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Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Calls Today’s Metaverse a ‘Poorly Built Video Game’

Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Calls Today’s Metaverse a ‘Poorly Built Video Game’Phil Spencer, CEO of gaming at Microsoft and head of Xbox, directed some criticism at the idea of the metaverse and how it is being executed. Spencer remarked that for him, the current metaverse is a “poorly built video game,” but also that the sector was still in its early stages and will surely evolve. […]

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Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Skeptical About Metaverse, Criticizes Play-to-Earn Models

Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Skeptical About Metaverse, Criticizes Play-to-Earn ModelsPhil Spencer, head of the Xbox brand, believes that the metaverse has been with us since 30 years ago, when digital gaming was largely introduced. However, Spencer criticized play-to-earn (P2E) models, stating that they create a workforce out of a kind of gamer who needs to monetize the time spent playing. Xbox Boss Phil Spencer […]

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Xbox boss keen on Metaverse but ‘cautious’ about play-to-earn games

Phil Spencer argues that “gamers have been in the Metaverse for 30 years” as games already offer 3D shared worlds for people to communicate in.

Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft’s gaming company Xbox is optimistic about the Metaverse but remains “cautious” about play-to-earn (P2E) crypto games due to its economic and speculative aspects.

Speaking with Bloomberg anchor Emily Chang on Aug. 25, Spencer suggested that while many gamers are not yet sold on the current concept of a Metaverse, according to his definition, they have essentially been playing in Metaverse worlds for decades:

“My view on Metaverse is that gamers have been in the Metaverse for 30 years. When you’re playing games, if you’re playing a World of Warcraft game, you’re playing in Roblox, you’re playing in a racing game where everybody’s in a shared world.”

In Spencer’s view, the Metaverse is essentially a “3D shared world” in which people can freely communicate with each other and engage in shared experiences and common purposes.

“It's not at all surprising to me that gamers might look at Metaverse and think well I don’t really get it because we already have an avatar of myself and I can already go into a shared world and I can already sit there and have voice conversations with people anywhere,” he said.

Spencer’s sentiments echo that of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who after telling Bloomberg in November that people could “absolutely expect” the firm to make moves in Metaverse gaming, noted that:

“If you take Halo as a game, it is a Metaverse. Minecraft is a Metaverse, and so is Flight Sim. In some sense, they’re 2D today and the question is can you now take that to a fully 3D world, and we absolutely plan to do so.”

Spencer however did not address more contentious issues in the Metaverse, such as the concept of owning virtual Metaverse property through NFTs. Crypto proponent and billionaire investor Mark Cuban recently slammed virtual property investment as “the dumbest s--- ever” due to an apparent lack of utility and scarcity.

The Xbox head instead went on to add that commercial usage of the Metaverse space has continued to pique the interest of Microsoft and CEO Nadella as of late.

“But I do think the skills that we have as game designers and game creators make a ton of sense in a lot of enterprise experiences. And this is why Satya gets excited about it,” he said.

Cautious about P2E

The Xbox head spoke in much more tentative terms over blockchain-based P2E games however.

While Spencer admitted that monetization in games has been around for years, he holds concerns about games being primarily built around “menial tasks” to accrue digital currency.

“Play-to-earn specifically is something I’m cautious about. It creates a worker force out of players, for certain players to kind of monetize.”

“Now you find games that are starting to build that into the economy of the game itself. We made some comments in Minecraft about how we view NFTs in this space because we people are doing things that we thought were exploitative in our product — we said we don’t want that,” he added.

Related: GameFi developers could be facing big fines and hard time

He didn’t completely reject the concept of play-to-earn, however, noting that there could be some interesting use cases that sprout out from this area.

“I think sometimes it’s a hammer looking for a nail when these technologies come up. But the actual human use — or player use, in our case — of these technologies, I think there could be some interesting things,” he said.

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Microsoft’s massive metaverse move: Buying Activision for $69B

Following the Activision Blizzard acquisition announcement, Microsoft CEO and chairman Satya Nadella stated that gaming “will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms.”

Microsoft is acquiring gaming giant Activision Blizzard for $69 billion as part of a move to ramp up its gaming and metaverse plans.

Activision Blizzard is home to a long list of iconic gaming franchises such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, Candy Crush, World of Warcraft and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Following the deal, its games are set to be added to Microsoft Xbox’s Game Pass service, which has 25 million subscribers.

