Microsoft may make Games with Gold permanent

XboxLive

Currently, Microsoft’s Games with Gold promotion is only set to run through the rest of this year.  However, according to Major Nelson, that is subject to change depending on audience reaction.  Given that people like free things, even when there might be some disappointment there, I’m sure it will be a resounding success throughout the gaming community.

Microsoft first announced its Games with Gold promotion at this year’s E3 by promising gamers with an Xbox Live Gold subscription two free games every month throughout the remainder of the year.  The first two games to be announced were Assassin’s Creed II and Halo 3.  There was some expressions of disappointment with the two free games, given that they’re already several years old and most anybody that wants to play them already has them (and, c’mon, pretty much everybody has a copy of Halo 3 by now), but they’re free.

The major benefit of this promotion, besides the two free games thing, is that the games will be yours to keep.  Unlike Sony’s free games for PSN+ subscribers, games made available for free on Games with Gold will not expire even if you cancel your Gold subscription.  While I’d certainly like to see something newer than what Microsoft has shown so far (or at least something I haven’t played yet), I’m not going to complain about free games–even if I already own those games, it doesn’t hurt to have a digital copy… especially if it’s free.

Defense Grid is the first free Game with Gold and will remain free through July 15.

Source:  VG247

Celebrate Independence with The Walking Dead

400days_keyart_with_infoTelltale’s special episode of The Walking Dead, meant to expand the universe and sate gamers’ appetites while we wait for the second season, will be releasing on various platforms this week.  The game will follow five characters in their own stories and will be available for $5.  The North American release schedule is as follows:  July 2nd on PlayStation Network, July 3rd on PC and Mac, and July 5th on Xbox Live.  PSN in Europe gets the episode on July 10 while iOS gamers worldwide will get it on the 11th.

 

Source:  IGN

I preordered an Xbox One, and here’s why…

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I’m a gamer.  I’ve spent countless hours hunched over keyboards and slouched back in a couch holding a controller; I’ve even done my fair share of time flailing with Wii remotes.  It’s a great hobby and it’s something that’s really come to define a part of who I am.  Over the years, I’ve grown attached to certain properties.  Games like Mario, Zelda, and Metroid helped to shape my childhood along with Sonic and Sega’s band of misfits.  Sega, Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft have all had a part in shaping me, my imagination, my interests, and even my sense of humor.  Gaming is more than what I do, really, it’s a part of who I am.

With E3 just wrapping up, there’s a lot of hubbub going on about which of the two new consoles to get.  There was a huge, and I mean huge, negative outcry against Microsoft’s Xbox One with gamers responding to Sony’s less restrictive PS4 with thunderous applause.  The Xbox One requires a daily internet connection, it locks games to users’ accounts, there’s the possibility that publishers can block or profit from used game sales; these are all, obviously, awful things.  These horrible things are all things that Sony’s last bastion of hope for freedom in gaming doesn’t do, so why pick the console that does?  Well, the games.

New-Xbox-One-ConsoleI watched the E3 press conferences for Microsoft and Sony and even the Nintendo Direct.  I saw a few reasons to get a Wii U in the future, but nothing that made me want to run out right now to get Nintendo’s already dated home console hardware.  From Sony, I saw them promise a less restrictive platform with a lower price point than Microsoft’s Xbox One.  And from Microsoft, I saw games.  Games I wanted.  Games I cared about.  All the reactions I’ve seen regarding who won E3 come back to Sony in that they announced a cheaper and less restrictive system.  What I really wanted to see was games.  I didn’t really feel like Sony delivered on that front.  A large portion of what they showed off was stuff we’ve known about for quite some time.  Sure, Sony has some great franchises in its library and I’ll no doubt be buying a PS4 when Quantic Dream (one of my all-time favorite developers) releases their next title after Beyond: Two Souls, but I didn’t see anything at their conference that made me want to have the system at launch.

Microsoft, on the other hand, showed off Ryse: Son of Rome in its latest, controller-based iteration.  It was damned gorgeous and captivating–something I’ll definitely want to play.  They showed off a new Killer Instinct which will be available on Xbox One at launch.  They touted some beautiful footage from Forza 5.  They showed a little more on Remedy Entertainment’s Quantum Break–and I can’t miss a Remedy game.  And, probably most importantly to me, they teased a new Halo game.  Since the first title, I’ve been attached to the Haloverse–I’ve read the books, the comics, watched the anime, watched Forward Unto Dawn, and played all the releases on day one since Halo 2.  It’s a story I care about and I was thrilled to see that 343 Industries actually cared about telling an epic space opera with Halo 4, so I’m more than a little excited to see where the franchise goes moving forward in this new trilogy.

