Could Xbox Live eventually be free?

How does free online multiplayer sound? It’s the reality right now for PC gamers, and if Forbes’ Paul Tassi is correct, no-cost online play could be making its way to Xbox.

In an article published this morning, Tassi breaks down the math behind how such a move might make sense for Microsoft. Basically, Microsoft could stop charging for Xbox Live, make more on Game Pass subscriptions, and solve a number of problems for itself. It’s a pretty convincing argument.

There is, of course, one pretty major downside to this — you’d probably stop getting those “free” games with your monthly subscription. But let’s be honest: the quality on those hasn’t been great for a while. A lot of people actually blame Xbox Game Pass for that.

Otherwise, cutting the charge for Xbox Live could be a way for Microsoft to make its platforms more enticing. It’s doubtful Sony would follow suit. And from a fairness standpoint, it just makes sense. Both PC gamers and those on Xbox One or Xbox Series X can play Halo Infinite this holiday season. Why should PC gamers get access to that exact same game’s multiplayer services for free while console owners have to pay?

Keep a close eye on Xbox Live in the weeks ahead. This theory may not be as far-fetched as it sounds.

Xbox Game Pass adds four new titles on console and PC

There’s nothing like new Xbox Game Pass titles to lift your spirts, and on this particular day, a grand total of four new games are making their way into the Game Pass library on both console and PC.

They are:

  • Yakuza Kiwami 2
  • F1 2019
  • Nowhere Prophet
  • The Touryst

Yakuza Kiwami 2 will appeal to those who’ve already played Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami, which are also on Game Pass. Like weird beat-em-ups? Here you go.

F1 2019 will undoubtedly please those who love the smell of burned rubber in the morning. Sim racing. F1 cars.

Nowhere Prophet might entice fans of digital card games. If you enjoy decisions dictated by the cards you’re holding, this is for you.

The Touryst is a very Minecraft-esque action-slash-puzzle game that, above all else, just looks really nice. Seriously — very cool art.

Just a reminder: Xbox Game Pass is $9.99 a month on console, $4.99 a month on PC, and $14.99 for the Ultimate subscription, which includes both and will also include access to xCloud when it launches in the fall.


More Xbox Series X news will come in August

The July Xbox Games Showcase has come and gone, but don’t think that’s all Microsoft has to say about the Xbox Series X. The console is set to launch in Holiday 2020, which is just around the corner, and it looks like August will have more in store.

Speaking to Justine and Jenna Ezarik on the iJustine YouTube channel, Xbox head Phil Spencer relayed the news of an Xbox info drop next month.

“I’m encouraged to be able to talk more about it,” he said of the Xbox team’s work on backward compatibility in the Xbox Series X. “Should be August. I think August we’ll have more to say on that.”

Will Microsoft be holding some kind of August event? IGN’s reporting on the matter suggests that an event is rumored. However, we’re going to have you temper your expectations a little bit. While this could be a huge Xbox blowout, it could also be a blog post that talks about back compat.

If we do get an event, fans will no doubt be looking for word about Project Lockhart. Microsoft could also hit some of those items we predicted for the last Xbox event in July, like the price and release date of the Series X, or the launch date for xCloud.

As soon as we know more about what Microsoft has planned for August, we’ll be sure to get you the details.

Gabe Newell thinks the Xbox Series X is better, for what that’s worth

Valve’s Gabe Newell doesn’t typically talk a lot about home consoles. These, however, are not typical times. As the U.S. continues to struggle with COVID-19, countries like New Zealand are so virus free that they’re hosting live talk shows again.

As it so happens, Gabe Newell got stuck in New Zealand when the outbreak occurred. Rather than jet back home, he stayed put. Now he’s doing TV appearances in New Zealand, chatting up the hosts about his preferred next-gen console.

It may come as no surprise — since it’s being reported here — that Newell chose the Xbox Series X.

Newell’s reasoning isn’t the most scientific; at least, he doesn’t explain it in that way. When asked which system is better, the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, he replies with “Uh, the Xbox.” And when pressed on why, his answer is a simple, “Because it is.”

Clearly these hosts aren’t gamers, because they didn’t press him further on what he likes so much about the Series X. The hardware? The presence of Xbox Game Pass? Instead, it was right on to the next question about a completely unrelated topic.

