Microsoft launches Skype for Business app for Windows Phone, most Lync 2013 users will get an automatic update

Windows Phone N i c o l a Flickr
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Microsoft today announced the launch of a new Skype for Business app for Windows Phone. Previously Skype for Business could be accessed through the Lync 2013 app, but now Skype for Business is getting its own dedicated Windows Phone app.

There are some notable improvements in the new app, which the Skype for Business team described today in a blog post:

If you are familiar with the Lync app for Windows Phone, you’ll notice a number of enhancements in the new app. The most noticeable differences right off the bat are the Skype for Business brand and UI, which is intuitive and familiar if you happen to use Skype in your personal communications. We’ve also revamped emoticons, which now offers over 100 emoticons to land your message visually.

We have improved how the app and the server handle conversation notifications. Once you’re notified of a new conversation on your phone, the other clients you have logged in won’t be able to grab the conversation and prevent you from responding on your phone.

Voicemails and conversation history are now encrypted at rest, too. Conversations are now synced across users’ devices, too — so long as companies are running the latest Skype server software.

Microsoft acquired Skype for $8.6 billion in 2011. Skype is used by more than 300 million people, Microsoft said in a blog post in November. At that time Microsoft did tell users that “in the first half of 2015, the next version of Lync will become Skype for Business with a new client experience, new server release, and updates to the service in Office 365.” That change is here now, even if it is a few days late.

People with Lync 2013 on Windows Phone 8.1 will automatically get the update to the new Skype for Business app. People running Windows Phone 8.1 who don’t have Lync 2013 can now download the new Skype for Business App. And people running Windows Phone 8.0 can keep using Lync 2013 or Lync 2010. Those apps will still work, Microsoft said in today’s blog post.

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Microsoft rebrands Xbox Music as Groove, Xbox Video as Movies & TV

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Microsoft just announced a big change for its entertainment apps and services. In short, Xbox Music is being rebranded as Groove and Xbox Video is being rebranded as Movies & TV.

Yet this is more than just a rebranding: after all we knew the Xbox name was being dropped from these Microsoft services for a while now. This is Microsoft’s latest attempt to become a major player in the business of selling digital music, movies, and TV shows.

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Microsoft offers researchers $100K and two HoloLens development kits to make holographic computing useful

An onstage HoloLens demo at Microsoft's Windows 10 event at Microsoft headquarters on Jan. 21.

Microsoft today announced a request for proposals for academic research on possible applications of “holographic computing” — the sort of augmented reality that Microsoft’s HoloLens headset can offer.

Microsoft has come up with a few potential areas of exploration, like data visualization, interactive art, human-computer interaction, and and psychology. But the company wants help from academics, and to that end it will give out $100,000 and two HoloLens development kits for the five best proposals from U.S. researchers.

“We expect that researchers will envision novel ways of using HoloLens—from interactively teaching students, to creating mixed-realty art installations, to manipulating holographic data to reveal new relationships…to who knows what,” Microsoft Research corporate vice president Jeannette Wing wrote in a blog post today on the news.

This is an interesting but not especially surprising move for Microsoft to make. In the past several months Microsoft has shown how people can play games, design three-dimensional objects, explore Mars, and even do an interactive Skype call using HoloLens, but the gadget doesn’t really have a long list of use cases other than that. So Microsoft is looking to academia for ideas, while virtual-reality headsets like Facebook’s Oculus get closer to production.

Submissions are due to Microsoft by 11:30 p.m. Pacific on Sept. 5, according to a website with more detail on the request for proposals.

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With Tossup, Microsoft wants to help you to poll friends and gather opinions

Tossup - Microsoft
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Microsoft’s continuing its recent trend of ignoring its own Windows Phone mobile operating system, with the launch of a new mobile app designed to help you create impromptu polls around events.

