‘The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD’ revitalizes one of Nintendo’s most polarizing games for a new generation on Switch

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The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword Artwork 21

Skyward Sword HD (small)

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD” remasters an aging entry in the blockbuster franchise for a new generation of players on the Nintendo Switch. “Skyward Sword HD” launched on July 16; more than 12 years after its original release for the Nintendo Wii.

The Switch version of “Skyward Sword” is visually enhanced and features vital quality of life improvements. Loading times, menus, and mandatory conversations are quicker, speeding up the overall pace. As with all Nintendo Switch games, “Skyward Sword HD” is also optimized for portable play, and it no longer requires motion controls.

As a Wii exclusive, the original “Skyward Sword” made unique use of the console’s motion controls and required an additional device called the Wiimote Plus. These design choices polarized fans who preferred the series’ classic control scheme, but “Skyward Sword HD” gives players the option to choose between motion controls or a new button-only layout.

‘Skyward Sword’ is the beginning of the ‘Legend of Zelda’ storyline

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword loftwing
In “Skyward Sword,” Link and Zelda are childhood friends from a floating island called Skyloft.

Skyward Sword” is the first game in “The Legend of Zelda” chronology, giving players background on key story elements that continue to recur throughout the franchise.

Players control Link, a knight in training on a floating island called Skyloft. There, Link and his friend Zelda discover they’ve been chosen to fulfill an ancient legend to save the world. Link journeys back and forth from Skyloft to the world below, exploring new areas of the surface and clearing dungeons to find key items for his quest.

‘Skyward Sword’ mixes classic Zelda dungeon crawling with features that inspired ‘Breath of the Wild’

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD Sword
“The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD” explores the origins of Link’s signature weapon, the Master Sword.

Like other Zelda games, “Skyward Sword HD” offers a mix of adventure and puzzle solving with a gentle learning curve. “Skyward Sword” separates itself from other games in the series with its incorporation of motion controls, which are optional on the Nintendo Switch.

Players control the direction of Link’s sword slashes by swinging the right Joy-Con controller, or by using the right analog stick. Other weapons like the slingshot and bow can be aimed using motion controls too, and solving certain puzzles requires specific player movements.

Fans of “The Legend of Zelda” will recognize gameplay elements that inspired “Breath of the Wild,” the critically acclaimed title that launched alongside the Switch in 2017. “Skyward Sword” was the first “Zelda” game to feature a stamina meter and a crafting system for improving items. However, some of the mechanics used for platforming and motion controls in “Skyward Sword HD” still feel rough around the edges.

A new button-only option makes ‘Skyward Sword’ more accessible, but the motion controls are surprisingly accurate

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword motion controls bow
The controls of “Skyward Sword” can still be a bit cumbersome for new players.

Adding a button-only controller option to “Skyward Sword HD” makes it work on the portable Switch, but much of the game was designed with motion controls in mind. Puzzles and fights require precise movements, regardless of whether you’re using the controller’s analog stick or waving your arm with a Switch Joy-Con in hand.

Personally, I prefer using button-only controls due to my familiarity with past Zelda games, but I still find myself frustrated at times when trying to control the camera. The motion controls in “Skyward Sword HD” are surprisingly accurate but you’ll spend a lot of energy swinging and aiming during the more than 30 hours of gameplay.

Skyward Sword HD” also gives players the option to mix button-only and motion controls, so you can aim or move the camera by pointing at the screen, but still use the right analog stick for controlling weapons and other actions.

The visuals of ‘Skyward Sword HD’ still look great thanks to unique art design

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD Fi
“Skyward Sword” won’t win any awards for its graphics, but the environments still look solid after the high definition upgrade.

As the title implies, “Skyward Sword HD” improves the game’s visuals from 480p standard definition to a full 1080p high definition image. The frame rate has also been increased to 60 frames per second to offer smoother animations than the original release.

While some animations look a bit stiff 12 years later, the game’s art style and presentation still hold up well after all these years. Nintendo also improved the pace of “Skyward Sword” by adding an auto-save feature, automatically skipping over repetitive text, and making mandatory conversations quicker than before.