Maybe we’ll get a more detailed answer from Newell in the future. In any event, it looks like the Valve bigwig does have a favorite in the next-gen console race. Just don’t expect Valve games on the Xbox Series X — that might be a bridge too far.

Grounded is out now on Xbox One and PC

It’s not crazy to say Obsidian Entertainment has always been a little weird. You’ve at least seen some of The Outer Worlds, right? Or perhaps some of the more bizarre moments in Fallout: New Vegas? Obsidian has always been a studio that’s not afraid to surprise players. And Grounded is definitely a surprise coming from a place largely known for its RPGs.

Out today in Game Preview, Grounded is — as so many have said at this point — a survival title mixed with a little Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. You are a tiny human. The world is very, very big. Your goal is to somehow outlast or perhaps exist alongside the now larger-to-you backyard critters. And you can play alone or experience the game’s persistent world with friends.

We’ve not yet had a chance to dive into Grounded, so we can’t render a final verdict on how good it is just yet. But if you’re down to give a try yourself, the cost of the title in Game Preview is $29.99. Of course, the price doesn’t apply to you if you have Xbox Game Pass, either on console or PC. If you’re a current Game Pass subscriber, you can access Grounded at no additional cost.

Keep an eye out for a Grounded review in the coming days. In the meantime, stay safe — the backyard has now become a very dangerous place.

August 2020 Xbox Live Games with Gold announced

Ready for those free Xbox games? The August 2020 lineup for Xbox Live Games with Gold has just been announced, and subscribers can look forward to snagging two Xbox One titles as well as two original Xbox games.

Kicking off the month on Aug. 1 is Portal Knights for Xbox One. That’ll be joined by the O.G. Xbox version of MX Unleashed on the same date.

In the middle of the month on Aug. 16, Xbox Live subscribers will gain access to Override: Mech City Brawl. That title will be accompanied by Red Faction 2, which originally dropped — just like MX Unleashed — on the first Xbox.

All in all, players are getting what amounts to $79.96 in free games. It’s not quite the lineup that PlayStation Plus has for the month of August. That lineup looks positively killer. It does, however, serve as a way to play some new games at no additional cost during this quiet release period.

Thanks to Xbox Game Pass, CrossCode is killing it on Xbox One

It goes without saying that Xbox Game Pass is a great deal for players. You pay either $5 a month on PC, $10 a month on console, or $15 a month for both. After that, you get access to a huge catalog of over 100 games, including some real bangers. It’s a steal.

What seems less known, however, is how great the deal is for developers and publishers. Are those who put their work on Xbox Game Pass seeing any benefit? Are more players trying out their titles thanks to the lower barrier to entry?

For Radical Fish Games, the studio behind CrossCode, the answer is yes.

A video podcast called Duel Screens recently spoke to Felix Klein, a big part of why CrossCode exists. Klein co-founded Radical Fish Games, and also served as CrossCode‘s programmer, artist, and designer.

When asked whether or not CrossCode has found success on Xbox Game Pass, Klein seemed to indicate it did — and in a way that surprised him.

“Right at this moment, there’s more people playing on Game Pass than Switch and PS4 combined,” he said. “That’s something I did not see coming.”

Xbox Game Pass has received a big push from Microsoft over the past few years, and is already shaping up to be a very big part of its future. With stories like this one about CrossCode, don’t be surprised if you see more studios pushing to have their games included in Game Pass as time goes on.

August 2020’s Xbox Live Games with Gold have a high bar to hit

This being an Xbox-focused site, you shouldn’t expect to see a whole lot of PlayStation news. But comparing the monthly offerings between Games with Gold and PlayStation Plus? That may always be an exception.

Microsoft’s August lineup has yet to be revealed. Sony, meanwhile, has gone ahead and trotted out its freebies for next month. Suffice to say, they are pretty, pretty good.

You might care less about Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, which is a smaller title developed by Mediatonic and published by Devolver Digital. The PlayStation Blog describes it as a “60-person online multiplayer party game,” and by the looks of it, it could be a lot of fun. In fact, PC Gamer reports it was “the top game on Twitch” this past weekend. Consider that the appetizer.

The main course is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered. And if you’re thinking, “Isn’t that kind of new?” the answer is yes. MW2 Campaign Remastered hit PlayStation consoles on March 31 before coming to Xbox One and PC later in April.

