
- I feel like there should be blood in--
- Because blood pus tastes amazing.
- I feel like everything Diablo-- what's that new expansion? Vessel of Hell or Hatred or something?
- Vessel of Hell.
- Yeah, I feel like that's very like soft for Diablo.
- I do think they could have done blood because they're doing a blood drive right now.
- Oh. I didn't know that.
- Yeah. Yeah. They're doing a blood drive as well.
- It was good to see Rod up on BlizzCon this past weekend.
- I know.
- And Phil was there too which was also really cool.
- Yeah, yeah.
- Had a couple of friends there. I really wanted to see Le Seraphim. But I did play the mode in Overwatch and got the skin for Kiriko. So a lot going on there.
- OK, real quickly about this. So if you do get this Mountain Dew Game Fuel, there is rewards for both Halo Infinite and then also for Diablo 4 like cosmetic items. Yeah, it's mostly charms and items and emblems and things like that for those two games.
So if you do drink it, you not only get the flavor, the caffeine, the throwback to 2007, but you also get tangible rewards in your games. And, again, this is the Throwback Capsule Collection, gear dot Xbox dot com. Look for the Halo gear shop. This stuff is, I'm told, moving very quickly.
So if you want to be as warm-- it's actually super comfortable. This is like my new favorite hoodie.
- It's really nice looking. It has a really nice fit.
- Yeah, it's covering up a lot of dad bod here.
But one last thing, Halo and Dew are also featuring a limited time playlist of maps within Halo Infinite including one called Critical Dew Point along with seven maps inspired by Halo 3 classics remade and reimagined for Halo Infinite.
The Pit is one of them. I know that's one that people are big fans of, Cliffside, Banished, Narrow. So a lot going on, in the game, in your supermarket.
- In your wardrobe.
- In your closest. In your wardrobe.
- Pretty good.
- I love that.
- Amazing stuff.
- OK, I'm going to interrupt you at least one more time doing this. Because I heard you have a very special guest, my former boss boss' boss coming in.
- OK, yes. OK, doing the org chart here.
- Yeah, yeah.
- So we're bringing in Dave McCarthy, the Chief Operations Officer, this week. We released the third Transparency Report, which talks all about the efforts that we're doing and how we're doing in terms of creating a safer environment for players all across Xbox.
So why don't we go to him. But since he's going to be here, we haven't recorded the interview yet. We'll snap our fingers, and then you'll disappear.
- I'll become him.
- OK, Britt is going to turn to Dave McCarthy.
- Just like a--
- In three, two.
- You ready for some magic?
- All right, Britt and Jenn, they're in the mind place now. Don't be alarmed. They are safe, and they will be back here in a few minutes. But we're glad to have you, Dave McCarthy. Thanks for joining us here on the show. How are you doing?
- I'm great. Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
- Happy to have you here. Now you recently became the Chief Operations Officer of Xbox, the COO, as they call it. What does that mean? What are you doing now?
- I'm still figuring that out myself. But I'm starting to piece it together. At a really high level, I look across the gaming division inclusive of our new family members in Activision Blizzard King and really work on all our foundational services that gaming runs on, all of the player facing services that people see. One of those happens to be safety.
And I've spent a lot of time in this space with the team. It's something I care about deeply. And my role is to oversee that area and a number of others to make sure that our players are safe, included, and welcome wherever they might be in our gaming ecosystem.
- Important work. I know a lot of times, there's such a focus on what the game is and what you're playing or even this accessory, this controller, whatever it might be. But the thing that when it's done well blends into the background, I think, it probably takes a lot of work.
- That's a great point. Yeah, like you don't want these things to become too much a part of the player experience. But when they're broken, when support doesn't work the way you want to, when you can't sign in to a service, when you don't feel like you're safe and included in spaces, those things actually really can impact your experience.
And so the job of myself and our teams is to make sure that that's not an issue for you and we don't get in the way of your joy of gaming.
