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These are the PlayStation Plus free games for July 2018

Sony have unveiled the PlayStation Plus free games for July 2018, and it’s good news for fans of Quantic Dream.

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PlayStation Plus

Sony have unveiled the PlayStation Plus free games for July 2018, and it’s good news for fans of Quantic Dream.

Yes, “fans of Quantic Dream” – seems like an odd statement when you say it aloud, but we’ve said it now. We can’t take it back.

If you’re a fan of beautifully cinematic (but very shallow) games, filled with reams of dialogue and countless branching choices (yet somehow, they don’t really say anything at all) then you probably enjoyed Detroit: Become Human. And if you enjoyed that, then you’ll no doubt also enjoy Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream’s 2010 thriller that tasks four protagonists with catching the origami killer.

The other big ticket item in this month’s PlayStation Plus freebies is Absolver, the heavily customisable martial arts adventure from Sloclap, that includes both PvE and PvP game modes for both online and offline play.

Here’s the full roundup.

PlayStation Plus free games – July 2018

PS4

  • Absolver
  • Heavy Rain

PS3

  • Rayman 3 HD
  • Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess

Vita

  • Space Overlords
  • Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma

Don’t forget that PS Plus members can download Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 for free, to celebrate the upcoming release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. This extra freebie will be available from now until July 11.

Jason!


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Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.

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Here’s a recap of the latest My Nintendo rewards

Looking to spend your earned My Nintendo Gold and Platinum points? Here’s a quick round of the latest rewards on offer.

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Nintendo

Looking to spend your earned My Nintendo Gold and Platinum points? Here’s a quick round of the latest rewards on offer.

With Nintendo officially confirming that production on the Nintendo 3DS ended earlier this year, it’s no surprise to see the latest batch of My Nintendo rewards pivot towards physical goods.

Here’s a quick roundup of what’s newly available in Europe and North America.

My Nintendo Rewards – Europe

Super NES Controller for Nintendo Switch

This super cool replica of the iconic SNES controller is perfect for playing the Switch’s library of retro games. Upcoming additions include Donkey Kong Country 2 and Mario’s Super Picross. This wireless controller comes with a USB charging cable and is exclusively available to My Nintendo members. It’s priced at £26.99.

Splatoon 2 Summer Postcard Set

This set of eight Splatoon 2-themed postcards are available in exchange for 400 Platinum Points, plus postage and packing. The postcards measure 10 x 14.8 cm and are printed on 300g/m² card with a matte finish.

Splatoon 2 Splatfest Keychain Set and Splatfest T-shirts

This range of Splatoon 2 tees and keychains feature Mario’s Super Mushroom and Super Star power-ups, both of which are the subjects of an upcoming Splatfest held in honour of the plumber’s 35th Anniversary. The t-shirts cost at £22.99 in the UK and the keychains are 100 Platinum Points.

The rather nice Animal Crossing: New Horizons Reusable Bag also remains available in exchange for 400 Platinum Points.

My Nintendo - Splatoon 2 postcards

My Nintendo Rewards – North America

Nintendo-themed Lunchable packages

Until Dec. 31, famous Nintendo characters are appearing on packs of Lunchables. Inside each box is a code that can be redeemed online for the chance to win a Nintendo Switch prize pack or 100 My Nintendo Platinum Points.

Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition rewards

New rewards based on Nintendo’s remastered RPG Xenoblade Chronicles include a Phone Ring Holder based on the Monado and a set of three sticker sheets. They cost 400 and 300 Platinum Points, respectively.

Splatoon 2 Summer Postcard Set

This is the same postcard set issued in Europe, and it’s also priced at 400 Platinum Points.

Super Mario Desktop Wallpapers

A series of four Super Mario Bros-themed wallpapers are available depicting the original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros 2, and Super Mario 3D All-Stars. They cost 50 Platinum Points each.


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Xbox Series X and Series S pre-orders are now open

Xbox Series X and Series S pre-orders are open right now, but will there be an excess of units available?

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Xbox Series X and Series S pre-orders
Microsoft

Xbox Series X and Series S pre-orders are open right now, but will there be an excess of units available?

