Microsoft Ends Xbox 360 Production

Even we look forwards towards a potential Xbox One revision, Microsoft is turning over a page to their past. After nearly 11 years in production, Microsoft is finally ending Xbox 360 manufacturing. This means while Xbox 360s will continue to be sold and Xbox Live related services supported, once the stock runs out, that will be it for the console. Over its lifetime, the 360 sold at least 84 million units.

Like most consoles, the 360 went through a number of hardware revisions throughout the years. As we all remember, the original Xenon release ended up suffering from the infamous red ring of death. It wasn’t till 2 revisions later with the Falcon and a core die shrink that Microsoft finally got the situation under control. Since then Microsoft has continued to release upgraded versions till the most recent one in September 2014.

In concert with Xbox Live, the Xbox 360 changed the gaming landscape for consoles. In addition to allowing a unified online presence for consoles, the Xbox also ushered in easy streaming for Netflix. For now, continued support is expected till 2018 but for Microsoft’s backwards compatibility efforts may mean you can always play some retro games on the Xbox One. If you do want a 360 though, you’ll have to grab them quickly before they disappear.

Batman Arkham HD Collection Coming to Xbox One and PS4

When it comes to superhero video games, few did it as well as the Batman Arkham series, gripping fans as they explored the prison and then the city in the hopes of fighting crime in Gotham. If you enjoyed the games but miss being able to play them on your Xbox One or PS4 you may be in luck with leaked images showing the Batman Arkham HD Collection.

Leaked via an image sent by a reported GameStop employee, the images appear to show a release date of the 10th June, with preorders going live today (19th April). The collection will include both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City with “updated visuals optimised for Playstation 4 and Xbox One” while also letting you enjoy all the DLC that was previously released for both of the games.

With the last game in the Arkham series, Arkham Knight, giving you control over the Batmobile and a larger city, it didn’t take long before the technical problems scared people off of the game with many companies even offering refunds to anyone who had purchased it on PC. With the Arkham Knight being the last game made by Rocksteady for the dark hero, could this collection tide over fans while we await news about the next superhero series to grip our hearts?

Next Generation of Consoles Could See “Imminent” Launch

Consoles come in stages, from the PS2, Gamecube and Xbox to the Ps4, Wii and Xbox One, consoles are always launched around the same time leading to a large hype in people’s purchases as new games and technologies are revealed to the gaming community. According to the COO of GameStop, the new consoles could see “imminent” launch.

The statement was made during GameStop’s 2016 Investors Day, the companies Chief Operating Officer said that the company was happy to see new technologies being introduced, stating that things like virtual reality may play a big part in the next generation of consoles. Even going so far as to say that the rumoured new console could see an “imminent” launch.

This news shouldn’t be overly large, with companies like Nintendo constantly hinting at the NX while rumours were spread about the Playstation 4 getting an upgrade to run 4K content. With no word from companies regarding when or what the next consoles would officially feature, all we have is rumours and suggestions from fans and “sources”, including ones that point to upgradable versions of the Xbox consoles hardware.

With the last generation of consoles being released back in 2013 featuring the Wii U, Xbox One and PS4, gaming and technology has come a long way since then with virtual reality and 4K content becoming more than just an occasional venture, leading people to hope that the latest steps in technology will soon be released to the console gaming market.

Slick Fallout 4 Sports Car Added to Forza 6

When you play Fallout games and you walk past the countless charred husks of the pre-apocalypse cars, you can’t help but wish you could drive them. While it may not include being able to drift between the rubble of the wasteland, now you can, as the Chryslus Rocket ’69 is being added to Forza 6 as a playable vehicle.

The Rocket ’69 is one of the most strikingly beautiful vehicles from the Fallout series and a great example of the retro-futuristic style of the series world before it was bathed in nuclear fire. The addition of the fictional car has been a long time in the works too, with a collaboration between the Fallout and Forza series being announced all the way back in November, around the time Fallout 4 was released. The first result of the crossover was far less exciting, a rusted 1956 Ford F100 bearing a Vault Boy paint job, with the true prize of the collab, the Rocket, being stated as simply coming “soon”.

This car won’t be available for sale in-game, unfortunately, with only those who have logged time playing both Forza 6 and Fallout 4 while connected to Xbox Live being eligible to receive this fine vehicle. There may be a little longer to wait for those lucky players too, with Microsoft stating that “due to the millions of codes being sent, it can take up to seven days for codes to arrive.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YFUxFV0EP4

FCC Filing Points to New Xbox One Design at E3

With Sony pretty much confirmed to launch a new PS4K/4.5 later this year, the pressure is on at Microsoft to respond. It’s no surprise then that rumours have been consistently popping up about a new Xbox One being in the works. Through digging in the FCC filings, one crafty and intrepid fan has found information that points to a new revision of the Xbox One that Microsoft submitted back in March.