Available for Android and iOS in the U.S. only, Tossup lets you ask quick questions around where to have lunch, for example, or where to meet. It can be used to garner opinions on just about anything. And Tossup is the latest in a long line of apps to emerge from the vaults of Microsoft Garage, the computing giant’s lab for experimental tinkering.


Above: Tossup

Launched in August last year, Snipp3t is an iOS-only app that gathers celebrity news from across the Web in a single place. Then there’s the Next Lock Screen app for Android which gives you access to key information directly from your lock screen, while Picturesque is another lock screen app designed with Microsoft’s Bing search engine in mind. Journeys & Notes, on the other hand, is a social travel app that seeks to connect a community of users who have traveled on similar routes.

Though Microsoft has been making bigger moves in the hardware realm of late, particularly with the recent acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services division, it’s trying to remain true to its software roots by building products for competing operating systems — and in the case of mobile, this is often at the expense of Windows Phone.

While Tossup may never end up being a fully fledged product, as with the other Garage apps that have come before it, this is Microsoft’s way of testing the market, seeing what works, and what might just gain traction.

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Minecon 2015: Mojang and Minecraft trying to live, and thrive, with the corporate creepers

An Ender Dragon wrapped around Big Ben in the Minecon 2015 exhibit hall.
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LONDON — It’s not like Minecraft needs to prove that it’s moved beyond being just a video game into a full-blown global cultural phenomenon. But the game got more evidence anyway at the start of Minecon 2015, its first user-conference since 2013

Having sold 10,000 tickets in the blink of an eye, Minecon 2015 was certified as the largest conference devoted to a single video game by the Guinness Book of World Records.

But forget the shiny plaque. All you had to do was look out into the packed ExCel Center to see the thousands of Minecraft players, primarily kids and teenagers with their families, waving their plastic diamond swords to know that things seem to be going just fine in Minecraft land.

I was in the crowd with my two kids, ages 12 and 10, and both also devoted Minecraft fans. We were fulfilling a bit of a dream, having missed the first official Minecon in Las Vegas back in 2011, held when the game had just launched version 1.0.

The latest gathering was the first since 2013, and more than double the size of that Vegas gathering. But more critically, it was the first since Mojang, the company that develops Minecraft, was sold to Microsoft last year for $2.5 billion.

Of course, the big question lurking in many people’s minds (though probably not the youngest fans) is how life under a corporate umbrella with change Minecraft?

The most immediate change was the absence of Minecraft’s creator, Marcus “Notch” Persson at Minecon 2015. In deciding to sell, Persson said he planned to walk away from Minecraft, having become overwhelmed by its success.

And by all appearances, he kept to his word. Whether it was his request, or a company decision, I can’t recall hearing a single mention of Notch at any of the opening or closing ceremonies, or any other panels I attended. Everyone seemed to be all about celebrating today and looking forward, and that may be just fine with Persson.

Because this was my first Minecon, I can’t compare it to past ones. But the next most noticeable thing about this event was Microsoft’s giant booth at the heart of the exhibit space.

The Microsoft booth at Minecon 2015.

Above: The Microsoft booth at Minecon 2015.

Image Credit: VentureBeat/Chris O'Brien
The Microsoft booth at Minecon 2015.

Above: The Microsoft booth at Minecon 2015.

At the booth, there were dozens of Xbox stations, tablets, and desktops set up for people to play Minecraft. It didn’t seem to be pushing any particular message, beyond “Minecraft is awesome.” And it certainly didn’t seem like people were avoiding it, or giving it the suspicious side-eye.

Of course, it’s way too early to render and kind of judgment about Microsoft’s stewardship of Minecraft. But I’d argue that a few of the initial signs are in fact hopeful. If nothing else, the development of Minecraft for the HoloLens, Microsoft’s new holographic-augmented reality headset, seems flat out awesome, based on the demo they recently gave at E3.

I was bummed they didn’t do a similar demo live at Minecon. And while there were some limited demos happening in a deep, dark room at Minecon, I wasn’t able to snag one of the coveted slots.