“Skyward Sword” doesn’t offer the full open-world exploration that made “Breath of the Wild” a modern masterpiece, but it does have one of the largest Zelda worlds to date. Te dungeon designs are also notably more complex than the shrine puzzles in “Breath of the Wild.”

‘Skyward Sword HD’ revives a great game for a new generation, but it’s not the best Zelda on Switch

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD Master Sword

Skyward Sword HD” is an excellent update to a classic action-adventure game, though it shows its age at times. We recommend it for any Nintendo Switch owner, and it’s one of the best Switch exclusives of 2021.

Fans of “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” should feel right at home and players who skipped out on the mandatory motion controls of the original “Skyward Sword” will be able to experience the game without issue.

However, the controls can still be a bit cumbersome, so newcomers to the “Zelda” franchise might want to try “Breath of the Wild” or “The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening,” a redesigned version of a series classic on the Switch.

You can find ‘Skyward Sword’ in stores now, along with these other Zelda collectibles from Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD” is available now for the Nintendo Switch. The games carries a list price of $60, but we’ve already seen some physical copies go on sale for $10 off. A digital version is also available to download directly onto your Switch from Nintendo’s eshop.

Along with the game, Nintendo is selling Joy-Cons with a special “Skyward Sword” design, and an amiibo figure of Zelda and her loftwing, the flying bird that helps her travel around Skyloft.

Skyward Sword HD (button)

For more gaming coverage, be sure to check out all of our Nintendo Switch guides, roundups, comparisons, and explainers below:

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Google made an elaborate 16-bit video game that pays homage to Japan hosting the Olympics, and you can play it for free right now

Google's Olympics-themed game, "Doodle Champion Island Games."
“Doodle Champion Island Games” is Google’s Olympics-themed game that’s free on the Google homepage.

  • In honor of the Olympics, Google just turned its homepage into a video game platform with one game.
  • “Doodle Champion Island Games” is a free, adorable homage to Japan’s history of video game production.
  • The game was produced in collaboration with Tokyo animation firm STUDIO4°C.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

With the Olympic Games kicking off this week, Google is paying homage to its host city of Tokyo with a full-on video game.

If you head over to Google’s homepage, you’ll find a play button that opens a surprisingly elaborate video game named “Doodle Champion Island Games.”

It costs nothing, is fun to play, and even remembers where you left off if you close the window.

Read more: Netflix’s new video-game strategy will live or die by how well it can create mega movie and TV franchises

The game – made in collaboration with Tokyo-based animation firm STUDIO4°C – is playable directly in-browser using the arrow keys and space bar. It stars an adorable calico cat named Lucky who’s able to participate in a variety of sporting events.

A table tennis event and a skateboarding event were standouts in the short time we spent with the game, but there’s a whole bunch more game in there – at least seven games in total, in addition to “extra hidden challenges,” according to Google’s blog post.

If nothing else, do yourself a favor and enjoy the aggressively charming intro video right here:

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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California sued gaming giant Activision Blizzard, alleging widespread harassment of female staff. A male supervisor delegated his work to a female employee so he could play Call of Duty, the suit said.

Gaming giant Activision Blizzard's silver logo on one of its storefronts.
California state has field a sex discrimination lawsuit against gaming company Activision Blizzard

  • California sued gaming giant Activision Blizzard on Tuesday, alleging a “frat boy” culture.
  • A state agency said female staff were constantly sexually harassed and paid less for their work.
  • Activision Blizzard said the suit included “distorted” and “false” claims.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

California’s fair employment agency filed a lawsuit against gaming giant Activision Blizzard on Tuesday, accusing the Call of Duty publisher of a “pervasive frat boy” in which female employees were routinely harassed.

In one alleged incident, a “newly promoted male supervisor delegated his responsibilities to his now female subordinates in favor of playing Call of Duty,” the filing said.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) sued Activision Blizzard and two subsidiaries – Activision Publishing and World of Warcraft creator Blizzard Entertainment – after a two-year investigation into working conditions for female staff, Bloomberg Law first reported.

