Xbox Series X, left, and Xbox Series S
Source: Microsoft Corp.

by Jason Schreier, Bloomberg

The Xbox Series X is billed as the most powerful video game console ever made. But with a meager lineup of games this year, that promise won’t mean much for a while.

Microsoft Corp. released a new pair of consoles on Tuesday, kicking off the next generation of video games with better visuals and shorter load times. Bloomberg spent the last two weeks testing both products—the high-end Xbox Series X, which will sell for $500, and its smaller, less-powerful counterpart, the Xbox Series S, which will go for $300.

The consoles are sleek and easy to use. Games boot up almost immediately, even on the Series S. Loading screens aren’t completely gone, but they last a few seconds at most. Starting from the console’s home screen, there’s barely enough time to check Twitter before you’re off shooting aliens or raiding with Vikings. That’s probably the biggest selling point right now.

The new Xbox consoles and a competing product from Sony Corp. are the first major new game systems from these companies in seven years. Both debut next week, and expectations are high. The coronavirus pandemic has been good for video games and is expected to help lift spending on gaming products in the holiday shopping season by 24% from last year, according to research firm NPD Group.

For Microsoft, the new Xbox is a chance to redeem itself from a lackluster performance with the current console, the Xbox One. Although the company’s gaming sales have inched up in recent years, their share of Microsoft’s total revenue has declined. It was 8.1%, or $11.6 billion, in the last fiscal year. Compared with Sony, Microsoft is less reliant on games, and its stock is up 37% this year.

Another difference between Sony and Microsoft: The new Xbox arrives without a single exclusive. Every Xbox game set for release this year can be found elsewhere, whether it’s on the new PlayStation or the old Xbox. The most-anticipated game, Microsoft’s Halo Infinite, was delayed to next year. Its hero, Master Chief, is pictured on the back of the new Xbox’s packaging, serving as a glaring reminder of the game’s absence.

A lack of content is a typical issue for consoles in their first year or so on the market. Microsoft will try to balance that out with Xbox Game Pass, a subscription service akin to Netflix that offers access to new and old games for $10 a month. The Xbox Series S and X can play games that date back to 2005, when the Xbox 360 was released. For those who missed out on the best games of the past decade, like Red Dead Redemption and Dark Souls, this is a good way to catch up. Underrated gems like Nier Automata, Fallout New Vegas and Hollow Knight are also included with Game Pass.

Of course, you could stream all of that through Game Pass on a computer, smartphone or even on the Xbox One. Microsoft executives have said their new games will continue to be available on the Xbox One for the next year or two. And Microsoft’s recent $7.5 billion acquisition of Bethesda Softworks’s parent company will take years to deliver the kinds of exclusive, new games that sell consoles.

There are advantages to springing for the new Xbox, though. The Series X can run at least some games at 4K ultra-high-definition resolution and 60 frames per second. You need a fairly new television and a sharp eye to benefit from the former, but the latter makes a massive difference. With a higher frame rate, animations look smoother, controls feel more responsive, and the overall experience is far better. This may only matter to the biggest game enthusiasts, but after playing in this context, it’s tough to go back to old hardware.

A good showcase of the technology is Ubisoft Entertainment SA’s upcoming action-role-playing game, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. On the old Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, the game runs at 30 frames per second. The Xbox Series X stably doubles that capacity. Madden NFL 21 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon also run at the higher frame rate on the Xbox Series X. However, another Ubisoft game, Watch Dogs: Legion, does not, indicating that the experience will vary by title.

The cheaper Xbox Series S is a different story. It can’t display in 4K. The new Assassin’s Creed runs at the same slower frame rate as the old consoles, though Microsoft has said the hardware is capable of much higher. Otherwise, the Series S software interface looks identical to the Series X, the device itself is more svelte, and games load surprisingly fast.

But getting a video game console at launch is all about the possibilities. That is especially true for these new Xbox systems. For now, it’s only worth the purchase for those who really want to experience games on the highest-end console possible or those who didn’t buy a console last decade and want to catch up.

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by Alec Kubas-Meyer, The Daily Beast

November 2020 feels like a lot of things, but the start of a new console generation isn’t one of them. And yet it must be, since I’ve been staring at the enormous, unmistakable body of Sony’s PlayStation 5 for over a week now, playing games new and old to see what “Next Gen” means for the future of interactive home entertainment.

