Microsoft Game Pass Launching June 1, Trial Available Now for Xbox Live Subscribers

Microsoft on Wednesday announced a release date for Xbox Game Pass, a subscription program that enables players to pay a monthly fee in exchange for access to over 100 games. The service will roll out to all Xbox players on June 1 and cost $9.99 per month.

 

Those who already subscribe to Xbox Live were given an added bonus: early access to the service along with a 14-day free trial.

 

Xbox Game Pass boasts a healthy lineup of popular Xbox One games, including Halo 5: Guardians, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, NBA 2K16, and Sunset Overdrive. To get up to and past the 100 game mark, Microsoft has also dug into its library of backward-compatible Xbox 360 games for the service. Popular Xbox 360 releases included in Xbox Game pass include all three titles in the BioShock trilogy, all Xbox 360 Gears of War titles, Fable III, and XCOM: Enemy Within.

 

Microsoft has long been looking for ways to differentiate itself from Sony’s PlayStation 4 offerings, and Xbox Game Pass appears to be another attempt. The service is aimed at expanding the Xbox One’s customer base by lowering the cost of entry for a new console buyer. Instead of having to buy hardware and then plunk down additional cash to purchase games, a player can subscribe to Xbox Game pass and instantly have a catalog of over 100 games for the Xbox One. Add to that the fact that Xbox Live subscribers receive at least four free titles (two Xbox One and two Xbox 360) every month, and Microsoft’s plan to become a budget-friendly console comes into focus.

 

While Xbox Game Pass in its current iteration is comprised mostly of older Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles, the service could one day serve as the launch home for brand new games.

 

“[Subscription services] might spur new story-based games coming to market because there’s a new business model to help support their monetisation,” said Xbox head Phil Spencer in an interview with The Guardian.

 

Spencer’s goal is for Xbox Game Pass to become as ubiquitous as Netflix, and for it to spur the creation of new, experimental content in much the same way the streaming video service has.

 

As Game Pass finds its legs, we’ll see whether or not it can live up to that vision.

 

Xbox Game Pass Now Available

The long anticipated Xbox Game Pass is now available for anyone that has an Xbox Live Gold subscription. Everyone else will have to wait until June 1 to try out the new service on their Xbox One. The new subscription service has been called the video game equivalent of Netflix since it was announced at the end of February.

 

Xbox Game Pass will cost gamers $9.99 each month, and it will give them full access to over 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 games. Subscribers will have the opportunity to download any game on the Xbox Game Pass directly to their Xbox One. Once the game is downloaded, you will have unlimited access as long as you maintain an active Xbox Game Pass subscription. If you decide to end your subscription, then you will no longer be able to play the downloaded games.

 

At the launch of the service, there are currently 110 games available. Only 35 of these games were originally released on the Xbox One console, but all of the Xbox 360 games offered on the Game Pass are playable on the Xbox One through backwards compatibility. Some of the top games available right now include “Halo 5,” “Sunset Overdrive,” “Mad Max,” “Bioshock Infinite” and “Gears of War: Ultimate Edition.” A full list of all 110 games currently offered on Xbox Game Pass can be found here.

 

If you do not see any enticing games, then you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Microsoft has promised to rotate the game selection every month. This will be done by adding and removing a handful of games each month. Microsoft has also promised to provide plenty of warning before removing a game from the subscription service. This warning will give you ample time to finish one of your favorite games before it is removed.

 

While this is not the first subscription video game service, it should be the most successful. Similar services only allowed you to stream games, which often caused inconsistent performance issues. Since Xbox Game Pass lets you downloaded every game directly to your console, no performance problems will exist. Xbox Game Pass is already an excellent value for any video game fan, and it should only improve as the service increases its library.

New Development Traits in Madden

One of the most exciting parts of gaming is being able to build a football team from the ground up. In the newest version of Madden this year, players are going to be able to take development to a new level. With some of the changes that are starting to happen, the players have more control than ever on the style of play that they want to pursue.

 

Development Points

 

One of the biggest advancements in the game this year has to do with development points. This is where players are able to use the development points in ways that they see fit. If you value accuracy over power in your quarterback, you have the ability to spend all of your points in that area. In the past, the development growth for a player was not spread around properly. You ended up having players who were really strong in certain areas, but not necessarily where you needed them to be. With all of the changes that are happening in the game, it is important for players to understand how to build and development a team to stay competitive.