But I will say based on what I’ve seen, Minecraft on HoloLens seems incredible. It’s easy to imagine Minecraft is the killer app for this thing, and if so, Microsoft’s acquisition will look like pure genius.

More importantly, HoloLens has the potential for some truly revolutionary game play. Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy and a long-time Microsoft watcher, was at Minecon this weekend with his son.

Beyond that, Microsoft is starting to bring more development resources to Minecraft.

For all of its impact, there are still only about 30 Mojang employees in Sweden. Things like the Pocket Edition have lagged significantly in features not for technical reasons, but simply because only a couple of folks were working on them.

Now there are another 30 people working on Minecraft in Redmond. Microsoft wants to create a unified Minecraft for all platforms, and so it announced this week that on July 29 the Windows 10 beta of Minecraft will become available. It’s based more on Pocket Edition, the stripped down version aimed at mobile platforms. The Windows 10 version will have support for game controllers, more integration for Xbox Live, and more consistency.

Initially, it will also have fewer features. But for players, if they can have a single experience, that seems like a win. Eventually. And it was going to take Mojang a long time to accomplish such a thing, if it ever did. Microsoft still has a long road ahead to make this happen, but it also has more resources and incentive.

Still, during the two-day event, Mojang people on stage kept referring carefully to their new “partnership” with Microsoft. It seems like an unnecessary bit of corporate soft-pedaling of the fact that ultimately, some else is signing the checks now. Yet it’s a nod to the fact that they are trying to move carefully so as not to squander their well-deserved indie cred.

Right next to Microsoft in the exhibit hall, however, was the large Mattel booth.

Mattel at Minecon 2015.

Above: Mattel at Minecon 2015.

Image Credit: VentureBeat/Chris O'Brien

While I have nothing personal against Mattel, I have to admit that the dozens of new plastic-y Minecraft-related toys they had on display for release later this year gave me some pause. This business partnership pre-dates the Microsoft sale, I believe. But it’s also clear that they’re really ramping this up in the coming year.

Mattel at Minecon 2015

Certainly, this is the way of the world. There are probably a bazillion things Mojang could have done to maximize revenue and exploit the Minecraft brand besides this. Still, most of this stuff is just, well, stuff. It doesn’t really factor into the game itself.

It just seems to mark the loss of just a bit more innocence as Mojang grows beyond its indie-roots.

But this is probably just stuff that adults like me worry about it. At the end of the day, the Mattel station for trying its new plastic-y Minecraft bow-and-arrow on a shooting range was crowded throughout the weekend.

And on that note, the overall tone of the weekend was one of celebration, joy, and community. It would probably be hard to find any of the younger kids there who didn’t feel like it wasn’t the greatest weekend of their lives, something you could hear being uttered over and over. Certainly, my kids’ were close to that sentiment.

Minecon 2015

And around the hall, and on panels, there were great displays of the kind of creativity and gaming that lies at the heart of the Minecraft phenomenon. There were booths dedicated to people using Minecraft in schools, panels on how the U.N. is using Minecraft to help with urban planning in developing nations, and how kids can use Minecraft to learn to code.

Naturally, there were also the parade of YouTube stars on hand to wave the flag. And the rapturous reception that greeted people like IHasCupQuake and The Diamond Minecart when they appeared on stage certified Minecraft’s hypnotic hold on a younger generation.

I sat through The Diamond Minecart’s liveshow Sunday afternoon, and the thousands of kids in the audience, including mine, were transfixed. And during the Q&A after, kids under 10 wielding plastic diamond swords were practically trampling each other for the chance to ask TDM what his favorite mod is.

The Diamond Minecart's liveshow at Minecon 2015.

Above: The Diamond Minecart’s liveshow at Minecon 2015.

Image Credit: VentureBeat/Chris O'Brien

So the joy that people derive from Minecraft, and that sensation of sharing and discovering it together with close friends and far-flung strangers across the Internet seems to be perfectly intact. It’s quite possible that Minecraft is so distributed, so community-driven, that no corporate master could screw it up at this point.