According to the filings, there are two separate devices that might be Xbox Ones. These are part numbers 1682 and 1683. 1683 has an NDA that lasts till June 25th, just a week or so after this years E3. This suggests we may see a reveal at E3 with the launch to come in the weeks to follow. 1683 seems to point towards a slimmed down variant of the Xbox One with improved 802.11ac support added on.

1682 has its own NDA that lasts until July 29th, which means it likely won’t be associated with E3. Interestingly, July 29th is the same day as the Windows 10 1 year anniversary and the drop of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Perhaps this Xbox One model might have something to do with Microsoft’s push on UWP. As we’ve noted before in our analysis of UWP, the new programming paradigm allows console like optimization for several different hardware platforms at the same time. The move to UWP would make a Xbox One revision much easier to develop for and ease the burden of having multiple consoles/platforms to target. It will be interesting to see what Microsoft will have for us on July 29th, with so many things happening at the same time.

Phil Spencer Promises Windows Store Launches Will Improve

Microsoft’s attitude towards PC gaming has dramatically shifted in the past few months and they’ve become more open to releasing console exclusives on the platform. The company’s Universal Windows Platform is designed to reduce barriers and allow consumers to play against each other without restrictions. Arguably, Microsoft is doing this to help with Windows 10’s adoption rate and cater to an additional player base after experiencing poor sales on the Xbox One compared to its nearest competitor. In the past, Microsoft has taken the PC market for granted which explains their abysmal reputation among this particular demographic.

Games for Windows Live is the perfect example of Microsoft’s tomfoolery which angered a great number of people. This was one of the worst forms of DRM ever created and it’s the main reason why PC gamers have such a cynical attitude. On another note, promises have been made on a number of occasions about taking the platform seriously but these never came to fruition. Thankfully, Phil Spencer’s appointment has helped the company’s regain its gaming focus and communicate with fans in a much better manner.

Despite this, the UWP’s launch has been far from ideal and featured a number of bizarre omissions including mod support, VSync off, ability to use frame-rate monitoring software and much more! Also, major titles including Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and Quantum Break run quite poorly. Even though the hitching issues in Gears of War: Ultimate Edition were resolved, it’s still not the kind of optimization I’d expect. Additionally, the PC release of Quantum Break is marred by terrible optimization which means users with a high-resolution monitor cannot acquire an acceptable frame-rate. Remedy might not even be able to fix some of these problems because they are to do with the game’s engine.

Clearly, UWP has had a rocky start and Phil Spencer admitted this when addressing a question on Twitter:

Phil Spencer also promised that future releases would improve:

Postal Redux Dev “Microsoft Lacking in its Commitment to Gamers”

Prior to the Xbox One’s release, Microsoft managed to forge a huge player base and competed with Sony despite being the major underdog. While part of this is down to Sony’s mistakes with expensive hardware and the overly complicated Cell architecture, you have to give Microsoft credit for the Xbox 360’s superb library. Granted, they did lose a lot of respect with the Red Ring of Death fiasco. Although, it’s important to remember Sony consoles also experienced the Yellow Light of Death but this was to a lesser extent. Unfortunately, Microsoft reversed much of their hard work during the Xbox One’s launch and angered the core gaming demographic.

Reports about banning the use of pre-owned games, having to check in online every 24 hours and the focus on US sport shows didn’t sit well with Xbox 360 fans. Eventually, the company’s management realized this and appointed Phil Spencer to the leading role. Despite making numerous changes and showcasing Microsoft’s passion towards core games, it seems this viewpoint isn’t shared by everyone. In a recent interview with Gamingbolt, Running with Scissors’s CEO Vince Desi said:

“[Microsoft lack] a commitment to gamers,”

Running with Scissors is the development team behind Postal Redux and this is an extremely bold claim to make. While there have been some rumours circulating about Microsoft’s management being unhappy with the Xbox division, this is purely speculation. Furthermore, Microsoft have invested money into development studios and funded excellent games like Quantum Break and Sunset Overdrive. It’s clear they are lingering behind in the console market and struggling to compete with Sony. It’s interesting to see their renewed focus on the PC platform and trying to bring PC gamers and console players together through a single ecosystem. At the moment, it’s not working out too well due to the UWP restrictions and the technical mess seen on a number of  games.

Do you think Microsoft is committed to gamers?

Microsoft Will “Never Force” Gamers to Compete Cross Platform says Phil Spencer

It is a growing trend amongst games to consider the inclusion of cross-platform play between PC and the current consoles. Even Microsoft’s own Windows Universal Platform and potential plans to make the Xbox One upgradable is making the line between the PC and console fuzzier than ever. Despite this, the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer wants to make sure that there are differences between the platforms.

