Summer Game Fest Demo Event Features 70+ Unreleased Xbox Game Demos

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As part of Geoff Keighley’s Summer Games Fest, Microsoft is running a special event this week, the Summer Games Fest Demo Event. The event runs from July 21 to July 27, and features over 70 demos of upcoming Xbox games.

Unlike most game demos, these demos are pulled from unreleased, and in many cases, unfinished games, and will only be available this week.

Demos include indie JRPG Cris Tales, action-RPG Hellpoint, the Destroy All Humans remaster, and Raji, an action-adventure game set in ancient India.

“Many of these demos are early, and some are for games that won’t be out for quite some time,” writes Glenn Gregory, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Xbox. “We’ve never done this before; what that means is that you’ll get to experience these games early – some way early – which is awesome, but you should also note that these games will continue to evolve and be polished as they near release. In other words, think of these as akin to ‘show floor demos’ and not necessarily indicative of the final product.”

Developers are encouraging users to provide feedback via social media and official game websites. A full list of all free demos can be found in the press release linked above. The Summer Games Fest Demo Event ends July 27.

In related news, the Xbox Games Showcase will air on July 23rd at 9 am Pacific/12 pm Eastern.

How the Game Industry is Responding to Black Lives Matter

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The Black Lives Matter movement began back in 2012 following the highly publicized death of Trayvon Martin, and subsequent acquittal of his killer George Zimmerman. The movement campaigns against systemic racism and violence towards black people, focusing particularly on police brutality.

The civil rights movement has recently reached global popularity in the wake of another murdered unarmed black man by police, George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020.

As protests continue to surge across the US and the rest of the world, major companies are releasing statements in support of the protests and civil rights. The game industry is no exception.

Sony released a statement on June 1 denouncing racism and racist-motivated violence. They also postponed a major PS5 digital event that was previously scheduled to air today, and showcase many upcoming PlayStation 5 games.

Beginning June 1, Microsoft has been releasing statements via quoting black employees in a series of tweets.

The official Nintendo of America account released a statement on June 3.

Many publishers and developers have gone even further, making substantial donations to charity organizations and encouraging others to do the same.

Square Enix is pledging $250,000 to Black Lives Matter “and other charities to help combat racial injustice and positively affect change in the world.”

Double Fine Productions, which was recently purchased by Microsoft, donated $12,000 to Black Lives Matter, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Color of Change.

Humble, which has been working directly with charity organizations for the last ten years, release a statement along with a $1 million fund “dedicated to helping publish games by black developers.”

Like Sony, EA originally had a digital event planned this week, for Madden NFL 21. They released a statement postponing the event, followed by a lengthy note by CEO Andrew Wilson that includes pledging $1 million “to organizations dedicated to the fight for racial justice in the US and against discrimination around the world,” including the Equal Justice Initiative and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund.

EA is also double matching any donations made by employees, an additional paid day for community volunteer work, and holding an open forum for the entire company on June 9.

“Black Lives Matter. Racial justice matters. We’ve long held equality, inclusion and diversity at the center of our beliefs at Electronic Arts.  Let’s stand together, act together, and drive change together.”

Minecraft Education Edition

Minecraft: Education Edition is Free for Educators to Support Online Teaching

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Schools around the country and the world are closing to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which means many students and teachers are using online tools for education. Microsoft is helping teachers and students stay connected by offering Minecraft: Education Edition for free to all educators through June 30.

In order to qualify, teachers will need to have a valid Office 365 Education account, and fill out this form. You’ll also need to make sure your school is eligible. If you receive access, you can download Minecraft: Education Edition for Windows, Mac or iOS (iPad). If you don’t have a valid account, or just want to check it out, you can still download the game and try a free demo lesson.

Microsoft has also put together a remote learning toolkit that includes 50 lessons, activities, and projects that educators can use with Minecraft: Education Edition. A new category of educational Minecraft worlds are also available in the Minecraft Marketplace. All of these worlds are free to download through June 30.

“Distance learning requires students to be engaged in content in news ways,” said Becky Keene, Minecraft certified trainer and educator. “As they work remotely, they need to have activities and environments that motivate them to learn. Minecraft supports almost any content area, and students can show me their learning without missing a beat!”

Ori and the Will of the Wisps Out Today on PC and Xbox

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Microsoft and developer Moon Studios have released Ori and the Will of the Wisps on PC (Steam, Windows 10 Store), and Xbox One, for $29.99.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is the sequel to 2015’s gorgeous 2D action-platformer, Ori and the Blind Forest. The sequel features an improved combat system, and spirit shards that let players customize Ori’s powers. Players can also choose between three difficulty levels to help tailor the experience.

The sequel continues the series tradition of beautiful environments, large enemies, and a sweeping musical score composed by award-winning composer Gareth Coker.

“Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a game that everyone at Moon Studios has poured their hearts and souls into developing over the last five years so that our community can play the best version of the game possible,” said Thomas Mahler, Co-Founder of Moon Studios. “We believe we’ve delivered on that promise to players and are looking forward to the response from the community.”

To celebrate the launch, Microsoft teamed up with the San Diego Zoo to host a livestream event, where they revealed the name of the Zoo’s newly hatching owl. Naturally the owl is named Kuro after the large, prominent owl antagonist from the Blind Forest.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is now available on PC and Xbox One. It’s also part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription (as is Ori and the Blind Forest). A Limited Collector’s Edition is also available for $49.99, which includes a Steelbook case, soundtrack CD, and art book.

Microsoft Unveils Two New Special Edition Xbox Wireless Controllers

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Microsoft has announced two new Special Edition Wireless Controllers: Phantom Magenta and Arctic Camo. Both controllers are Bluetooth compatible with Xbox One, Windows 10, mobile devices, as well as the upcoming Xbox Series X console this Holiday Season. They’re available for pre-order now.

The Phantom Magenta Special Edition wireless controller is the third in the Phantom series. The ultra-saturated purples, pinks, and black transitions from opaque to translucent. It’s inspired by cyberpunk sci-fi like Ghost in the Shell, and could fit perfectly with upcoming action-RPG Cyberpunk 2077. It’s releasing on March 17 for $69.99 at Microsoft Stores and select online retailers.

The Arctic Camo Special Edition wireless controller is the second Camo series controller, and features a white and grey camo design. The controller uses a frosted transparent resin to appear camouflaged from the inside-out, and features diamond-texture on the triggers. The Arctic Camo Special Edition is launching in May exclusively at Walmart and Microsoft Stores.

Both controllers will also feature optional matching charging stands. Each charging stand includes a battery cover, rechargeable battery, and 6-foot power cord for $49.99. The Phantom Magenta charging stand will be available the same day as the controller, March 17. The Arctic Camo charging stand will release April 27.