DFEH said in Tuesday’s filing to the Los Angeles Supreme Court that women at the company were discriminated against, subjected to “constant sexual harassment,” groped, paid less for “substantially similar work,” and retaliated against by company HR when they complained.

“Unsurprisingly, [the] Defendants’ ‘frat boy’ culture is a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women,” the lawsuit said.

A spokesperson for Activision Blizzard said in a statement that “the picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today.”

“The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past. We have been extremely cooperative with the DFEH throughout their investigation, including providing them with extensive data and ample documentation, but they refused to inform us what issues they perceived,” the statement said.

“We value diversity and strive to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone. There is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind,” the spokesperson said.

“We take every allegation seriously and investigate all claims. In cases related to misconduct, action was taken to address the issue.”

Read more: 52 Black ex-franchisees file a $1 billion racial-discrimination lawsuit against McDonald’s, claiming the company sent them on ‘financial suicide missions’

The lawsuit detailed claims that some male workers engaged in “cube crawls” where they would “drink copious amounts of alcohol” and move between cubicles in the office, often behaving inappropriately towards their female coworkers.

Some male workers made sexual advances to female employees on the World of Warcraft team, and also made derogatory comments about rape, the lawsuit claimed.

The agency said in the filing that one female Activision Blizzard worker died by suicide during a business trip. A male coworker she had previously had a sexual relationship with was also on the trip, the suit said. Police found that the male supervisor had brought a butt plug and lubricant on the trip, DFEH said.

Another employee said the woman had suffered sexual harassment at work before her death, DFEH said.

It is not clear when the trip happened. An Activision Blizzard spokesperson said in a statement to Insider that the employee’s suicide had “no bearing whatsoever on this case.”

The lawsuit alleged that Activision Blizzard’s female workers – which it said makes up around 20% of its workforce – were also promoted more slowly, while women in executive roles earned “less salary, incentive pay, and total compensation than their male peers,” citing Activision Blizzard’s own records with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

DFEH said that it filed the suit on grounds of unequal pay, sex discrimination, unlawful sexual harassment, retaliation, and for failure to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. The agency said it was suing in the public interest and for Activision Blizzard’s female employees.

The agency is seeking compensation and punitive damages, and unpaid and lost wages for female workers, among other demands, although did not specify how much.

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The Switch OLED isn’t the upgrade Nintendo fans were hoping for, but its improvements could appeal to buyers who don’t already own a Switch

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Nintendo Switch (OLED model) in white
The Nintendo Switch OLED has an improved screen but lacks the upgraded graphics performance that many gamers were hoping for.

  • Gamers who value a bigger, better screen in handheld mode will like the Nintendo Switch OLED.
  • But games won’t play any smoother or look any better in TV mode because the CPU is the same.
  • The Switch OLED isn’t the “Pro” model we’ve been waiting for, but it could appeal to certain buyers.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Nintendo announced a new version of the Switch, called the Switch OLED, on July 6. The Nintendo Switch OLED will launch on October 8 for $350.

Most of the upgrades on the new Switch OLED are design and screen updates, including slimmer bezels around a larger 7-inch screen compared to the 6.2-inch screen on the standard Switch. The new screen is also an OLED panel, which carries better contrast than the LCD panels used on previous Switch models.

Outside of the display, the new dock is sleeker and comes in a white color option, and it includes an Ethernet port – a feature that needed an adapter on the previous version. You can find a detailed comparison of the Switch OLED, Switch, and Switch Lite here.

But, while all of those improvements sound nice, the Switch OLED is basically the standard Switch with a larger, better display for handheld mode. It lacks any major hardware improvements for gamers who play the system on their TV, and it’s missing many key upgrades that were previously rumored, including 4K support.

Does this mean the Switch OLED isn’t worth a purchase? We’ll have to wait to get our hands on the device to offer a full verdict, but based on the information released so far, it looks like the Switch OLED’s value will heavily depend on how you plan to play the system.

