Microsoft Planning to Give Out Names, Locations of Xbox Users to Game Publishers

In a disturbing turn of events, Microsoft’s new commitment to transparency has given some Xbox owners a bit of a fright. Though the company intended to explain more about what sort of data it collects (and subsequently gives out) from its players, many would likely have preferred to be kept in the dark.

GameSpot recently reported on a new intiative by Microsoft to be more open about the kind of data its collects and distributes. While good on the surface, things quickly took a turn for the worse after they revealed exactly what they could be sending to game and app publishers. Namely, a person’s name.

In addition to more standard information like games played, play style, or time in an app, Microsoft could also be sending a player’s country of origin and age range, as well as anything else included in a person’s Xbox Live profile. This would include their real name if this is something a person has chosen to enter.

Why a publisher would need this information or what they would intend to do with it isn’t known at this time, mainly because Microsoft claims they don’t know, either. In their statement on the matter (automatically displayed when a person logs into Xbox Live for the first time since the update), the company claims that it does not control what a publisher may do with a person’s information after they have given it to them, which doesn’t exactly breed confidence.

In addition to simple information, though, a person’s social data is also up for grabs, including “interactions and communications” with other players. Whether this means only written messages or that the Xbox One will now be recording everything a player says over the microphone is not known.

As bad as this may sound, there is a way to avoid it from happening. In both a person’s gaming console and through their account login on Microsoft’s webpage, players can choose to revoke access to their information, preventing it from being given out to publishers. By doing this, your data will hopefully be protected from any prying eyes.

Xbox One Gets an E3 Week Price Drop

Microsoft’s Xbox One S console is getting a $50 price cut — for the week of E3, at least. The discount is set to remain in effect from June 11 through June 17, according to gaming website IGN.


With the price drop, several models of the Xbox One S are selling as low as $249.99, all including a pack-in game. This differs quite substantially from the Xbox One’s original retail price. The console launched in November 2013 at the price of $499.99, and included an accessory that Microsoft has since unbundled — the Kinect camera.


At the time of writing, retailer Best Buy currently lists two discounted Xbox One S models: one that bundles popular title Minecraft, and another with first person shooter Battlefield 1. Each bundle also includes a controller.


The discount comes ahead of Microsoft’s E3 press conference, which takes place on Sunday, June 11, 2017 at 3PM eastern. In that conference, Microsoft is expected to unveil the next iteration of the Xbox One, currently code-named Project Scorpio, as well as release details on the system’s pricing. Xbox head Phil Spencer has said in the past that the console would launch at a “premium” price, though now that Microsoft has dropped the price of the original Xbox One several times, it’s unclear what exactly premium could mean when compared to the lower-priced option.


One thing is for certain; by dropping the Xbox One S model by $50 for the week, Microsoft has set off a firestorm of speculation on social news websites like Reddit, where Xbox One owners are reading into the lowered Xbox One S price as a sign of what Project Scorpio might cost.


“Big red flag that Scorpio will come in at $399,” said Reddit user Indiscretion, commenting on a story about the Xbox One S discount.


“If I was a betting man, my money would be on $499,” added user LaboratoryManiac.


Both will likely know the price of Project Scorpio very soon.


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.


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 Game Scalebound

Microsoft has revealed that Scalebound, one of the biggest upcoming games from Xbox has been annulled. Published by Microsoft, the game was scheduled for launching on both PC and Xbox One.


The Development of Scalebound


Scalebound had risen to head several lists of the “Most Anticipated Games” and formed a section of top titles set to hit Microsoft’s console besides Sea of Thieves pirate game, strategy title Halo Wars 2,and Crackdown 3 the open-world action game.


Reports from Eurogamer indicate that last fall, a number of key members of the game’s development team were compelled to step away for a month from the project due to what was described as project’s heavy workload pressure. When they came back, project Scalebound was behind schedule and it was decided not to proceed with the game.


The Future of Scalebound


Fans of Scalebound will now have to sit tight and see whether the game’s original developers will opt to proceed with this video game separately from the current Microsoft partnership.


Even though Platinum has received critical acclaim for lots of their video games over the years, mainstream success has tended to always elude them. It is not clear whether the Scalebound project could still be carried on under the supervision of Platinum Games studio. It is hoped that Nier: Automata will help in keeping Platinum Games afloat as they seek pick up from this blow triggered by the Microsoft cancellation.




Scalebound has been under development for over 4 years, being developed by Platinum Games, the Japanese studio that is best known for their fast-paced action titles such as Vanguish and Bayonetta. The cancelation of such a highly promoted AAA game after 4 years of development is already been viewed as being an unprecedented move by industry experts, but to have the footage of its existence removed is particularly odd.


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.


