Xbox Game Pass to Launch June 1st

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced the Xbox Game Pass, a Netflix-like service for Xbox games that would be available in Spring 2017.

Well, Spring has finally arrived, and now, so has the Xbox Game Pass! Following the positive feedback received during the Xbox Insider Program’s beta test of the program, June 1st will be the official launch date for the subscription service, which will cost $11.99 per month for anyone with an Xbox Live account to access more than 100 Xbox One and backwards compatible Xbox 360 games. Before taking the plunge, however, a free 14-day trial period is available as well.

But wait! If you’re an Xbox Live Gold member, you don’t have to wait — you can dive in right now with a 14-day free trial before anyone else gets the chance.

Those interested in purchasing a subscription can do so at xbox.com/game-pass. Those who prefer to handle such things through retail will find that an option is due to arrive later this year.

The xbox.com/game-pass website is also where you’ll find which games are currently available, with the selection updating each month.

And don’t forget: If there’s a title available in Xbox Game Pass that you’d like to make a permanent part of your collection, you can purchase it (and any related add-ons) at an exclusive discount for being a Game Pass member.

For further details, you can read the full press release on Xbox Wire.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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The month of June is nearly at an end, and that means it’s time to learn what Games with Gold goodies are in store for Xbox Live members in July!

From start to finish, The Banner Saga 2 will be available all throughout July. Will you have what it takes to ensure that your Viking clan can survive the trials before them in a breaking world? Find out by checking out this Xbox One role playing game!

Also on July 1st but only through the 15th for both Xbox 360 and Xbox One (through backwards compatibility, natch) is Tom Clancy’s Rainbox Six Vegas 2. Turn yourself into a special ops agent by creating an identity for yourself that carries over between both the single player campaign and multiplayer modes as you take care of the worst sinners to ever threaten Sin City.

Another Xbox 360 title (again backwards compatible for play on Xbox One) is Tron: Evolution. The events of this game lead up to the Tron: Legacy movie as you play the part of the new System Monitor named Anon, who will be blazing through the neon cities of the grid in high-speed action.

Finally, rounding out the Xbox One-only offerings is Tumblestone. Available from July 16th through August 15th, The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild’s puzzle game features a story mode, arcade modes, and competitive multiplayer modes — including local multiplayer! — all inspired by classics such as Tetris and Puyo Puyo.

If you’re not familiar with the Games with Gold program, you can learn more by clicking right here.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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A long time ago, on a generation of gaming platforms far, far away, Traveller’s Tales developed a new type of LEGO video game which took the six Star Wars movies and reimagined them in a more satirical format. The games appealed to fans of Star Wars young and old, and were met with great success, spawning an ongoing line of similarly-styled LEGO video games for years to come.

Another LEGO Star Wars game would come in 2011, based on The Clone Wars. Following that, however, it was as if millions of fans’ voices suddenly cried out for more and were suddenly silenced.

Until now.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens launches on Tuesday, June 28th, 2016 for just about every current platform under the sun: Wii U, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo 3DS, Steam for PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and even the PlayStation Vita will soon feel the power of the Force.

As the title implies, the game is based on the recent seventh episode in the popular film series, the first to come under the stewardship of the franchise’s new masters at Disney. More than just the film’s events will be covered, as untold tales building up to what you saw on the big screen will play out as well. What’s more, key members of the film’s cast such as John Boyega (Finn), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Daisy Ridley (Rey), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), and more have lent their talents to the game, providing new and original dialogue to enjoy.

Oh, and you can also play as BB-8:

A demo is available to download now as well.

To help build anticipation for the launch, publisher Warner Bros. Interactive invited members of the press out to the Rogers Centre in Toronto, where demos of the closely-guarded game could be played on regular televisions as well as the enormous Rogers Centre video board — a feature which Toronto Blue Jays pitcher and Star Wars fan R.A. Dickey took advantage of as he played alongside Emile Burbidge, the newest Chief Play Officer for Toys “R” Us Canada.

Their appearance at the event made sense; Burbidge for the obvious reasons, while Dickey helped represent the marketing push that Warner Bros. Interactive would be making at the stadium with signage around the field, including behind the home plate. The company stated that this was going to be one of their biggest releases of the year, and are quite intent on making sure people are fully aware of it.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Remember all those times people laughed at you for building up your Gamerscore, saying that they were good for nothing more than bragging rights?

Well, now it’s your turn to laugh at them, as Microsoft has announced the new Gamerscore Mega Deal. Until June 8th, you can save up to $75 off a brand-new Xbox One at the Microsoft Store. The higher your Gamerscore, the more you save. Simple, right? All you have to do is be a Canadian resident who has logged into their Xbox 360 or an Xbox One since September 2013.

