2016 was a long and hard year, not fondly remembered by many in the general populace. However, in the realms of gaming and technology, it was an entirely different story. We saw a plethora of highly anticipated game titles, both announced and released. We saw plans to a new console coming into focus. We saw Augmented & Virtual Reality taking it’s first real strides forward, and best of all, we gamed our faces off. All things considered, the gaming world thrived in 2016 and it is only going to get better henceforth. Here we will be discussing some of those flourished moments, as we take an in-depth look at Microsoft, and Xbox gaming in 2016.
Xbox One Games
The first stop in our stroll down memory lane, we’ll be looking at some of the games that made headlines in 2016. The list of Xbox Exclusive titles has dwindled, but there were still several Xbox-only games that stirred anticipation among the masses. We start off this list with a tip of the cap to Gears of War 4. The flagship game franchise of Xbox 360. Ten years after the Gears debut, the next-generation of Xbox finally received its very own installment. Gears 4 sold over 617 thousand copies in retail markets in its first week of release, not including digital purchases. Over 23 million Versus & Horde matches have been logged since release day. Gears 4 is a Play Anywhere title, meaning it can be played on both PC (Windows 10) and Xbox with joint progress and achievements. 2016 was also the year that Play Anywhere was first introduced via the Armature Action/Adventure game, ReCore. There have been several additions to the Play Anywhere list, including games like Killer Instinct, Halo Wars 2, Forza Horizon 3 and State of Decay 2. We are positive that this list will keep growing, giving you more freedom to play future releases on the Microsoft platform of your choice.
We would like to give Forza Horizon 3 an honourable mention. The only game published by Microsoft Studios to win an award at the 2016 Game Awards. Hailed to be the best Racing/Sports game of the year, it’s easy to understand why. The visuals and graphics are phenomenal, and the variety of cars is large enough to induce vertigo. In a blog post by Mike Nichols, the Xbox Marketing Vice President, Forza Horizon 3 was “the best selling racing game in the entire industry in 2016”. The Forza franchise has been massively successful, with over 14 million people having played a Forza title on PC or Xbox One.
Various other games also caught our eye in 2016, such as Dead Rising 4. Frank West, the Photo Journalist and professional zombie disembowler returns in the 4th installment of the Capcom survival horror series. This is a franchise that has not disappointed yet, and with the triumphant return of the over-qualified photographer, it most likely won’t. Microsoft’s Minecraft also stood the test of time in 2016, by being the highest grossing paid game on the Windows 10 store; A title it has been staunchly defending since it’s release in July 2015.
Backwards Compatibility & Windows 10
Microsoft has been hard at work to keep supporters happy and engaged. Numerous updates were rolled out for Xbox in 2016, that included many features to enhance the gaming experience. These features include Clubs and the ability to “Look for Groups”. Finding a team to partner up with has never been easier. Various smaller updates also came forth that we found quite nifty, such as text prediction when typing on your Xbox console. This makes browsing for long-winded video titles a lot more convenient.
Backwards Compatible games charged forward with over 170 titles added to the ever-growing list. Most notable of which: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the Bioshock trilogy, the Mass Effect trilogy, Injustice: Gods Among Us and Red Dead Redemption. If there are Xbox 360 games you would like to play, which aren’t available on Xbox One yet, you can find the list of backwards compatible games, and cast your votes here.
Xbox 360 games logged 265 million hours collectively played on Xbox One consoles. Xbox One however, logged 3.9 billion hours spent on the service in November and December alone; A 23% increase from 2015. On PC, gamers spent a whopping 2.5 billion hours gaming on Windows 10 in November: An increase of 127% compared to November 2015.
2016 was a great year for console announcements and releases. The Xbox One S released in August and proves to be the most powerful Xbox console to date. With 4K streaming and Blu-Ray™, High Dynamic Range, 2TB storage, and an internal power supply, it stands paramount in a beautiful, 40% smaller design.
Project Scorpio was also announced in 2016 and we are immensely excited about it. The
“console to end console generations”, is due to release during the holidays of 2017. Development is already underway, meaning True 4K gaming, 6 Teraflops of power, 320 GB/s Memory Bandwidth and 8 CPU cores are all headed your way soon. Project Scorpio will be a VR-capable console, despite the fact that Microsoft does not yet have a VR Gaming device. Xbox head, Phil Spencer states that while he is a fan of the technology, he doesn’t feel that it, or the games are quite as popular yet, which will affect VR availability on Scorpio. There are several things Xbox would like to see in a VR/AR Gaming device before it will be implemented. Phil Spencer had the following to say:
“In the long run, we need untethered solutions. You need to have the compute capability to not be wired to the display that’s on my head. That means I either have some kind of high-bandwidth wireless HDMI or I have compute here. With the HoloLens we’ve chosen to put compute in the HMD itself, so it’s right there. The other thing I think most people who look along in this technology is a mixed reality world, where I have a head-mounted display that can go from a fully enclosed, opaque world that is VR to a fully transparent one where I’m seeing augmentation in my world. I should have one device that spans both.”
The future looks incredible for Microsoft and Xbox as the possibility of VR opens up. Along with Project Scorpio, Microsoft is looking to change the game in more ways than one. Rumours of the Surface Phone also sprang up in 2016. If it is everything Microsoft hopes, it may redefine the smartphone category. No official announcements have been made regarding its release.
Xbox Live & You
To give 2016 a grand send-off, Xbox celebrated “The Reign of You”. The site reveals Xbox stats of your own and the Xbox community. It also has a gamer-crest reflecting your gaming history of 2016. To see how you fared last year, you can log in with your Microsoft account here.
It was indeed an exquisite year for gaming. Microsoft and Xbox blew fans away, and we can expect them to do so again in the next twelve months. What are you most excited for in 2017? Let us know in the comments below.