Speaking at Microsoft Build’s keynote, Spencer explained that just because a number of games are coming to both the Xbox and the PC, doesn’t mean that there will be any kind of requirement forcing all games to be multi-platform between the PC and Xbox. He also explained that he wants to make sure that players using different control methods for their game won’t be forced to play against others using a different method.

“I’ll never force somebody in our games whose playing with a controller or a mouse and keyboard to play against somebody with a different control scheme,” he said. “Mouse and keyboard rotation speed is faster than controller. We know that, you’ll lose.”

That said, he wants to leave it up to the developers in regards to the available control methods and cross-platform support in their games. Exactly how these cross-play restrictions will be placed based on control scheme is currently hard to tell, with controllers already an option for many PC games and the Xbox One already confirmed to be getting support for mouse and keyboard controls in the future.

Microsoft is Apparently Creating ‘Xbox neXt’

There’s been an assortment of rumors circulating regarding Sony’s plans to release a new PlayStation 4 with increased technical capabilities. Furthermore, the information has come from numerous sources including mainstream publications which gives credence to this theory. Allegedly, the PS4K will feature a GPU with twice the processing power compared to the standard model which runs at a higher clock speed. The CPU could be improved but this would have a marked impact on the retail price. If true, this would be an unprecedented move for the console industry and a significant move away from longer generations.

According to Crave Entertainment, Microsoft could be planning a similar strategy. Here we can see a LinkedIn profile for David Gardner, the visual design lead at Microsoft. Notice the current projects section describing something called the Xbox neXt. To be perfectly clear, this might have nothing to with a 4K variant of the Xbox One and simply refer to dashboard improvements or other innovations. Saying that, its not beyond the realm of possibilities that the Xbox neXt is either Microsoft’s next console or an updated model of the Xbox One.

Even though Phil Spencer originally seemed open to the idea of hardware upgrades, it looks likely that he’s had a change of heart. In an interview with GameInformer, Phil Spencer said:

“If we’re going to move forward, I want to move forward in big numbers.”

“For us, our box is doing well. It performs, it’s reliable, the servers are doing well. If we’re going to go forward with anything, like I said, I want it to be a really substantial change for people – an upgrade.”

Therefore, this quashes the idea that the Xbox neXt is an improved version of the Xbox One. Additionally, the main reason Sony is probably considering a much more powerful PlayStation 4 is due to VR and the hefty requirements involved. On the other hand, Microsoft hasn’t shown much of a keen interest in this technology for the Xbox One. If I had to make any sort of prediction, I’d image the Xbox neXt is Microsoft’s successor to the Xbox One. Also, you have to remember that developement for the next hardware launch begins right after the current model is released to the public.

Future Forza Titles Will Ship for Windows 10 and Xbox

After releasing a slew of Xbox exclusives on Windows 10 earlier this year, Microsoft has demonstrated their commitment to the PC gaming platform. More important than a singular event are continuous actions and Microsoft has taken steps towards this today. Turn 10, a Microsoft studio, has announced that all future Forza Motorsport titles, previously Xbox exclusives, will now also ship on Windows 10 as well.

“Moving forward, all of our games are going to be shipping on Windows 10 (PC) and Xbox”

Of course, Microsoft is doing this partially to push Windows 10 and their Unified Windows Platform. Future Forza titles for Windows will all be based on the Unified Windows Platform to enable easy porting from the Xbox to the PC. This also means that the games will only be available on the Windows Store and likely won’t be available through Steam.

While this ongoing commitment is nice, it’s still unlikely Microsoft will consider allowing their more lucrative titles like the Halo series be released on PC anytime soon. Furthermore, UWP apps are still limited in their functionality, with no support for FreeSync/GSync, modding or overlays just yet. Hopefully, Microsoft will let loose more of their Xbox exclusives for the PC in the near future.

Microsoft Wants to Know If You’ll Sell Back Your Digital Games

With the internet as fast as it is, and people gaining access to bigger and bigger storage options at cheaper prices, it comes as no surprise that people prefer the method of digital delivery for games. Being able to click a button and play a new release only minutes afterwards removes the need to travel to a store, collect a copy (if there is even one in the store) and then return home and wait for it to install. The problem being is returning or selling the copy, something Microsoft is keen to know about for your digital games.

The problem with digital games is that because they have nothing to physically return, companies are often hesitant to offer refunds or returns. Steam, one of the world’s leading digital distribution software’s, only recently updated its terms and conditions to offer returns on a wider scale than the previously accepted “paid and unplayed” model.

As part of their customer survey, Microsoft has recently been asking their users would they sell back their digital games for store credit?

In the question, they give (as an example) that the “sold back” games would give you 10% of their paid value as store credit. Meaning that £50 game would nab you £5 store credit to spend on your next game. Many would argue that 10% is barely anything of the original price while others would argue that it’s better than the games currently filling up your collections collecting digital dust.

What do you think? Would you take the offer and trade in some old games if you were offered 10% store credit?

