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HoldenRiot posted a article in XboxThe end seems nigh for Xbox Live Gold, the industry standard paid subscription service that motivated both Sony and Nintendo to offer their own paid offerings in the years after it debuted. It may be the end of an era, but the alternative may end up making Microsoft even more money. There are currently rumblings that Microsoft is going to kill off the concept of Xbox Live Gold entirely, the subscription service that usually retails for around $60 a year which gives players the simple ability to access access online multiplayer for Xbox games. This has been “accepted” by gamers at this point, but it’s always been a little weird, considering that you are already paying your internet company money to access the internet, then you’re paying Xbox to access online gameplay through that internet, while also paying for the games themselves, where as you don’t have to do both for say, PC or mobile games. While Microsoft would be loathe to give up an essentially standard $60 a year, every year, from consumers, the reason they’ll likely do so is because the alternative is going to make them even more money. The answer is of course, Game Pass. Game Pass is Microsoft’s $10 a month subscription service that gives players access to a host of ready to play Xbox games, including all new Microsoft releases across Xbox consoles and PC. But past that, Microsoft eventually came up with Game Pass Ultimate, which rolled up Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold into one $15 a month subscription. Recently, they have also added its streaming service, Xcloud, on top of that, which allows you to stream games without hardware similar to Google Stadia. All of that bundled into $15. This is why Xbox Live Gold is effectively dead. This week, Microsoft confirmed that Halo Infinite would have free-to-play multiplayer, and yet it’s not really free if you still have to pay for Gold. So, here’s what is extremely likely to happen: “Free” games like Halo MP and Fortnite and such will be truly free to play across Xbox hardware without any sort of subscription, just an internet connection. Xbox Live Gold will go away entirely, and yet Game Pass will become the new standard instead. So instead of getting $60 a year from the majority of players, Microsoft will either be getting $120 a year from 12 month, $10 Game Pass subscriptions, or $180 a year from 12 month, $15 Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions which will still have the benefit of including Xcloud. Maybe knock that down to $100 and $150 respectively with some kind of deal or bundle, and lo and behold you still are making far, far more than when $60 a year XBL Gold subscriptions were the standard. You also have the added bonus of offering something of actual value. XBL Gold was an arbitrary paywall for something that everyone should have already been able to access in the first place. Game Pass and Ultimate are Netflix-like libraries of games you can play on your current hardware or anywhere, via Xcloud. That’s an actual product that feels worth paying for, and at the very least, Game Pass feels like a default purchase for anyone with an Xbox, given that two, $60 game purchases a year will essentially pay for it. Sony does not have anything to fully match this, and as far as we know, will still be having players pay $60 a year for PS Plus, which is required for online gameplay, but offers a couple free games a month. PS Now has a far, far lower adoption rate than Xbox Game Pass, as you won’t find new Sony exclusive releases on it, and Sony does not have a streaming service like Xcloud coming any time soon. They do have the advantage of…enormous console sales and a huge library of insta-buy exclusives, but Microsoft is trying to play the long game here. Article author: Paul Tassi
HoldenRiot posted a article in PCFacebook today announced it’s building its own Ready Player One Oasis. Facebook Horizon is a virtual reality sandbox universe where you can build your own environments and games, play and socialize with friends or just explore the user-generated landscapes. This is Facebook’s take on Second Life. Launching in early 2020 in closed beta, Facebook Horizon will allow users to design their own diverse avatars and hop between virtual locales through portals called Telepods, watch movies and consume other media with friends and play multiplayer games together, like Wing Strikers. It also will include human guides, known as Horizon Locals, who can give users assistance and protect their safety in the VR world so trolls can’t run rampant. Users interested in early access can apply for the beta here. As part of the launch, Facebook will on October 25 shut down its existing social VR experiences Facebook Spaces and Oculus Rooms, leaving a bit of a gap until Horizon launches. Oculus Rooms debuted in 2016 as your decoratable private VR apartment, while spaces first launched in 2017 to let users chat, watch movies and take VR selfies with friends. But both felt more like lobby waiting rooms with a few social features that were merely meant as a preamble to full-fledged VR games. In contrast, Horizon is designed to be a destination, not a novelty, where users could spend tons of time. How Facebook Horizon works At first glance, Horizon seems like a modernized Second Life, a first-person Sims, a fulfillment of the intentions of AltspaceVR and a competitor to PlayStation’s PSVR Dreams and cross-platfrom kids’ favorite Roblox. Back in 2016, Facebook was giving every new Oculus employee a copy of the Ready Player One novel. It seems they’ve been busy building that world since then. Facebook Horizon will start centralized around a town square. Before people step in, they can choose how they look and what they wear from an expansive and inclusive set of avatar tools. From inside VR, users will be able to use the Horizon World Builder to create gaming arenas, vacation chillspots and activities to fill them without the need to know how to code. Facebook Horizon lets you build objects from scratch You could design a tropical island, then invite friends to hang out with you on your virtual private beach. An object creator akin to the Oculus Medium sculpting feature lets you make anything, even a custom t-shirt your avatar could wear. Visual scripting tools let more serious developers create interactive and reactive experiences. Facebook details its Horizon safety features on its “Citizenship” page that explains that “As citizens of Facebook Horizon, it is all of our responsibility to create a culture that’s respectful and comfortable . . . A Horizon citizen is friendly, inclusive, and curious.” Horizon Locals will wander the VR landscapes to answer questions or aid users if they’re having technical or safety issues. They seem poised to be part customer support, part in-world police. If things get overwhelming, you can tap a shield button to pause and dip into a private space parallel to Horizon. Users can define their personal space boundaries so no one can get in their face or appear to touch them. And traditional tools like muting, blocking and reporting will all be available. It’s smart that Facebook outlined the community tone and defined these protections. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Horizon today at the Oculus Connect 6 conference in San Jose. He discussed how “Horizon is going to have this property where it just expands and gets better” as Facebook and the community build more experiences for the VR sandbox. Horizon makes perfect sense for a business obsessed with facilitating social interaction while monetized through ad views based on time-spent. It’s easy to imagine Horizon including virtual billboards for brands, Facebook-run shops for buying toys or home furnishings, third-party malls full of branded Nikes or Supreme shirts that score Zuckerberg a revenue cut or subscriptions to access certain gaming worlds or premium planets to explore. As Facebook starts to grow stale after 15 years on the market, users are looking for new ways to socialize. Many have already ditched the status updates and smarmy Life Events of Facebook for the pretty pictures of Instagram and silliness of Snapchat. Facebook risked being cast aside if it didn’t build its own VR successor. And by offering a world where users can escape their real lives instead of having to enviously compare them to their friends, Horizon could appeal to those bored or claustrophobic on Facebook. Source