Something to look forward to: The Xbox Game Bar Team at Microsoft have recently overhauled their creation to bring more gaming features to the PC. Built into Windows 10, the new Xbox Game Bar is a customizable gaming overlay that offers instant access to widgets including screen capture, audio controls, voice or text chat and the ability to find new teammates with the Looking for Group (LFG) feature.
Gaming overlays are quite useful for players who need a multitude of features and controls during gameplay such as capturing screenshots, broadcasting, chatting with friends or just keeping an eye on their PC’s vital stats like GPU and RAM usage.
Discord, Steam, Origin and many other services, including Nvidia’s GeForce Experience (exclusive to their own GPUs), already provide in-game overlays, so it is a bit of a crowded market. Microsoft’s latest offering is the refreshed Xbox Game Bar that’s just come out after the Windows May 2019 update. While the feature was already present in Windows 10, the newer version adds a lot more features to complement the gaming experience.
What the Game Bar might have going for it is that since it’s built into the OS, it doesn’t require specific software/hardware like other in-game overlays to function. Users can just press the “Windows Key + G,” or a shortcut they like, to launch it at any point in their game to access a host of features. Though the company did point out that a small number of games, such as those built using the Vulkan API, may need to be run in windowed mode for Xbox Game Bar to display.
“Xbox Game Bar works with nearly all PC games, giving you instant access to widgets for screen capture and sharing, controlling your music, finding new teammates with Looking for Group (LFG), and chatting with Xbox friends across Xbox console, mobile, and PC—all without leaving your game,” the company posted on Xbox Wire.
One major addition to the overlay includes a Spotify widget that can be used to easily control music and podcasts. Users can shuffle, favorite and play recommended playlists right from the overlay, once they have installed the standalone Spotify app and signed into it on their PC.
The Game Bar also allows for individual volume adjustment of various audio sources so you can better hear your opponents’ footsteps while your friends on Steam continue to chat in the background.
The Xbox team would also like you to capture screenshots and turn them into memes. “Use the Captures widget to add overlay text to your screenshot and make a meme, which you can share with your friends via a message or with the world via Twitter.” With the internet’s vast and strange appetite for memes, who knows: your next creation might end up trending everywhere.
The Game Bar widgets can be dragged around to a layout of your choosing. As part of the team’s customization focus, you can now pin streams from your favorite players, drag them anywhere on the screen and continue playing your own game, reminiscent of a picture in picture mode.
The updated Xbox Game Bar experience is “just the beginning,” with the company looking forward to evolving the feature as it listens to player feedback.