Formula E ‘Virtual Championship’ to Take Place on Forza 6

Not content in running only in the real world, Formula E, the racing series for specially designed electric cars, will be running a ‘virtual championship’ that will take the form of a month-long eSports tournament on the popular racing sim, Forza Motorsport 6. The event will begin next weekend and take place across four rounds, with the ending set to coincide with the end of Formula E’s second real-life season. The prize up for grabs will be a share of a pot of €15,000, awarded as part of the final weekend of the series’ season.

Formula E’s cars were already added to Forza 6 last year, shortly before the game’s release and have already gathered popularity due to a number of Formula E events that have been held in the game over the length of the season. These “Race Off” events took place in real life, inviting gamers, YouTube personalities and even the real world Formula E drivers together to face off against each other in the game.

Unlike those events, the new “Pro Series” will take place entirely virtually, with each round providing competitors with a week to run time trials using the Formula E cars. After the event starts on the 24th, players will be able to join a special rivals event from the in-game Xbox Live lobby and compete for the best laps. When the first round ends on March 31st, those with the 10 best laps will be chosen to participate in a virtual final on April 2nd. This format will repeat 3 more times, with the last round ending on June 2nd. The top 2 from each round’s final will then be invited to London to go head to head with each other for a share of the €15,000.

It is exciting to see Formula E becoming so invested in engaging in the virtual as well as the real and makes many of the more traditional racing series look even more outdated by comparison. With AI racing already in the works and now a virtual racing championship, what exciting new ideas will Formula E come up with next?

Microsoft to Allow Cross Platform Gaming

Microsoft is announcing a massive new feature for all Xbox owners today, Cross-platform gaming! The giant tech corporation has been hinting at the addition of this for the past few years and today it seems to have become reality. PS4, Xbox One and Windows 10 will be able to support the new feature, providing Sony and others partake. The feature will be dependent on game developers incorporating it into their game releases, chances are this will become a very large part of the releases we have ahead of us for the rest of this year.

Microsoft has confirmed that Rocket League will be one of the first games to take advantage of the new feature between Xbox One and PC players, with an open invitation to other networks such as Nintendo’s own platform, utilised on their Wii and DS products.

This change could reshape gaming’s future for the better, people who don’t have gaming rigs but own consoles can play games with others on PC’s. I think that’s awesome! Currently, you are restricted to playing games released for your platform. Opening up cross-platform networking capabilities will remove a big restriction in console gaming. Although it may open up a conversation around which titles should allow PC gamers to play against console gamers, a mouse and keyboard still have some huge advantages on most fps games so could cause for some interesting challenges for the game developers.

Quantum Break Receives a Launch Trailer

When I first saw the gameplay trailer for Quantum Break, I wasn’t necessarily too impressed. Sure, its graphics seemed pretty good and the gameplay had a few  innovative features, but overall it just looked like a regular third-person shooter that would have me kill one wave of enemies after another until I got bored. I’m pleased to say that I was most likely wrong on all accounts, as Quantum Break is shaping up to be a very interesting game, not just because it requires DirectX 12 but also because it has a well-written story behind its action-packed scenes. The game was developed by Remedy Entertainment and will be published by Microsoft Studios, which means that it won’t be arriving on Steam.

The good news is that we don’t have to wait too long until its official launch date, as Quantum Break is scheduled for an April 5 release for PC and Xbox One consoles. And since that date is almost upon us, the game’s developers have decided to treat us with a launch trailer, which features the renowned “Come As You Are” track by Nirvana. Even though this game is likely to push my PC to its limits, I’m really looking forward to playing it for a bit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eU17_kd-e4w

Will you be picking up Quantum Break?

Quantum Break to Require Internet Connection

Quantum Break is set to be one of the biggest games to grace Windows 10 this year, and with the game using directX 12 (DX12) you will have to buy it through the app store. This may be a problem for some as those who purchased the rather silently released Gears Of War Ultimate Edition found that the game was more than lacking in terms of performance and stability. It may come as a shock to some then that the next nail in the Windows 10 gaming experience is the constant online connection that you will require for Quantum Break.

Why is this a big deal you may ask? The problem people will have with this is that the game is a single player game, requiring an online connection means that should your internet drop out or you want to play on the go you won’t be able to. The reason given by Microsoft is  that you will require a high-speed internet connection to enjoy the cutscenes in the game, which is considered story heavy.

It was recently revealed that the Xbox One version of the game will be 44.09GB in size, a whole 8GB more than the 36.18GB. It now seems that the size difference is because Xbox one will be downloading the video content as well, requiring only PC gamers to have a constant online connection. With the Xbox One video being limited to 1080p video files, a mere shade of the 4K content the PC will enjoy, some people will argue that for a single player game, downloading the video at a lesser quality may be worth saving the hassle of an always online connection.