- Very cool. Let's talk about the Xbox Transparency Report, the third one was just released this week. And the question that I have is, why do we release this document and keep releasing it now?
- Yeah, it's interesting to actually go back in the history a bit. I'm not sure the team was entirely comfortable with the idea at the start, right? Because in some ways, it's airing everything that's going on, right?
We show the volumes of activity on our service, how much people report, how much we enforce on things. And that takes a sort of cultural leap to be able to be comfortable with that information being out there. But the reason that it comes out on a regular basis is because I want us to be able to be held accountable for the way we run the community, the services we offer, our constant improvement.
And I feel if you don't make those things public and you don't measure them, you might not improve them. And it has. It's really helped the team. We've all been a little uncomfortable with it along the journey. But it's a good spot to be. I'm happy. I'm really proud we're already at the third one. I'm hoping it actually is an example for the industry to follow a little more. We'll see more and more of them. And we'll see where it goes over time.
- All right, so they've been coming every six months. We're here a year, give or take, since the initial one was released. What are the key takeaways here from this third Transparency Report?
- Yeah, this one, I think, is the first one where you start to see AI show up a little more. And AI capabilities are starting to have more and more of an impact in the safety moderation space. You'll see things in there like filtering out of content before it actually hits our players.
So we do that a lot in the tech space. We have a tool actually through an acquisition we did called Community Sift, a great team that works in that space that uses AI capabilities to filter out text across about 22 languages, I think, they do it across now.
And then we're doing it in the image detection space as well. User-generated content is a great thing until it's not a great thing in terms of not making people feel welcome. And so we use AI capabilities there. And that shows up more and more in the Report now than it did in the past. Because capabilities in that space are really accelerating.
- I know that's a continually evolving area, AI. But like gamer speak, and there's so much nuance, I guess, in the way gamers talk to each other, which maybe out of context might not be considered great. But, in context, it's like, no, that's a compliment. So like, where's the human element here? And how do those play together?
- Yeah, it's a great point to bring up. We will always have humans as part of our moderation experience. I just I don't think you can take that entirely out of the nuance of the community as you mentioned. But I will say at the same time, the capabilities of these learning models to understand nuance is taking off.
And so we can give our models something like the Xbox Community Standards, which I think have been a really helpful tool for our players to get a better and better idea of what's cool and what's not cool when they're playing games with others on our service.
But we can actually feed that information into our AI systems and have those AI systems also try and consider that nuance in what's cool and not cool. And it's something you experiment and learn your way into. But it's why we need humans as part of the flow always.
There will always be humans checking reports and other things that people make on our services. But this, in some ways, makes their job a little more efficient, a little easier to execute. Because it weeds out some of the stuff before it even hits players in the first place.
- So a couple of different points to take here. So those Community Standards, they're written like in a very human way. It's not like the term of service that you get when you join a-- I don't know.
- The stuff you just see, and you go, like, boom.
- Yeah, just checking like, you scan, I'm not going to be doing any of that. It's really like human language.
- It is.
- And so I do recommend as gamers you take a look at that.
- And make sure like, hey, these are the types of messages I might send to people I'm in a lobby with. And is this cool, or is it not? And, I think, it's really written from that perspective.
- It is. And it's actually shaped by the community. So those go through regular iterations and updates based on feedback from our player base on what they're experiencing. And we even have an appeals process where we learn how players are interpreting that stuff. And that can actually help influence those standards as well.
So, for sure, try and check it out on a regular basis. I think people find it helpful. And when we do have to issue enforcements, we actually point people back to that so they can understand why we're acting the way we're acting with something.
- Yeah, the goal is improvement of behavior not punishment, right?
- I mean the vast majority, and I really mean it, of players that come into our games and services are there for all the right reasons. They're there to have a good time, to be competitive in some situations, cooperative in others, to meet new people, make new friends.