Who should buy the new Nintendo Switch OLED?

The Switch OLED should be a good option for people who don’t already own a Switch and plan to use their console in handheld mode more often than docked in TV mode.

The extra screen size and OLED display will offer greater visibility, and games will undoubtedly look better, even if the Switch OLED’s screen outputs at the same 720p resolution as previous Switch versions. This is because OLED displays offer deeper contrast than LCD screens thanks to the true reproduction of the color black. This could lead to a noticeably richer and more defined image with better viewing angles.

What’s also great is that you’ll get that extra visibility, sweet OLED panel, and slim-bezel design in a console that’s pretty much the exact same size as the standard Switch. The Switch OLED is only 0.01 inch longer and 0.05 lbs heavier than the standard Switch, so there’s no significant compromise in portability.

Who shouldn’t buy the new Nintendo Switch OLED?

The justifications for buying the new Switch OLED when you already own a Switch console are few and far between.

The Switch OLED doesn’t come with new or more powerful specs, and you shouldn’t expect any difference in how smoothly a game plays, or any improved graphics. Indeed, the TV mode resolution is still 1080p – the same as the standard Switch – not the sharper 4K resolution that was rumored on a “pro” Switch model.

The Switch OLED runs on the same performance specs as the standard Switch and Switch Lite, including the CPU (processor) and RAM memory, according to Nintendo via The Verge.

If you wished your Switch had better battery life, the Switch OLED won’t improve things, either. The battery in the Switch OLED is the same size as the standard Switch, and Nintendo doesn’t make any claims regarding improved battery life, despite the potential battery-saving properties of OLED displays.

And, disappointingly, Nintendo didn’t upgrade the Switch OLED with Bluetooth headphone support. In an age where the mobile industry is phasing out wired headphones by literally stripping their phones of headphone jacks, the portable Switch OLED will still rely on wired headphones for discreet listening. If you bought Bluetooth headphones for your phone, I hope you kept your wired pair just for your Nintendo Switch.

It’s true that you can buy a third-party Bluetooth adapter to use your wireless headphones with a Switch, but still, come on.

The bottom line

We haven’t reviewed the Switch OLED yet, but we can make some educated assumptions based on our experience with the previous models.

If you plan on using a Nintendo Switch docked in TV mode for the majority of the time, you could save yourself $50 by buying a standard $300 Switch.

But, if you see yourself using a Switch in handheld mode most of the time, you could justify the Switch OLED’s higher $350 price if it’s within your budget, as you’ll get a bigger and better built-in screen. You just have to wait until October 8 when it launches, and hope that supply won’t be marred too much by the inevitable scalper scourge that the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are still facing months after release.

If affordability and portability are king, however, and you don’t mind losing TV support or the bigger OLED screen, the $200 Switch Lite offers a smaller, cheaper, and handheld-only experience.

Switch (small)Switch Lite (small)

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Tencent is using facial recognition tech on under-18s to stop them playing video games late into the night

Ma Huateng, also known as Pony Ma, the CEO of Tencent looks into the distance while wearing a grey suit and blue tie.
Ma Huateng, also known as Pony Ma, is the chief executive of Tencent.

  • Tencent will use facial recognition to stop under-18s playing video games at night, it said Tuesday.
  • It said the “Midnight Patrol” system would initially be used for more than 60 of its video games.
  • In 2019, China introduced rules preventing minors playing video games between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tencent will start using facial recognition technology to stop under-18s from playing video games into the night, it announced Tuesday.

Its system, called “Midnight Patrol,” will identify minors who are playing video games late at night – and boot them off the platform.

The system aims to prevent minors from posing as adults to circumvent a Chinese ban on late-night gaming sessions. It will initially work across more than 60 Tencent titles, the Chinese tech giant said.

In 2019, China introduced rules to curb video-game playing over concerns that young people were becoming addicted. The rules included a ban on under-18s playing between 10 p.m. and 8.a.m, a maximum of 90 minutes of playing time on weekdays, and monthly caps on in-game microtransactions, China’s General Administration of Press and Publication said in a notice.