Just click here, and if you’re logged in, you should find out how much you can save with the current Gamescore you have (I’m good for $40, personally). If it’s not enough? Well, there’s still time to boost your score before June 8th rolls around.

Oh, and if you’re the benevolent sort (and already have an Xbox One, perhaps), you can also give your discount code to someone else. After all, “he who laughs last, laughs best.”

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Microsoft Game Studios and Mojang have announced a new update coming to the console versions of Minecraft.

Sometime in June (the date hasn’t been revealed yet), the first of several free mini-game updates will be released, allowing for the quick and easy participation in competitions featuring tailor-made rule sets. The initial mode is called “Battle,” where players will seek out randomly generated resources found inside chests to fight one-another across specially-designed Player Versus Player (PVP) maps, and the last one standing will be declared the victor. In the meantime, those who are defeated along the way can still spectate by flying around the arena as a bat.

Up to four players can compete in the split-screen mode, while eight can throw down on Xbox Live. If you need more people to rumble, then an in-game matchmaking system will allow you to find other members of the community to join in.

Three maps will be included in the initial release, with additional maps being released for $2.99.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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June is almost upon us, and that will mark the third birthday of Xbox’s Games with Gold program. Let me tell you, they’re celebrating with style, too!

Throughout the month of June, you can see what the odd fuss is about with Goat Simulator, which shows off “next-gen goat simulation technology as gamers crash through the world as a goat, do some epic tongue grabs and rack up points for destroying everything they see.” If you’ve been hesitant to put money down on goat simulation, now’s your time to try without worrying about the buy!

Also available on June 1st and through June 15th is the Xbox 360 platformer Super Meat Boy, featuring 300 levels of epic boss fights, unlockable secrets, and hazards that are sure to tenderize you into a bloody pulp (but always ready to come back for more). Side note: I assure you that the close shade of red shared by Super Meat Boy and this site’s background is a complete coincidence.

Another Xbox 360 game up for grabs is XCOM Enemy Unknown, which I’m personally eager to check out. Available from June 16th to 30th, this turn-based strategy sci-fi game is one I’ve been wanting to give a greater look at, so I’m happy that I’ll soon have the chance!

Finally, back on Xbox One exclusively is The Crew. Available from June 16th through July 15th, this action-driving game takes place on the open road in an open world that promises a recreation of the United States in rich detail — it’s like someone reached into my mind and pulled out what I’d like to see in a driving game, so I’m eager to try it out for myself.

And as always, if you have an Xbox One, Xbox 360 games that appear on Games with Gold are playable on that platform as well through backwards compatibility.

If you’re not familiar with the Games with Gold program, you can learn more by clicking right here.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Wow; it was just last week when Mojang and Microsoft announced the retail version of the Favorites Pack for Xbox One, but now they’ve got even more news — with Nintendo as well!

Super Mario Bros. has long been one of the first things to come to mind when one talks about blocks in video games, so it makes sense that Nintendo would pair their plumbing protagonist’s wondrous world with the block-based terrain and construction of Minecraft, which is what players will soon have the opportunity to experience when the free update becomes available to download on May 17th.

A whopping 40 new skins will include characters such as Mario, Luigi, Rosalina, Princess Peach, Bowser, Wario, Waluigi, and all seven of the Koopalings. These will be available alongside a pre-made Super Mario-themed world, complete with 15 tracks of Super Mario-themed music and item textures that draw from a variety of Super Mario games from Super Mario World to Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine.

“Both the Super Mario Bros. franchise and Minecraft embrace the magic of exploration and discovery,” said Nintendo of Canada’s General Manager and Senior Director, Pierre-Paul Trepanier. “Players will have a great time adventuring and creating in this free game update that embraces the unique and memorable elements of both franchises.”

Those who prefer to get their games on disc are in luck, as Minecraft: Wii U Edition will be hitting store shelves on June 17th, and will include the Super Mario Mash-Up Pack on the disc as well, all for $29.99.

Those who prefer their Minecraft on Xbox One and Xbox 360 needn’t feel left out, however. In fact, it’s time to celebrate!

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Beginning today (May 9th) and lasting through May 16th, Minecraft: Xbox One Edition and Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition owners are privy to the free 4th Birthday Skin Pack for that version of the game — along with the previous three Birthday Skin Packs! Alex and Steve are going to be sporting snazzy mob-themed tees (and you can get your own “I got the anniversary t-shirt” t-shirt), and there will be cake, balloons, and party slides for all!

More info on everything Minecraft can be found on the Mojang blog.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Wow, is it almost May already? So it is, and Microsoft has announced quite a lineup for May 2016 in their “Games with Gold” program for Xbox Live subscribers. Check it out:

Throughout the month of May, from the 1st to the 31st, you can get Defense Grid 2, touted as the “next evolution” of tower defense, for the Xbox One. Also available from May 1st but only through the 15th is the Xbox 360 version of the perennially popular puzzler, Peggle!