KI_LogoIn addition to that, there’s some really exciting stuff in the “other” media features on Xbox One.  While not gaming per se, there are two original television series in the works for Xbox One that I’m interested in following:  Halo: The Television Series with one Stephen Spielberg being involved and Remedy’s extension to Quantum Break with episodes being tailored depending on decisions in-game.  I love stories and that’s one of the most important things, to me, when it comes to what games I want to play.  If the developers expand on the universe in interesting ways, I’m all for that.  I’d love to see more of the Haloverse outside of the games (but inside canon).

Now, I can’t say I’m entirely thrilled about everything regarding the Xbox One.  It is baffling that Microsoft would think it’s a good idea to move forward with some of their restrictions (specifically the locked games and daily online access requirements), but these are things that, I don’t think, will affect me.  Microsoft has confirmed that borrowing/lending as well as selling/buying used games will still be supported on the system.  They’ve also made it sound like there’s going to be some great new ways to borrow and lend games with a sharing library where 10 users can have access to your library.  What this means is that I can be lending out games to friends in a different state without having to give them my disc–they simply install the game and enjoy it based on my sharing settings.  Pretty great.  The downside is that these friends do need to be on your friends list for a minimum of 30 days and… well, that’s all I can really think of.  I’ve got friends and family several hours away and being able to share games from my account is pretty awesome, in my opinion.

Xbox-One3I’m not strictly a console gamer; I’ve got a decently sized gaming library on my PC which is primarily thanks to Valve’s Steam.  While I’ve always been a fan of how consoles worked differently than PCs with no needing installs, keys, or being able to easily lend your games as physical media, I can’t really complain about Microsoft’s system requirements when I willingly subject myself to similar or stricter restrictions on my PC.  I can’t lend games on my PC, they’re locked to my account.  I need periodic internet access to get on Steam.  I don’t have a problem with this on my computer, and it really should have been expected that the console market would move in this direction sooner or later.  I’m not defending the Xbox One’s restrictions, but I am saying that they’re not as ridiculous as everyone is claiming.  If Microsoft has a solution for if and when Xbox Live is down, good, because that’s really the only problem I can see with the system.  Really, my biggest concern is longevity.

I still have all of my classic consoles.  I’m really quite proud of my gaming collection (as I said earlier in this post, gaming is a part of who I am).  I love going back to play some of my favorites in the best way possible–authentically.  Sure, I can easily boot up an emulator and enjoy classic games that way, but there’s something special about holding the proper controller and taking it in the way I did 10 – 20 years ago.  It’s a great feeling.  So, since I’m such a nostalgic sap, what’s going to happen to my Xbox One library 10 or 15 years from now when Microsoft stops supporting the system?  Will I no longer be able to go back and enjoy my favorite Xbox One games like I do with all my other classic consoles?  That’s what I really want to know.  Not that there’s much I can do about it, but I’d like to have my worries comforted as we move forward into a new console generation.

So, the Xbox One… I’ve made my big day-one decision and I’m sticking to it.  It’s got the games I want, and that’s the most important thing to me.  It’s nowhere near a perfect console and some of the restrictions are downright depressing, but I’d rather play the games I want to play than buy a PS4 simply to send a message to Microsoft.

Killer Instinct available at Xbox One launch

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Killer Instinct will be released as a launch title for Microsoft’s Xbox One.  The game is being developed by Double Helix and Rare.  The developers in question are the subject of much speculation as to whether they can really pull off a new title in the KI franchise.  Rare, despite being the original creator of the franchise, has done little more than produce Kinect-centric games and Avatar stuff over the past few years and much of the talent behind some of their greatest classics have long since left the studio.  I don’t really think the studio is as bad off as a lot of people suggest since Microsoft’s acquisition (I think the Viva Pinata games are quite fantastic, honestly, and Nuts and Bolts wasn’t a traditional platformer, but it was fun and unique), but it is disappointing to see what the studio has become.

