The Tuesday Inbox hears more arguments on the pros and cons of Xbox Game Pass, as one reader is surprised the Xbox Series X hasn’t sold out.
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The deciding factor
I see a lot of Sony fans getting riled up at the concept that Microsoft’s success may be inevitable, which is a good sign that there’s some truth to the suggestion. I have a lot of sympathy for people saying that Microsoft’s massive cash reserves are essentially cheating, but as that equally angry Microsoft fan pointed out recently Sony did something similar when buying companies up at the start of the PlayStation 1 era.
Admittedly there was nothing on the scale of Bethesda, and they did it right at the start of their video game history, not four generations in when they’d run out of steam, but that doesn’t mean what Microsoft is doing is entirely without precedence.
Sony can still win but they’ve got to have games that are on the level of must-have as Nintendo’s best, and I don’t think they’re there yet. It’s not a question of whether The Last Of Us Part 2 is better than Zelda: Breath Of The Wild but whether it has the mass appeal, and I don’t think it does. Ratchet & Clank is much closer to the sort of game they need, even though I’ve never liked the series and find it too shallow and repetitive.
But it’s that sort of family friendly game that Sony needs to focus on. The single-player, mature-rated games will get them a certain way, but I feel their importance was overstated last generation when they had essentially no competition from Microsoft. When Microsoft is making similar games, of probably similar quality, I think for many the difference will appear small and Game Pass will be the deciding factor.
I don’t say this as being either a good or bad thing, since I try to get all formats eventually in a generation, but that seems the most likely outcome to me.
Looks like Argos have either a lot of stock of the Xbox Series X or nobody’s buying it. I first noticed stock availability at my local (Gateshead) on Thursday but didn’t have the money to buy it, checked again on the off chance yesterday (Sunday) and still available, so I got one this time and picked it up today.
Don’t know if it’s the same nationwide as I’m unsure how they allocate stock but might be worth checking. I’ve been reading that they’re normally gone in minutes, so to be available for at least three days is saying something.
GC: Argos allocate stock locally, so… maybe people in Gateshead really hate Xbox for some reason?
A mischief of rats
Genuinely thought Xbox did great at E3; seemed less sterile than former years and had loads of games in the works.
For me the highlight was A Plague Tale: Requiem. So excited about it. Can’t believe no one else has made comment about it!
First one was just amazing!
Somerville looks really good too!
PS: Looks like I’m going back to Xbox after PlayStation 4 this last generation – sure I’m not gonna be the only one.
GC: A Plague Tale: Requiem is being released on all formats, including a cloud version for Switch. It is on Game Pass from day one though.
E-mail your comments to: [email protected]
14 days on the phone
A warning to anyone planning to use Nintendo’s UK Store:
They’ve just recently undergone a revamp and are now rebranded as My Nintendo Store. As a result of the change you’re no longer able to simply cancel an order if you’ve changed your mind, even if it’s a pre-order.
You now have to get in touch with customer services to amend anything, which in my experience has been frustrating; you now have to jump through hoops confirming your identity just to return an item or cancel your order.
I’ve now had to speak to three customer service agents (the second agent disconnected the chat before resolving anything) and all I want to do is return an item within their 14-day returns policy.
I’m playing through EarthBound again for the third time and it still astounds me how weirdly brilliant it is. I am not hugely into role-playing games but wanted to know what all the fuss was about, so I bought it when it was released on Wii U. It didn’t click instantly but it did make me want to keep playing and after it did click with me, I found it amazing and it gets better on each run.
There are frustrating grindy parts, but the overall package of the game just blows me away, brilliant soundtrack, wonderful story that has huge emotional impact and the fact that many parts of it are like some sort of weird trip. Utterly fantastic game and I do hope it’s added to Switch SNES online and that Mother 3 gets an official release at some point.
Video games unplugged
I really don’t get it when people say why do you play FIFA when you could play football for real outside. a) games are escapism and believe me when I say I’m nowhere near as talented as the players in real life who can do stuff in FIFA I never can. b) I will never get to play in a real stadium in front of a huge crowd. c) the players around me would be my mates, not professional footballers.
It’s like saying why do you play a racing game when you could go to a track and drive a car around?
Now playing: Shadow Of The Tomb Raider (Xbox Series X) and Super Mario Galaxy (Switch)
GC: You’re leaving yourself open to an obvious reply with that last question.
