The year is basically done, bar the overeating and unison tweeting about Muppet Christmas Carol, so what better time to chase down some of Xbox’s top people and see what they thought? Not just of this year and their person highlights, but also what’s getting them hot for 2018. Coming up we’ve got some of the people behind Halo, Gears, Forza and Xbox One X itself, talking about what’s been, and what’s coming. 

Rod Fergusson, Studio Head of The Coalition

What’s been your 2017 Xbox highlight?
My 2017 Xbox highlight was the Xbox One X launch and having Gears of War 4 be the very first Xbox One X Enhanced game available this year! It looks amazing at 4K with HDR and all the new rendering features, plus the ability to play in performance mode so for the first time you can play Campaign and Horde at up to 60 FPS.

What’s one thing you won’t forget about 2017?
I’m assuming you’re just talking about gaming… For me it’s just what an amazing year it has been for games both in terms of quality and diversity from Cuphead to Assassin’s Creed Origins, I have a huge backlog of great games to get through during the holidays!

What are you looking forward to in 2018?
For 2018 I’m looking forward to The Coalition studio renovation finally finishing, watching the eSports player talent in Season 2 of our Gears Pro Circuit, launching our new Gears comic book series and continuing to support the Gears community with some really cool content.

Matt Booty, Microsoft Studios & Minecraft CVP 

What’s been your 2017 Xbox highlight?
Launching the Minecraft Marketplace, which created a place for players to browse, download and play cool community creations from within the game itself, and also created a place for creative and entrepreneurial community members to become a partner and market their work. Minecraft has always been about community and the marketplace feels like a natural extension to bring to Minecraft not just on PC but on mobile and console as well. The same is true for our partners who host servers in the marketplace. We’re just getting started with the marketplace and will be announcing a lot of new content and more partners in 2018.

What’s one thing you won’t forget about 2017?
When German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the Xbox booth at Gamescom and got a demo of our Minecraft: Education Edition and talked with the team. We’re lucky to work on a franchise that spans countries, ages and genders and brings players together in so many amazing ways.

What are you looking forward to in 2018?
Three things: The Update Aquatic, the Nintendo Switch Bedrock Release and the Super Duper Graphics Pack. The Update Aquatic will fill the Minecraft oceans with coral, kelp, fish, dolphins, shipwrecks and new water physics. The Nintendo Switch update will bring Switch players in to the Bedrock community and offer them cross-platform functionality and Marketplace content. Nintendo has been a great partner, and we’re excited to work even closer with them in the new year. The Super Duper Graphics Pack is getting a lot of our development attention right now, and it will include graphical enhancements like refined lighting, shadows, water effects, and character detail, plus customizable options and sliders.

Bill Giese, Creative Director of Forza Motorsport, Turn 10 Studios, 

What’s been your 2017 Xbox highlight?
My 2017 highlight would be launching Forza Motorsport 7 on Xbox One and PC in October, and then shipping the game again on Xbox One X in November. This game is a labor of love for the team and seeing the feedback from the community has been incredible.

What’s one thing you won’t forget about 2017?
I’ll never forget when we announced the 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS on stage at E3 in June. For the first time in history, a car was revealed alongside a game announce. Working with Porsche has been a dream come true, and they were integral to helping us deliver a once-in-a-lifetime moment.

What are you looking forward to in 2018?
I cannot wait for fans to see what we have in store – 2018 is going to be a huge year for the Forza community. We have some spectacular announcements and new experiences coming up. I’m excited for those announcements and Red Dead Redemption 2; everyone should be looking forward to that game.

Kevin Gammill, Xbox One partner group program manager

What’s been your 2017 Xbox highlight?
The release of Xbox One X – the world’s most powerful console – was a significant milestone for the Xbox team and we couldn’t be more thrilled about the excitement and demand we’re seeing from our development partners and fans. Having over 90 Xbox One X enhanced titles available and 75 more already announced and adding support as we move in to 2018 required strong collaboration between our engineering teams and our partners. It was also an incredible achievement for the team that we were able to deliver the Fall Update for Xbox just prior to the release of Xbox One X, which not only brought a new streamlined dashboard and UI design to the Xbox One family of devices based on user feedback, but also enabled gamers looking to upgrade their console to easily transfer their existing games and settings to Xbox One X, so they could immediately jump in and play as soon as the console released.

What’s one thing you won’t forget about 2017?
Playing a number of Original Xbox games such as Fusion Frenzy and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic with my twins boys on our Xbox One X.  Our engineering team really took advantage of the power of Xbox One X by improving the pixel count as much as 16X, and the games look and play great. It was only after hours of gameplay together that I told them these are games that are over sixteen years old.