This is a great time to release a game. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has resulted in huge swaths of the world’s population spending far more time at home than they’d like, and with the rapidly rising infection rates, particularly in the U.S. and Europe, that’s not changing anytime soon. People are starved for content. Netflix has gotten less interesting and more expensive, while the launch of all the new streaming services over the last 12 months—including the already-failed Quibi—has further fractured and confused the content-consumption experience.

The video game industry has provided when it could; titles like Final Fantasy VII Remake and The Last of Us Part II drove gaming discourse for weeks and months, while Animal Crossing and Among Us grew big enough that both were used in the final weeks of the U.S. election cycle to get out the vote—the former with Joe Biden’s campaign island that players could visit, and the latter with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s breakout Twitch stream that became one of the biggest in the platform’s history.

Even for those tightening their belts in an economically fraught time, the occasional video game to help relieve some stress seems like an appropriate purchase. But a new console? Especially one that is going to have a $70 base price for its games (ending the $60 standard set with the Xbox 360 in 2005)? Read the room.

At least the prices aren’t as bad as the rumor mill suggested. At launch, the PlayStation 5 is $400 for the “Digital Edition” and $500 for the “Standard” model. Where Microsoft has created two similar-but-different boxes in their $300 Series S and $500 Series X consoles, Sony’s two systems are internally identical with a single difference: a disc drive. The Standard PS5 has a UHD Blu-ray drive from which it can play movies and physical games, while the Digital Edition requires everything exist entirely on either its super-speedy internal storage or a compatible external drive.

This is both a massive shift and none at all. There was talk leading up to the unveiling of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One that the companies might release versions of their systems without disc drives. Back then, it was largely centered around an industry-wide backlash against the idea of used games, but now it’s a reflection of consumer behavior. In yet another trend accelerated by the pandemic, 2020 marked the first time more games were purchased digitally than physically—and it’s hard to imagine going back if and when this is all over.

Looking at the console, I imagine that Sony prefers the Digital Edition. Not just because they’re financially incentivized to have you buy a system that requires any purchases be made through their store, giving them the cut of every purchase that Amazon, GameStop, et al. take on physical media, but because that version simply looks nicer. When put side by side, the extra disc hump looks almost tacked on, and it makes an already garish design downright ugly. Regardless of version, the PS5’s curvy, white-with-black design is an active repudiation of the sleek all-black box Sony has been pushing since the PlayStation 2. It is also unapologetic in its hugeness. This is the largest video game console in decades and will be a struggle for some to fit under their TVs. It barely fits beneath mine, and I am a little worried about the cramped space impacting airflow and causing the system to overheat. (So far, so good.)

But while I may not like the way it looks in my entertainment center—and I really don’t—what matters is when the magic happens, when I get that controller into my hands and turn the thing on. Sony has made some unique choices with its new “DualSense” controller that do sometimes feel a little like magic. The general language of game controllers has become pretty standardized over the past few generations, and they’re all pretty good. I’ve always preferred the asymmetrical analog stick placement used by Microsoft and Nintendo to Sony’s, but all modern controllers feel good, and this is no different.

The color scheme matches the console: mostly white, with black accents. The button layout and placement echoes its predecessor, the DualShock 4, with speaker, lighting, and clickable touch bar included, but there’s one addition: a dedicated microphone on/off button to accompany the new mic built into the controller. I can see it being a nice addition for those who want to play online but don’t want a full-on headset, but it’s also a gimmick used for the gimmickiest part of the PS5’s pack-in game, Astro’s PlayroomAstro’s Playroom is a 3D platformer that is, at its core, a way to show off the new controller wrapped up in a whole lot of PlayStation fan service. It’s a fun little thing that has some neat ideas and also an onscreen prompt telling me to blow into the microphone to make wind. I thought we were over that after Nintendo did it in 2015, yet here we are.

Far more intriguing are the changes you can’t see: a pair of technologies that completely change the way games feel. First is haptic feedback, which is basically super-fancy rumble. Where traditional rumble just, well, rumbles a whole section of the controller, haptic feedback is targeted. So, for example, when someone is typing on a keyboard in the PS5 version of Spider-Man: Miles Morales, you will feel small little taps, as though you were pressing a key down and it was pressing back. This is primarily a way to make your connection to the digital world a little more tactile, but the precision of it could allow you to feel the individual ticks during a lock-picking mini-game. It’s just a nice little extra bit of immersion… though it doesn’t alter the actual experience of playing the way so-called “adaptive triggers” do.

