Big news yesterday from the Microsoft camp, as they made three rather large announcements regarding its Xbox One hardware and software.
First up is the news that the Xbox One will be available without the Kinect later this year (June 9th), Microsoft has announced. It will cost €399 in Europe and this brings the Xbox One’s price side by side with its only next-gen competitor, the PlayStation 4.
According to Microsoft, this new Xbox One price and hardware choice comes as a result of user feedback, who want nothing more from their Xbox than a games machine with a controller. That being said they did say that the Kinect will be sold as a separate accessory for those who wish to join the dark side and enjoy some of the motion and voice controls in the future.
Alongside yesterday’s announcement, Microsoft finally revealed that the Games With Gold promotion is coming to Xbox One… But there will be some changes to the T’s & C’s and the way Gold members get their free games. Starting next month, Games With Gold will bring a “subscription-based access to free games” to Xbox Live Gold subscribers on their Xbox One. Microsoft originally stated that they had plans to bring Games With Gold to the Xbox One last year, but offered no timeline for making it happen. Until when, in February, Xbox boss Phil Spencer gave us the update of “fairly soon” and to be fair two months was fairly sooner than we all expected.
So first up in June, Gold members will be able to download and play Halo: Spartan Assault and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood for free.
I should say at this point that the term “subscription-based access”, seems to me to mean that the service is changing to a more PlayStation Plus style offering. By which i mean that you’ll only be able to play these games while your Xbox Live subscription is active, as is the case with PlayStation Plus’ Instant Game Collection offerings. But as we don’t yet have all the details, so we’ll have to wait and see whether you’ll be able to play the free games indefinitely as long as you have a Live subscription or how long the games will be offered for.
They end this update by saying that at the same time as the Games with Gold, we’d be seeing regular sales, branded Deals With Gold coming to the Xbox One. The first Xbox One games to be discounted through this will be Forza Motorsport 5 and Ryse: Son of Rome, as well as “a few other surprises.” And to round it off they said that Xbox Live Gold members will also soon have access to a “virtual VIP room” on the Xbox One that offers a look at the “free games, monthly deals, and other great benefits”.
Finally, yesterday Microsoft also announced that in June, “anyone with an Xbox will be able to access popular entertainment experiences”, “whether or not you have an Xbox Live Gold membership.” What that mean is that Microsoft is removing the Xbox Live Gold barrier for access to video streaming services, such as Netflix, on Xbox One and Xbox 360. All Microsoft apps, such Skype, OneDrive, and OneGuide, will also be available to all Xbox Live subscribers, as well as Upload Studio on Xbox One.
So that’s three really big announcements in one day. It makes you wonder what they will announce at E3 now instead? What do you think of the announcements?