According to a Tuesday announcement from Microsoft, the firm will acquire Activision Blizzard for $95.00 per share at a valuation of $68.7 billion. The deal is set to close in the 2023 fiscal year will see Microsoft become the third-largest gaming company in terms of revenue behind Riot Games owner Tencent and PlayStation developer Sony.

Microsoft outlined that the acquisition will support the growth of its services across mobile, PC, console and cloud gaming and also notably stated that it will “provide building blocks for the Metaverse.” Microsoft CEO and chairman Satya Nadella said:

“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms.”

As part of the acquisition, Microsoft stated that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick will remain at the helm until the deal closes, with the reins then being handed over to Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer.

Spencer welcomed the deal via an Xbox blog post and emphasized the company is working to make cloud gaming accessible on as many devices as possible. He didn’t mention the metaverse or nonfungible tokens (NFT), however — sectors that have seen a backlash from some sections of the gaming community.

“The fantastic franchises across Activision Blizzard will also accelerate our plans for Cloud Gaming, allowing more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and other devices you already own,” Spencer wrote.

In November, Nadella first unveiled Microsoft’s metaverse plans via an upgrade to its “Teams” service and a product called “Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces.” The “Mesh” upgrade for Teams is set to introduce personalized digital avatars and immersive spaces to meet in the metaverse later this year.

Nadella also stated at the time that people can “absolutely expect” to see Microsoft integrate metaverse features with the Xbox gaming consoles but didn’t divulge any concrete plans or specific details.

Related: NFT-focused Animoca Brands valued at $5B following $358M raise

It is unclear whether Microsoft’s metaverse play for Xbox will include the introduction of NFTs, with Spencer stating in November that he felt the experimentation happening in NFTs was more “exploitative than about entertainment.”

Spencer noted that if the Xbox Store were to support NFTs, the company would actively weed out any nefarious behavior or content.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that 100 employees from Microsoft’s augmented reality team have left the company over the past year to join metaverse competitor Meta (Facebook).

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Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Addresses Rise of NFT Gaming; Feels Some of It Is “Exploitive”

Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Addresses Rise of NFT Gaming; Feels Some of It Is “Exploitive”Phil Spencer, executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft and the individual responsible for the Xbox program, has addressed the NFT gaming phenomenon trending recently. To Spencer, some of the platforms that leverage the use of NFTs feel more exploitive than entertaining. Some of the biggest developers and publishers in the gaming industry have already […]

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Nifty News: YGG partners with 8 P2E games, Ice Cube and Quiznos drop NFTs

Microsoft's head of gaming Phil Spencer said he is cautious about integrating NFTs with the Xbox Store.

Decentralized gaming guild Yield Guild Games (YGG) has partnered with, and invested in, eight new play-to-earn (P2E) blockchain games.

YGG lends out nonfungible token (NFT) gaming assets to Guild players so that they can earn rewards from a long list of P2E games without having to front the costs of purchasing the NFTs themselves. The guild boasts assets from widely popular games such as Axie Infinity and Splinterlands.

In an announcement shared with Cointelegraph on Nov. 16, YGG revealed that it had backed eight games with “strong play-to-earn models” including Influence, CyBall, Thetan Arena, KOGs SLAM!, MOBOX, Aavegotchi, DeHorizon and Genopets.

Sarutobi Sasuke, YGG’s head of partnerships, emphasized that the guild seeks out games with strong community involvement and “fair gaming economies.”

“The team reviews the gameplay and game economics to ensure that the games have a robust and fair game economy that rewards players adequately for the time and effort put in by them,” he said.

YGG has snapped up a wide range of NFT assets from the games such as tokenized plots of land and avatars. While some of the gaming projects are in their formative or pre-launch stages, others are already on the market such as Aavegotchi and Mobox.

Aavegotchi is an Ethereum-based NFT project inspired by the popular Japanese virtual pet game Tamagotchi. Mobox is a Binance Smart Chain-based gaming platform that builds yield farming structures into its games. According to Coingecko, Aavegotchi (GHST) and Mobox (MBOX) have a market cap of $145 million and $340 million each.

Microsoft gaming exec cautious of NFTs

While many popular brands and companies have jumped wholeheartedly on the NFT bandwagon, Microsoft's head of gaming Phil Spencer said he is cautious about integrating the tech with the Xbox Store.