While I had read that the “trigger” buttons on the DualSense—the back-most buttons on each shoulder—could change their resistance, I didn’t really understand what that meant until I felt it happen. It’s bizarre. Astro’s Playroom is actually a perfect showcase for it: I was just doing my regular running and jumping when all of a sudden I got zipped up into a suit attached to a giant spring. And now I need to spring my way through the next section. A prompt tells me to pull the trigger, so I do…but it didn’t move. It was suddenly fighting back. I pushed harder, and down it went and so did Astro. Seemingly by magic, the controller had changed its physical properties: it truly felt like I was pushing down on a spring to wind up, so much so that I got tired and had to switch to my middle fingers in order to complete the section.

The combination of haptic feedback and adaptive triggers resulted in a genuinely new experience, and it didn’t stop there. Another area had me pulling a lever to get something from a toy-capsule vending machine. The start of the pull requires the increased pressure, but once it hits the point where the in-game mechanical slot has finished, the real-world resistance gives way, and the last little bit of movement happens easily. It’s an extremely visceral feeling, and I can only imagine how this technology is going to be used in games down the line.

Which, unfortunately, brings us to the big caveat in all this: The reason I have to imagine how the technology might be used is because there aren’t many games to actually show me. This is one of the thinnest launch lineups in recent memory, with the only one thinner perhaps being the Xbox Series X/S’s after Halo Infinite was delayed to next year. That’s not to say there aren’t some solid games available for prospective buyers: there are (more on that next week!), but many of these day-one titles are going to be available on the PlayStation 4 as well, including that Miles Morales Spider-Man spin-off. Any cross-generation games will look and play better on PS5, but the only big exclusive at the launch of a new system is a remake. The new Demon’s Souls does look very good. Is that worth $400+?

There’s no question that the PlayStation 5 is a very powerful machine with a lot of technology under the oversized hood that will make games load faster, play better, and look amazing. Heck, it’s already doing those first two things to many existing PlayStation 4 titles. More than 99 percent of PS4 releases are playable on the new machine, and certain games have already received updates to specifically take advantage of the extra power, with more to come. Even those that don’t get a specific update, though, get a little boost: extensive load times are dramatically lessened thanks to the switch from a spinning hard disk to a blazing-fast solid state drive, and occasional visual hiccups are smoothed over. This is all great! However, it makes the PS5 at launch feel more like a PS4 Pro-Pro than a true PlayStation successor.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. Any brand-new piece of technology is sold less on what it offers in the moment than its potential. That’s rarely been truer than with the PlayStation 5. This has been a strange and scary year for every industry, and video games are no exception. I have no doubt Sony had a brilliant strategy to slowly drip-feed information and excite the masses—and to better fill out this launch day lineup. But when everyone was sent home as the realities of the coronavirus became apparent, that got thrown out the window. Sony hadn’t even announced the price of the system two months ago, and they’re clearly having trouble manufacturing systems considering their pre-order fiasco. This launch feels less like a celebration than an obligation: they promised it would be out this year, and so it must be. So it is.

Still, I am looking forward to what the future holds—or what Sony believed 2020 held. The hardware is there. Now we need everything else to catch up.

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by Jonathan Lee

GameStop hosted a TikTok contest for employees and among the prizes was a dubious reward: extra work hours during Black Friday.

The contest was posted on the GameStop Conference website, which features competitions for different rewards. One contest, called the “Incisiv TikTok Dance Challenge,” asked store managers to film dance routines with their workers.

It sounded like a fun event, but the reward has raised some eyebrows.

“The winner of the challenge will receive an Echo 8, Echo Auto, $100 VISA gift card and 10 additional labor hours to use during Black Friday week,” the contest rules stated. (thanks, TheGamer).

The language regarding these labor hours are cryptic, and, as Kotaku noted, GameStop hasn’t clarified the offer. Would it have counted towards overtime? Would it have counted as holiday pay? We don’t know.

Gamers on Twitter widely condemned the contest as exploitative and abusive.

“They’re literally making the working class dance for the right to put food on the table,” one user wrote. “This is an ultimate new low.”

“This is absolutely appalling,” another user tweeted. “You want your employees to advertise for you for the privilege to work more hours for you? GameStop can’t die soon enough.”