And the actions we try and take is just when we stray a little outside of those boundaries. And I think being able to shape a community where we all feel welcome, truly welcome, we all want to walk into a place where we feel like people want us to be there, right?
- And that's what makes gaming so awesome. And we see this as an enabler to just lead to better and better gaming with more and more players.
- So if you want to take a look at both this Xbox Transparency Report and also links to those player standards, there over on news dot Xbox dot com.
- You can take a look at it. I was reading the post which summarizes-- it links to the full Transparency Report, but it also summarizes quite a bit of it. And so I'm just curious like for people looking at this Report and wondering like what it means. In some cases like numbers have gone up. You know, 87%, now does that mean behavior has changed, or is this a reflection of like the tools getting better at finding these things ahead of time?
- The answer is yes. And there's multiple things going on at any one time. I will say it is true that we are getting hit by a higher volume of kind of inauthentic accounts and spamming. Good news is, the vast majority of those are tools, they are taking them out of the system. And they're not hitting people in the first place. So that's a win.
But that volume is going up. It's probably reflective of the world we live in. Harassment reports and actions were going up as well. Does it mean that more people are harassing? Like sometimes that's the case. There's always a story behind these statistics which is actually why we put the report out all the time is to learn more about what's actually going on.
In that particular example, we've actually got better at some of our detection techniques and tools to be able to identify stuff that, quite frankly, was probably going on all the time. And now we're getting better at finding it, and people are reporting it. Reporting is down volume-wise which is interesting.
And I always have the dialogue with the team when that happens to go, is this a good thing or a bad thing? As long as we have reporting capabilities everywhere that players play, and it's easy to use, and it's efficient, and we're very responsive to it, I'm good. If the reason ever is that people can't find those things, and things are down because of we're not doing our job in making that accessible, that's not a great thing, right?
That's not the case right now. Things are down because, I think, the reporting capabilities are there. But some of the content is getting filtered out and not hitting in the first place.
- They never see it in the first place.
- They never see it in the first place. And that's kind of the balance we strike, and these numbers tell a deeper story and lead us to deeper conversations with the team to make the player experience better and better.
- Cool. So we've got all of those types of things. And so you end up thinking about a lot of things. And if you're watching this podcast, and you've gotten this far into the podcast, chances are you're that person in the family that when someone wants to get into gaming, they ask you.
- And I know I'm very much that person. And I have a young niece, and we're coming up, I'm sure, in the next-- we're coming up to the holidays. And I'm sure maybe not this year, but maybe the year after, it'll be like, OK. I think it's ready. Like what gaming system should we get? Guess what I'm going to say.
But there'll be a lot of questions on like, OK, is it safe online? And what do we need to do? And Xbox provides a significant amount of tools to enable parents to really allow their children to have the gaming experience they want them to have. Can you talk about some of the things that your team has built and that are constantly maintained and updated?
- Yeah, sure. I mean, user choice, I think, whatever your situation is, whether you're a family or you're just gaming with friends or whatever, our mantra is to be able to provide you as much choice as possible to customize your experience. So there are a bunch of safety settings available to everyone.
I talked about Community Sift earlier on the text chat side. You can kind of decide, how spicy do I want my chat to be, right? And we can filter stuff out automatically based on levels you choose. Settings go even further for families. You mentioned the fact that younger gamers can benefit from some extra protections we put in place.
There's things like screen time limits, communication limits, purchase notifications. As a father of two children that are-- well, now they're in college, but grew up for years around games, because I've been doing this for a while now, I would leverage those at different points in our life.
And even for each of my kids I would do it differently. I had one kid, I'm not going to name which one, that maybe was a little loosey goosey with the purchases. Purchase notifications were the right thing for that child. Again, I'm not calling them out. The other one might have been a little loosey goosey on the time spent gaming versus doing homework. Screen time limits and notifications of activity levels were more important for that particular kid.