PlayStation Plus subscribers are getting a fun party game and a Call of Duty remaster that will be just over four months old. What will Xbox Live subscribers get in August? Hopefully Microsoft is paying attention.

We’ll get you news on August’s Games with Gold as soon as they’re announced.

Source: PlayStation Blog

The biggest announcements from the Xbox Games Showcase

Microsoft’s July Xbox show has come and gone, leaving us without many of the things we were hoping for. We still have no idea when the Xbox Series X will launch or how much it costs. We have no clue when xCloud will officially go live for the world. And as far as Project Lockhart goes, the rumored second console remains just that — a rumor.

That doesn’t mean Microsoft’s show was without news, however.

New Xbox Game Studios projects

In addition to showing off Halo Infinite, Microsoft announced several new Xbox Game Studios titles, including:

  • As Dusk Falls
  • Avowed
  • Fable
  • Forza Motorsport
  • State of Decay 3

Forza Motorsport was probably expected from most, though the reboot aspect of its name change might not have been. Fable might fall into the same camp of being expected, thanks to rumors making the rounds about Playground potentially making it. Avowed is a new RPG from Obsidian, which should demand attention despite the fact it looks a lot like Skyrim right now. State of Decay 3 will likely be more State of Decay. And As Dusk Falls is an interesting looking narrative title from Interior Night, which was founded by former Quantic Dreams designer Caroline Marchal.

Add those to a first-party lineup that already includes Halo Infinite and Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, and you have a pretty nice list of Xbox Series X titles. And those will be joined, by the way, by five more games confirmed for Series X upgrades: Forza Horizon 4, Gears 5, Gears Tactics, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and Sea of Thieves.

Everything on Xbox Game Pass

Microsoft’s show may have lacked heavy hitters from big third parties, but there may have been a reason for that. Throughout the presentation, Microsoft repeated that everything viewers saw would be available on Xbox Game Pass. Everything, including some lesser-known third-party projects like The Medium and The Gunk.

In a neat twist for Destiny 2 fans, Microsoft also announced that Destiny 2 would be coming to Xbox Game Pass, as well. Now, you may have one single eyebrow raised at this point, and rightfully so; Destiny 2 is a free-to-play game. What Microsoft meant, however, was that all of Destiny 2 would be joining Game Pass, including the upcoming Beyond Light expansion. Not bad.

Some confusion still exists

To put it bluntly, Microsoft really needs to get its messaging together. Trying to figure out which games are coming to Xbox One and which are solely for Xbox Series X is a cluster right now. Trying to parse terminology like “console launch exclusive” is equally frustrating.

What Microsoft needs to do is shoot straight. Be honest with gamers about what they can play a game on, when they can play it, and whether or not it’ll be available on something else in the future. Microsoft needs to channel its inner Ghandi — “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” If you don’t like dodgy language, timed exclusivity, or anything else that leaves gamers feeling more confused than empowered, for God’s sake, stop doing it.

We’ll have more for you about the Series X as additional announcements come.

Could the Xbox Series X be launching in November?

The launch date of the Xbox Series X remains a mystery (though we do think it might be announced today). Regardless, Microsoft CFO Amy Hood may have dropped a hint about when gamers can expect to get their hands on the console.

According to Bloomberg reporter Dana Bass, Hood confirmed the Xbox Series X is “still on track for the November holidays launch.” When Bass was pressed by The Verge‘s Tom Warren for clarification, Bass responded, “It was in response to a question from me and I said ‘new console’ and ‘November holidays.’ Her answer was the single word ‘yes.'”

Is this the smoking gun we’ve all been looking for? Is the Xbox Series X indeed coming out this November? While a lot of outlets are certainly reading into the exchange between Hood and Bass in that way, we viewed Hood’s response from a different angle. Maybe it’s not that the Xbox Series X is “on track for the November holidays launch,” but that the Series X is on track to come out sometime between now and the November holidays. Basically, Hood could be saying Microsoft is still on schedule with the Series X.

It all comes down to how you interpret Hood’s answer. It wouldn’t be outrageous for an Xbox console to come out in November, mind you. In fact, it would be keeping with tradition for Microsoft. But it seems like there’s just enough wiggle room for the machine to launch ahead of the “November holidays” if Microsoft indeed wants that to happen.

We’ll have eyes on the Xbox Games Showcase, which goes live today at 12 p.m. ET. Maybe we’ll get a solid release date for the Xbox Series X then.