Good morning everyone. Here’s a public service announcement for our UK readers (at the time of publication) and our North American readers a little later.

Xbox Series X and Series S pre-orders open today to 8 am at a variety of online retailers around the globe.

Here’s a list of Xbox Series X and Series S pre-order retailers confirmed by Microsoft, but it won’t hurt to check other stores if it looks like demand is outstripping supply.

Hopefully, the issues experienced with the PlayStation 5 pre-order rollout won’t be repeated. Microsoft has reportedly taken steps to avoid that situation by warning retailers that their allocation of consoles will be reduced if they break the street date and time.

Xbox Series X and Series S pre-orders

UK – 8AM BST

United States – 8AM PT

Canada – 8AM PT

Good luck!


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Playstation CEO doesn’t see the Xbox Game Pass model ‘as sustainable’

PlayStation CEO and president Jim Ryan doesn’t see the Xbox Game Pass model “as sustainable” and doesn’t plan to imitate it on PlayStation 5.

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That’s a pass from PlayStation supremo Jim Ryan.

In what is likely the most significant divergence in approach to the coming generation, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO and president Jim Ryan said in an interview with gamesindustry.biz that PlayStation won’t have its own first-party Xbox Game Pass-esque subscription equivalent for PlayStation 5 anytime soon.

“For us, having a catalogue of games is not something that defines a platform,” Ryan says. “Our pitch, as you’ve heard, is ‘new games, great games’. We have had this conversation before – we are not going to go down the road of putting new releases titles into a subscription model. These games cost many millions of dollars, well over $100 million, to develop. We just don’t see that as sustainable.”

This runs counter to Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s statements last year. In a podcast with Larry ‘Major Nelson’ Hryb, he said: “The only concern I ever see people talking about is sustainability. I will say Game Pass right now is doing very well for us, and our developers, the people who are in it.”

He’s also denied that by releasing first-party titles they’ve been burning money. “We feel good in the business that we’re running now. We’re definitely investing in it, but not investing in a way that’s unsustainable.”

Xbox Game Pass is one of the most disruptive new business models right now in the industry, now reaching 15 million subscribers, up from 10 million as of the end of April 2020. This pales in comparison to the 90 million active users of Xbox Live, but speaks to the ultra-fast growth it’s seeing. It’s inspired others to follow suit, including Ubisoft with Uplay Plus, Apple with Apple Arcade and EA with EA Access. (Which itself is soon to be itself bundled with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate/PC subscription.)

Sony’s own Playstation Now, boasting just 2.2 million subscribers, has even incorporated downloads in response to the service.

Developers show mixed to cautious enthusiasm on such a service model. There are positive signs for third-party games, however. Games like Descenders, from UK publisher No More Robots, have seen massive sales boosts for being on the service due to increased visibility.

With the announcement of the acquisition of Bethesda by Microsoft today, one effect of this divergence in strategy might allow a switch from system exclusives on Xbox to availability on Game Pass at launch as a system selling point.


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Xbox buys Bethesda, publisher of The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Doom

Game publisher Bethesda Softworks now owned by Microsoft.

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Microsoft

Game publisher Bethesda Softworks is now owned by Microsoft.

The acquisition of Bethesda’s parent company ZeniMax Media by Microsoft for $7.5 billion might just mean all future releases for popular IPs in the Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Wolfenstein, DOOM, Dishonored, Quake and Prey franchises will be Xbox console exclusives.

The exact implications of this are still uncertain. In an interview with Bloomberg, Xbox boss Phil Spencer vaguely clarified that they’ll “take other consoles on a case-by-case basis,” leaving open the possibility of a software-over-hardware strategy, as with Minecraft and Minecraft Dungeons after Microsoft acquired Mojang Studios in 2014. Equally, Ninja Theory’s Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II is a PC/Xbox exclusive, so there is also that precedent. 

In an interesting twist, it also means Microsoft will have two timed PS5 exclusives, in Arkane Studios’ Deathloop and Tango Gameworks’ GhostWire: Tokyo, a commitment Microsoft has now confirmed it is sticking to.