So really choosing the stuff that's right for your situation, I think, is really, really important and something I encourage all parents and caregivers to do. The other thing is like just have conversations around it, right? I think, if you didn't grow up with gaming, it might not feel natural.
It might even feel uncomfortable sometimes to talk about this stuff. The worst thing you can do is just ignore it entirely. I think if you show an interest in what your kids are doing and kind get involved in that, you'll be surprised the dialogue that kind of unfurls on the experience they're having, the tools that they can leverage from us to actually improve that experience.
And, honestly, like I hear lots of stories of parents just getting more involved in the fun of gaming in a really cooperative way with their kids when they lean in and show an interest in it, which, I think, is super cool.
- Yeah, I think as a parent of a teen, I'm happy when she still asks me to play along with her.
- I'm sure those days do go away over time.
- They change. They change, right? So it's funny. My son's off at university up in Canada. And we still like he grew up around-- I was at EA Sports before I came to Xbox, right? And we grew up around product releases there. I was an Executive Producer for example on NHL Hockey.
When Chelly, as the kids call it now, comes out every year, that's our way of keeping in touch is doing a little time over Xbox Live and playing over games. I have a nephew in the UK who is way too good at FIFA now and just embarrasses me on the pitch.
But I still find ways to do that and different ways to play with it. It does evolve over time. But that's like that's the awesome thing about gaming is it does allow us those connections.
- I have a brother like that up in Canada who embarrasses me at FIFA. And one day, one day.
- It hurts, right? Like it really-- like 13, nil is excessive.
- That's when I get disconnected, I think. Yeah.
- And I can hear his little giggles on the other end of the line. And I'm like, man, that's not cool. I bought you this game. I gifted you this game.
- And I can take it away.
- Yeah, right.
- One thing that I think is just really important to call out is these tools only work if you use them. And if you're going to have putting a system under the tree, or you've got a relative or a friend who is doing it, it actually asks, is a child going to be using this console, when you go through, what we call the out-of-box experience.
And I know it can be very tempting to just like jam through, and how do I get to the games as quickly as possible? But it's such an important point to go, yes, and to take those extra steps. There's even some like macros like, how old is the kid? And it'll put some baseline settings, which you can then go through, and you can tweak. But the tools only work if you use them. I highly encourage you to use them.
I personally have. It was great. It led to having those conversations. Like, hey, can I play an extra hour? I don't have school tomorrow. Once the dishwasher is empty, yes, you can.
- Yeah, totally.
- And let me tell you that dishwasher got emptied very quickly.
- It's amazing the motivations that happened. We complement that experience with a mobile app, by the way.
- Yes, 100%.
- The Xbox Family Settings App, iOS and Android. And I get a lot of feedback on, hey, that's a really practical tool to do things. Because we're not in front of the TV a lot. And we can get these instant notifications, and we can approve a purchase or extend screen time is still a request I'll get now and again. But I find the mobile app is actually really convenient for people as well.
- Exactly. All right, so for people who want to learn more about player safety, about these tools, where do you send them?
- So read the Transparency Report if you can. I do think it's really worthwhile to see it, hold us accountable to that data, keep giving us feedback on it. I do think the Community Standards are really useful for people to check out if they haven't seen them yet.
I will say other things that players can really help us with is our reporting tools. And it doesn't necessarily just have to be stuff that's directed against you as a player. You can also report on observing behavior against another player even if they're a stranger to you sort of thing. Like if you see something like, say something to us.
That stuff really helps. It helps get our systems better. It helps us be more responsive on things. And we really take notice of that. We also have support tools in place like our crisis hotline, really important. If you notice somebody that maybe needs a little help, you're a little worried about them. That's a 24/7 service we offer as well that I really encourage people to use.
So use the stuff that's there. If there's stuff not there that you expect to be part of your gaming experience, let us know. Because odds are, we're either working on it, or we're going to work on it based on your feedback.
- Dave McCarthy, thanks so much for joining us, for you and your team doing everything you can in the very evolving world of player safety and helping people have the experiences that they want to have when they're playing Xbox.