As Moorhead tweeted:

For players, an owner that can keep Minecraft awesome would be priceless.

My kids at Minecon 2015. Liam, 12, (left) and Kalian, 10.

Above: My kids at Minecon 2015. Liam, 12, (left) and Kalian, 10.

Image Credit: VentureBeat/Chris O'Brien
The exhibit hall for Minecon 2015 was decorated like the set of a Minecraft game. There were carnival games. And prizes. And landscapes. Minecraft swan. A barnyard. Woodsy furniture. That guy in the middle looks familiar. There were educational displays, like this one teaching kids how to make a circuit with puddy and jello to play MInecraft. Tournament zones. A crazy Saturday night liveshow with lots of disco-dancing Steve heads. Costumes, of course. And kids. And villagers.





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Coming to Minecraft: New Ender Dragon, duel wielding, Redstone for Pocket Edition, Windows 10 beta

Mincecon 2015
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LONDON — A panel of Mojang developers speaking at Minecon 2015 teased a number of new features being developed for Minecraft, though they didn’t give a specific timeline for their release.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the more notable elements in the works:

Ender Dragon

The general feeling at Mojang is that the current Ender Dragon “isn’t much of a fight.” So they’re working on making it harder to kill. Much harder.

They didn’t give specific details on what you’ll have to do kill it now. But you will be able to get the Ender Dragon to re-spawn by crafting a series of crystals and placing on the top of a series of pillars. They also promised a surprise, involving “something about his breath.”

The End

Mojang plans to dramatically expand “The End” of the game, by increasing from one island to “many, many other islands.”

You still get to The End by defeating the Ender Dragon, but the you have to find something called “The End Gateway” to reach the other islands.

At least one of the islands shown uses yellow and purple for the blocks. A slide of the island showed tall purple plants called “Chorus Plants.” These can be farmed for fruit, which in turn can be used to create more purple blocks.

Minecraft: Chorus Plants

Above: Minecraft: Chorus Plants

Image Credit: VentureBeat/Chris O'Brien


From the term mashup of “shell lurker,” this is a box that camouflages itselft in the environment. When opened, a creature shoots out that takes erratic paths toward attacking characters. These are fast-moving creatures that leave behind a trail of what looks like smoke.


Above: Shulker

Image Credit: VentureBeat/Chris O'Brien
Shulker emits a creature.

Above: Shulker emits a creature.

Image Credit: VentureBeat/Chris O'Brien
Battling multiple Shulker creatures.

Above: Battling multiple Shulker creatures.

Image Credit: VentureBeat/Chris O'Brien

Duel Wielding

Yes, there have been mods for this. But now it will be baked into Minecraft. You can hold two things at once, like a torch and axe for mining underground, a shield and sword, or even two shields that can basically offer almost unlimited protection by letting you turtle under them. Mojang promises to make it easy to swap between these multiple options.

Duel Wielding

Above: Duel Wielding

Image Credit: VentureBeat/Chris O'Brien

Spectral Arrows

When you hit someone with them, they glow. It lets you track someone, and even see their outline through other blocks and objects. If you’ve been hit by one, it will make it almost impossible to hide from your pursuer.

Pocket Edition

Mojang is in the process of making Redstone work with the Pocket Edition of Minecraft, though there was again no firm timetable as to when this might be release. Though there were hints it might be sooner rather than later.

Windows 10

The day before the panel, Microsoft and Mojang announced that the Windows 10 beta edition of Minecraft would be available July 29. This is the first step toward building a single, unified version of Minecraft that is the same across every platform where it can be played.

But in the short term, it’s going to be interesting to see how it’s received by fans. And it appears the companies are taking a cautious approach to how they are rolling it out with the extended beta that will be free to current players, and $10 for new players.