First a bad release for Gears Of War and now the news that always online single player games are Microsoft’s hope for Windows 10 games, are you likely to pick up the game and if so do you think that Microsoft has done the right thing?

How Microsoft (Probably) Envisions Xbox Hardware Upgrades

With all the talk about Xbox One hardware upgrades and their universal platform, it’s important to really understand how Microsoft is approaching this problem. While some commentators are viewing their change in strategy as a shift to a PC-like ecosystem, a deeper read of Microsoft’s statements reveals a more Apple iOS-like approach.

Traditionally, consoles have come out generation by generation, with the latest one supplanting the next. In order to play the latest and greatest games, one would have to buy the latest console and playing games from previous consoles required the previous console. Microsoft is planning to change this with the Xbox One, allowing for hardware to advance within a console generation, with backwards and forwards compatibility. This allows users to keep playing their old games as well.

In order to get the backwards and forwards compatibility between games and consoles, Microsoft is using their UWP (Universal Windows Platform) to build UWA (Univeral Windows Applications). This is possible because the Xbox One is fundamentally a customised PC, and some think that a new hardware upgrade is easily done due to the simple architecture and uniform software. The concern though is that like PC systems, the variants of  Xbox One’s become like another PC and will suffer from fragmentation in features and performance, losing the traditional console benefit of one hardware platform to target.

In my view tough, Microsoft is pushing a similar yet distinct path from PC, more akin to iOS. With iOS, Apple has several concurrent iOS devices generations with different hardware. However, all my applications work on most iOS devices, with older iOS devices using older versions of the application if necessary, with fewer features. This is even simpler for the Xbox One as there will still probably only be 2-3 hardware variants, easy enough to target and optimise for. Just like with iOS applications, UWA games can scale to the hardware neatly, with each console variant using the resources (physics effects, resolution, texture quality) best suited to it and compiled at the time of installation.

With UWA, it will take minimal effort to ensure old games run on the new console hardware and any failure to optimise is covered up by the improved hardware. To run new games on older consoles, developers simply use fewer models, less complex physics, lower resolution and lower quality textures. However, the overall gameplay should remain the same and the overall experience the same. The ability to play purchases bought for a previous console removes the sting of rebuying games when the console is replaced.

As always with Microsoft, their statements and PR side of things are never as clear as they need to be. Hopefully, Microsoft will be able to implement their plans well and the future where console gaming libraries are just like Steam will finally come to pass.

Microsoft Confirms Forza 6 Apex Coming to Windows 10

If we take Microsoft’s words at face value, the day of console exclusives galore may soon be behind us. But as we all know, actions speak louder than words and Microsoft has done so with the Forza 6 Apex. Being a Forza title, many would expect the game to be a Xbox exclusive, but the title will be coming to the Windows Store for Windows 10 shortly. What’s more, it will even be free to play.

Apex will be a curated title on the Windows Store that while being cut down, will still offer much of the Forza 6 experience. Only 1/3 of cars are unlocked but the rest can be grinded out by playing or bought with real money. From the demo, it looks like the game is decently optimized, with 4K 60FPS being possible with an i7 6700K and GTX 980Ti. This is due to DirectX 12 as well which likely is a big help. It’s unknown which settings those figures are based on but those with more GPU grunt can probably turn up the settings even higher if they want.

The biggest downside however will be the UWP or Windows Univeral App platform the game is written on. As we are now learning, games based off of UWP take more work to implement some features like vysnc or uncapped framerate. It remains to be seen how Apex and Turn 10 will deal with these restrictions. It will be interesting to see how the lowliest of the low Windows 10 PCs and tablets handle the title.

Xbox One Hardware Upgrades Could End Console Generations

Xbox Chief Phil Spencer has revealed that he is considering the introduction of hardware upgrades for Xbox One, as part of its “Universal Windows Platform” program, which aims to unify Microsoft’s console with PC platforms, in a move which could spell the end of future Xbox generations. Speaking to Polygon, Spencer explained that Microsoft sees the PC as a platform of innovation for gaming, and so the company wants to shift the Xbox into that sphere.

“We see on other platforms whether it be mobile or PC that you get a continuous innovation that you rarely see on console,” Spencer said. “Consoles lock the hardware and the software platforms together at the beginning of the generation. Then you ride the generation out for seven or so years, while other ecosystems are getting better, faster, stronger. And then you wait for the next big step function.”

“When you look at the console space, I believe we will see more hardware innovation in the console space than we’ve ever seen,” he added. “You’ll actually see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation allowing the same games to run backward and forward compatible because we have a Universal Windows Application running on top of the Universal Windows Platform that allows us to focus more and more on hardware innovation without invalidating the games that run on that platform.”

Spencer sees the unification of various platforms as a boon to those who want to play older games, too, as the PC ecosystem, and relevant upgrades, would support broader backwards compatibility.

