Xbox Live Gold is doubling in price to push gamers towards Game Pass instead

Xbox Live Gold price increase master chief

Earlier today Microsoft confirmed that it will soon be increasing the price of its membership service. Xbox Live Gold is required on Xbox consoles to play with other online. Up until now it has cost $59.99 for twelve months. But as of right now, this price will double to $119.99 a year with zero added benefits.

The move is being viewed by most as an aggressive attempt to push gamers towards the Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft’s all in one library service costs $14.99 a month, or $179.99 a year. For that price you get a year of Xbox Live Gold and access to over 100 games across Xbox and PC.

History of Xbox Live Gold

Xbox Live Gold price increase promo

This isn’t the first time Microsoft has hiked up the price of its online membership packages. Back in 2019, Xbox Live Gold jumped from £5.99 a month to £6.99 in the UK. A similar price increase was seen in the US and Canada in 2020.

But no previous price increase has been even close to this once. Doubling the price of a service without providing even one tangible improvement is a bizarre decision that makes Microsoft look out of touch. Especially in this COVID climate where many people are struggling financially.

It’s unfortunate as leading up to this announcement Microsoft had actually been performing very well. In comparison to the PlayStation 5’s stock shortages, the American tech giant managed to deliver the Xbox Series X on time. Also, its decision to delay Halo Infinite and give 343 Industries more time was widely praised.

The decision to sharply increase the price of Xbox Live Gold also contrasts Microsoft’s approach up until now. Why bother releasing a budget alternative with the Series S If playing online costs a premium? There’s either been some serious miscommunication or this was its plan all along. Either way, the PS5 now looks to be the better value product.

Halo Infinite looks set for a Spring 2021 release after initial delay

Halo Infinite

Halo Infinite was supposed to be the Xbox Series X’s big launch title. But after a criminally underwhelming reveal at Xbox Summer Games 2020, Microsoft opted to delay it. Despite claiming that COVID was the cause, it’s seems likely that the American tech conglomerate was concerned about the rough state it was in.

An exact release date was not given at the time of the delay, but new details have emerged. In an interview with Dan Allen, Master Chief’s mo-cap actor, Bruce Thomas, confirmed a Spring 2021 release. When he was asked about Infinite’s development, Thomas stated it was “wrapped up,” and “ready to go next Spring.”

Are we getting Halo Infinite sooner than expected?

When the delay was first revealed, there were some concerns about how long Xbox fans would have to wait. With a game of Halo’s stature it could easily take over twelve months to fix. The presented campaign demo was plagued with a lot of difficult to address problems. This included rough texture work, assets popping in, and the now legendary Craig the Brute.

Craig was supposed to be a terrifying alien Brute trying to kill Master Chief. But due to some suspect face modelling he ended up looking more dopey than scary. The internet ran away with it and a viral meme was born. Regardless of the jokes, it did prove something about Halo Infinite. It needed more time.

Halo Infinite Craig the Brute

To Microsoft’s credit, rather than rushing it for the Series X launch it did delay Halo Infinite. And if Thomas’ claims of a Spring release are to be believed, the wait won’t have been that long anyway. Most gamers haven’t even had a chance to pick up a next-gen console yet due to stock shortages. So giving developer 343 Industries a little more time seems like a win-win situation.

All we can do for the time being is wait. Hopefully, Halo Infinite lives up to the hefty expectations placed upon it. Because there’s no doubt that Microsoft’s shiny new console is in desperate need of some big releases. Although a nice addition, there’s only so far relying on Xbox One backward compatibility can get you.

Xbox controller stick drift is set to cost Microsoft heavily in legal dispute

stick drift

Video game controllers are built to last. That’s been one of the age old rules ever since Nintendo set the standards for the whole industry back in 1983. And for the most part, hardware developers have stayed true to that rule. But apparently nobody told Microsoft as the Xbox’s ongoing stick drift dilemma continues.

It’s clear that fans aren’t happy with the state of their Xbox controllers. Last April, Microsoft came under fire as it was sued for knowingly selling faulty controllers. According to the plaintiff, Microsoft made efforts to not disclose a defect that it was wholly aware of. And now another case has been opened that targets several more of its products.

The on-going stick drift battle

Xbox Series X backward compatible stick driftStick drift is a colloquial term used to describe a controller’s analog stick moving on its own. This was also a common defect with the Switch Joycon, but Nintendo made a great effort to amend it. The Japanese tech giant offered to fix everyone’s Joycons for free.

Even though the regular Xbox One controller is by no means flawless, it’s the Elite controller that has gamers particularly frustrated. Despite being branded as Microsoft’s premier controller and costing $140, it is seemingly not well made. The analog sticks are clunky, often slip out of place, and can suffer from severe stick drift.

As for how Microsoft intends to address these concerns, it’s unclear. History suggest it isn’t necessarily an anti-consumer company, but it has ignored this problem for several years now. If it wants to avoid paying out for free repairs, I’d suspect Microsoft will try to spin the case in its favor.

The worst thing of all is that the Xbox Series X will support current-gen controllers. This is great for consumers but makes it especially important that the stick drift issue is addressed. If early adopters of the Series X go into next-gen using a broken controller there’s going to be an uproar.