Shifting focus to the latter half of the month and on into June, Double Fine Productions presents the Xbox One sequel to its Halloween-themed role playing game, Costume Quest 2, which will be available from May 16th to June 15th. On Xbox 360 from May 16th through 31st, it’s off to the races with GRID 2

And of course, if you have an Xbox One, Xbox 360 games that appear on Games with Gold are playable on that platform as well through backwards compatibility.

If you’re not familiar with the Games with Gold program, you can learn more by clicking right here.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Microsoft has announced quite a lineup for April 2016 in their “Games with Gold” program for Xbox Live subscribers. Check it out:

The month starts out strong with Telltale Games’ Xbox One title The Wolf Among Us, an M-rated adventure based on the comic book Fables from DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint, which will be available all throughout April. Joining it from April 1st to 15th on the Xbox 360 side (playable via backwards compatibility on Xbox One) is Electronic Arts’ space survival-horror title, Dead Space.

The action heats up on April 16th through the end of the month with another Xbox 360 heavy hitter (also playable on Xbox One via backwards compatibility), Saints Row IV. I’ve long wanted to try one of the Saints Row games — particularly after they got really crazy — and I can’t think of a better opportunity than this.

Finally, available exclusively on Xbox One and for free to Xbox Live Gold members from April 16th through May 15th, is Sunset Overdrive. This is one of the games that I thoroughly enjoyed previewing and which drove me to want to get an Xbox One in the first place — and in fact, I’ve already got it, so this part of the deal doesn’t do anything for me personally.

That said, I am thrilled to see other Xbox One owners get a chance to try it out for free. In fact, I was going to start playing it recently, but decided to hold off until I got this live stream thing I’m doing off the ground. Funny that this should be a good time to go for it — then if you like what you see, you can grab it for yourself.

On a related note, you can see the terrible, glorious mistake that was the live-action trailer for the game here, and my interview with creative director Marcus Smith here.

If you’re not familiar with the Games with Gold program, you can learn more by clicking right here.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, along with TT Games, The LEGO Group, and Marvel Entertainment, have all announced that the latest in their series of LEGO-based video games — LEGO Marvel’s Avengers — is now available for the Wii U, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, and Windows PC. There may also be a version running on Iron Man’s latest armor, but that remains unconfirmed.

Encompassing the storylines of Marvel’s namesake movie release The Avengers and its sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers also features content from other Marvel Cinematic Universe releases such as Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, each one now presented with a more humorous take befitting a younger audience and the LEGO brand, as seen in the video above. Throughout the adventures, you’ll take control of over 200 characters (many of which will need to be unlocked, mind), more than 100 of which are new to the LEGO video game world. Plus, the core Avenger team line-up of Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man will have a variety of special team moves that they can pull off in tandem.

Rated “E10+” for everyone age 10 and older, you can get it now for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 for a $69.99 suggested retail price, while the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U versions go for $59.99, with the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita versions priced at $34.99. For whatever reason, Windows PC wasn’t included in the pricing list.

The home console versions also have a “Season Pass” that includes content packs including Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and The Masters of Evil. You can get these and the main game for the same price on Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4, or on any of the home console/PC versions for $9.99. Another downloadable content pack is available free for a limited time to PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 owners, featuring content based on Ant Man (this Spring) and the upcoming Captain America: Civil War (available now).

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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The man of the hour. Well, more like about 20 or so minutes.

The man of the hour. Well, more like about 20 or so minutes.

Last week, I was invited to an event hosted by Xbox Canada to celebrate the launch of the New Xbox One Experience. “From a brand new user interface to the launch of backward compatibility for a wide range of Xbox 360 titles, the New Xbox One Experience will change the way you interact with Xbox One,” said the invite. “As this update enables a more social gaming experience, what better way to celebrate its launch than by getting everyone together to play fan-favourite Xbox 360 titles, talk Xbox and enjoy some drinks.”

Now, not owning an Xbox One (yet; feel free to see the footer at the end of the article if you’d like to help with that), I admittedly don’t know the New Xbox One Experience from the Old Xbox One Experience or even a hole in the ground (though both are functionally practical, I imagine the New Xbox One Experience blows the hole away when it comes to being entertaining). Fortunately, on hand to help walk me through what’s new in the world of Xbox One was Xbox Canada’s very own Platform Marketing Manager, Mr. Jeff Rivait.

After some introductions and my sheepish confession to not yet being one of the ones who have won with One, we got down to business.

Mario’s Hat: So, as you were saying?