 

Online Play

 

Another important feature this year has to do with online play. There are a lot of people who are excited about all of the options that are coming out for building a franchise and using that team against other players online. People usually like playing online because it provides a different sort of challenge than when playing the computer. With all of the strategy that is involved, now is a great time to start thinking about how you can be more effective in building your team.

 

Over time, Madden has proven to be a great game that a lot of people enjoy. There are many new enhancements this year that will show you how to build the team of your dreams. You can concentrate on the various areas that you want to improve on, and you can use the new features to accomplish that.

 

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Releases Monthly Update 5/25/2017

Despite being in early access, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is one of the hottest games on Steam right now, having sold over 2 million copies as of May 2017. The game was developed by the modder PlayerUnknown who created the Battle Royale mod for Arma 3, and who also worked on Daybreak’s H1Z1. It is one of the top streamed games on Twitch on a regular basis, and recently made a total of $237,350.00 in a charity fundraiser held on the site.

 

Needless to say, many players of the game are excited for this upcoming monthly update. According to the patch notes, there will be a lot of polishing (especially in terms of badly needed client performance, termed optimization) and bug fixes. In terms of implementing new content, they will be adding a new weapon as well as a new vehicle.

 

One of the biggest fixes they will be making (in terms of gameplay) is to a targeting issue happening on scopes in the game. As shown in a video on their Twitter, bullets were going above the dot on the reticle following the recoil (as demonstrated on 4x scopes in particular). This made it difficult to make long shots, especially taking into consideration the games’ bullet drop mechanics and the need to lead targets.

 

The exciting new gun added is the VSS, a suppressed sniper rifle that uses 9mm ammo that will be found in care packages and as a rare world spawn. One of the greatest things about this new gun, other than being suppressed with no attachments, is that you will not need to find a scope for it- it has a permanently attached 4x scope! The only downside to this might be is if you found an 8x or 15x scope you wanted to attach.

 

As if the new motorbike with sidecar added last update wasn’t cool enough, the developers are adding a single person motorbike to the mix. This motorbike looks similar to the one previously added, but will allow for more maneuverability. They are also adding the ability to control the motorbike in the air, which would allow for the rider to perform stunts!

 

One last important update that is being done is to the games anti-cheat system. They are no longer allowing players to remove shadows by altering the games’ files. This allowed these players to have an unfair advantage over those who still had their shadows; it was easier to see camouflaged or hidden players without shadows.

 

The monthly update goes into effect Thursday, May 25, 5PM KST/1AM PDT/8AM UTC.

A Review of Ultra Street Fighter II

When most people think of fighting games, the common image is of face-to-face competitions around an arcade cabinet or close to a television screen. “Ultra Street Fighter II,” for the Nintendo Switch, changes this by giving fighting game fans a console experience on the go. Looking over Street Fighter’s history on portable machines, only a handful has been great: SSF2 Turbo Revival on the GBA; SFA 3 on the PSP and SF4 on the 3DS. One feature that USF2 has over those titles is that it does not require additional equipment for multiple players.

 

USF2 looks as good as the HD Remix releases of SSF2 on the PS3 and 360. While the fighting game community will likely spend months comparing it to other versions, USF2 is still a Street Fighter title-an installment of one of the most venerable fighting game franchises. Even USF2’s presentation is customizable, allowing players to choose between HD or 16-bit graphics and between a remixed or chiptune soundtrack. While some may decry the HD artwork, those complaints mostly fall away when observed in person. USF2’s main benefit is its flexibility; you can enjoy old-school fighting on a monitor, complete with upscaled resolution, or you can take the game on the go. To play with a friend, just take the Joy-Cons off the tablet and hand one off.

 

As for playing with Joy-Cons, the experience is mixed. The analog stick makes some motions, even the rudimentary slide from “down” to “forward,” frustrating. While you can access “L” and “R,” the wrist strap slides make it much easier. The left Joy-Con’s face buttons are an excellent stand-in for a d-pad. The Joy-Con is also used for a special minigame that puts you into first-person perspective as you execute traditional special moves against waves of enemies; a feature good for some mindless bashing or keeping children active.