“We can effectively feel a little bit more like we see on PC, where I can still go back and run my old Doom and Quake games that I used to play years ago but I can still see the best 4K games come out and my library is always with me,” he said. “Hardware innovation continues while the software innovation is able to take advantage and I don’t have to jump a generation and lose everything that I played on before.”

Forza Motorsport 6 Apex Coming to Windows 10 This Spring?

Microsoft has traditionally had a rocky relationship with PC gamers due to the horrendous Games for Windows Live DRM and focus on console exclusives. Over the last decade, the company has made numerous promises to adopt a more PC-friendly attitude and failed to deliver. This rightfully creates a great deal of skepticism because of the lack of Xbox IPs like Halo and Forza on the PC platform. Thankfully, Microsoft’s new management has woken up to the incredible rise of PC gaming and decided to adopt a more unified strategy. This means, games can launch on mobile, PC and Xbox with interplay via the Windows 10 operating system. Microsoft has hinted at bringing more Xbox games to PC, but they’ve really kept their main titles on Xbox to please the console demographic.

During a media event last week, the head of Xbox Phil Spencer outlined the company’s new attitude towards PC gaming and said:

“We are 100 percent committed to the PC-gaming space,”

“That is a long-term commitment from us.”

He also acknowledged Microsoft’s poor reputation and admitted:

“We know we have a lot to prove,”

Even more astounding, The Seattle Times leaked information about an upcoming announcement from Microsoft regarding the Forza series. According to this source, Microsoft will launch a free-to-play version of Forza Motorsport 6 on the Windows Store this spring. The new game entitled, Forza Motorsport 6: Apex will probably adopt optional microtransactions to acquire money faster so you can purchase vehicles in a quick manner. I really hope Microsoft doesn’t try to charge for individual circuits though and offer a barebones package. I absolutely adore the Forza series and it’s the main reason why I purchased an Xbox 360 back in the day. However, the free-to-play aspect does bother me somewhat, and I worry about the game’s business model.

A greater concern is, Microsoft thinks they can port over free-to-play versions of their most popular franchises. Hopefully, this isn’t the case because it wouldn’t be a good move to make PC gamers trust them.

Microsoft Promises to Fix Windows Store VSync Lock

Microsoft’s relationship with the PC gaming audience has been fairly turbulent due to the advent of Games for Windows Live and focus on console development. Many users are still haunted by Microsoft’s atrocious form of DRM, which resulted in lost saves, regional restrictions and a very basic accounts system. Furthermore, they never really showed any interest in the PC platform, and didn’t support it when there were concerns about its future. Thankfully, Valve stepped in and catapulted the popularity of PC games. There’s a certain irony though because Microsoft could be in Valve’s position if they catered to the PC community properly.

Thankfully, times have changed and Microsoft is adopting a more unified approach to mobile, PC and console. This means, the company is open to cross-platform releases and giving the PC key franchises which remained a console exclusive for some time. Admittedly, there’s still no Halo or Forza on the PC platform, but I cannot see an announcement being too far off. Instead of releasing their own games on Steam, Microsoft is pushing the Windows Store and trying to encourage people to upgrade to Windows 10. This makes sense because Valve takes a significant portion of a game’s revenue, simply for allowing a game to be sold on their service.

Sadly, the Windows Store has some major issues and Microsoft has to address them to even consider making PC gamers part with their hard-earned money. For example, a post on Reddit suggests there’s no SLI/Crossfire support, no modding support, no refund policy, and VSync is always on! Not only that, the game files are protected, monitoring software doesn’t work properly, and borderless full screen is your only option. Clearly, these are some very severe restrictions and concerning given Microsoft’s history with DRM.

Mike Ybarra, Partner Director of Program Management, Xbox and Windows Platform at Microsoft addressed some of these concerns and said:

Apparently, SLI/Crossfire is already functional, and depends on the developer. However, I encountered some problems with dual card setups on Rise of the Tomb Raider but only with the Windows Store version. I’m pleased to see the news that VSync will become optional because many people dislike the stutter it creates or use a G-Sync panel instead. Only time will tell if Microsoft creates an open PC platform, but it’s clear that the current store needs a lot of work.

Major Nelson: DLC Passes Can be “Really Dangerous” For Multiplayer

The internet has revolutionized the way video games are made with a greater emphasis on competitive multiplayer. As a huge advocate of single player games, this does worry me slightly, but there’s still a wide range of solo experiences to keep me entertained. On another note, the connected nature of modern games means developers can release downloadable content after launch and theoretically extend people’s engagement. However, DLC in multiplayer games isn’t necessarily a good thing especially if it’s hidden behind a pay-wall. This divides a game’s community and in some cases, gives an unfair advantage to those paying for extra content.