Rivait: So at Xbox, we’re really focused on addressing fan feedback and making sure that this is the best place to play on any platform. So what we’ve done, last week we made generally available the New Xbox One Experience, which is a very robust system update that essentially brings Windows 10 to the Xbox One. With that, we’ve added a whole bunch of new features and customizations that fans have wanted to see, but you’re also seeing because of Windows 10 powering the Xbox operating system now. Things like apps loading, multiplayer, match finding, partying up with friends, launching apps a lot quicker and more responsive.

With it, you now see the redesigned U.I. (user interface). We’ve added a new guide that if you’re on the home screen, you go left on your Dpad or your thumbstick and it brings up very quickly all those things that gamers and Xbox fans want very quick access to. So your friends, who’s online, you can start a party instantly with folks who are on Xbox or Windows 10, your messages and your notifications are there, and also your settings, and then anything that you might want to snap to do multitasking.

So you said you could join up with friends who are on Windows 10?

Yeah!

How does that work, exactly?

So in a new Windows 10 device, whether it be a PC, tablet, or mobile phone, we’ve baked an Xbox app into Windows 10. So what that enables now on your Windows device, you have all your activity feeds, your friends lists, now you can get that Xbox experience across any device, including [being able to] stream any Xbox One game or 360 game from your console to that Windows 10 device to play anywhere else in the home with the network.

We’re also going to be introducing games like Fable Legends that are gigantic, but also enable cross-platform gameplay. So I can be playing Fable Legends on my console, and we can party up with other people and play together, and they can be on Windows 10 PCs.

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Two controllers, One console.

Okay, so it’s finally got that cross-platform multiplayer thing…

Exactly. Because of Windows 10, it definitely adds value to the Xbox gaming ecosystem, and this is just the beginning; there will be a lot more to come to make sure that Xbox is the home to your gaming experience, no matter what device that you’re playing on.

You said the New Xbox Experience is running on Windows 10; what was it running on before? Was it a previous version of Windows, or something else?

It was based on a previous version of Windows, yes.

*as he shows me more of the demonstration* Now what you see is a lot of things on your home screen; you have what you were last doing here, some of your more recent games that you’ve played, but also added shortcuts so you can do other things very quickly other than play it. And at the bottom, you have anything that you’ve pinned; you can customize your pins for quick access to games or apps [that you use] frequently.

Then across the top, you have a community page where you’re seeing an update from your friend’s Achievements, content they may have shared, what’s trending on Xbox Live from a gameplay perspective, and then we’ve also brought one guide up to the top where you’re seeing new content across entertainment or gaming apps, as well as app channels that are showing some of the top or customized content across apps or live TV, if you have it enabled on your console.

So it’s all designed to bring things more to the forefront and [having] all those things that you love or customize at your fingertips at any part of the home screen and your dashboard.

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Many tasty treats were scattered about the loft, including Reese Cups and Pieces, Hershey bars, Jolly Ranchers, and Coke, served with the skulls of our enemies.

So something I was wondering about there is that something I use my 360 for a lot is I’ll run Windows Media Player through it so I can watch MP4s and different videos through my computer on my TV, because I work all day on my computer, so I don’t want to watch my home entertainment there, either. I heard the older Xbox One couldn’t, but can the New Xbox One Experience run Windows Media Player, or some equivalent, off your computer?

Not Media Player, but it does enable USB media support and DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) streaming as well through your media stuff on your home network.

So the same basic idea, but a different program to pull it off?

Yeah, so you can plug in any USB device, or if you have a media server on your network, it will automatically search for it, or you can add it to your Windows files.

Okay, but you need Windows 10 on your computer to do that as well, huh?

No, this is Windows 10 and independent.

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Home is where you hang your heavy ordinance. Also: Ooh, Monopoly! I call dibs on the Warthog!

Oh, okay, because I haven’t updated my computer to Windows 10 yet as I’m running really low on space (I save a lot of cat pictures).

*collective laughter* The other cool thing is we’ve added backward compatibility…

Yeah, I’ve heard about that. There was kind of a tease of that with Rare Replay, because that was showing it off earlier, was it not?

Yeah, so we actually announced this at E3, and it was one of the nice surprises when they announced it. It just became generally available last week, [as it] was part of this update. And so we have a hundred titles that are backwards-compatible now, and we’ll be adding more and more every month in the future. The way it works is for any digital game that you’ve played, once that enters the backwards compatibility program, it’s just going to show up here for you to be able to download and play instantly. And if you had it on disc, you put the disc in the tray and it will install it, and you’re good to go.

Do you have to install it, or can it read from the disc?

You have to install it for it to play. So I could fire up Pac-Man (Championship Edition DX), kind of fire up the emulator and then game saves, Achievements, any Xbox Live feature you would have used on Xbox 360 carries over and you can use [it] on Xbox One.

