New Microsoft Service Will Give Subscribers Access to Over 100 Video Games

Microsoft has just announced that they’re working on launching a new subscription-based service that will work in a way similar to Netflix, but instead of bringing movies and TV series, it will deliver more than 100 video game titles when launched this spring.

 

According to a press release from Microsoft, the new service will be called Xbox Game Pass and rotate through a variety of games for the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PCs running Windows 10. The monthly fee will be $9.99. Obviously, gamers can’t expect to get instant access to the latest releases that go for as much as $80 in stores. However, information provided by Microsoft shows that it will include many of the major titles that were recently released, such as Halo 5: Guardians and NBA 2K16.

 

The games offered through the service remain accessible to members for as long as they keep renewing their monthly subscription. Microsoft is planning to allow players who cancel their subscription to permanently buy some of their favorite games at a 20 percent discount.

 

While a similar service called PlayStation Now is offered by Sony, Microsoft’s main competitor in the gaming console industry, Xbox Game Pass has some elements that give it a clear advantage. Sony’s service may offer a slightly bigger selection of game, but it comes at a higher price tag of $19.99 per month.

 

Unlike PlayStation Now, Xbox Game Pass will let players download full games to their consoles, thus eliminating any worries about Internet speeds and connectivity issues affecting the gaming experience. Even though the service hasn’t been made available to the public yet, a select few gamers have the chance to try it out right away. They’re members of Xbox Insider, a program letting gamers try out new titles or gaming services before their official launch dates. The pre-release version isn’t guaranteed to be fully functional and only features a limited number of titles. Comments from those who tried it have been quite positive so far, with many showing optimism that Xbox Game Pass will offer an interesting selection of games when launched.

 

Microsoft Cancels Exclusive Action-RPG Scalebound

The Xbox One’s 2017 games lineup took a hit today, as the PlatinumGames-developed Scalebound was unceremoniously yanked by publisher Microsoft Studios.

 

News of the cancellation leaked out ahead of the official announcement, with Microsoft later releasing a statement saying, ““After careful deliberation, Microsoft Studios has come to the decision to end production for Scalebound.”

 

The title was originally introduced at E3 2014 and seemed to have promise. PlatinumGames had developed critically acclaimed darlings like Bayonetta and The Wonderful 101, and the game’s action-JRPG (Japanese role-playing game) feel looked like it would fill a void in Microsoft’s Western-heavy lineup.

 

Scalebound‘s juxtaposition of a modern character (complete with headphones) in a fantasy world filled with dragons also provided the game with a unique flavor.

 

It wasn’t long, however, until rumblings surfaced online that all was not well with the game’s development. In 2015, creator Hideki Kamiya took to Twitter to express unhappiness with Microsoft’s marketing plan for Scalebound. And in 2016, the game was delayed out of its original holiday window and into 2017.

 

The exact reason for the game’s cancellation is unclear. Microsoft’s statement did nothing more than confirm that the news was true. Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox at Microsoft, told a user on Twitter that canceling the title was a “Difficult decision, we believe result is better 4 Xbox gamers, still disappointing. Im [sic] confident in 17 lineup thats [sic] our focus.”

 

Losing a console exclusive may sting for some Xbox One owners, but gamers on the platform still have titles like Crackdown 3, Cuphead, Halo Wars 2 and Sea of Thieves to look forward to in 2017. And, if past years are any indication, Forza Motorsport 7 will likely make its way to the system later in the year. Still, on a console full of racers and shooters, a game like Scalebound would have been a welcome change of pace.

 

Perhaps at E3 in June, Microsoft will give fans something new to be excited about.

 

Can The Xbox One S Finally Win Gamers Back For Microsoft?

The Xbox One has been dominated by the Playstation 4 ever since the two heavyweight consoles launched one week apart from each other in November 2013. Microsoft wasted all of the goodwill they had gained with the success of the Xbox 360 by alienating fans with asinine DRM restrictions and an emphasis on television, not games, with the Xbox One. With sales in a free fall, Microsoft has tried to right the ship with the Xbox One S, a superbly designed box that still doesn’t fix the main problem consumers have with the Xbox brand.

It doesn’t matter how small, sleek and sexy your new console looks if it doesn’t have a library full of games people actually want to play. With the Xbox One S, Microsoft seems to have fixed the problem of multi-platform games performing better on the Playstation 4, so they appear to have an advantage on that front. Unfortunately, they still don’t have the first party exclusive games that can help them make up ground against Sony. The Gears of War and Halo franchises just aren’t what they used to be, due to franchise fatigue and competing games like Uncharted 4 and Overwatch taking their established formulas and doing it all better.

Microsoft is in an odd position; they have the Xbox One S on shelves, while their next console, code-named Scorpio, waits in the wings. The S seems like a half measure, one that I can’t see working out for them in this market.