What are you looking forward to in 2018?
I’m looking forward to improving my PlayerUnknown’s Battleground skills and hopefully winning a few chicken dinners along the way, continuing to expand the Xbox One games portfolio with unique services like Xbox Game Pass that deliver great value to Xbox gamers, and listening to valuable feedback from both our development partners and Xbox community to improving the Xbox One platform. It is going to be another great year to be a gamer.

Greg Stone, Senior Producer at 343 Industries

What’s been your 2017 Xbox highlight?
My highlight has to be the launch of Xbox One X and how it delivered on the promise of true 4K resolution and HDR gaming in the living room. It’s just mind-blowing to me how much better the enhanced games look on the console. It truly is as powerful as advertised and virtually my entire game collection looks and plays better on Xbox One X, especially Halo Wars 2 and Halo 5: Guardians.

What’s one thing you won’t forget about 2017?
There are so many great memories from 2017. We released Halo Wars 2 in February, put out new DLC on a monthly basis for 6 months straight and shipped our incredible expansion, Awakening the Nightmare, in September. We are extremely proud of the success that Halo Wars 2 has seen and energized by the positive response from our amazing fan base. A tremendous amount of effort and care went into making Halo Wars 2 and it was a pleasure working with our development partners at Creative Assembly to bring the latest installment of the Halo Wars franchise to life. Launching a new game is always a milestone and it’s something I will cherish when I look back on 2017.

What are you looking forward to in 2018?
I am really looking forward to the release of Sea of Thieves in 2018! The team at Rare was gracious enough to invite us to play Sea of Thieves during their Mixer live stream from Gamescom. We had a blast scavenging dark caves on a haunted island for buried treasure and sending opposing pirate ships to a watery grave. I’m going to be participating in my share of looting and plundering when it launches next year.

Matt Salsamendi, Co-Founder of Mixer

What’s been your 2017 Xbox highlight?
2017 has been a huge year for the platform. When we rebranded from Beam to Mixer, we started on a journey to connect gamers all across the globe in the most interactive way possible. Along with the rebrand, the introduction of co-streaming was huge for me and the community on Mixer. The ability to watch a PUBG stream, and not only see the action, but see everyone’s unique perspective in squad views totally changed the game for me.

What’s one thing you won’t forget about 2017?
E3, hands down. This was my first E3 as part of Xbox, and over 1 million people watched the briefing on Mixer. It was a huge, team wide effort. I remember the nights leading up, with the entire team focused on not only delivering the experience at scale, but also giving viewers a unique experience. We broadcasted the briefing in 4K, with less than one second of latency, all over the world, for more than a million people. On top of that, with Mixpot we were able to give away free games and loot to those that watched. It was a crazy cool experience.

What are you looking forward to in 2018?
There’s a few areas I’m really excited about. With channels like HypeZone launching, we’re increasing our focus on discovery for new broadcasters. I think that’s a huge opportunity, introducing an audience to those that are just getting started in streaming and giving streamers the tools to help create an entertaining experience for viewers. Also, the new mobile apps we’re launching are awesome and they’re some of the first steps we’re taking to bring the Mixer experience to more devices. I’m really excited about the ability for viewers to watch from anywhere, and have a differentiated experience that takes advantage of each platform.

Chris Charla, Director of ID@Xbox

What’s been your 2017 Xbox highlight?
The sheer volume of amazing games that shipped from ID@Xbox developers is definitely my #1 highlight, but as for specific moments I will say that E3 is always a massive highlight for me – just getting to see so many amazing games at our press briefing in such a short amount of time! It was really neat this year because for Bluehole (PUBG) and Pearl Abyss (Black Desert) it was their first time being part of an E3 media briefing so that was really fun to see. Also, being able to attend the launch party of Cuphead at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood and hang out with Chad and Jarrod and Maja outside the venue, next to a giant two-story painting of Cuphead, and just seeing all their incredibly hard work pay off with a bombshell critical and commercial success – it was just kind of an awesome moment! Then we went and got chili dogs at Carneys. It was like a perfect LA night!

What’s one thing you won’t forget about 2017?
Maybe this is a little inside baseball, but as a video game fan, getting the opportunity to talk to folks like Kareem Choudhry and Kevin Gammill about the tech inside the Xbox One X at various press events and other things where we were together was really awesome. We have some amazingly brilliant people working at Xbox and getting to hang out with those guys is pretty special!

What are you looking forward to in 2018?
Below. (And a lot more amazing games!)



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