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I forget, which loft are we in again? “Rox One?” That doesn’t make any sense…

On that note about the features: if I remember correctly, when the Xbox One had first come out, I remember what I heard were the Xbox Avatars weren’t a part of it? That kind of disappointed me, because I actually kind of liked my Avatar, and I noticed yours on the icon up there. Are the Avatars a part of the New Xbox One Experience?

Yeah, exactly. So on the console, you can bring up your guide and then go left to your profile and now you can set your Avatar’s gamerpic as your profile, and if you click deeper on your profile, you’ll see the Avatar come more to the forefront again. And then also, over in the Windows 10 app, [it’ll] carry over there so I can bring that up, go to “customize,” and on the Windows 10 app, there’s an Xbox Avatar program, and I can then customize it from there. The store will be back as well for Avatar[s].

The Avatars never really went away, but to your point, it wasn’t at the forefront of the Xbox One. We heard that feedback, and now it’s back for the gamers who want to use Avatars and the Avatar gamerpics for their profiles.

About the backwards compatibility, you said there were how many games available?

We have 104 in the backward compatibility program right now, and more and more every month.

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The TV on the right is where I fell in love again for the first time. More on that later, though.

So I was wondering, what’s the process as far as determining what else gets added to that?

Yeah, we really want to address the games that fans want to see most. We actually have a site called feedback.xbox.com (redirects). Historically, it’s been a site where gamers could add new features or suggestions for stuff they want to see on Xbox in general, and so users have been going on there and voting what games they want to see come to backward compatibility first. Then we’ll work with publishers based off what’s kind of bubbling to the top of that list to try to get those games into the program as soon as we can.

Is it based solely on that, or are there other determining factors going on there as well? Something that maybe somebody who’s interested in casting their vote might be interested in knowing?

Addressing fan feedback has always been crucial for us, and kind of our top priority, so that’s going to be a big one in terms of the ones we’re going to try to get as soon as we can. But then the other ones are ones that just, in our work with publishers, we feel makes sense and adds a lot of value for Xbox gamers. Some of the things that enables us to do is that for the launch of Fallout 4, people who bought an Xbox would get Fallout 3 backward compatible for free. For the launch of Rainbow Six Siege on Xbox One, you’re getting Rainbow Six: Vegas, 1 and 2 for free, for the Xbox 360 versions. Any opportunities like that, that publishers and us feel adds value to Xbox gamers, we’ll work to bring as well.

Now, is there anything to say — not that you shouldn’t vote for it, but something that would be more unlikely to happen? I would imagine, say, like NHL 07 or something is probably not going to be a very high priority.

Yeah, the only real limitations are any game that used Kinect on Xbox 360, the original Kinect, or any accessories that were on Xbox 360 that aren’t compatible with Xbox One.

Guitar Hero, for example?

Exactly, or games that just technically we can’t — won’t be able to get over to Xbox One. But any other game that doesn’t have either of those things is fair game, and we work with publishers to make that happen.

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You can play Fallout 3 on Xbox One! Is that surprise enough for you?

Going back a little further with the backwards compatibility thing, I remember a lot of — not Xbox One, but original Xbox games were made backwards compatible on the Xbox 360. Now, by emulating the 360, do you know if it’s going to be possible to also perhaps go back two generations — essentially be able to play games from all Xboxes on Xbox One?

Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s possible at this time. I mean, if that’s something the fans demand a lot, we’ll look at it, but I don’t think there’s anything that we have planned right now to address that specifically.

I just remembered that with Sony and PlayStation, for a while there they were doing the backwards compatibility thing, and you know how PlayStation 3 played PlayStation One and 2, and the PS2 could play PSOne. It was kind of a thing going, and then they just kind of cut that off. You guys took over [that] by the looks of it, so…

Yeah, well the nice part of the backward compatibility on Xbox One is that it’s not a subscription service, it’s free and built in to Xbox One, so if you’ve purchased the game in the past or still have the disk, you’re good to go and you don’t have to pay for it initially on Xbox One.

On that note, you said that your Xbox profile recognizes what you have and will let you know when they become available?

Yeah, for the digital versions, and then we’re always updating the list on Xbox.com or news.xbox.com for new releases every month, so if there’s anything disc-based, you can take a look there as well.

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A cool chalk collage featuring different games wrapped above and behind the bar.

Now as far as doing new games, I remember there was a big hullabaloo several years ago — again with the Xbox 360 doing Xbox compatibility — a lot of people were really upset that maybe their favorite game wasn’t on there, but this Barbie horse riding or something made it. The explanation, as I recall, was basically that Barbie wasn’t sought out, but there were groupings [where] making one game compatible would also allow other games to be compatible, and that’s how Barbie made the cut. Is it done a similar way here, or are the titles made compatible on an individual basis?

