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So it looks like Xbox Live Gold really is going away. After reading your initial story there’s more rumours about it from a good source here and to be honest the getting rid of 12-month subscriptions was a huge red flag anyway. I haven’t the slightest intention of getting an Xbox Series X, but I am still all for it because of the influence it will have on Sony (and Nintendo).
We all know that Sony and Microsoft are playing chicken at the moment, in terms of the price of the new consoles, but I think the bigger question is services. Microsoft’s entire future in the games industry depends on getting Game Pass and xCloud right and more than anything that means price. You can completely see why they wouldn’t want to be charging for online separately, especially if they’re going to turn Halo Infinite into a microtransactions-filled free-to-play game, but the big problem is that all of this stuff – except for xCloud – is really easy to copy.
Sony already has PlayStation Now and with a few tweaks, that require no technological know-how, they could offer the exact same thing. I’m sure they don’t want to, because they have first party games that people actually care about, but it’s got to be an option. Even if it is the nuclear one.
But if Microsoft make Xbox Live Gold free I don’t believe that Sony has any choice but to follow suit, which benefits everyone. The question is (and maybe Microsoft don’t know the answer to this yet) whether Game Pass will increase in price as a result. We’ll have to wait and see, if one of them sums up the courage to make an announcement.
Take my money
So is this the latest it’s ever been GC, of any new console generation release? We must be coming up to surely only three months away now, when both new consoles are getting released, and we still don’t have any idea on any official price, release date, or even a pre-order date yet!
OK, so I get it doesn’t matter when the big to let the public know all these answers – at the end of the day they will both sell out ASAP on the first day of release. I just can’t recall any other next gen release being so late with all this important news being so close to launch, that’s all? (I know they’re playing games with each other, waiting for the first one to spill the beans first so the other can play their ace card, a bit like cat and mouse.)
Surely something has to happen this month with the release of all the relevant official information, etc. we have all been waiting for?
GC: There’s been nothing like it in recent history, but the Saturn released in America the same day its price was announced, at the very first E3 (although it was by that point already out in Japan).
Ever decreasing circles
The one thing that appears to be unanimous in the reactions to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X is people saying that they’re not really seeing what the next generation has to offer.
Obviously we’re not in the 90s any more, where each generation had a massive leap in graphics. As the architectures are basically PCs at this point, we’re also not going to get anything that’s better than what a high-end gaming PC can do either. So when we get shown similar stuff to what we’ve seen before, is it really a surprise?
So lots of responses are that people don’t see the need to upgrade. But as I sit waiting for a game to load are faster loading time really not enough of a reason to replace my six-year-old console? To me it is. I upgrade my phone far more regularly and that’s no cheaper! They may not be offing something unique like the Switch or when the Xbox 360 made multiplayer mainstream, but even if it’s just faster loading, sign me up. I’ll replace a six-year-old device for better performance, why wouldn’t I?
GC: We’re not sure loading is quite the example it should be anymore, given how fast The Last Of Us Part 2 and Ghost Of Tsushima are in that regard.
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During lockdown, I’ve been enjoying a bit of virtual exercise with BoxFit VR on PlayStation VR, which another reader praised a few weeks ago. I’m finding it oddly addictive trying to get the trophies on offer and even have the platinum in mind, although whether I’ll be able to get it is another question entirely – getting 100% on 10 different tracks will most likely be my undoing!
I picked BoxFit VR up during a sale over Christmas last year and have been waiting for a similar price reduction on Beat Saber, which sounds like a must-have VR game but has yet to be discounted this year (that I’ve seen).
The reason I’m holding off on a purchase at full price is because I’d probably want to also get the additional songs DLCs, not because I’m a fan of the bands the DLCs offer but because more songs must help keep the game fresh.
Can any readers advise whether BoxFit VR and Beat Saber are ‘different enough’, or Beat Saber being so good, to warrant getting Beat Saber at full price? Or should I keep waiting for a sale that may never happen?
GC: We don’t think there is a game called BoxFit VR, do you mean BOXVR? Not that it matters as we haven’t played either. Beat Saber is great though, one of the best VR games available.
The Lego NES set does look great, but it is clearly not aimed at children, unless they have a passion for 35-year-old consoles and CRT tellies and have just over a couple of hundred pounds to spare. (Any parent that buys it as a gift for a child I think you may have a vested interest).
The Mario kits intrigue me though. I think they could probably have produced some sets with ‘realistic’ looking Mario universe minifigures but have gone down a more Duplo looking route. The interactive aspect also looks quite interesting. I think from a brand point of view it’s probably the right choice for Nintendo to get kids interested.
I’m nearly 43 and should have better things to do than e-mail national publications about Lego and Nintendo but hey-ho!
GC: What does Lego have to do with children? But seriously, we think there’s a reasonable chance there’ll be regular minifigures too, even if it’s just in a giant one-off set for, mostly, adults.
As a long time Xbox fan, I was really excited for the Xbox Games Showcase event last week. Afterwards, however, I was a little disappointed (primarily with the lack of actual gameplay footage) but I still thought there was some good content in there. I was also very pleased to see some Xbox Series X exclusive content announced – by which I mean content that will not come to the current gen so won’t be held back by its limitations. The Halo Infinite reveal though? I kinda get why it is the way it is, but that’s not really my main concern…
In fact, my primary concern with the Halo Infinite reveal has very little to do with the game itself. It has to do with the fact that Microsoft saw this and thought ‘Hey, this looks good’, which makes me question their judgement. Because, whether or not Microsoft wanted it to be a showcase of the next gen or just a sales pitch for Game Pass, everyone that was watching was there to see what this new beast of a machine they’re making can do – and they must have known that. On that front, Microsoft didn’t really deliver.