Tencent said that it would conduct face-screening for accounts registered with real names that had played for a certain period of time at night, according to a translation of a company press release by Sixth Tone, a Chinese state-owned news site aimed at Western audiences.

Tencent will compare players’ faces against a government database of faces linked to China’s social security system, the Sixth Tone translation said.

Adults who are mistakenly kicked off the platform will be able to submit a new face scan, but those who refuse to be scanned will be removed, Tencent said in Tuesday’s translated release.

The tech giant began testing facial recognition software in late 2018 for randomly selected gamers who lived in Beijing and Shenzen and played the game Honour of Kings, the BBC reported. Young players used a number of tactics to try to fool the system, such as impersonating their grandparents when talking to the Tencent’s customer service, the company said in a release at the time.

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Nintendo just announced a new $350 Switch with a fancy new screen, but you probably don’t need it

Nintendo Switch (OLED model) that's expected to launch in October 2021.
The 2021 Nintendo Switch “OLED Model” was announced on July 6, 2021. It’s scheduled to launch on October 8 for $350.

  • Nintendo just announced a new, more expensive, slightly upgraded Nintendo Switch model.
  • Whether or not you already own a Switch, there aren’t a lot of good reasons to get this one.
  • Its main feature is a larger, higher-quality screen. It’s otherwise nearly identical to existing models.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

After years of speculation about a more powerful, upgraded Nintendo Switch model, Nintendo announced the “Nintendo Switch OLED Model” on Tuesday morning.

It’s got a bigger screen from previous models that uses OLED display technology, and it’s got a higher price tag to match: $350 for the new OLED model compared to $300 for the original Nintendo Switch.

Beyond the bigger, better screen, the “new” model is almost identical to the original Nintendo Switch that launched in March 2017.

It runs games at the same resolution and frame speed because it’s powered by the same processor and has the same amount of RAM that’s in the other Switch models. The same Joy-Con controllers that attach to the original Switch attach to this new model, and the new Dock even functions as a replacement for the original.

There are a few other subtle physical changes: a larger rear kickstand, a slight overall increase in weight, and a few design changes to the Dock.

Some Nintendo fans balked at the news.

“Finally, a Nintendo Switch that’s basically the same as the old Nintendo Switch,” one said. “New Nintendo Switch upgrade is a lot worse than expected. Zero performance upgrades?” said another.

That reaction is due at least in part to persistent rumors that the new Nintendo Switch model would have the ability to produce games at a 4K resolution. Nintendo is notoriously low-tech compared to its competitors in the console gaming market, like Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X, and the Switch isn’t capable of producing now industry-standard 4K visuals.

With the Nintendo Switch OLED Model, that isn’t changing – it’s still only capable of producing 1080p resolution games at best.

Since games will run the same, the only reason to upgrade to this new model is if you’re a dedicated handheld gamer – and even then, there are still plenty of strong arguments for buying the $200 Nintendo Switch Lite instead. It’s nearly half the price, and built specifically for handheld gaming!

Unfortunately, waiting for a price cut on the now over four-year-old original Nintendo Switch is a fool’s errand. When asked if there will be a price drop for the original Switch, which still costs the same $300 it did in April 2017, a Nintendo representative said, “No. The price of the Nintendo Switch Lite and Nintendo Switch systems remains the same.”

The representative added that “consumers can pick the model that best fits the lifestyle and gaming experience they desire, and that fits within their budget. In the US, the Nintendo Switch Lite system is the lowest-priced model at $199.99, followed by the Nintendo Switch system at $299.99, and now we have Nintendo Switch system (OLED model) at $349.99.”

But there’s good news: If you already own a Nintendo Switch, you almost certainly don’t need this new model. And if you don’t own a Nintendo Switch, you probably don’t need this new model either.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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Nintendo just unveiled a new $350 Nintendo Switch model featuring a larger OLED screen

All three Nintendo Switch models, including the new OLED model.
The new Nintendo Switch, which is known as the “OLED model,” alongside the original Switch (left) and Switch Lite.