So thank you. Now I need you to hold still.
- Because what we're going to do is I've got to bring back-- Brett and Jenn have been chilling in the mind place for 20 minutes. And you've got to go on. So we're just going to snap. One, two, three.
And we're back. Hey, look who's back.
- Hey, I'm back.
- Britt, Jenn.
- What's going on? So funny story about Dave. So first off, Dave is actually the leader who let me create the Social Impact Team.
- Oh, nice.
- Actually. I started my career at Xbox on the Policy and Enforcement Team now the Safety Team. And I mean, good on him. I went back and looked at my pitch deck recently, and I'm like, I don't know why he did this.
But he's awesome. And then I got to under Katy Jo who does Gaming for Everyone. So I'm really thankful for all that. But fun story about Dave. So as you probably noticed, my color palette is like black and gray, and that's it. Because I suck at eating. Like I'm terrible at it.
My interview at Microsoft, spilled food all over an interview floor.
- Oh, I see.
- I didn't see where you were going with that.
- I was like, you were going to say it's because you're from Washington or whatever. And, listen, everyone in Washington, like look at my jeans. Look at my boots. Like--
- No like physically I'm terrible.
- But, no, I get it. I never wear white. That's why it's very impressive. You can't see us off camera. I wear a white sweatshirt, I'm the same way. Food everywhere.
- Yeah, like, I'm just I'm not good at.
- And so there's this one time in the Xbox buildings, there's these big atriums. And I was having lunch with a friend, and I wore a baby pink sweater. Like again, very, very like out of my realm of like comfort.
- Can't even imagine it.
- No. and so I was eating Indian food, and so there's rice and butter chicken. And, god, so delicious.
So Dave like walks by, and he's in the middle of a meeting, and he just stops. And he looks at me, and he just goes, bold move Panattoni And then just walks away. And I'm like, what? And he was right. It did end up on my shirt.
I always think of that like, bold move, Panattoni.
- That's good.
- RIP that shirt. But the story lasts forever.
- Yeah, RIP that shirt. It's gone. It did not make it past that day.
- All right, well, we're actually coming to the end of our time here.
- I know, it blew right by. Britt, I want to thank you so much for coming up here and joining us. I would love to have you back when like a Dragon Infinite Wealth comes out, maybe.
- Oh, my god. I will be knocking on the studio door, let me in.
- She knows where to go now.
- I do.
- You made a mistake.
- Where can we find you? Where can people follow you?
- Yeah. So if you want to get caught up with the What's Good Games podcast archive, we have 350 episodes out, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, if you want to watch something on the video podcast front. What's Good Games, you can find us anywhere there.
You can find me on Twitter at Blonde Nerd. Yeah, no, I just post stuff anywhere, that's Blonder. That's my handle everywhere.
- Jenn, how can we support you?
- I am on Twitter and Instagram just at Jenn Panattoni. There's not many Panattonis.
- It's an awesome name.
- My Instagram is mostly my dogs though and my cats.
- I don't think that's going to dissuade anybody.
- No. No.
- A lot of folks have asked us to bring back Free Code Friday. This is something that Major Nelson had debuted and had been running for a few years. And so we've been looking into how, do we bring this back? And I'm very pleased to announce that starting this Friday.
- Free Code Friday is back. And we are back with a bang. Because this week--
- Haha, I see what you did there.
- You see what we did? Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 3, I've got a handful of codes that I would love to give out to some lucky Twitter slash X users who are also watching the show. Here's how it's going to work. It's a little bit different.
So we want you to keep an eye on at Xbox Wire. That is the Xbox Wire Twitter handle. You're going to look between noon and 2 PM Pacific this Friday, that is tomorrow, November 10th. Now here's the way it's going to work. We're going to be asking you to answer the question that we are giving you here. We're not going to put it on Twitter. So you got to listen here.