And this isn’t the first time GameStop has sparked controversy this year. When the United States announced the national COVID-19 quarantine in March, GameStop declared itself as an essential business, to the outrage of its own employees. The retailer closed all its stores later in the month following backlash.

As the United States suffers yet another spike in coronavirus cases, Black Friday is sure to be a fraught environment for GameStop workers. Fall is always the busiest season in video games, but this year’s Black Friday is primed to be especially chaotic.

With the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 both releasing this year, eager customers are going to be swarming retailers in a shopping spree that could result in another explosion of COVID-19 infections.

GameStop creating a contest for tired, unsupported workers to compete for more working hours is not putting forth a very good look.

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by Tyler Fischer, ComicBook.com

Terry Marshall, the voice actor behind Grand Theft Auto IV character “Real Badman,” died on November 1. At the moment of publishing, details are scarce. This includes not only the cause of death, but basic information like Marshall’s age. As for the news itself, it comes way of both Marshall’s brother and Rockstar Games. According to the former, Marshall has “departed this physical reality and traded it in for some other dimension.”

As noted, further details are currently scarce. In fact, these are where the details, about both Marshall and his death, end. Marshall’s brother notes the voice actor lived in New York City, but that’s the only other additional detail divulged in the announcement.

“My brother has departed this physical reality and traded it in for some other dimension,” writes Marshall’s brother on both Instagram and Twitter.

Marshall’s death occurred on November 1, but it’s only now that many are hearing about it after Rockstar Games officially addressed the tragedy via its official Twitter account. As you may know, Marshall played Grand Theft Auto IV character Real Badman, also known as Teafore Maxwell-Davies. In the game, Badman is the leader of the posse Yardies.

Of course, when and if more details are provided on both Marshall’s life and death, we will be sure to update the story. In the meanwhile, we would like to extend our deepest condolences to Marshall’s family and friends during this incredibly tragic and difficult time.

Rest in peace, Terry.

by Kris Holt, Engadget

Halo Infinite director and studio head Chris Lee has stepped down from his role on the troubled game. Lee was overseeing the long-awaited next entry in the Halo series, which was supposed to arrive alongside the Xbox Series X and Series S consoles next month. However, Microsoft and 343 Industries have delayed Halo Infinite to sometime next year.

Lee has been with 343 Industries since 2008 and he has worked on several entries in the series, including Halo Reach, Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians. He’s still a Microsoft employee and he told Bloomberg he’s “looking at future opportunities. I believe in the team and am confident they will deliver a great game and now is a good time for me to step away.”

There’s been a bit of a personnel merry go round during the development of Halo Infinite. Lee is the second project lead to leave the team in the last two years. Creative director Tim Longo and executive producer Mary Olson departed last year.

Microsoft roped in Halo veteran Joe Staten to oversee the single-player campaign in August. Around the same time, Pierre Hintze, who led the Halo: The Master Chief Collection publishing team, stepped in to lead development of the free multiplayer modes. As such, Lee’s role on the project was somewhat reduced.

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YouTuber iJustine poses in front of the XBox fridge

by Lillian Stone, The Takeout

When I was eight, some kid in my third grade class created a very rude chant based solely on the fact that my name (Lillian) rhymed with another student’s name (Killian). “Lillian loves Killian!,” the kid chanted. “Lillian loves Killian!”

To get ahead of the joke, I decided to confirm the rumor. “Yeah, I do,” I replied calmly. “I do love Killian.” That pretty much tanked the rumor. It also ensured that Killian stayed a full 30 feet away from me for the remainder of the academic year. The moral of this story: If somebody’s teasing you, it’s best to get in on the joke. Lo, the latest XBox marketing stunt: a full-sized XBox refrigerator.

Some background: According to XBox fans, the new Xbox Series X looks a lot like a mini fridge. To get ahead of the joke, XBox made three full-sized, functioning refrigerators shaped just like the Series X. Just look at those oblong dimensions! The brand delivered the fridges by forklift, sending them to YouTuber Justine Ezarik and, oddly, Snoop Dogg. Actually, it’s not that odd—Snoop’s definitely had his fair share of video game cameos. Slashgear reports that XBox will auction off the remaining fridge to one lucky fan.