During a Nov. 17 interview with Axios, Spencer stated that, while NFT gaming is on the “up,” he has witnessed a lot of unsavory behavior in the sector:

“What I'd say today on NFT[s] is, I think there's a lot of speculation and experimentation that's happening, and that some of the creative that I see today feels more exploitive than about entertainment."

He conceded that not every NFT game is exploitative and that the sector is “kind of in that journey of people figuring it out.”

“And I can understand that early on you see a lot of things that probably are not things you want to have in your store,” he said.

Spencer said that if Xbox does opt to list NFT games in the Xbox Store, it will actively weed out anything that it deems as not beneficial to the user, noting that “we don't want that kind of content.

Quiznos starts NFT side-hustle

United States-based fast-food sandwich giant Quiznos has taken the plunge into NFTs via a partnership with Crypto.com.

The firm’s debut NFT collection named “Out of this World” featured five open editions NFTs or “sandwich coins” depicting astronauts in space either holding or hunting for top digital assets such as Dogecoin (DOGE), Ether (ETH) and Bitcoin (BTC).

The sale was hosted on Crypto.com and ended on Nov. 16, with the drop generating around $176,975 from a total of 4,403 NFT purchases.

In a Nov. 15 announcement, Quiznos said that proceeds from the sale would go to World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides free food to communities in times of crisis.

“We are delighted that Quiznos chose our platform to launch this NFT campaign in support of efforts to help those in need at a critical time for our planet," said Crypto.com’s executive vice president and global head of NFT Joe Conyers III.

"We view this as a fun way to connect our community with a beloved food brand and terrific cause,” he added.

Related: Miramax sues Tarantino over 'money grab' Pulp Fiction NFTs

Ice Cube drops ice-cold NFTs

Rap icon Ice Cube is set to drop a series of NFTs on Nifty Gateway on Nov. 17 in collaboration with digital artist Trevor Jones.

The collection consists of four 1:1 editions depicting oil paintings inspired by Ice Cube’s life story, three limited editions of varying rarity featuring digital portraits of the rapper-backed new original songs, and one open edition exclusively available to holders of Jones’ previous NFT drops on Nifty Gateway.

Ice Cube said he wanted to do something legit rather than just cash in.

"While people tried to rush me into the NFT space when they first exploded almost a year ago, I wanted to do something legitimate and create artwork I would be as proud of 20 years from now as I am about these pieces today," Ice Cube said.

The sale will close on Nov. 18, prices vary from $1,400 to $15,000 for the limited and open editions, while an opening bid price for the one of one editions hasn’t been specified.

Other Nifty News

Virtual property and gaming firm The Sandbox is opening up part of its Metaverse to players for the first time via a multi-week play-to-earn Alpha event starting on Nov. 29.

Cointelegraph reported on Nov. 16 that Google’s keyword search data shows interest in NFTs has surged to record levels, with traffic beating out search terms pertinent to many crypto assets ranked among the top ten.

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Microsoft muscles into the Metaverse with Teams updates and Xbox upgrades

“The metaverse enables us to embed computing into the real world, and to embed the real world into computing. Bringing real presence to any digital space,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

U.S. tech giant Microsoft is taking the plunge into the Metaverse via updates to its Teams and Xbox gaming console services, along with a new product called “Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the firm’s Metaverse plans for Teams and Spaces on Nov. 2 during the Microsoft Ignite conference.

“The Metaverse enables us to embed computing into the real world and to embed the real world into computing. Bringing real presence to any digital space. What’s most important is that we are able to bring our humanity with us, and choose how we want to experience this world,” Nadella said.

The update for Microsoft Teams is dubbed “Mesh” and its initial rollout in 2022 will provide users with personalized digital avatars and immersive spaces to meet in the Metaverse “that can be accessed from any device, with no special equipment needed.”

Later down the road of Mesh’s development, organizations will also be able to build custom spaces to support contexts such as meetings or “social mixers.”

The Mesh update: Mircosoft

Microsoft's new Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces product is set for its first preview in December 2021, and it will enable organizations to combine Metaverse and artificial intelligence (AI) tech with their businesses. The firm said that Spaces can be used to harness observational data from cameras from the “the retail store to the factory floor,” in what it is calling a “hybrid work environment.”

“With the power of your existing cameras, harness computer vision and observational data to help complete the picture—giving a new perspective into people, places, and things, wrote Vishal Sood, the General Manager of Connected Spaces in a Nov. 2 blog post.