If you're hearing me say this, you're already ahead of the game. So I want to know, what is your favorite Call of Duty game mode? Modern Warfare 3 has it all. It's got the campaign, it's got zombies, there's DMZ, there's Warzone has been incredibly popular. So what is your favorite?
That's what we want to know. So you've got to reply to at Xbox Wire, and this is incredibly important, you need to use the hashtag Xbox Free Code Friday Sweepstakes. Bit of a handful, but I promise you have enough of the characters to make it work.
Codes will be DMed to the winners by the end of the day Friday, Pacific time. And we're happy to do it. And that's how we're going to do it every week is we're going to ask the question here on the show, and then we will prompt you on Twitter or X on Friday, usually around noon Pacific. And you will come back, listen to the show if you haven't listened to it already, get the question, answer us, and hopefully, you'll get to win.
- I feel like you need to answer your own question though.
- That's a great question. I will say, this is very basic, but I always enjoy the campaigns. The campaigns for me are the most fun. It might not be popular to say. But Infinite Warfare is one of my all time favorites. I actually cried at the end of that game.
- Infinite-- I'm trying to remember which one that was.
- That was like the space one.
- It was definitely a very off in left field compared to Modern Warfare or-- and I love the Black Ops games too. And I really like Black Ops, Cold War's Campaign. That was like a sort of 80's movie.
- And that's where you had the big room, and everyone was inside.
- I loved that actually.
- Yeah, yeah, yeah.
- What about you? What's your favorite Call of Duty?
- I'm typically a Campaign girl. But, lately, I have been enjoying playing Warzone with my dad. Because my dad is the worst video game player of all time. But it is so much fun. And it's just the entertainment value of just watching that man. He can't get the vertically like set straight.
So he's looking up and spinning. But this one time just recently, he thought he was safe and protected. Turns out, he was crouched underneath the enemy tank. I mean--
- No place is safer.
- Define safe and protected.
- Safe and protected. No, he was underneath a tank. And he did not realize it until he got ran over. But just-- I love that man. No, so I would say probably Warzone right now is giving me the most bang for my buck. But Campaign has always generally been my go to. I like both, man. I cheated. I answered both. I can't do that.
- You did though. But it's OK.
- These are goals by the way. I look forward to the day where my daughter can see me like, oh, I'm playing games with my old man, and he's crouched under a tank.
- He crouching and just staring up at the ceiling and spinning.
- Yeah, yeah.
- What about you, Jenn?
- Campaign. I always love Campaigns. Multiplayer scares me because I'm not that great at it.
- Yeah, same.
- Yeah, I just like to I always want to make sure that I feel like I'm doing good. And just multiplayer games like this just scare me. Because there's just too much going on. And I can't do it.
- You will find no objections here.
- Again, Mr. Killstreak, right?
- Yeah, yeah. I make other people look great is the way I like to think.
- That's exactly like, I mean, my gaming squad has been playing PUBG for, I guess, five years at this point. And I had my driver's license in that game revoked like week two.
- I just I'm there to support others.
- Yeah, I'm a healer in most games for very good reason.
- We're givers.
- We just we care too much.
- And, also, that's the only role that is safe for us to play.
- Anyway, this has been an amazing show. Britt and Jenn, thank you so much for joining us here this week.
- Thank you.
- This is maybe my favorite show we've ever done. Granted, we're only on like eight episodes in. But it's a high bar, a high bar for us to meet.
- We got to talk about Like a Dragon, man.
- It doesn't get any better than that.
- And we'll have a lot more fun stuff next week as we are going to be welcoming some guests that we're lining up. So you see some new faces. And Tina will be back as well. Once, again, if you're seeing us on YouTube, you can also listen to us on Spotify, on Apple Podcasts, or on Google Podcasts, just search for official Xbox podcast.
And if you're hearing us, we'll see you on youtube dot com slash Xbox. Thank you so much for tuning in. And we will see you next week.