Admittedly, the fridge is pretty damn cool. It emits that signature XBox green glow and even blares the console’s start-up sound when opened. It’s also decked out with oversized USB ports and a slot for the Seagate Storage Expansion Card, which is apparently a must-have for serious gamers. According to General Manager of Xbox Games Marketing Aaron Greenberg, it’s the “fastest, most powerful fridge” ever made. Seems like the perfect vessel for whatever gamers are drinking these days. Last time I checked, it was Mountain Dew.

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by Jonathan Lee, In The Know

Cyberpunk 2077 is the most highly anticipated game of the year, but according to a former developer, it’s coming at a high human cost.

An anonymous Reddit poster who identified themselves as a former CD Projekt Red developer described a brutal working schedule and leadership who had a disturbing disregard for the wellness of its workers. Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier confirmed the poster was indeed an employee of CD Projekt Red.

I think this Reddit comment from someone who worked at CD Projekt Red is worth sharing, especially since folks out there still think their overtime is limited to 48 hours a week. I can confirm they used to work at CDPR (just got off the phone with them): https://t.co/kWdSzlTUCI pic.twitter.com/XCDjqo2KsH

— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) October 14, 2020

The former CD Projekt Red developer said that some Cyberpunk 2077 teams have been crunching (the game industry term for excessive mandatory overtime) since July 2019. If what the poster is claiming is true, it means that the company has been forcing its employees to work 16-hour workdays for more than a year now.

“The people that want the product out ASAP are the board and the marketing directors,” the former CD Projekt Red employee wrote on Reddit. “And they don’t give a flying f*** about the work balance.”

When Bloomberg released its report on CD Projekt Red mandating six-day workweeks in the two-month lead-up to Cyberpunk 2077’s release, it sent shockwaves through the industry. CD Projekt Red had backed out on its promise in June 2019 when the company’s leadership vowed that it wouldn’t force its employees to crunch.

Fans were divided by the news. Many rightfully condemned CD Projekt Red for labor abuse and reneging on its commitment to work-life balance. However, some defended the company and dismissed the Bloomberg piece as a smear campaign, despite the fact that crunch has a long-documented history of harming workers and has even led to class-action lawsuits.

CD Projekt Red’s defenders claimed that the six-day workweek wasn’t a mandate but rather a collective decision made by the employees. Schreier spoke with several current CD Projekt Red developers who told him this was false — there was never a discussion, only an order.

To clear up another point, I asked a couple of CDPR devs if it’s true that the majority of them wanted six-day weeks over a delay. They said that conversation never took place. One: “We got the email and then a meeting with our team leaders. It was never an option or question”

— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) October 9, 2020

Crunch is a sadly common aspect of video game development, an industry that has a long history of abusing the average worker with the justification that they should be grateful that they even have a job in games in the first place. Though there is no evidence that crunch increases productivity, it continues to remain a toxic cultural precedent.

“And this my friends is why I left the game dev industry,” Another Redditor wrote in the same thread. “I’ve sat through many crunches to the point I didn’t even feel like I was alive anymore.”

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by Tyler Fischer, ComicBook.com

Today, PlayStation released a new PS4 update that is reportedly causing PlayStation gamers issues, or at least this is what’s happening at the moment of writing this. The big new 8.0 update adds a plethora of new features and comes with a slew of improvements as well, but it also appears to have broken some features. More specifically, it’s being reported that upon downloading the update, users are experiencing problems with their friends lists, the party feature, and even just general stability issues.

As you may know, this isn’t incredibly uncommon for PS4. In the past, the console has experienced similar issues when it’s pushed updates, particularly ones of this magnitude. That said, in the past, Sony has acted fairly quickly to resolve these issues, however, for now, it hasn’t acknowledged the problem so it’s unclear when the issues will be resolved.

Of course, if you’re worried about the update, you could hold off on downloading it, but without it, you will lose access to a ton of functionality, such as the ability to play online games. That said, you can still play offline single-player games all the same without downloading the update.

As for the update — which you can read more about here (including its patch notes) — it makes updates to party and messages, adds free new PlayStation avatars, adds an option to mute all mics via the quick menu, enhances 2-step verification, removes event creation and private community creation, updates remote play, and makes adjustments to parental controls.

As alluded to, Sony has not commented on any of these reports, but if it does, we will be sure to update the story with whatever is provided.

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Alex Wong/Getty Images

by Ben Gilbert, Business Insider

Did you know that Amazon, the biggest company in the world, launched a big-budget video game this year?

The game is called “Crucible,” and you could be forgiven if this is the first you’re hearing about it. Despite being free to play and available on the world’s largest gaming platform, Steam, “Crucible” quickly came and went from the top-100 chart.