“Following deployment, simply turn on AI-powered models, known as skills, to help understand specific scenarios such as customer behavior at a promotional display, traffic patterns, and insights unique to your space.”

Related: The Sandbox raises $93M to expand its NFT metaverse

During an interview with Bloomberg TV on Nov. 3, Nadella also stated that Microsoft’s video game firm Xbox will “absolutely” work on integrating the Metaverse into its gaming lines. The CEO kept his cards close to his chest however, as he didn’t provide any concrete updates for the gaming sector.

“You can absolutely expect us to do things in gaming,” Nadella said, and added that:

“If you take Halo as a game, it is a Metaverse. Minecraft is a Metaverse, and so is Flight Sim. In some sense, they’re 2D today and the question is can you now take that to a fully 3D world, and we absolutely plan to do so.”

Microsoft is not the only mainstream giant to come out with Metaverse plans this week, with Cointelegraph reporting earlier today that Nike had submitted applications for trademarks of its iconic logo and slogan for use in “online virtual worlds.” The firm has also posted two recent job listings for virtual material designers.

Nike said the new recruits would “play a key role in redefining our digital world, ushering us into the Metaverse.”

Social media giant Facebook is famously taking the plunge into the Metaverse, with the rebrand to Meta and the firm working to provide a platform for creators to build virtual online businesses, connect online experiences with the physical world and launch its virtual reality hardware business named “Reality Labs.”

During an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box on Oct. 29, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian commented on Facebook’s plans labeling it a “masterstroke in diversion and distraction,” from the problems that have plagued the firm.

While Ohanian noted that Meta should not be “underestimated,” he emphasized that there is enough organic movement from the crypto sector to create an open Metaverse as opposed to one controlled by the social media giant:

“Right now there is this bottom-up movement to create the etaverse. We have seen what is happening in the crypto community… we are seeing a lot of people building what I think is, and hope will become a much more organic type of world rather than a top-down Facebook-imposed one.”

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Microsoft quietly closing down Azure blockchain in September

Microsoft is closing its Azure Blockchain Service, giving existing customers just four months to transition to new service providers.

Microsoft is turning off its corporate Azure Blockchain Service on September 10 and will not accept any new deployments effective immediately, with no official explanation provided.

Large corporate customers who use Azure Blockchain include J.P. Morgan, GE Aviation, Singapore Airlines, Starbucks, and Xbox according to its website.

The announcement was made in a low key post on the Microsoft documentation site on Monday, informing all current customers to migrate to alternate services. ConsenSys Quorum Blockchain Service was the only suggestion and ConsenSys founder and CEO Joseph Lubin welcomed the Azure refugees:

“Expanding our relationship with Microsoft helps organizations take advantage of ConsenSys Quorum and Quorum customer support to offer users an enterprise-grade managed blockchain service that can be effortlessly set-up and deployed.”

The imminent closure was given more public attention via a Twitter post on May 12 by Azure architect Tom Kerhove.

Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain is six years old and developed from a sandbox style service in 2015 on Ethereum in partnership with ConsenSys, before it was offered as a fully managed Blockchain-as-a-Service, or BaaS, preview in late 2019. Microsoft’s original goal for Azure was to create a certified blockchain marketplace giving customers the “ability to discover blockchain technologies and value added services.”

Despite stating no new deployments will be accepted on the service, Microsoft are yet to remove the Azure page offering new users to sign up for free.

Microsoft has been sending mixed messages around its stance towards cryptocurrency and blockchain, with president Brad Smith claiming earlier this year that the multinational was not even the least bit interested in dabbling in Bitcoin. However, in late March, the company released an online poll asking customers how likely they would be to use Bitcoin for purchases in the Xbox Games Store.

This is one of the first major enterprise blockchain solutions to close its doors, however it is not likely to spell the end for commercial blockchain adoption with IBM, ConsenSys, Hyperledger, Amazon, and Huawei all offering alternate enterprise-ready solutions.

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Microsoft Is Surveying Its Xbox Users About Adding a Bitcoin Payment Option to the Store

Microsoft Is Surveying Its Xbox Users About Adding a Bitcoin Payment Option to the StoreThe tech giant seems to be changing its stance on being more friendly with the cryptocurrency sphere amid the current hype. Microsoft has been asking its Xbox gaming console users about the possibility of implementing payment methods, such as bitcoin. The Poll Is the First of Its Kind Released by the Tech Giant With Crypto […]

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