▼ Microsoft’s Xbox event was really a Game Pass event

The Xbox Series X event went well, the aftermath didn't‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 

Yesterday, Microsoft gave us the big pile of games that are coming to the Xbox Series X. And some of them should be coming to earlier generations of the Xbox — but not, apparently, all of them. A fairly positive online event devolved into confusion and mixed messaging by day's end.

In other words: it was an Xbox unveil.

Microsoft's rah-rah launch of exciting game trailers bounced between nostalgia (Halo! Psychonauts 2! Fable is back!) and new IP (sign me up for The Gunk). Although Halo Infinite looked kind of bad, overall the event still delivered the particular jolt of anticipation and excitement that only a game trailer can.

Microsoft didn't blow the doors out, but that wasn't the intention. As Tom Warren points out, the event also served as a showcase for Microsoft's larger strategy: becoming the true "Netflix for games" by putting so many of them into Xbox Game Pass. Game Pass works across both consoles and PCs and will also eventually integrate Microsoft's xCloud (actual name still tbd) game streaming service.

Here's a bad analogy that nevertheless will point you in the right direction: Sony's PlayStation 5 is like HBO, giving you access to the best stuff. Microsoft's Game Pass is like Netflix, giving you access to a huge library, some of which is really good. (The analogy breaks down for the usual reasons, not least of which is that AT&T bought HBO and now even HBO isn't HBO anymore).

Tom's way of putting it is better: Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft's true next-gen Xbox.

Anyway, successful online event, right? Right. Until, well, people started noticing that a bunch of the games didn't list compatibility with earlier generations of Xbox consoles. That seemed weird because Microsoft has been promising precisely that for its own games quite a lot and quite recently — just last week, in fact.

Sean Hollister has the story on how one week later, it looks like Microsoft is already breaking a big promise with Xbox Series X. What's truly wild about this is that Microsoft could have just not promised that upcoming Microsoft Studios games would be available for the Xbox One. I find it difficult to believe that the company thought they would and then suddenly realized they wouldn't. It's baffling. I'm baffled.

The good news is that there is one thing that's consistent between the Xbox Series X and the Xbox One. Both of their launches were confusing because Microsoft can't seem to get out of its own way when it tries to tell a story about the future of gaming.

┏ Xbox Games Showcase: all the news from Microsoft's July 2020 event.

┏ Forza Horizon 4, Gears 5, Ori, Sea of Thieves, and Gears Tactics are getting Xbox Series X upgrades.

┏ Watch the 18 biggest trailers from the Xbox Series X Games Showcase.

A programming note: I'll be on vacation next week! Please don't let any interesting gadget news happen without me.

 

Smartphone news

┏ Corning's new Gorilla Glass Victus could let your phone survive a six-foot drop, plus scratch resistance. Some years Gorilla Glass focuses on scratch resistance. Other years it focuses on not breaking from a fall. Apparently this is the rare year where Corning says it has done both at once.

┏ Even Android 11 is cake. Even though Google said it was stopping desert code names, it kept them internally. So now the game is to figure out what the desert it even though it's not the official game. Look, this is a bad choice. There are so many good Red bean-based deserts.

┏ Samsung announces Galaxy Z Flip 5G for $1,449.99. So this costs $70 more than the 4G version. For that money you get a slightly better processor and Sub-6 5G support. I've long said that I am annoyed that so many people have to pay for 5G they can't actually use, but now I suppose we have some kind of indication of how much they've been paying.

┏ The Motorola Edge will be available on July 31st for a 'limited time' $500 price. Chaim Gartenberg:

The Motorola Edge is a slightly watered-down version of the flagship $999 Edge Plus, with a similar 6.7-inch "edge" display design, but with a Snapdragon 765 processor, 6GB of RAM, a 4,500mAh battery, and no wireless charging

┏ Latest iOS 14 beta offers more evidence of a 5.4-inch iPhone. I'll be honest: I figured Apple would never make a phone this small again.

┏ Lenovo's Legion gaming phone has a pop-up selfie cam on its side. There is so clearly a market for these phones — companies keep making them. But who? And why? And... what?

Lenovo doesn't have plans to release this phone in the US. It's coming first to China in July, then to select markets in Asia, Latin America, and the EMEA regions (Europe, Middle East, Africa). That is a little disappointing to hear because, frankly, I think we all deserve a phone that has the words "Stylish Outside" and "Savage Inside" lasered onto its back.

┏ Asus' new ROG Phone 3 seems like a 5G-ready gaming powerhouse. I am STILL WAITING for an actual professional gamer who uses an Android phone as their primary gaming platform and wants a "gaming phone" to contact me. I want to interview you.

┏ AT&T tells customers to buy new phones or their old ones will stop working. The issue is that AT&T will turn off its 3G network ...in 2022. So wait, you're telling me that the company that put "5Ge" in our status bars might not be telling its customers the whole story about its network upgrades?


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More from The Verge

┏ Jibo, the social robot that was supposed to die, is getting a second life. Ashley Carman with a great story:

The news devastated owners and sent them spiraling into preemptive mourning. They started making end of life plans for their Jibos. But now, they're finding out that Jibo's life has been prolonged. The robot they welcomed into their homes, loved, and cared for, is being given a second life by a new company that's purchased all its rights and patents. In its next iteration, Jibo is a caregiver and educator, and it will be placed in businesses that require emotional connections, like children's hospitals. It's also no longer confined to its body, either — Jibo is going virtual.

┏ Intel's next-gen 7nm chips are delayed until at least 2022. I'm sure there were plenty of knowing smirks at Apple today. Chaim Gartenberg:

Intel actually says that the issues with its current 7nm production means that production is trending a year behind its internal roadmap. For some reason, though, the company says that being a year behind schedule will still only result in that aforementioned six-month delay to market. For comparison, AMD has already been outputting its own Ryzen 4000 chips based on its 7nm architecture for months, which have been handily outperforming Intel's offerings.

┏ Tesla will build Cybertruck factory in Austin, Texas. Sean O'Kane:

The new factory in Texas will be open to the public, Musk said. "It's going to basically be an ecological paradise." In addition to the Cybertruck, Tesla will also build Model Ys and Model 3s destined for the East Coast, as well as the Tesla Semi, Musk said. It will be the company's fourth factory in the US, following the vehicle factory in California, battery factory in Nevada, and solar factory in New York. Tesla also has a new vehicle factory outside Shanghai, China, and is building another factory outside Berlin, Germany

┏ 'COVID parties' are a pandemic urban legend that won't go away. Adi Robertson with a much-needed debunking:

For now, every story about people holding parties to purposefully spread the coronavirus is either unverified or debunked. Here's a running list of "COVID party" cases, alongside what we actually know about them.

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