In the latest episode of Podcast Unlocked, Microsoft’s director of programming for Xbox Live discussed the impact of multiplayer DLC passes and said they can be “really dangerous when it comes to multiplayer, because what happens is it fractures the community,” He also went onto say:

You have the maps, I don’t have the maps, I didn’t buy that map but you bought that map,’ so when we all get together, ‘Oh, you couldn’t play the map.'”

Major Nelson commended 343 Studio’s approach in regards to the microtransactions and DLC model in Halo 5:

“So what 343 has done, which I think is rather brilliant, is that everybody gets the maps,”

“But they’re going to make things up with the [microtransaction] Req packs. That’s how they’re having some additional revenue, I assume, on the side. It’s such a great way to execute it and keep the fans together.”

Halo 5 has already amassed over $1.5 million in microtransactions which showcases the spending habits of a competitive community. It’s essential that any purchases post-release are optional and do not create a pay-to-win situation. eSports and competitive play is becoming more popular each day with increasing prize pools. This means, it’s essential to produce games with a fair and honest business model which rewards skill not money.

Fallout 4 Official Modding Tools Release Date Revealed

Fallout 4 players have had no trouble surviving the harsh wasteland, fighting off everything from ex-government forces to giant irradiated mutant creatures. In their spare time, the wasteland doesn’t have to be a hostile place and some people have even taken to building with the recreation of the TenPenny tower being amongst the most noticeable. All of this is made even greater and more remarkable given that it is done without any real support, that is soon to change though as Bethesda have announced when they hope the full mod support will be available for Fallout 4.

In an interview with Game Informer, Todd Howard mentioned that “our goal is between the first two DLC’s” following up with “it’ll go up at that time on PC in April. All of that stuff will go up on PC. People are beta testing it”.

The first two DLC packs for Fallout 4 will be titled the Automatron and Wasteland Workshop. Revealing more details on these Howard mentioned that Automatron has “a little quest line and this Pokémon-esque ‘kill robots, get their parts, build your own’ [gameplay]. The robot building is really deep”. Laser guns and mini nukes just weren’t enough, you need your own robot too apparently in the wasteland.

The Wasteland Workshop will be there so you can “build your own arenas, capture animals, and also build other things”, offering those of you who prefer creation over destruction a short reprieve before walking out into the sand with your robot followers.

Survival mode, a highly rumoured feature, has also had some secrets revealed, with the lack of saving (unless you are sleeping), the removal of fast travel, a bucket load of diseases and the combat getting a whole new feel, instead of being just a “bullet sponge” experience.

Xbox Live Is Currently “Limited”

We all have our favourite way of playing online, and those that use Xbox Live may have a bit of trouble this morning when it comes to enjoying that quick game before work or school. Currently, the service is more struggling than it is managing as several parts of the service are listed as having difficulty.

The affected services include people’s ability to buying downloadable items and downloading any previously brought items. This means that if you are looking at downloading a game or treating yourself to a DLC, now might not be the best time. If you are one of the people who likes to stream some music or videos the Xbox Video and Music stores are also currently experiencing problems, joined by Blinkbox also having issues.  Finally, the only other area affected at the moment is account management, with people unable to create

Finally, the only other area affected at the moment is account management, with people unable to create accounts, managing any of their previous accounts or even removing accounts from devices.

The only areas that don’t seem affected are the Xbox One’s website and their matchmaking, so if you wanted to just play a game you should be okay, but beyond that you may experience some trouble. You can find out the latest on Xbox live’s status page located here.

More Hints Regarding Bioshock Collection on PS4 and Xbox One

We all have those games which you just feel like picking up every now and again to see how you can play it differently, or just to immerse yourself in their world again. One of those games series if the Bioshock series for many. A few months we reported on the fact that a “Bioshock Collection” could be coming to Xbox One and Playstation 4, it would now seem that more information is coming forward with a Brazillian rating board listing a similar title.

With the title of “BIOSHOCK: THE COLLECTION”, the games are listed for release on PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and the latest generation of consoles in the form of a Playstation 4 and Xbox One release. With re-releases being the rage these days, bundling together games, their DLC’s and more often than not a graphics update, we could soon see you playing the games in a whole new light.

With games like Gears of War getting HD remakes  amongst a slew of gameplay features, is it really that surprising that 2K games are looking at one of their more famous franchises to kick some life into their company following 2K Australia closure.

Would you buy (or even re-buy) the Bioshock games? If you did what platform would you choose? Personally, I love the games but unless it featured something that the previous games didn’t, I would just replay the originals for their amazing storylines.

Details of Dark Souls 3 Season Pass Leaked

It seems like From Software can’t avoid making DLC. Following leaked details from the Australian Xbox Store, it has come to light that Dark Souls 3 will have a season pass available to purchase, and that the pass may be part of the game’s digital deluxe edition. The leak shared no information as to the cost of the season pass.