Microsoft has been saying all the right stuff about their system and have also been saying how great games are looking on the Xbox Series X, but they chose to show that footage and those screenshots (apparently completely on purpose – and just to be clear this is mainly aimed at the end of the presentation with the Brute guy talking, and the awful screenshots they released). They clearly thought it looked good enough.
From the 4K stream I can definitely see how they thought some of that gameplay at least looked acceptable, but the end of that video and the screenshots released are objectively awful. So if they think that looks good, to me that completely throws their judgement into question. Are they saying next gen games are looking great because they’ve seen something we haven’t (and if so why haven’t they shown it?) or because they’ve seen a load of mediocre looking content that they think looks next gen? If it’s the latter, that says a lot not only about the Xbox Series X, but also about the kind of output we can expect from their first party studios.
It’s concerning that they were looking so good at the start of this year, bigging up their hardware, and have only started to falter when they actually had to demonstrate what they’re doing. Am I still going to get an Xbox Series X? Yeah. I love Game Pass. I’m still positive that they will deliver some great content on the hardware – first party or otherwise. And I have a large back catalogue of games that will work and run (and in many cases look) better on the system from day one. But that doesn’t mean that right now, I’m not disappointed. Still, they do have some time to turn this around, and it will be interesting to see what else they show over the coming months.
Hi GC, and all who read of its hallowed pages! Do you remember those old Tomytronic 3D headsets? I’ve included an image to remind you. They sort of looked like space shuttles or something.
But, how exactly would you describe the shape? I’m tempted to say they look a bit like a heater shield, but I’m sure there’s a more elegant way of describing it that I just can’t place right now because of a combination of senility and stupidity.
The games were… okay. For a few minutes here and there. Not exactly the best way of playing a game I’m sure you’ll agree or remember. But hey! One of them was the Tank Attack game from Tron! And they were indisputably cool to look at if nothing else.
The true winner
This was meant for the Hot Topic but it may be too long – sorry it’s late.
How are Microsoft doing with their next gen plans so far? I think that really depends on if you’re talking about the Xbox Series X or Game Pass. The gameplay reveals on both occasions failed to show many compelling reasons to upgrade to Xbox Series X over current consoles, and if you were looking for a game comparable to Sony’s single-player output you would have been disappointed. The prospect of Game Pass, however, is becoming too enticing to pass up. Could you imagine a previous console launch where every game showcased at the reveal event would be playable for £7.99 a month? The times, they are a changin’.
In terms of the games due for launch, I’m a diehard Halo fan so I’m very interested in picking that up, as for the rest… Any other big budget exclusives were so far off they didn’t have gameplay but I like the developers and their previous work so colour me intrigued. I was tickled by a good number of the upcoming smaller games as well, overall it was probably even in terms of interest between Microsoft’s and Sony’s indie/AA offerings. But, they’re all on Game Pass so I’ll give it to Microsoft, as I’m likely to play more of these games on a Microsoft platform.
The complaints about Halo’s graphics were fair if you don’t think they look good. I was certainly unimpressed by the pop-in of certain elements but watching the 4K/60fps feed after the event definitely made it look a lot better. There is work to be done, and I would obviously prefer if the game looked stupendous at launch, but as someone who has played hundreds of hours of Destiny and Sea Of Thieves I’m not put off by the thought of Halo growing and improving graphically over time as long as they nail the gameplay.
In regards to what Microsoft needs to do next. I think it’s fair to say that they did not do enough to win over anyone unconvinced by Xbox who was committed enough to watch the livestream. Microsoft’s strategy now needs to be to communicate to the mass market the value proposition with Xbox. They need to match or undercut the PlayStation 5 in price and push the advantages of Game Pass to the roof tops.
To anyone without an oar in this race an advert showing Halo Infinite and all the games included at launch with Game Pass, for £7.99, is going to look awfully enticing next to the £49.99 to £64.99 of the software on the shelves. They also need to get Minecraft with ray-tracing out on Xbox Series X, my kids are transfixed by the videos and are constantly pestering me about when it’s out.
The true winner here though is Game Pass. Whether you access their games via a console or PC Microsoft have made gaming cheaper and more inclusive than any previous generation.
DarKerR (gamertag)/DarKerR-UK (PSN ID)/DarKeR_UK (Steam ID)
I would just like to say I agree completely with the Reader’s Feature about Microsoft’s approach to single-player games and online only, which is why I sold my Xbox One.
I really don’t understand how Microsoft has sleepwalked their way into all this controversy. Nobody told them they had to have an event in July, why didn’t they wait until Halo Infinite was ready? And what kind of an excuse is, ‘It was an old build’? Then use the new one!
This week’s Hot Topic
The topic for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Xane who asks what game series did you used to enjoy but have now fallen out of love with?
Many franchises have been going for a decade or more at this point, so are there any that you used to play a lot but now don’t? And is it on purpose or because you don’t own the right console? Or perhaps you’ve just drifted away from the series over the years?
What could draw you back and are there any new games this year, or in the next gen, that you’re planning to get that would be your first time with that series for a while?
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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
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