They’re made compatible on an individual basis. I personally don’t have much techno-expertise to know exactly how it’s done — as I mentioned, it’s based off what fans are asking us to do, focus on it first, and then any other ones that we think would add great experiences for fans that we could bring to it.

So it’s not the same “batch” approach that kind of worked before, gotcha.

Any other new features you want to talk about on the New Xbox One Experience?

We talked about Windows 10 on the Xbox and I showed you the Avatars there; what you see is through the app, you essentially have access to your Xbox One or your Xbox Live community, so your friends are there, you can message, chat, start parties as we do more and more cross-platform games. Your game captures and your content [are] also available.

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Upon entering, visitors were soon confronted with various backwards compatible Xbox 360 games running on Xbox One, including Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, Viva Pinata, and Banjo-Kazooie (Banjo-Kazooie was kind of popular).

Oh yeah, stuff like the game capturing — that works on all the Xbox 360 games, all the new Xbox One features?

Yeah, that’s one of the great parts [of having] backward compatibility: you also get some of the next-gen benefits of screenshot capture, game DVR to record and share clips. Then, on Windows 10 as mentioned, your friends are there, your activity feed to see what your friends are doing, any of the content you’ve created or bubbling up in the community… I think one of the biggest ones is game streaming.

So when you’re on the same network, you can initiate game streaming, and then if someone else wants to use the TV, you can stream your Xbox One content to a Windows 10 device, then go somewhere else in the house to pick up where you left off.

Yeah, and the nice part about this is with Windows 10 is Windows 10 is on millions of devices and the app is built-in, so just based off your network, you can take this and carry your gameplay anywhere else in the house.

You say the Xbox app is automatically built into Windows 10? So no hunting and downloading anything?

It’s built in, or if for some reason it’s uninstalled, you can grab it for free from the Windows 10 app store.

Did you have anything else you wanted to add?

All people are really trying to show is just how much value there is for the Xbox gamer. Not just from the platform-level stuff that we talked about with the New Xbox Experience, the connection with Windows 10, the cross-platform features and value that adds.

But when you think on top of that, all the great games that we’ve had launching, whether it be Halo 5, Tomb Raider, Forza 6, Gears of War, there’s never been a better time to jump on an Xbox.

Some neat Halo merch, along with the reflection of some daft, oblivious bloke.

Some neat Halo merch, along with the reflection of some daft, oblivious bloke.

It sounds like Xbox One is [now] more of an upgrade than an addition for Xbox 360 gamers.

Oh, for sure. I mean, if you’ve been waiting to make the jump to next-gen? With all these things, with the New Xbox Experience, being able to expand your gaming experience with Windows 10 on [other] devices, and all of the great exclusives and blockbuster games that we have launching in addition to an incredible line of bundles that we have available. You can get some great value and additional games that come with the console this holiday — I think there’s never been a better time to make the jump from 360, for sure.

Any particular deals or bundles upcoming that you can share?

Well, some of the bundles that we recently launched last week… we launched a 1TB Fallout 4 bundle with a 1TB hard drive, a copy of Fallout 4 for the Xbox One in addition to a copy of Fallout 3 for Xbox 360, we also launched an Xbox One Elite console which has a 1TB solid state hard drive to enable faster loading, but also comes with the Xbox One Elite controller, which is an incredible premium controller that is designed for pro gamers to be able to customize their controller to their gameplay experience.

So it comes with that in the bundle for $549, and then a lot of great bundles on a $399 500GB SKU that comes with Gears of War or FIFA 16. So a lot of great options based off of your gameplay needs or what you’re looking for.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I think that covers pretty much everything.

—-

Thanks to Xbox Canada for inviting me to their event, and to Mr. Jeff Rivait for taking the time to answer my questions for this interview!

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 titles on Xbox One? I loved the idea so much that it ranked among my Top 5 Moments from Microsoft’s E3 2015 Press Conference on PoisonMushroom.Org earlier this year. And after getting a small taste of it somewhere between then and now with Rare Replay, the official rollout of the new feature is nearly upon us with a launch date of November 12th as part of the “New Xbox One Experience.”

The first 104 games to take advantage of the feature have been named today, and while not in an easily-reprintable format, you can nonetheless find the list right over here.

From the press release:

Titles include blockbuster franchises like the Gears of War collection, Assassin’s Creed II, Fallout 3, Borderlands, and Castle Crashers. Beyond the 104 games announced today, there are hundreds of more games on the way, including all future Xbox 360 Games with Gold titles – all at no additional cost and no subscription needed. More titles are on the way, including fan favorites like Halo Reach, Halo Wars, Call of Duty: Black Ops 1, Bioshock, Bioshock 2, Bioshock Infinite and Skate 3.