 

The biggest issue with USF2 may be the price tag; you’re effectively paying $40 for a 25-year-old game. While this is a comprehensive version of SF2 on a new console, some may wonder if it’s really worth the investment when the “Virtual Console” has SF2 for $10. Honestly, the $40 price tag is the only legitimate justification for why Switch owners might give USF2 a pass.

 

How to Build a Great Team on Madden

Madden is one of most popular games in the history of the world. Every year, a new installment of this game comes out that lets people run their own team and players. There are a lot of changes in the model for this year, and many people are wondering how they can build the perfect team. Here are a couple of tips about how you can succeed in the world of running a Madden franchise.

 

 

Drafting

 

When running a franchise, it is vital to be able to draft successfully over time. A lot of people have issues in this area, especially because they do not have an understanding of scouting. Scouting is the way that you can see the attributes of players before you decide to draft them. Instead of spending all of your points on a couple of players, only scout the key attributes of players who you want to scout. This will allow you to get a quality view of the players who are available and make your decisions accordingly.

 

 

Salary Cap

 

In your first year running the franchise, it can be really hard to stay under the salary cap if you do not understand the rules. You need to think of ways that you can make your team better without spending too much money. One of the biggest issues that many people have is spending too much on older players. Past a certain age, the progression of players is quite low. This is why you should never pay too much for someone who is past their prime. If you can learn how to deal with the salary cap, you can essentially build your team any way that you want.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

Overall, Madden is a great game that you should enjoy playing. The new features this year make it a much better experience for a lot of players. Not only that, but you can get really deep into running your own franchise. Always remember to think about how much a player is going to cost over time. This will help you stay out of cap trouble for the foreseeable future in your franchise. With the new changes, you have more power as a player than ever before.

 

‘Call of Duty’ Returns to Roots

If you grew up with video games in the last decade or so then ‘Call of Duty’ has been a staple of your world. In fact the series, which is often shortened to just COD, has been on an almost yearly release for awhile now — always pushing the envelope in terms of multiplayer scope. Now we are seeing the legendary series return back to its roots: WWII. The announcement was recently made that Call of Duty will be turning away from the modern warfare that we are used to, no pun intended, in order to focus on the Golden Era — the men and women who risked all to prevent the greatest evil the world has ever known from overcoming us all.

 

Many folks are going to raise an eyebrow over Activision’s decision to roll back the clock and return to WWII. In fact, the cynical among us will even call their decision a ploy for nostalgia — recalling CoD 2 and the days of laying down sniper fire in France. We’re okay with the decision, even if it is a ploy to pull on the greatest real life drama that the world has ever seen. We’re ready to return to Normandy and storm the beaches. We’re ready to go back to Europe and see a war front first hand that has never been replicated, and hopefully never will.

 

We suppose the biggest risk that Activision is taking is that they could be treading the same ground that we’ve run over, over and over again. How can Call of Duty, a series which was built on the Golden Generation, return once again and come up with something fresh? Well, Activision’s response seems genuine and simple: they are going to focus on the mortality and vulnerability of the soldiers who fought in that war. Nowadays, it is easy to get lost in the almost super-human characters that have populated the CoD landscape. We’re too used to high tech weapony, super muscle bound dudes, and seemingly super human feats of strength in the face of hordes of enemies. For our taste, we’re ready to go back to the days where a single determined sniper could keep you planted in your spot. We’re ready to experience that feat in the newest installment of Call of Duty.

 

Is the Netflix of Video Games Coming?

Let’s take a moment to go back in time, at least in our minds. Can you remember what it was like before Netflix was pioneering the online streaming world? It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? There used to be a time when you couldn’t expect to have a huge library of new and old movies at your fingertips awaiting the click of a button. You used to have to actually go to a rental store in order to get what you wanted to watch that night. Now, let’s flash back forward to the present. Phil Spencer, the head chief of Xbox, is looking at that business model and pondering — where is our option for video games?

 

Phil Spencer is a former video game developer himself who has been tasked with heading one of the largest video game enterprises on the planet. As the chief of Xbox, Spencer has a very serious and specific focal point for his work: “We put the gamer at the center of everything” and that phrase is more than just a string of words. Spencer knows that you need quality content to keep gamers happy, but you also need innovation. Innovation for Spencer could lead to a Netflix-lite for video game enthusiasts.