I’ve read a few negative comments on Halo Infinite over the last week, so I feel like showing it some love. To me I don’t expect it to ever be as big as it first was, I don’t think that’s possible with sequels, the same as Tomb Raider will never have the same impact as it did in the 90s.
But I still like its gameplay, the iconic music in intense sections, its animated sci-fi setting and the campaign story. What they showed was more of everything I love with enough changes to keep it fresh but not so many to put me off. It’s exactly what I want.
I don’t really expect anyone who doesn’t already like Halo to want to play it. If you didn’t like the previous ones, why would you suddenly ever want to play a future one?
I do disagree with the way Microsoft organise their studios though. Having them based around franchises must cause issues with retaining talent and supress ideas when all you can ever make is a Halo/Gears/Minecraft game. Maybe it makes sense for driving games but, ironically, Playground are the first to get to do something else.
Me and my son like playing Lego Dimensions and Disney infinity 2.0 and 3.0 on our Xbox One S.
We’re thinking about upgrading to an Xbox Series S but with it being digital-only is there anyway to be able to play these games as they’re on disc?
I did wonder if maybe they could have made the games free to download, as you would still need to purchase the bases to play the games.
GC: We don’t think there’s any way round the problem, especially as both series are now defunct.
Nothing to laugh about
Having been around games and the console wars for over 20 years at this point I thought I’d seen it all. That is until I read reader Cerberus’ Reader’s Feature.
The idea that Game pass could put Sony out of business is absolutely laughable considering Sony’s total dominance for the past four generations. Let alone Sony’s start to this generation.
Will it be incredible and give Microsoft an edge to catch up to Sony and Nintendo? Possibly, but a million things need to go perfectly for that to happen, will it take off on PC? Will new TV owners subscribe in meaningful numbers, doubtful in my opinion.
Will the billions of mobile users be interested enough to ditch candy crush and subscribe? My mother certainly said no along with the vast majority in my view. It just doesn’t make sense that the free to play mobile crowd would have any interest in game pass at all.
So many refuse to see any downsides with Game Pass, as good as a service as it undoubtedly is. Games being removed from the service, Microsoft being a million miles away from producing the quality of Sony and Nintendo along with the price.
For us gamers, it’s clearly good value. For someone buying a TV or my mum playing Candy Crush for free, dropping £150 plus £50 on a controller for a one-year subscription is never going to happen.
Rabid fanboys also refuse to accept that there’s an upper celling for this service and have been blinded by the billions of gamers message Microsoft put out.
When you think that at best Microsoft sold 80 million Xbox 360s; that said many, many people bought multiple due to the red ring of death and it seems clear to me, that 80 million is the absolute upper limit to subscribers. That’s a great win for Microsoft but Sony and Nintendo’s business models will continue completely unaffected as long as the quality of exclusives continue.
That’s the best case for Game Pass.
The worst case is Game Pass costing way more in terms of third party deals (many millions) dev costs, AAA costing $100+ million these days, and the Bethesda purchase. Microsoft now have a considerable number of studios to support and a considerable loss on full game sales (the whole point of Game Pass isn’t it!?) to overcome. If their subscriber base doesn’t grow to match the outgoings then Microsoft won’t support a massive loss making division, look at Nokia, Mixer, etc. Imagine a situation where they can’t grow the sub count passed, say, 40 million and you can see third party deals drying up and huge downsides for Xbox.
A lot needs to go right for this to work for Microsoft (they themselves have said it isn’t in profit, Tom Warren’s tweet, etc.) while Sony and Nintendo continue as normal.
In short, all of the companies are just fine and no one is going out of business any time soon.
GC: Rabid fanboys, you say?
Totally agree about bringing back Vagrant Story. I really don’t understand some of the games that Square Enix just refuses to bring back. I don’t know what’s more bizarre – that or Chrono Trigger.
Sorry, I’m still trying to understand. A Silent Hill… skateboard? Just imagine it was not only someone’s job to come up with that idea but to make it a reality as well. Amazing.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was inspired by reader Andee, who asks what’s your favourite video game soundtrack.
We’ve run similar Hot Topics a few times in the past so to ensure the discussions is different your musical choices can only be from the current and previous generations (i.e. PlayStation 4 and 5). What has been your favourite soundtrack from that period and how does it compare to other classics?
Do you listen to the soundtrack separately to the game and do you enjoy the whole thing or just a few tracks? What do you think of current standards in video games music and what are you looking forward to in the new generation?
E-mail your comments to: [email protected]
The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.
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