Xbox One Backward Compatibility reflects our ongoing mission to create the best, most seamless gaming experience possible by putting gamers – and their feedback – at the center of everything we do.

I can’t help but think that the “no additional cost and no subscription needed” is something of a jab at Sony’s PlayStation Now program, which allows PlayStation 4 owners limited access to PlayStation 3 titles which they may or may not already own for a fee. Meanwhile, Sony has gone on to say that not only is the PlayStation 4 not backwards compatible beyond that, but nor should you expect it, either.

Which, if I must be honest, is a shame. Beyond the PlayStation 3 (which I don’t own), I do own a number of PSOne Classics that aren’t compatible with the new machine, either.

Meanwhile, my Xbox 360 is an original model and is getting on in years. After a lot of use, I’m not sure if it’s much longer for this world, and knowing that getting an Xbox One will allow me to continue playing the games from that library that I love without having to keep two rather sizable consoles (not counting those from others) on my rather un-sizable entertainment center, nor having to pay an added fee to access last generation’s games that I may already have.

You can find more details about Xbox One’s backwards compatibility in this post from Xbox Director of Program Management Mike Ybarra.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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On Saturday, November 7th, Xbox Canada is hosting a special event for its next big Xbox One and Xbox 360 release, Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Whether as part of a team of five or all by your lonesome, you’ll have the opportunity to take part in an outdoor adventure race set just north of Toronto. “Sweet” prizes and bragging rights are the prizes granted to the winners, while the losers… I don’t know, maybe they’ll be eaten by a bear or something. (Disclaimer: I’m pretty sure no one will be eaten by a bear.)

If you had the foresight to pre-order Rise of the Tomb Raider (and there’s still just under a week left to do so), then providing proof could allow you to receive some exclusive tools to help you out during the race. Mind, pre-ordering or even a purchase is not required, but it may help. Beyond that, there will be shuttle buses provided, as well as food and drink.

To register for the event, simply click here and enter the information requested by the form. Additional information can be provided by the official FAQ page, as well as following @XboxCanada on Twitter.

Just be sure to register now, if you haven’t already — space is limited.

Rise of the Tomb Raider launches exclusively for Xbox One and Xbox 360 on November 10th, 2015, with a Windows PC version coming in early 2016 and PlayStation 4 in late 2016.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Several months ago, I wrote a fairly thorough article on PoisonMushroom.Org about why Warner Bros. should join the whole interactive toys/video games business, and as I was finally writing that piece… well, they did just that (even the vehicles!). Only not in quite the way I was expecting them to.

Rather than simply banking on their own wealth of properties, they teamed with LEGO to provide something truly unique in LEGO Dimensions, and the scope reached beyond even what I had imagined with properties such as Back to the Future being a part of the initial offering. As weeks and months went by, even more were added, such as Jurassic World, Dr. Who, Ghostbusters, and even freaking Portal. It’s like nothing else, and hard not to get excited for.

In the aforementioned article, one source of inspiration I said they could tap was the Midway library they purchased. Recently, they revealed that Midway Arcade and The Simpsons would both be joining in, but there were no pictures to accompany this revelation — at least, until now.

ExpansionPack_Americas_BartFunPackExpansionPack_Americas_HomerLevelPackExpansionPack_Americas_KrustyFunPackExpansionPack_Americas_MidwayLevelPack

From the press release:

The Simpsons Level within the LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack incorporates a cel-shaded art style, for a look that is true to the original, animated series and unique from the other levels within the game. Players will face an unlikely pair of evil masterminds in The Simpsons Level – Lord Business and The Joker – who have joined Lord Vortech’s legion of villains and invaded Springfield. It is up to our heroes to defeat them and restore order in The Simpsons world. For fans of The Simpsons that want to customize their LEGO Dimensions experience, a The Simpsons Level Pack which includes a LEGO Homer Simpson minifigure and The Simpsons Fun Packs which include a LEGO Bart Simpson minifigure and a LEGO Krusty the Clown minifigure were also announced. All of the characters, vehicles or gadgets from any of these expansion packs can be combined with any other characters, vehicles and gadgets that exist throughout the game, and can be played in any level, with any other entertainment property. Imagine the fun of Bart Simpson riding a Velociraptor in Metropolis.

While the inclusion of The Simpsons is cool and all (and we can only hope there will eventually be a set to build Homer’s dream car, “The Homer“), it’s no small secret that I’m a big fan of Midway. When the announcement was made, I’d already seen The Simpsons LEGOs before — I wanted to know what this set would entail.

The LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack contains a Midway Arcade level in which The Lord of the Rings‘ Gandalf and The LEGO Movie‘s Wyldstyle find themselves inside a video game, and “must race in Super Sprint, smash their way through hordes of enemies in Gauntlet, save astronauts in Defender, and defeat robots in Robotron.” If that wasn’t enough, the Midway Arcade Gamer Level Pack includes a Retro Gamer LEGO figure, the G-1655 vehicle from Spy Hunter (the Nintendo 3DS game was highly underrated, by the way), and a Defender arcade machine, as well as allowing you access to a level with 20 arcade games to beat.