Killer Instinct will have a “demo version” available at launch for players looking to try out the game.  The demo will include one playable character and will allow the individual purchase of fighters or users can purchase the entire game with the complete fighting roster.  The game feature’s Xbox One’s dynamic match making and is constantly looking for a new match, even when you’re fighting one.  This will allow gamers to enjoy more time fighting and less time in the lobby–a welcome update to a fighting game’s short matches.

 

Source:  Joystiq

Xbox Live Updates

Xbox Live has some new features including sharing your account with all users on your console, paying with local currency and moving away from Microsoft Points, and an unlimited friends list.  The account sharing will be nice and save people money and people have been clamoring for years about moving away from Microsoft Points and the friends list cap.

Drivatar is back in Forza 5

Absent since the first game, Turn 10 is bringing back the Drivatar for Forza 5.  Now syncing up with the cloud, you will be able to play against your friends based on how they race even when they’re not online.

The Drivatar was a feature in the first Forza Motorsport and allowed players to create a digital profile of how they race in-game.  This allowed players to race against themselves (in a way) and allowed them to simulate races based on how they would (theoretically) perform on a track.  With Xbox One’s increased power (a substantial leap over the original Xbox) and the cloud, the simulation will be able to be more realistic and precise.  It’s exciting to see the return of this feature and how it will expand the possibilities of what can be done in gaming.

Gold Live Members: Grab Fable III free

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Microsoft is giving away Fable III on Games on Demand to Xbox Live Gold members.  Simply follow the link to Fable III, and elect to pay for the game with Microsoft Points.  It will ring up for free and you’ll have a new title downloading in your Xbox library.  Enjoy!

 

Sources:  Xbox.com, Joystiq

Xbox One: Lending still in?

New-Xbox-One-ConsoleAccording to Polygon, apparently Xbox One owners will still be able to borrow and lend friends’ games without paying a fee.  By the sounds of things, installing a game on your Xbox One registers you on Microsoft’s servers as the owner of that game, thereby deactivating the game on whichever account it was activated last.  That is to say, if I have a game installed on my Xbox One and lend it to a friend, as soon as said friend installs the game on his Xbox One, the game is deactivated on my account and registered under my friend’s account until the game is returned to me.  When I receive my game disc back and put it in my Xbox, it is reactivated on my account and deactivated on my friend’s account.  From there, if my friend would like to continue playing that game, that’s when the fee would be required.

As convoluted as this sounds, it’s really not going to be complicated for the user.  You as gamers will be able to borrow and lend your games as you normally would on current hardware with this activation/deactivation process being automated on Microsoft’s servers.  It’s also a completely understandable measure.  Since Xbox One game discs will not be required to play games after they are installed, if the game wasn’t deactivated on your user account, you would be able to play the game while it’s lent out.  Having this authentication process ensures that your game behaves as it would under normal circumstances; i.e. if you lend out a game you own on Xbox 360, you’re not going to be able to play it until it’s returned to you, likewise an Xbox One game shouldn’t work for you while you’re lending it out.

This is certainly good news for gamers as it seems to alleviate the rumors that Microsoft would block us from being able to lend out our games.  I’m certainly breathing a sigh of relief and this makes me a whole lot less skeptical regarding the Xbox One.

 

Source:  The Verge

Remedy’s Quantum Break will blend gaming and television [Update]

QuantumBreak

Microsoft has been pushing original content for its Xbox television service, having announced Halo: The Television Series for Xbox One, and it is continuing this trend with the reveal of the Quantum Break television series to accompany the release of the game.  I don’t know how I missed this original announcement, but Remedy and Microsoft intend to “blur the line between gaming and TV by integrating drama and gameplay into one seamless, uniquely immersive experience.”  The game and show are said to influence each other which suggests a persistent world for Quantum Break.

Currently, SyFy’s Defiance is attempting to do what Quantum Break is promising with a television show set in the same world of the recently released MMO.  E3 will hopefully shed more light on Microsoft and Remedy’s plans for the future and give us a better look of what to expect when Quantum Break, both the game and the show, release on Xbox One.

Update:  From Quantum Break‘s official Facebook page:   “The actions you take, and the choices you make, shape your experience as the narrative unfolds. As you play, a personalized ‘director’s cut’ of the show is created just for you, based on the decisions you make during the game.”  This suggests that players will be presented with episodes of the television show altered to show how their choices have affected the world.  So, my Quantum Break television experience might differ greatly from yours depending on how you play the game.  This is pretty incredible and ambitious and I’m looking forward to seeing more from this property.

 

Sources:  GamesRadar, VG247