The Windows 10 edition is built on the Pocket Edition, which is the more strip downed version of Minecraft primarily for mobile devices. On the upside, it will feature console controller support, touch screen support, and mouse controls. But it will initially lack many of Minecraft’s more richer features. It seems the the companies want to see how players react, and which of those features need to be built back in the fastest.

Eventually, the companies want there to be a single version of Minecraft across all devices and consoles that let players have a single, seamless experience.

“Like the first release of Minecraft all those years ago, this version will develop and evolve over time with the help of player’s feedback,” said the Microsoft blog. “That’s why it has ‘Beta’ in the title – because it’s not quite finished, and will become even more fun over time. Just like the other versions of Minecraft, all future updates will be free.”

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AOL to manage Microsoft ads: Why increased consolidation is good news

AOL Jason Persse Flickr
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Consolidation in the digital advertising industry is a hot and controversial topic. In the last couple of years, mergers and acquisitions have been frequent, and the stakes high. In April of this year, Twitter purchased TellApart for over $500 million to help improve online and mobile ads. And just the other day, AOL announced that it will manage ad sales for most of Microsoft’s ad-supported properties.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the deal won’t significantly impact advertising market share or the consumer search experience (AOL will account for approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. display advertising revenue in 2015), but for those on the buy side of the publisher-buyer relationship, the deal is good news.

Historically, the nature of consolidation for ad sellers has been to bring more inventory under the control of a single platform. At first, this seems like an anticompetitive move. By controlling more available inventory, AOL could gain more control over pricing. Meaning, the industry could find itself in a “walled garden” scenario where a few major players control most of the inventory, making all of the rules and setting all the prices. That’s the story we hear after each high profile merger, but it’s not necessarily the case.

Inventory consolidation can help tackle some of the digital advertising industry’s most pressing issues – in particular, access and quality assurance. In an ecosystem where buyers compete for the best inventory from thousands of different publishers across thousands of different platforms, ensuring that every buyer has fair access is challenging. Consolidating inventory under a single seller can make meaningful improvements in standardizing access for all interested parties.

Counterintuitive from a traditional business perspective, auction-based sales platforms (that large publishers like AOL rely on) actually incentivize increased buyer access. Why? Because auctions have the potential to drive up the price at which inventory is sold. Putting more inventory under the same standardized sales platform is a positive development for large and small players hoping to compete on an even playing field, while also benefitting the seller.

Creating a fair bidding process isn’t the only benefit that consolidation provides. It’s no secret that the digital advertising industry has a trust problem that (although it’s limited to a small number of players) casts a shadow over the buying process. Fake traffic from bots and issues around viewability are only a few examples of the risks buyers face when dealing with the open market. Buying inventory from many different sources means that buyers have to either independently verify the quality of each source or trust that they’re getting what they’re paying for. While some great regulatory organizations have made progress towards decreasing some of these issues, the industry is still very much dealing with a “Wild West”-type environment where anything goes.

In a largely uncontrolled market, reputable sellers like AOL act as quality assurance. The more inventory available under a trusted brand, the easier it is to buy without fear of quality issues or fraudulent reporting. Large publishers — like AOL — with large and diverse audiences and high-quality inventory that buyers crave will naturally come out on top. As the digital ad ecosystem continues to explode and barriers to entry (such as uncertainties surrounding quality) remain low, large and trusted inventory providers will further the market’s momentum.

Mollie Spilman is Chief Revenue Officer of Criteo.

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PicoBrew’s Zymatic Beer Making Machine Made A Brewer Out Of A Noob Like Me

Zymatic by PicoBrew PicoBrew is a beer-centered startup in Seattle, founded by brothers Bill and Jim Mitchell and Avi Geiger. The machine at the heart of their operation is The Zymatic—an apparatus that simplifies beer-making by reducing the need to monitor the cooking process of creating Wort (unfermented beer). Did their device turn a beer drinker like me, with zero brewing experience, into a beer maker? Read More

The DeanBeat: 22 industry leaders sound off on gaming

Hello Games founder Sean Murray showing No Man's Sky at E3 2015.
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Listening is one of the things I like best about my job. Over the past few weeks, at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles and elsewhere, I had a chance to interview a bunch of executives, CEOs, and game creators about their views on gaming. This week’s column takes snippets of wisdom that I gleaned from those interviews.