  • Nintendo has a new, upgraded, more expensive model of the Nintendo Switch in the works.
  • The new Nintendo Switch has a larger screen that uses OLED technology.
  • Nintendo’s pricing the new Switch at $350, and it’s scheduled to launch on October 8.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Nintendo has a new Switch model with a higher quality, larger screen, and it’s expected to launch this October, the Japanese gaming powerhouse announced on Monday morning.

The new Nintendo Switch console, which is simply known as “Nintendo Switch OLED Model,” costs $350 and is scheduled to launch on October 8.

There is one key difference between the new Switch console and the original console that launched in March 2017: Its screen uses OLED technology and is physically larger than the previous model at 7 inches (the original screen was just 6.2 inches).

A handful of small tweaks to the original form factor are also part of the new Switch, from a larger rear kickstand to a built-in ethernet port on the console’s dock. There are also some clear design changes, particularly to the console dock which now has more rounded edges. Internally, the new Switch has more storage (64 GB) and features “enhanced audio” via two front-facing speakers.

Despite previous rumors stating that the new Nintendo Switch model would be able to produce 4K visuals while docked, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Nintendo showcased all the differences between the original Switch and the latest model in an announcement video:

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Microsoft just took a direct shot at Apple’s controversial App Store policy with Windows 11

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook.

  • Microsoft unveiled the next version of its major operating system, Windows 11, on Thursday morning.
  • Part of that event was a not-so-thinly veiled shot at Apple.
  • Going forward, app and game makers with their own payment systems can skip using Microsoft’s system.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Microsoft just took a shot at Apple with a feature in its next major operating system, Windows 11.

Going forward, the Microsoft Store will allow software makers to use their own payment systems – something Apple refuses to allow on its App Store. Rather than paying Microsoft a cut of each transaction, software makers can charge users directly with their own systems.

“If you do bring your own commerce engine, you keep 100% of your revenue,” Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay said during a Microsoft livestream featuring Windows 11. “We keep zero.”

It’s a major point of contention between Apple and a variety of software makers, and it’s at the heart of ongoing litigation between “Fortnite” maker Epic Games and Apple.

Epic Games filed suit against Apple last summer after its hit game was pulled from Apple’s App Store.

Apple says it pulled the game because Epic violated the terms of its developer agreement when Epic implemented a payment system in the game that enabled players to circumvent Apple’s App Store. Epic says the App Store is a monopoly, and argues that iPhones and iPads are no different from computers.

Microsoft previously issued a letter to the court on behalf of Epic Games, and a Microsoft employee appeared as an expert witness during the trial. Arguments have ended for both sides in the ongoing case, and it’s unknown when the judge will issue a ruling.

Windows 11 is a free upgrade for Windows users, and is scheduled to launch “this holiday,” according to Microsoft.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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Forget about the Xbox: Microsoft is all-in on its ‘Netflix for gaming’ subscription service

Starfield (Xbox/PC game)
Concept art for “Starfield,” the next major game from Microsoft-owned Bethesda Game Studios. It will arrive on Game Pass at launch, Microsoft says.

  • The focus of Microsoft’s big annual Xbox briefing this year was games, from “Halo” to “Starfield.”
  • A not-so-subtle message was highlighted throughout: Play all of these games on Xbox Game Pass.
  • Of the 30 games shown, 27 will be available on Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass service.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

During Microsoft’s big annual Xbox presentation on Sunday, there was one clear message: If you don’t already have a subscription to the Netflix-like game service Xbox Game Pass, you’re going to want it sooner or later.

Both of the companies upcoming marquee games, “Halo Infinite” and “Starfield,” will arrive on Game Pass at launch. You could drop at least $60 apiece on those games, or you could sign up for Game Pass starting at $10 per month.

