Games Inbox: Is Xbox Game Pass a killer app?

The Monday Inbox discusses getting too old to play action video games, as one reader discovers Ghost Recon Breakpoint for £1 off.

To join in with the discussions yourself email [email protected]


Next gen advantage
An interesting Reader’s Feature over the weekend by Dan Driver, but I have to say I don’t agree with his premise. The parallels between Sega and the Xbox are surprisingly strong but I really don’t think they’re anything more than coincidences. The key point for me is that the mistakes made with the Xbox One have nothing in common with the Sega Saturn, which was just a rushed, panicked console after a series of failed add-ons. More importantly Sega was virtually bankrupt before the Dreamcast even launched and, well, Microsoft aren’t.

I mean, the Xbox hasn’t won a single generation yet, if this was any normal company the plug would’ve been pulled years ago. But Microsoft want to be in gaming and they don’t seem to really care how much it costs or how they achieve it.

I think he also underplays just how good a think Xbox Game Pass is. If this is combined with some top quality first party exclusives (and I acknowledge that’s a fairly big if) I think Xbox will be unstoppable. Game Pass is an amazing deal and Microsoft have all the money they need to virtually give it away. I do not see Sony offering a deal that’s either as good or as cheap and that for me is a good reason to think Microsoft might win the next generation. People balk at paying £400 for a new console, not at £1 for three months of top-notch games – especially if that’s combined with Project xCloud.

I think Sony’s only chance to win is if they have some legendary quality exclusive early on. Not just Horizon Zero Dawn style ‘good’ games but classics of God Of War level or above. There’s a chance this will happen and that they’ll have some kind of other, unknowable new hardware or software idea, but without that I think Microsoft has the clear advantage. Xbox Game Pass is almost too good to be true, and for me is a killer app even before the next gen console comes out.


Maybe, kinda, sort of
In response to whether or not game reviews matter, I’d say a fence-sitting yes and no.

Reading your Shenmue 3 review for example, I was obviously struck by the low-ish score but not to the point where I felt it was important. I went ahead and read the text – before checking the score, I might add – looking for arguments that would either sway or dissuade me. Nothing stood out as bad or surprising given that I was expecting it to feel like a decade-old game already. I was mostly happy to see that there weren’t any big technical issues.

It’s for this reason that I don’t think reviews are too important. As a fully autonomous human being, I’m capable of making up my own mind about things. However, I find reviews are valuable in addressing potential core concerns like additional pricing and technical concerns. And also for adding a little conversation to the mix, which is one of the reasons games are so fun to read about in the first place.


Black and white
I’ve been an avid gamer since the days of the C64, now approaching my mid-forties it’s time to find myself a new hobby, I’ve found over the years my reactions have slowed so I can’t really play twitch games single-player or online, so that left me with my favourite genre role-playing games – pure escapism, entering worlds to perform heroic deeds and telling tales of daring do, or at least it was.

The trend these days is for games to be no longer black and white but falling into that middle grey area, very much like real life, and while this makes for interesting moral quandaries, to me it sucks the joy out of the game. Real-life is full of difficult decisions, of tough choices and unsatisfactory outcomes, I play games to escape them not just view them through a different lens.

I will keep an eye on the market, it may be that the next Elder Scrolls game rekindles my joy, but my money is on them going down the Game of Thrones route. I will continue to read GameCentral as I think your articles are often more enjoyable than the games themselves, keep up the good work!


E-mail your comments to: [email protected]


A matter of time
The response to the launch of Google Stadia has been strangely muted as far as I can tell and certainly not typical of a new console release. I’m interested to watch from afar as to how it all works but won’t be buying into the service until it is well tested, all advertised features have been released and, crucially, the games catalogue is worth looking at. I’m tired of early adopters being used as paying beta testers and the trend to ‘release now, fix later’ is disappointingly common.

But the tech behind Stadia and the offering of video games anywhere, anytime could be truly disruptive to the industry. The way we consume video games is guaranteed to change over time, just look at how enthusiasm dropped when it became clear Stadia wouldn’t be the ‘Netflix of gaming’.

Once a company gets close to offering this all-you-can-eat approach – and Microsoft seem best placed with their Project xCloud developments – and the technology for streaming is robust and ubiquitous, I can see a quick and decisive shift for many consumers to embrace streaming and store their little black boxes away in the attic next to old CD players and DVD collections.
ProEvoSan78 (PSN ID)


Wish you were here
I have just started the co-op game We Were Here with a friend on Xbox One it is a very interesting puzzle mystery co-op game over Xbox Live with a friend or stranger. It is really good and I highly recommend it
for a good co-op game. It came free with Xbox Gold a little while ago, so even better!

