Could Microsoft force it to become free? (pic: Sony)
The Monday Inbox asks whether loading times are the next gen killer app, as the Sega Saturn gets compared to the Xbox Series X and PS5.
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Service feesSo it looks like Xbox Live Gold really is going away. After reading your initial story theres 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 havent 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. Microsofts 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 wouldnt want to be charging for online separately, especially if theyre 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. Im sure they dont want to, because they have first party games that people actually care about, but its got to be an option. Even if it is the nuclear one.
But if Microsoft make Xbox Live Gold free I dont believe that Sony has any choice but to follow suit, which benefits everyone. The question is (and maybe Microsoft dont know the answer to this yet) whether Game Pass will increase in price as a result. Well have to wait and see, if one of them sums up the courage to make an announcement.Kimble
Take my moneySo is this the latest its 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 dont have any idea on any official price, release date, or even a pre-order date yet!
OK, so I get it doesnt 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 cant recall any other next gen release being so late with all this important news being so close to launch, thats all? (I know theyre 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?JAH
GC: Theres 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 circlesThe one thing that appears to be unanimous in the reactions to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X is people saying that theyre not really seeing what the next generation has to offer.
Obviously were not in the 90s any more, where each generation had a massive leap in graphics. As the architectures are basically PCs at this point, were also not going to get anything thats better than what a high-end gaming PC can do either. So when we get shown similar stuff to what weve seen before, is it really a surprise?
So lots of responses are that people dont 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 thats no cheaper! They may not be offing something unique like the Switch or when the Xbox 360 made multiplayer mainstream, but even if its just faster loading, sign me up. Ill replace a six-year-old device for better performance, why wouldnt I?Tim Griffiths
GC: Were 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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Virtually recommendedDuring lockdown, Ive been enjoying a bit of virtual exercise with BoxFit VR on PlayStation VR, which another reader praised a few weeks ago. Im finding it oddly addictive trying to get the trophies on offer and even have the platinum in mind, although whether Ill 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 Ive seen).
The reason Im holding off on a purchase at full price is because Id probably want to also get the additional songs DLCs, not because Im 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?Hubert
GC: We dont think there is a game called BoxFit VR, do you mean BOXVR? Not that it matters as we havent played either. Beat Saber is great though, one of the best VR games available.
Serious questionThe 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 its probably the right choice for Nintendo to get kids interested.
Im nearly 43 and should have better things to do than e-mail national publications about Lego and Nintendo but hey-ho!John
GC: What does Lego have to do with children? But seriously, we think theres a reasonable chance therell be regular minifigures too, even if its just in a giant one-off set for, mostly, adults.
Judgement timeAs 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 wont be held back by its limitations. The Halo Infinite reveal though? I kinda get why it is the way it is, but thats 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 theyre making can do and they must have known that. On that front, Microsoft didnt 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 theyve seen something we havent (and if so why havent they shown it?) or because theyve seen a load of mediocre looking content that they think looks next gen? If its 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.
Its 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 theyre doing. Am I still going to get an Xbox Series X? Yeah. I love Game Pass. Im 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 doesnt mean that right now, Im 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.Richard
Prehistoric schoolHi GC, and all who read of its hallowed pages! Do you remember those old Tomytronic 3D headsets? Ive included an image to remind you. They sort of looked like space shuttles or something.
But, how exactly would you describe the shape? Im tempted to say they look a bit like a heater shield, but Im sure theres a more elegant way of describing it that I just cant 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 Im sure youll 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.DMR
Old school doesnt get much older
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The true winnerThis was meant for the Hot Topic but it may be too long sorry its late.
How are Microsoft doing with their next gen plans so far? I think that really depends on if youre 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 Sonys 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, Im a diehard Halo fan so Im very interested in picking that up, as for the rest Any other big budget exclusives were so far off they didnt 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 Microsofts and Sonys indie/AA offerings. But, theyre all on Game Pass so Ill give it to Microsoft, as Im likely to play more of these games on a Microsoft platform.
The complaints about Halos graphics were fair if you dont 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 Im 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 its fair to say that they did not do enough to win over anyone unconvinced by Xbox who was committed enough to watch the livestream. Microsofts 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 its 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)
Inbox also-ransI would just like to say I agree completely with the Readers Feature about Microsofts approach to single-player games and online only, which is why I sold my Xbox One.zxninja
I really dont understand how Microsoft has sleepwalked their way into all this controversy. Nobody told them they had to have an event in July, why didnt they wait until Halo Infinite was ready? And what kind of an excuse is, It was an old build? Then use the new one!Shemp
This weeks Hot TopicThe topic for this weekends 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 dont? And is it on purpose or because you dont own the right console? Or perhaps youve 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 youre planning to get that would be your first time with that series for a while?
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The small printNew 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 Readers Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
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MORE: Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Are you impressed by the Xbox Series X?
MORE: Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: Are you impressed by the Xbox Series X?
MORE: Games Inbox: What to do about E3, Halo Infinite positivity, and Resident Evil 8 worries
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Games Inbox: Will Sony make PS5 online free? – Metro.co.uk
Could Microsoft force it to become free? (pic: Sony)