I enjoy talking to smart people and interpreting what they have to say. In this case, I’m trying to narrow down to the most important nugget that they each shared during the course of a longer conversation. This is an absurdly difficult task, but as I write this column a couple of weeks after E3, I’m trying to absorb what was really important. I think that everybody in the game industry should undertake this kind of exercise now and then, synthesizing the huge data dump we get from the industry’s biggest trade show and summing it up. And if you were as busy as I was, I’m sure you didn’t have time to read many of these interviews during the show. This is a quick way to catch up on what you missed.

If you want to see the full interview and the context for the quote, click on the person’s name. These are interviews that you’ll read only on GamesBeat, and we are happy to present them to you in digestible form. You’ll notice that most of the photos are by me as well. I’m not the greatest photographer. These people are movers and shakers, but I believe at the core that everyone I interview is a person. I like to convey that humanity in some way through a photo, and I snapped most of these myself as I did the interviews. I hope you enjoy these words and images. Some of these folks will be speaking at our GamesBeat 2015 event on Oct. 12-13 in San Francisco. I’ll let you guess which ones for now.

Also, here are quotes from the 18 game industry leaders we interviewed at last year’s E3.

Mike Gallagher, CEO of the Entertainment Software Association

Mike Gallagher, CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, at the GamesBeat Summit.

Above: Mike Gallagher, CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, at the GamesBeat Summit.

Image Credit: Michael O'Donnell/VentureBeat

On diversity at E3 and the gaming business:

“You’ll see examples of the diversity of the industry on display for the whole world to see. When it comes to diversity on an international base, 40 percent of the exhibitors are international companies. When you look at where these products come from and who they’re for, it’s everyone in the world.

“When it comes to gender issues, I spoke about this with you at your conference. We see the trajectory for the games industry as very bright. In 2009, according to IGDA, nine percent of the industry were women. According to the same source today, that number is 22 percent. The Higher Education Video Game Alliance, 63 universities with programs that teach video games or have video game degree programs, they’ve said that their video game programs have proportionally twice the representation of women compared to computer science and engineering at 34 percent.

“The industry is on a path to an even greater number of women engaged in making games and growing the industry. Women are already playing games, we know that. 44 percent of gamers are women. You’ll see those numbers pull quite a ways ahead of the rest of the tech industry. It’s because we’re a creative medium. You’ll see that on the floor at E3. We’re proud of where the industry is going in that respect.”

Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts

Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts.

Above: Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

On EA’s competition:

“The competition we have is competition for your best time. As human beings, we have an amount of time we allocate every day to entertainment. That might be watching TV. It might be playing games or listening to music or reading books. These days it’s shopping for a lot of people. Amazon wants your shopping experience to be interactive and fun and give you rewards. It sounds a lot like making games to me.

“When we think about competition, we think about you as a player and what you’re engaging with through the day. We know that we need to engage with you a certain amount of time per day in order to maintain that relationship. That might mean we’re competing with another console developer, another mobile developer. It might mean we’re competing with your bank, which is trying to make the banking experience interactive and fun. We might be competing with you and your articles.

“It’s not just competition for games. The world has woken up and recognized that interactive entertainment is the best form of entertainment. All of a sudden everyone is trying to do what we do. We get up and we’re looking left, right, front, back and trying to make sure the experiences we deliver to our players are the most entertaining, most rewarding, most inspiring experiences possible.”

Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing

Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing.

Above: Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

On a commencement speech he delivered at UCLA about creative leadership:

“That was a speech delivered to kids who just earned an art degree. It was geared toward them, not toward business leaders. But my message to them was to not accept limitations on themselves that the world would try to put on them as creative people.