 

Now before you scar yourself scratching your head, yes this is a new concept. Right now we do have some measure of ‘on demand’ video game service with streamlined DLC packs, constant online updates, and even games-on-demand via Xbox Live. This still isn’t there and it still isn’t quite the mark that Spencer wants to hit on. Spencer is actually surprisingly, or non surprisingly depending on your view of Xbox, in tune with the current trends and problems that plague the gaming experience.

 

For example, Spencer knows that multi-player games that rely on ‘season packs’ and DLC are currently the rage. In fact, these games are such the rage that single player experiences with a definitive end are dying as a medium. He believe that a digital and on demand service, much like Netflix, could be the cure to these woes. He’s kicking around the idea, at least publicly, where the future of gaming could survive around a subscription service not unlike what Netflix is offering for the world of TV and movies. Will it work? Who knows.

 

Zelda: Breath of the Wild Tears up Marketplace

If you are a fna of gaming then you are intimately familiar with Nintendo and their star franchise, ‘Zelda’. The story of ‘Zelda’ has been told for years, across generations and consoles, with fans begging for a new entry every step of the way. With the recent release of the Nintendo Switch fans were able to jump back into the world of Hyrule with ‘Zelda: Breath of the Wild’. For fans worried that franchise fatigue may be finally setting in we may have some good news: it isn’t. Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ is currently outselling the Nintendo Switch console itself. Yes, the game is outselling the console!

 

With a full month of sales behind it we can finally get an idea as to where the Nintendo Switch and its various games are sitting at. ‘Breath of the Wild’ opened up with over 2.75 million copies sold through the 31st of March — according to Nintendo. These sale figures are gigantic and they are representative of both digital and physical copies. If you have decided to avoid jumping to the Nintendo Switch then you can still enjoy this new entry into the Zelda franchise by playing on the Wii U — which sold an additional 1.08 million units around the world. According to all of these wild statistics, ‘Breath of the Wild’ is the fastest selling launch title in the history of the company as well as the quickest selling entry into the Zelda franchise.

 

We know that sale statistics can be misleading when it comes to the quality of a title, but that isn’t the case here. ‘Breath of the Wild’ has been released to almost unanimously positive reviews. The game currently spots a perfect 10/10 rating on IGN and fans are mirroring that sentiment with gusto. ‘Breath of the Wild’ is a return to the roots of the series, giving fans the chance to roam through an almost apocalyptic Hyrule. The game world is vast, unforgiving, colorful and alluring. We’ve got all of the nostalgia of Zelda games from years gone by with a new coating of modern technology over the top. If you’ve been holding out from jumping into the next generation, for whatever reason, now should be your chance to get in on the action.

 

Computers and Games Might Be Closer and More Distant at the Same Time

There’s an old saying that the more things change the more they stay the same. It’s hard not to reflect on that while reading a recent article about computers and gaming moving to a more streaming based architecture. The article begins by discussing methods by which one can play video games without even having them running on a local system. The details get more complex as the discussion progresses. But right from the start anyone who’s familiar with the history of gaming will recognize a pattern.

 

Video games have been in the home so long that most people consider that the norm. But before home gaming was a reality there were arcades. And shortly before that period there was a mix of the two. And that mix has a lot in common with the cutting edge of today.

 

The earliest video games made use of a client server model. These tended to focus on dungeon crawling computer role playing games. When people think of these early games they tend to assume that they were similar to a modern MMORPG. It’s true that some of them did have extensive multiplayer functionality. But it was more common, especially at the start, for the games to focus on a single user experience. The player would simply sit down at a very under powered computer that would connect to a far more powerful one. The powerful computer, a server, would essentially run the game. The text and graphical output would then be sent to the player’s computer.

 

Today this concept is being used by services such as Shadow. For a small monthly fee a customer can sign up to essentially rent out a powerful Windows based computer. They’ll never actually see this computer in person. But they can use a windows or mobile app to connect to the system’s video display. From there the user will essentially be using this very powerful computer from their much more humble home setup. It makes it possible to essentially play even the most demanding Windows games from one’s phone or under powered non-gaming laptop. Though there’s even more interesting ways to tie this into one’s setup.

 

Adding cloud technologies will mean that someone can integrate file sharing with home systems. This can be an easy way to share files between a home computer, a powerful computer accessed through the Shadow service, and other instances of a particular game. Such as one might be able to play at a friend’s house. It’s a whole new era of streaming games. But at the same time one can easily see where it all began.