When does Rocket League go free-to-play?

It wasn’t a total surprise when Rocket League announced it was going free-to-play. After all, the game became so huge in the first place because it was given away on PlayStation Plus. Add the fact that Epic acquired Rocket League developer Psyonix last year, and it makes sense. Epic knows a thing or two about free-to-play games, after all (*cough* Fortnite).

Even so, the Psyonix blog post about Rocket League‘s free-to-play ambitions left a few unanswered questions. The biggest one by far is, when would such a change occur? Those who’ve never played the rocket car soccer title are eager to know, as are veterans who want to play on other platforms.

Here’s what we know so far.

Credit: Psyonix

Summer 2020 is as specific as it gets

Unfortunately, neither Psyonix nor Epic Games have offered an exact date for the Rocket League free-to-play change. The Psyonix blog post simply states, “Summer 2020,” and a quick glance at the official Rocket League Twitter account doesn’t yield much to work with, either.

The good news, at least, is that the summer is quickly winding down. Rocket League could go free sometime in August, or sometime in early-to-mid September. The summer season officially wraps up on Tuesday, Sept. 22. If Rocket League still isn’t free by then, it’ll have missed its promised Summer 2020 window.

Be sure to bookmark this page. As soon as more info drops about when Rocket League is going free-to-play, we’ll be sure to issue an update.

Maybe Xbox Live isn’t going away after all

We reported on a theory a few days back about Xbox Live possibly going free. That theory was bolstered by a change Microsoft made to its Services Agreement — a slight edit that swapped the phrase “Xbox Live Gold” out for “Xbox online service.”

As you can imagine, this news got a lot of people excited. It looks like all that excitement was for nothing.

A report from GameSpot today serves as a reminder that changes to terms of service don’t necessarily mean anything. A Microsoft spokesperson offered a statement to GameSpot and confirmed that “There are no changes being made to the experience of the service or Xbox Live Gold.” Just like that, the free Live theory may officially be dead.

That’s not to say the reasoning was flimsy or flawed. Microsoft could use an extra bullet in the chamber to use against Sony’s offerings. Free online play is one way to do it. And though you could argue Xbox Game Pass Ultimate would lose some value with Xbox Live going free, one could argue that xCloud streaming access — which will be included in an Ultimate subscription — is a worthy replacement.

Still, Microsoft likely makes a pretty penny from Xbox Live subscribers. Cutting the subscription fee for Live doesn’t guarantee those people will immediately jump on Game Pass, either. The company would almost certainly lose some money.

We’ll be keeping an eye on Microsoft to see if anything changes. In the meantime, if you play multiplayer games on an Xbox console, just assume you’ll need to dish out that $9.99 per month.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate gets cloud gaming on Sept. 15

It’s not the official Project xCloud launch everyone’s been hoping for — then again, we suppose that’s not exactly what Microsoft promised in the first place. On Sept. 15, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will gain access to cloud gaming with the service, enabling them to play Game Pass titles on mobile devices. Where that leaves the rest of Project xCloud, however, is unknown.

The Game Pass Ultimate and cloud combo will kick off in 22 markets around the globe. These are:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • South Korea
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

And rather unfortunately, Game Pass Ultimate cloud streaming will be limited to Android devices. Sorry iPhone and iPad users: you’re out of luck.

According to Microsoft, there’s supposedly some more xCloud news coming tomorrow via Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event. While we doubt that’ll bring word about streaming games that aren’t in Game Pass, that event might have an announcement or two worth watching.

Hopefully more general news about xCloud comes in the near future. There are certainly some iPhone and iPad users who would love an ETA for when they might be able to stream more than Halo. And whatever happened to that Windows client for xCloud, anyway?

Spider-Man won’t be coming to Marvel’s Avengers on Xbox or PC

We’re about a month away from the launch of Marvel’s Avengers, which hits Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on Sept. 4. While many are curious as to how this game will be received, some in the Xbox and PC camps are already unhappy about some news that broke this morning.

According to the PlayStation Blog, Spider-Man will be joining the Avengers squad sometime in 2021. Unfortunately, Spidey will be a PlayStation-exclusive character. Yes, we’re doing this again.

Destiny players on Xbox likely remember what a mess exclusive content was for that particular title. Certain strikes couldn’t be “Nightfalls” because they were exclusive to PlayStation. Certain exotic weapons couldn’t be sold by Xur because of exclusivity. Xbox players were deprived of story moments and lore for a time, though that content did eventually make its way to Xbox.

It’s not entirely clear the same will happen for Spider-Man in the Xbox and PC versions of Marvel’s Avengers.

It’s tough to tell how Spider-Man’s omission will impact players on Xbox and PC. At the very least, though, this move will serve to fragment the community of a new shared-world game. As long as content isn’t uniform, PlayStation players will have different experiences than those on other platforms. And you can kiss cross-play or cross-save goodbye for a while, if not forever. How do you let Spider-Man join a group of Xbox players? How do you enable cross-save for a character who can only be played on one family of consoles?

We’re still looking forward to Marvel’s Avengers. Crystal Dynamics is a fine studio, and we have high hopes for their new superhero adventure. This kind of exclusivity feels like it should have died in the lead-up to the next generation, though. Clearly that won’t be the case.

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.

Enjoy.

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.