Hitman 3 Final Chapter: Mark January 2021 On Your Calendars

Hitman 3

We got introduced to the secret world of assassins in the first Hitman games, which also gained screen treatment through the movie of the same title. Timothy Olyphant was superb in his portrayal of the nameless assassin, well backed up by the seemingly helpless damsel in distress character of Olga Kurylenko. In the gaming universe, the story of Agent 47 comes full circle, as Hitman 3 is set to arrive in January 2021.

Last Patch Arriving for Hitman 2

In a report dated November 2019, the series’ predecessor — Hitman 2 — received its final patch on the November update. That was some months ago. Since then, Hitman 3 has been the focus of the developers. It is also a confirmation of what IO said was a ‘trilogy’ of games that followed Agent 47’s travel.

At this point, Hitman 3 will be launching after the arrival of next-gen consoles PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. During the time the last few major patches for Hitman 2 was released, it was still in development — or the middle of development, as it appears. The speculations look correct, as it would be releasing in early 2021.

Agent 47 Comes Full Circle

The journey that Agent 47 started in the first Hitman outing will finally conclude in Hitman 3. Here, the world of assassination will once again welcome the enigmatic assassin. As always, the stakes are high, and 47’s contracts are never simple. It will take him around the world, always looking dapper and dashing in his preferred suit.

This time, Agent 47 has an extra hand from his agency handler, Diana Burnwood, as well as his long-lost friend, Lucas Grey. Their mission will be to eliminate the partners of Providence, but — as with all games in the genre — things turn sour on the way to their prey. Agent 47 will be thrust in unfamiliar territory and find himself trying to adjust as the situation develops.

Watch The World Come Alive

The locations in the Hitman saga have always been luxurious. Some have also been exotic and packed with high stakes action. You take control of Agent 47 as he tries to explore these masterfully rendered locations and follow clues and pointers toward where the Agent must eliminate targets. Part of the fun is in the planning and execution of these assassinations. You can choose to disguise yourself or create little accidents, no matter how you see it fit.

It is in attention to these details that the game is truly appreciated. Blend in with the crowds, anonymous, and watch your plan unfold. You could also interact with other characters on the path to your ultimate goal. From these decisions, you could watch your plan unfold in glorious 4k – or see it burn down to the ground. You can also watch as the world reacts to everything you do, thanks to the award-winning Glacier technology by IO.

The Finale Comes After A Long Wait

Long-time fans of the franchise will get a feeling of delight in knowing that they can choose whichever way they want to play the assassin — sleek and sophisticated or bumbling and clumsy. Exploration and interaction are huge parts in this gameplay, rewarding players who have that extra streak of curiosity and insight in succeeding re-plays of the game. The game rewards players who immerse themselves in the world of assassination.

Players will also find it fascinating that the series allows for continuation, even from other games. Hitman 3 will allow those who have played and finished Hitman 2 to carry over their character progression as well as discovered locations into the game. With the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X boasting playability from the very first games in their series, the upcoming game will be able to receive content from the very first game up to the second.

IO Interactive will develop the last game in the franchise. The developers felt it was a natural choice for Hitman 3 to come directly from them to the players who have followed Agent 47 from the start. They also stated that they felt ready for the challenge and will look forward to completing the journey with the players and the entire community alongside them.

The game’s launch is in January 2021 for the PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and PC. In the meantime, there are other free PC games available for players who can’t wait to put their trigger finger to the test.

 

About Author: Jonathan J Kingston is a video game enthusiast, gamer, and a veteran video game news writer for Games.lol. He spends his free time hunting for free game sites and testing their reliability. 

The Xbox Series X is a legitimate console powerhouse

Xbox Series X

Microsoft has confirmed various details on their next-gen console. The Xbox Series X was first announced at E3 as Project Scarlett, but no specific information was disclosed. However, we now know just how powerful the new Xbox will be.

In an extended post written by Xbox head Phil Spencer, all of the Series X’s specifications have been announced. Also, Spencer even highlighted several of the console’s unique selling points. This new information is somewhat of a surprise given that the largest gaming conference, E3, doesn’t take place until June.

forza horizon 2

Xbox Series X

So, what did we actually find out? For one, the next-gen Xbox will be powered by a 12 teraflop AMD graphics card. In layman’s terms, that’s twice as powerful as the Xbox One X and eight times as powerful as the original Xbox One.

As for performance, that beefy GPU will enable developers to pursue better frame rates than ever before. Microsoft is setting 120 FPS as their standard for next-gen. Keep in mind, many Xbox One titles like Forza Horizon 4 and GTA V run at just 30 FPS.

GTA 5

Phil Spencer explains that the Xbox Series X will support Variable Rate Shading (VRS). Effectively, this is a console exclusive feature that can make games get even more out of its already powerful graphics card. This seems to be comparable to the PlayStation 3’s SPUs which help create many iconic first-party titles like The Last of Us.

All of these incredible specifications do beg an obvious question. How much is the Xbox Series X going to cost? Phil Spencer doesn’t give us much of a clue in this post, but we can take an educated guess. The Xbox One launched at $499 but when the Kinect was dropped it was widely available for just $399. Since the Series X uses far more expensive hardware but won’t have a mandatory Kinect, somewhere between $499 and $599 seems to make sense.