I did look to see, when the reader wrote in the other week about co-op games, if it was on their list but the Wednesday inbox is missing from your Inbox archive for some reason, so I couldn’t check. I will probably buy the sequel when I have completed it, I think the sequel is called We Were Here Too.
Andrew J.
Currently playing: Golf Story and Untitled Goose Game (Switch)

GC: Oh, it must’ve have been incorrectly tagged, here’s the link.


No relation
For ProEvoSan78 I recommend Mini Metro on the Switch. It has touchscreen controls and is a very zen-like game. You connect various tube stations together in stylised maps of real-world cities. In each level you will eventually lose but the challenge is to see how complex you can get your transit system before the inevitable collapse.

I believe a sequel involving roads has just come out on Apple Arcade but my iPad is too old for iOS 13 so I’m just hoping for a Switch port.


Old favourite
Favourite Console Maker? Well, it’s got to be Grandstand.

For those of us old enough to remember the early 80s the Grandstand TV console full of Pong variants or a dedicated handheld game such as Astro Wars or Invaders from Space was really what got most of the UK initially hooked on home video games.

I’ve never seen a comprehensive record of Grandstand’s history and (I suppose) eventual demise as home computers took over.
Steve, S Wales

GC: The Wikipedia page says they were just rebranded machines made by other companies. Although… if console gaming peaked for you in the early 80s, we’re surprised you’ve stuck with it this long.


Honourable threesome
Finally, after all these years I’ve finally taken the plunge and started playing Dishonored: Definitive Edition on the Xbox One; I bought it with Dishonored: Death Of The Outsider. Both for the measly sum of £10.98 using the £10 gift voucher given free on Xbox Live.

With Dishonored 2 available on Games Pass, that’s me kept busy for a while. Just a few hours into Dishonored and I can honestly say that’s it’s up there as one of the best games I’ve ever played. Great story and so many different ways to play, including possessing a rat! Brilliant.


Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here


Happily stranded
Having played Death Stranding for 19 hours so far, my impressions are that it’s impossibly beautiful, beyond bizarre, mechanically solid, demanding, exhausting, evocative, sometimes frustrating, but ultimately actually fun to play.

There’s a sense of awe and wonder in exploring Death Stranding’s world that evokes Zelda: Breath Of The Wild for me. The allure of seeing what’s around the corner in its majestic geography is quite profound, enhanced by the state-of-the-art graphics and stellar audio design/soundtrack.

And I really admire just how ballsy, unconventional, and self-assured this game is. To take something as seemingly mundane as going back and forth delivering cargo to outposts in a cataclysmically fractured society, and to turn the activity into this almost indescribably deliberative, compelling affair is precisely why many, including myself, deem Hideo Kojima a creative genius.

You know a game is hitting all the right notes when your only legitimate complaint, other than, for the sake of objectivity, sort of empathising with why people would feel the core gameplay loop is a chore, so far is the occasional technobabble and teensy tiny text size.

I still have much more to see and do, and wish to delve into greater detail as to why the cargo/self-preservation/magical foetus micromanagements, hiking, and BT and Mule encounters, togetherness promoting online components, etc. are so well conveyed, but I’ll save that for another massive missive. I do however certainly feel like I’ve played enough to say that Death Stranding has been worth the wait!
Galvanized Gamer


Inbox also-rans
Big thanks to whichever tech wizard seems to have cleared up the page jumping glitch that came with the new banner ads. I’m assuming they’ve worked some kung fu: things seem a lot more stable now.

GC: It was a tricky one, but it should be fixed now. Our thanks to everyone that wrote in about it – the more letters we get the easier technical issues are to address, especially if you send details of your device, browser, and, ideally, a screenshot.

Is it true the Shenmue 3 review embargo is two days after release madness? Have you ever known such a thing happen before?
Dan Chambers

GC: It was for a few hours, until they saw sense. Publishers try that occasionally, until they’re inevitably forced to change. Although only sending review code on the day of release has the same effect.

Don’t know if this is a deal on an already reduced price but got an email about Amazon’s Black Friday deals and this. Just had inform GC readers ASAP before it’s gone for Ghost Recon Breakpoint, after all a £1 is a £1.

GC: £28.99 is already much cheaper than at launch. Breakpoint has been a huge flop, and deservedly so.

At last I got my copy of it! It’s real! As Ben Sisko would say…



This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader ‘Daley’ Thompson, who asks what game that you like now did you not initially get one with?

Some games take a while to get into, but do you have any where there’s a particularly marked difference between what you thought of it at the beginning compared to how you feel about it now? How long did it take to change your mind? What caused the initial problems and what finally brought you around?

How patient do you tend to be with new games and how long do you usually give them before giving up? What do you do with the games then and are there any you keep meaning to go back to but never have?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]


The small print
New Inbox updates appear twice daily, every weekday morning and afternoon. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word 4Player viewer features at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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