What Is Nintendo Trying To Do With The NX?

Nintendo has long since stopped trying to compete directly with the Playstation and Xbox brands, as well as PC gaming. They know that they just can’t match the hardware firepower being used by Sony and Microsoft, and they certainly don’t appeal to the type of hardcore PC gamer who is willing to spend over $600 on an elite video card. Nintendo now caters to one group: fans of Nintendo. The millions of casual gaming fans who flocked to the Wii seemed to have abandoned them, if Wii U sales figures are any indication. So what exactly is Nintendo trying to do with their next “console”, the NX? I haven’t the slightest idea.

According to rumors that are more than likely true, Nintendo is going to attempt a hybrid handheld/console approach with the NX. Basically, it’s going to be a handheld that is powerful enough to play games that could potentially compete with the PS4 and Xbox One in terms of graphical fidelity. Although I just don’t see it happening. Who is going to want to carry a bulky handheld around with them in this age of smartphones? And who wants to sacrifice power in their console for the ability to take it with them on the go?

Nintendo has made a habit out of proving everyone wrong, and I would love to be one of them in this instance. I want to love the next Nintendo console, but right now I’m afraid I just won’t get the chance.

Avatars in Wheelchairs Confirmed by Microsoft

In recent Twitter posts, Microsoft leaders confirmed the development of disabled, or wheelchair-bound, avatars and early screenshots of what the new avatars might look like.

After an Xbox fan tweeted Xbox Division Head Phil Spencer, suggesting maybe he would start a petition to encourage Microsoft to include more diversity in its avatars. Spencer tweeted back quickly that no petition was needed, and that developments were already underway and would be released soon.

The next day, Mike Ybarra, an engineering lead for the company, tweeted pictures of the initial concepts that showed avatars in Microsoft-branded wheelchairs. The images show a male and female avatar in the wheelchairs, and immediately sparked further conversation about facial feature design expected to be released concurrently with the new avatars.

The current versions of avatars were released in 2015, when many games began allowing (or requiring) an in-game representation of the player. Avatars allow the player to create an in-game representation that is designed to be similar to the player’s physical appearance (though, certainly, players are under no obligation to create an avatar’s image based on their own). With this in mind, it has been frustrating for wheelchair-bound players who have not always felt represented.

Fortunately, the new avatars are expected to be released with the August updates Microsoft has already announced, and players look forward to seeing the many changes and options that will be available.

Fallout 4 Mods Hit Xbox One on May 31

Xbox One fans are no strangers to DLC packages, but a new wave of actual game mods is now in the works. Bethesda Game Studios recently announced on Twitter that they will be providing official Fallout 4 mods for the Xbox One starting on May 31. While these mods do come with quite a few restrictions, they could pave the way for the player-made mods that now dominate Steam. Here is a quick look at some of the features of these mods and how they are going to change this record-breaking RPG.

How Do They Work?

Modding games on the PC might be a straightforward task, but this process is a little more complicated on consoles. As for Fallout 4, Bethesda has claimed that the mods will be available directly through the game’s primary menu. Players will need a account in order to access these mods. Both Bethesda and Xbox One have set 2 GB cap on the total amount of space that can be used for each mod.

All achievements are disabled when a mod is activated, and the system must reset completely when activating or deactivating any mods.

A Look at the Mods

Currently, Bethesda has released over 2,000 mods for beta gameplay. Many of these mods are designed to expand the size of the gameworld from the already impressive 235 discoverable locations. Some of the most popular mods for beta testers include minor changes to aesthetics such as changing Dogmeat to a feline companion and adding new clothing for the companions.

Microsoft Expects More Xbox One Sales

Xbox 360 users make up a large portion of gamers in the world, but that’s about to change. Microsoft recently announced that the company is expecting millions of sales for the Xbox one later this year. Gamerant recently published an article that features much more information on this story. Nonetheless, I happen to agree with Microsoft, but I’m not so sure about the one million sales.

The Xbox one console is still very expensive, and many people are not ready to pay $400 or more. However, Microsoft’s recent announcement of backwards compatibility has sparked an interest in thousands of gamers worldwide. Apparently, Xbox 360 users are more inclined to purchase the Xbox one console now, and it’s because of the backwards compatibility feature.

Microsoft revealed that Xbox 360 users are waiting for a new ‘Halo’ or ‘Gears of War’ title, and later this year, the Xbox community will get both games. ‘Halo 5: Guardians’ will release in October, and the Ultimate Edition of ‘Gears of War’ will release later this year as well reports Susan McGalla on her facebook. Microsoft will be selling the Xbox one with ‘Halo: The Master Chief Collection’ for a limited time, and Xbox 360 users may be more inclined to purchase an Xbox one.