It has been confirmed that new Bethesda and Zenimax games will join Xbox Game Pass on release for console and PC in what is surely a major competitive move in itself.

The acquisition also reunites Bethesda with Obsidian under Microsoft, meaning Obsidian might once again have access to the Fallout IP for a follow-up to the wildly popular Fallout: New Vegas. It’s certainly something the fans would love to see, even with Obsidian already moving on with its own IP in last year’s The Outer Worlds.

Speaking on the acquisition, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said:

“We will be adding Bethesda’s iconic franchises to Xbox Game Pass for console and PC. One of the things that has me most excited is seeing the roadmap with Bethesda’s future games, some announced and many unannounced, to Xbox console and PC including Starfield, the highly anticipated, new space epic currently in development by Bethesda Game Studios.

“Like us, Bethesda are passionate believers in building a diverse array of creative experiences, in exploring new game franchises, and in telling stories in bold ways. All of their great work will of course continue and grow and we look forward to empowering them with the resources and support of Microsoft to scale their creative visions to more players in new ways for you.”

Whilst any Xbox console exclusivity has yet to be confirmed, it’s another set of significant additions to Microsoft’s growing list of first-party Xbox Games studios. Bethesda, id Software, Arkane Studios, MachineGames, and Tango Gameworks all join Microsoft’s earlier acquisitions, including Obsidian Entertainment, Playground Games, Ninja Theory, Double Fine Productions, Compulsion Games and Undead Labs. Also of note, last week the CEO of Bungie shot down rumours that Bungie had been in similar acquisition talks with Microsoft.

It’s a next-gen strategy that seems to answer criticisms Microsoft faced with the Xbox One, which boasted few first-party exclusives compared to its Sony rival.

Preorders for Microsoft’s two new consoles are set to open tomorrow at different times depending on your region.

Updated: September 21, 2020, 6.55 pm BST

This story has been updated to reflect further comments from Phil Spencer to Bloomberg on whether Bethesda, now an Xbox studio, will still release its games on PS5.


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WB Games attempts to distance Hogwarts Legacy from J.K. Rowling

Hogwarts Legacy is embroiled in controversy over its tacit association with the original author of the Wizarding World.

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Hogwarts Legacy
WB Games / Portkey Games

Not exactly the legacy they want.

With the open-world RPG Harry Potter game whose existence was leaked way back in 2018 finally revealed to the world, it should have been a slam dunk of an announcement. Perhaps at one time, it would have been.

But Hogwarts Legacy has instead found itself embroiled in controversy over its tacit association with the original author of the Wizarding World.

In an official FAQ, the publisher of the new Harry Potter game from Portkey Games –⁠ a WB Games subsidiary specifically for Harry Potter games –⁠ and Avalanche Software emphasised that “J.K. Rowling is not directly involved” in its development. It comes as calls for a boycott of the game hit social media over the author’s litany of problematic comments on transgender issues.

It’s not the first time such an FAQ has denied the author’s involvement. 2018’s Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery mobile game FAQ also featured such a disclaimer. However, the latest FAQ has arguably greater significance now given that in the intervening two years J.K. Rowling has come under greater fire. Whilst in 2018 she was criticised for liking a transphobic tweet in what her PR people called a “middle-aged moment”, the author has since made her own controversial comments about transgender issues.

The increasing backlash against J.K. Rowling and just how it might affect them has never been lost on the game’s developers. Bloomberg reported that many in the team felt “uncomfortable” when the studio’s management didn’t address the author’s comments.

WB Games was more cagey over the potential royalties the author might earn from Hogwarts Legacy, with a spokesperson declining further comment to Kotaku. Whatever the financial arrangement, unlike gaming boycotts –⁠ of, say, Ubisoft, Riot Games, Blizzard, Naughty Dog and EA, where their bottom line is often the target as a means of engendering change in said companies –⁠ this boycott appears more symbolic and personal. As the first significant Harry Potter product to be revealed since the author’s most recent comments, many might see this as an opportunity to distance themselves from the author and a once-beloved franchise that’s become toxic by association.

We’ll have to see if WB Games can do anything more to reassure fans before Hogwarts Legacy’s release in 2021.


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