“When I was asked to share whatever wisdom I’ve learned, it occurred to me that — it made me wonder why so few creative people are asked to lead things. Every other discipline in the business world is routinely considered for leadership positions — operations, finance, law. It’s almost never a creative person. Part of that is perhaps a bias the world has about creative people. Part of it is things creative people tend to do to themselves.

“I encouraged the kids to think of themselves not only as creators, not only as the fuel for organizations, but as potential leaders in those organizations, and to do the work they need to do to be prepared and informed to help make the big decisions. Step out from behind the walls that we put up around ourselves.”

Shannon Loftis, head of publishing for Microsoft Studios

Shannon Loftis, general manager of global games publishing at Microsoft

Above: Shannon Loftis, general manager of global games publishing at Microsoft

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

“On Xbox One backward compatibility with Xbox 360 games:

“Gamers have been asking for it since we launched. Recognizing that it’s important to our fanbase, that people have made significant investments in time and passion and money in their 360 collections, we wanted to make sure that value extended into the Xbox One. But it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t simple. We’ve had engineers working on this for a long time. Many of the 360 games are so deep and rich, so beloved, that people aren’t ready to give them up yet. It’s easy to just not make it a choice between the two. You probably already know this — we had scarce engineering resources. But because it was it so much in demand, and because people were enjoying games online so much, we put some people on it. They’ve created 360 emulation in software within the Xbox One architecture. When you put your disc in the drive, we download a little shim that allows it to talk to the 360 emulation. We load up a bit of the Dashboard, and then you launch your game from there. But you still have access to all the Xbox One features.

“Loftus on women heroes in games:

“Gamers form the deepest bonds with the content and have the most immersive and engaged experiences when they have something they can relate to on the screen. Adding a more diverse array of characters invites a more diverse set of gamers. Making gaming more inclusive is good for everybody – good for gamers, good for developers, good for people in general. That’s right. Lara Croft is someone I’ve identified strongly with for years now. Player choice is another thing. The more we give people the opportunity to customize their experiences to suit their tastes, that’s great.”

Brendan Iribe, CEO of Facebook’s Oculus VR

Brendan Iribe showed off the new Oculus Rift at E3 2015.

Above: Brendan Iribe showed off the new Oculus Rift at E3 2015.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

On the company’s new Oculus Touch hand controllers:

“These are the Half Moon prototype of the Touch controllers. The goal with Touch was to make it an extension of yourself, to get your hands in the game. We experimented with a lot of prototypes. We didn’t want you holding wands that you might fatigue on, where you’d have to rest your hands. These rest in your hands. You can keep your hand open and still interact. You’ll be able to point or give a thumbs up. Now you have hands. Your hands are really in the game. Not just you holding something, but being able to look down and feel like those are your hands. You can reach out and pick things up, interact with elements in the world, flick things with your finger, give somebody a thumbs up. This is the first generation on a path toward truly getting your hands in the game, true hand presence.”

Sean Murray, cofounder of Hello Games

Hello Games founder Sean Murray showing No Man's Sky at E3 2015.

Above: Hello Games founder Sean Murray showing No Man’s Sky at E3 2015.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

On making a massive game like No Man’s Sky with a small team:

“I was at Criterion, which got bought by EA. As Criterion, we were fiercely independent. We had publishers like Acclaim and EA, but they were never allowed in the building, basically. Criterion just worked on its own games. Most people were totally shielded from it.

“After we were bought, it did become more difficult to do something more innovative. A big publisher really comes into its own when it’s doing a sequel, something like that. Doing a new IP is twice as difficult with a large company worrying about it. You just never know. When we first announced No Man’s Sky, there was no way to know whether it would resonate or not. The more people you have involved, the more second-guessing comes about. Are people going to like the name, the style, the content?

“This is a very hard game to make with a small team, but it would be even harder to make with a large team — Ubisoft putting 400 people on it or something like that.”

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