Here’s the full infographic to break down who comes in what type of pack, and when:

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Unfortunately, while there is a Midway level in the Starter Pack launching on September 27th, the Midway Arcade level pack won’t be available until March 15th, 2016. Gadzooks, that’s a long wait!

The Simpsons fans are lucky — besides being part of the Starter Pack, Homer is part of the first wave that launches alongside it, while Bart and Krusty come just over a month later. Oh well, at least I’ve got Back to the Future in that same first wave.

In the meantime, here are some nice screens for you to to drool over:

To reiterate, LEGO Dimensions will be available for the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Wii U on September 27th, 2015. To keep up to date with all the latest happenings in LEGO Dimensions, you can follow them on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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I was this close to calling this one “X15 Media Showcase Gonna Give It To Ya’,” but I was afraid the message might get lost somewhere.

In any case, Xbox has had a busy week over in Germany for gamescom 2015. So before getting to the big news (at least, big if you’re going to be in Toronto later this month), here are a few highlights.

First up, there is the announcement of a third season of content for the Xbox One-exclusive combo-driven fighting game, Killer Instinct. And as part of that third season is a most unexpected — yet all-too fitting — new addition to the roster:

Hot on the heels of the recently-released Rare Replay that brought the brand back into the spotlight comes one mad, bad, and crazy toad — Battletoad, that is, as Rash makes the leap from Ragnarok World to take on whatever the evil corporation UltraTech has to throw at him. At the end of the trailer, Rash notes that “these cameos are killer.” Simple wordplay on the game’s title, or a hint that the toad-ally tubular trio are ready to take on a starring role again? You be the judge.

The third season doesn’t hit until March 2016, but if you’ve bought either Rare Replay or any prior Killer Instinct content, you can get mad, bad, and crazy yourself until September 8th with a sneak preview.

Next up: Things have been quiet with the focus of my #2 moment from the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference… that is, until now.

Scalebound, or what I called a cross between Mega Man and How to Train Your Dragon, is on its way towards a 2016 release from PlatinumGames and director Hideki Kamiya.

In Scalebound, you will experience the journey of a young loner named Drew, who is pulled into the strange, beautiful, and dangerous world of Draconis – where he is bonded to a fearsome and noble dragon, Thuban, the last of his kind. These two lone-wolf heroes, thrown together by fate, must learn to fight as one to defeat the powerful enemies that threaten Draconis, Earth, and a vast universe of parallel worlds.

It is in this Xbox One-exclusive title that you’ll work with your ferocious companion to take down monsters and armies alike as you explore the world of Draconis. What’s more, you can customize your dragon, starting with such shapes as winged serpents, four legged tanks, and more and evolving their appearance, as well as unique attacks and abilities.

On top of all that, there’s also a four-player co-op mode that Platinum is keeping details under wraps on for now. Maybe you can even form your own “Riders of Berk Draconis”?

Last on my list of gamescom highlights is that Xbox One backwards compatibility is coming in November. Over 100 Xbox 360 titles from such companies as 2K, Bandai Namco Games, Bethesda, Capcom, Codemasters, Deep Silver, Disney Interactive, Electronic Arts, Koei Tecmo Games, Majesco, SEGA, Square Enix, Ubisoft, and Warner Bros. will be available to play from the comfort of your current-generation console, complete with all the new features it provides.

For more details on these announcements and more (including Mafia III, Crackdown 3, and Halo Wars 2) from Xbox at gamescom 2015, just click here.

Now for the headline news…

X15InviteSocial

From 6 to 11pm local time on Wednesday, August 19th, Xbox fans will have the opportunity to converge and gather at the Sound Academy at 11 Polson St. for the X15 Media Showcase. Those who can’t make it all the way there will find a shuttle service available starting at 5:45pm to and from Union Station.

And in case you weren’t sure? Yes, this is for the general public.

With the promise of more than 100 consoles and over 30 developers, there will unquestionably be a lot to see there. There are no exact specifics on the lineup, but I’m told that “all our big upcoming titles like Halo, Forza, Tomb Raider, and Fable” will be there, as well as some “great” third party and ID@Xbox titles. Among the developers there will be some for Rare Replay, so it seems likely that will be on hand for anyone to try out as well.

And who knows? Maybe some cool stuff announced at gamescom 2015 will be there; if not some dragon-riding, maybe there will at least be a chance to get mad, bad, and crazy?

That last bit is pretty much conjecture on my part, but either way, it isn’t to be missed.

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