Microsoft have now pulled the listing from the Xbox store, however according to Videogamer, the pack will include access to “2 epic DLC packs at a discounted price,” which are set to introduce “new maps, bosses, enemies and additional weapon and armor sets”. Standard fare for Dark Souls DLC really. Sadly no dates were attached to the season pass’ details, so when this DLC will become available remains to be seen.

While no cost for the pass was listed on the store, it is to be included in the digital deluxe edition of Dark Souls 3, which is currently listed at $137.70 AUD, or £68. It remains to be seen what the availability of the season pass will be for other platforms, or how much such an edition may cost.

While many may frown at the practice of pre-selling DLC via season passes, From Software has a strong track record when it comes to DLC. Even after having no plans to release DLC for Dark Souls 2, they put out 3 packs and the remixed Scholar of the First Sin version of the game. Bandai Namco are yet to formally announce any DLC for Dark Souls 3 or its season pack, however with this leak, news could arrive soon.

Image credit to Dark Souls 3 subreddit

Microsoft: ‘Bringing Quantum Break to Windows 10 is a Great Benefit’

Microsoft has forged a fairly distrustful relationship with PC gamers over the last decade due to broken promises to take the platform seriously, and the horrendous Games For Windows Live DRM client. As a result, any claims regarding their renewed focus is rightfully met with scepticism because of Microsoft’s poor track record. On the other hand, Phil Spencer has been nothing short of a revelation and adopted a more open approach to PC gaming while catering to the core console demographic. Sure, he’s made some mistakes along the way as Microsoft’s initial PC gaming talk was very disappointing, but at least there is some progress thanks to his leadership.

In an interview with PC Gamer during Gamescom 2015, Phil Spencer openly answered questions about the likelihood of Quantum Break coming to PC and said:

“In the case of things like Scalebound or Crackdown or Quantum Break, you know, just to be completely honest with you, we started those games before we really looked at expanding into Windows in the way that I wanted to bring as part of becoming head of Xbox.”

“Going to those teams mid-cycle and saying: ‘Hey, by the way, I want to add a platform,’ didn’t really feel like necessarily the best way to end up with the best result for the game. They had a path that they were on. It’s not to say those games could never come to Windows, but right now we’re on the path to finish the great games that they’ve started, and I want that to be the case. These games are on a path, whereas with, like, Halo Wars 2 I had the opportunity from the beginning, when we’re sitting down with the studio, to say, ‘Here’s the target. Here’s what we wanna go do.”

Despite this, Microsoft and Remedy recently announced Quantum Break was coming to PC at the same time as the Xbox One version. Clearly, this is uncharted territory and a major departure from the company’s initial plans. Up to this point, Microsoft has either dismissed the PC with major exclusives, or delayed them to encourage users to purchase an Xbox One console. I’ve been very critical about their decision-making process and fixating on the idea that putting Xbox One games on the PC platforms results in lost sales. I don’t think it’s that simple because many console owners prefer the simplicity of not upgrading their hardware and have no intention of building a gaming machine.

Head of Xbox Marketing Aaron Greenberg recently discussed the decision on the Major Nelson podcast and eloquently argued:

“We weren’t sure how and when we could get the Windows 10 version done. They lined up [with the Xbox One version]; a lot of people’s reaction on Twitter was like, I get it, you want to bring this to a lot more gamers to play, but why didn’t you tell us about this before?”

“We’re trying to bring gamers together, we’re trying to break down the walls if you will.”

“To be able to bring a title like Quantum Break to the Windows 10 ecosystem is a great benefit. We know that there are a lot of PC gamers out there who would like to play the game, so that opens up a new audience.”

Quantum Break is scheduled to launch on Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs on April 5th.

SteamOS Update Lets You Play With Xbox One Elite Controller And More

Some like PC, some like Console. People choose different platforms for different reasons, but the creators behind the ever popular PC gaming platform Steam came up with an idea to bridge the gap. Enter Steam machines, a combination of PC and Console, which meant that you could play games like you were on a console but you could upgrade it like a PC. So why not grab your controllers and play on the latest SteamOS version.

Steam OS is based on the popular operating system Linux. One of the main selling points behind Linux is that it is open source. Open source is when software is freely available in both the finished product and the code that builds it up. This means that you are able to see how it works and add functionality as you wish.

The latest update, 2.60, for SteamOS features not only security patches and updates to the Linux system as a whole but options for an extra controller. The Xbox One Elite controller features a variety of buttons, including some hidden underneath, where your hands naturally rest while holding a controller. If you feel up for giving the controller a spin on SteamOS you now can but sadly only if its wired.

If this wasn’t enough why not check out its new Bluetooth support. Being able to connect a range of devices through Bluetooth you could soon be playing with Playstation 4 controllers and headsets without a wire in sight!

While updates will help the platform, SteamOS recently took a hit when it was revealed that it played games worse than Windows 10 did. We might see that changing soon and with updates coming out more and more it might be worth retesting that comparison soon.