Microsoft’s Summer Game fest will make dozens of free demos available to Xbox players

Game conferences are canceled, so Xbox is bringing the event online.
Xbox Game Demo Festival
Be honest, you want to play the skateboarding bird game. Microsoft

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Before consoles made their way onto the internet, game demos came on discs. You’d get a handful of titles, each of which would allow you to play a single level or a small piece of the overall game to get you hooked. I remember one PlayStation demo disk with a level of Twisted Metal that I could have beaten blindfolded because I played it so much. 

Now, however, demos are easily accessible via download and Microsoft is trying to fill the void left by a lack of in-person gaming conferences with its own online demo festival. The pandemic has nixed popular shows like PAX, Gamescom, and E3 where countless titles get their first chance to show their stuff. Some companies, including Sony and Microsoft, have put on digital events to show off game trailers, but MS is taking the concept one step more. 

Between July 21st and July 27th, the Summer Game Fest will see the release of “more than 60” brand new game demos that will only be online for a limited time. 

As the company explains in a blog post on its site, these aren’t typical demos created after the development is totally done. Instead, some will be rough versions or limited applications specifically to show off individual pieces of a title. They will appear in the demos area in the Xbox One interface, bu they will disappear once the event is over. Microsoft does point out, however, that they may eventually pop back up on an individual basis down the road. 

The official list of demos hasn’t arrived just yet, but some high-profile titles have already confirmed their participation. That includes the quirky alien action game, Destroy All Humans!, as well as a game called Skatebird in which you’re a bird on a skateboard doing tricks around a tiny skatepark. 

At the same time, we also found out that the upcoming NBA 2K21 game will have a $70 sticker price when it arrives later this year for the next-generation consoles. That’s a $10 increase above the $60 gamers have gotten used to and a throwback to the SNES days when a new copy of Street Fighter 2 would cost you $70. 

On the other side of the coin, Ubisoft just unveiled its new free-to-play, battle royale game Hyper Scape with a massive launch on Twitch. Designed to compete with Call of Duty: Warzone and the upcoming Valorant, Hyper Scape is free-to-play and will slowly bleed money out of players after they’re hooked. 

All of this makes Microsoft’s Demo Fest seem like a refreshing throwback. It’s a chance to try and navigate through too many demos or just pick one you like and play it a bunch until it’s gone. 

While you’re waiting for the fest to start, keep scrolling for a quick recap of some of this week’s other big tech stories that you may have missed while you were grinding away on your Fortnite Battle Pass.

The next iPhone may not come with a charger

Some rumors claim that the next iPhone won’t have a charging port. That seems unlikely, but a more realistic report popped up this week claiming that the iPhone 12 won’t include a charger in the box. That means you’d have to shell out for a new power brick if you don’t already have six sitting around your house. In typical internet fashion, responses to the report have been split between optimism and blind rage.

Facebook showed off its sunglasses-styled VR headset

Virtual reality headsets are bulky and, well, pretty dorky looking. Facebook’s latest proof-of-concept headset, however, crams a full-fledged rig into a large pair of specs. They may never hit the market, but it’s nice to know they’re still working on making virtual headwear more wearable.

Couples now have their own option for Spotify Premium subscriptions

If you live with someone and you want to save some cash on a premium Spotify subscription, the new $12.99 couples option could come in handy. It’s only three dollars more than a single Premium account and allows two people unlimited listening privileges. It will also automatically create a Duos playlist that incorporates music you both like, which could lead to some weird mixes if you’re into Beethoven and they’re regularly rocking Cannibal Corpse.