One week after it launched in late May, the online multiplayer game had fewer than 5,000 players on average — a major issue, given that it was intended to compete with the likes of “Fortnite” and “Valorant.”

In late June, Amazon pulled the game from digital stores and put it back in “closed beta,” a game-development term that means a game isn’t complete. And in a blog post published Friday night, it killed “Crucible.”

“Ultimately we didn’t see a healthy, sustainable future ahead,” the post said, adding, “That evaluation led us to a difficult decision: We’ll be discontinuing development on ‘Crucible.'”

Any purchases that players made within the game can be refunded, and the ability to buy in-game currency has already been suspended. The game’s matchmaking functionality, which enables multiplayer, will be disabled “in the coming weeks,” with a final sunset date for custom games on November 9, the post said.

“Crucible” is a team-based online multiplayer shooter that takes inspiration from online multiplayer battle-arena games like “League of Legends” and “DOTA 2” rather than competitive shooters like “Fortnite.”

It’s also a free-to-play game with a PC focus, putting it in direct competition with games like “Valorant” and “Fortnite.” Amazon’s goal for “Crucible,” which it had been working on since at least 2014, was to attract tens of millions of players and, with any luck, make it a major esport game.

Amazon’s “Crucible.” Amazon

The contrast between how “Crucible” launched and how “Valorant” launched helps illustrate why the former failed while the latter has succeeded.

When “Valorant” launched this year, it was available in a closed beta that you could access only by watching Twitch streamers play the game live; through a “drop” system tied to Twitch accounts, viewers would gain free access to the beta. This way, new “Valorant” players already had some idea of how to play the game, because they’d watched someone play it live.

In the weeks leading up to and following the launch of “Crucible,” Amazon, which owns Twitch, didn’t use its own streaming service to promote the game. There were no major streamers playing the game and hyping it up, no trailers for it running as ads, and no drop system to gain early access. Similarly, on YouTube, ads for “Crucible” were nowhere to be seen.

“Crucible” had about 25,000 concurrent players at its peak, on May 21. By May 22, two days after launch, it had already disappeared from Steam’s list of the 100 most-played games, which bottoms out at about 5,000 concurrent players.

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GameStop and Microsoft announce a new, multi-year strategic partnership just one month ahead of the Xbox Series X console launch.

by Dalton Cooper, Game Rant

Just one month prior to the launch of the Xbox Series X console, GameStop has announced a new multi-year partnership with Microsoft. The new partnership between GameStop and Microsoft is seen as a strategic move for both companies, as they will combine their resources for mutual benefit.

The GameStop/Microsoft partnership will see GameStop stores integrate Microsoft technology. GameStop stores will begin utilizing Microsoft’s cloud-based data storage and business applications. This will assist store associates when it comes to learning customer preferences and will give them “real time information on product availability.” GameStop associates will soon receive new Microsoft Surface tablets that will allow them to “move freely” within stores, allowing them to assist customers without necessarily having to be at the cash register. Additionally, GameStop associates will also begin using Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams as well, with the goal of improving customer experience.

It was also noted that GameStop is now offering Xbox All Access, which allows customers to get their hands on next-generation consoles like the Xbox Series X and S, as well as an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, for a relatively low monthly cost without having to pay for everything upfront.

As part of the announcement, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer released a statement praising GameStop, stating that the Xbox team is excited about continuing its partnership with the retail chain for the Xbox Series X launch. “GameStop’s extensive store base, focus on digital transformation in an omni-channel environment and expert gamer associates remain an important part of our gaming ecosystem, and we’re pleased to elevate our partnership.”

It’s unclear from the announcement if Microsoft is providing some kind of financial incentive as part of the GameStop partnership. It’s no secret that GameStop has struggled financially in recent years, with the company posting huge losses, laying off staff, and closing down numerous stores. Many have predicted that GameStop is on its last legs, but this new partnership with Microsoft may very well be the shot in the arm in the company needs to stay relevant for years to come.

The length of the Microsoft/GameStop partnership is also unclear, beyond that it is a “multi-year” deal. In any case, it will be interesting to see how this partnership pays off. Microsoft has been making big moves going into the Xbox Series X launch, and while this may not be quite as monumental as its purchase of ZeniMax Media and Bethesda, it is still sure to make an impact of some kind on the industry.

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