That has become Microsoft’s key argument for the Xbox brand, and the company cemented that during the presentation streamed on Sunday afternoon. Of the 30 games shown, 27 are coming to the Xbox Game Pass service, and many will arrive at launch.

Microsoft has been planting the seeds leading to Game Pass’ wild success since it first debuted in 2017.

The service granted subscribers access to a curated library of over 100 games, and it cost just $10 per month. Moreover, every major Xbox game published by Microsoft, from “Halo” to “Gears of War” to “Forza,” would be published to the service at launch as part of the library.

If you’re thinking, “That sounds sort of like Netflix,” you’d be right, although with Game Pass you can download or stream games.

In the four years since, Game Pass has grown tremendously – it now boasts over 18 million subscribers across Xbox and PC, according to Microsoft. More than just its own games, the service offers a variety of major games from third-party game studios.

To that end, Microsoft made two major announcements on Sunday: “Back 4 Blood” and “Stalker 2” are among several upcoming third-party games that will launch on the service.

Xbox Game Pass (E3 2021)
Games like “Among Us” and “Hades” are among a variety of third-party games on Game Pass.

There was no talk of Xbox hardware or services, and no mention of upcoming operating system updates. The nearly 90-minute presentation was focused solely on games, the vast majority of which were punctuated with the same message: “Play it day one with Game Pass.”

In just a few words, that phrase is sending a message: You’ll get this game and dozens of others for just $10 to $15 per month, instead of paying $60 or more to play this game on a PlayStation or PC.

It’s a good argument, and one that applies to many more millions of people than just Xbox and PlayStation owners – anyone with a PC has access to Xbox Game Pass, and anyone with a smartphone is able to stream Game Pass games.

“There are 2 billion people who play video games on the planet today. We’re not gonna sell 2 billion consoles,” Xbox leader Phil Spencer told Insider in a June 2018 interview. “Many of those people don’t own a television, many have never owned a PC. For many people on the planet, the phone is their compute device. It’s really about reaching a customer wherever they are, on the devices that they have.”

And that’s the point of Game Pass: to move beyond consoles and widen Microsoft’s potential customer base beyond just console buyers. Sunday’s Xbox presentation was the strongest demonstration yet of Microsoft’s dedication to that mission.

Check out the full presentation right here:

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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From a new ‘Halo’ game to the long-awaited ‘Starfield,’ Xbox just showcased a huge slate of new games coming to its consoles

Starfield (Xbox/PC game)
Concept art for “Starfield.”

  • Major upcoming Xbox games like “Halo Infinite” and “Starfield” were shown in detail on Sunday.
  • Microsoft held its annual Xbox briefing, which was focused on the Xbox Game Pass subscription service.
  • The presentation is part of the game industry’s annual trade show, E3, which is taking place virtually.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
1. The highly-anticipated new Bethesda project ‘Starfield’ was given a release date in a debut trailer: It’s scheduled to launch on November 11, 2022 exclusively on Xbox consoles and PC. The game will be available day one for Xbox Game Pass subscribers, Microsoft said.

Starfield (Xbox/PC game)
Concept art for “Starfield.”


2. The next major “Halo” game, “Halo Infinite,” is launching this holiday season. The multiplayer is free-to-play, and the story campaign will cost money. Both versions will launch on Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s subscription-based gaming service, on day one.

Halo Infinite (multiplayer)


3. A gorgeous new version of “Forza Horizon” is scheduled to launch on November 9, and it’s the best example yet of what the new Xbox consoles are capable of powering.

Forza Horizon 5 (E3 2021)


4. The first gameplay for this year’s big “Battlefield” game, “Battlefield 2042,” is another example of what the new consoles can do: Massive-scale battles with shockingly detailed visuals and dozens of players, all at once. The game is scheduled to launch on October 22.

Battlefield 2042 (E3 2021)


5. Microsoft’s subscription service, Game Pass, is getting a ton of new games and was ultimately the focus of the 90-minute presentation.

Xbox Game Pass (E3 2021)


Watch the entire presentation below!

Halo Infinite (E3 2021, campaign)

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