Xbox FanFest: Xbox counters PlayStation with stronger Game Pass, ‘PUBG’, franchises
The Xbox range’s top-tier Xbox One X might be the most expensive of current consoles, at $499 (about P26,500), but Microsoft’s Xbox division is also campaigning on value with its Xbox Game Pass subscription — from today, including “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” (“PUBG”) — and naming several franchises that were once high-profile PlayStation exclusives during its Nov. 10 Xbox FanFest event.
Just as Sony’s PlayStation 4 built its generation-leading momentum on top of a generous PlayStation Plus subscription service, Microsoft’s $9.99 (about P530) monthly Xbox Game Pass is being strengthened ahead of Holiday 2018’s commercial rush.
Last-person-standing action game “PUBG” drove a whole new genre into the mainstream in 2017, making its console debut exclusively on Xbox One towards the end of the year.
If it is arriving on PlayStation 4 in December, as expected, Xbox is still protecting a console advantage by introducing “PUBG” to the Xbox Game Pass games library from Nov. 12.
Some 15 other games were also announced as upcoming Xbox Game Pass titles: from the acclaimed “Ori and the Blind Forest” and “Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice” in December, to a clutch of new indie studio games as they launch (including the “Ori” sequel, and atmospheric sci-fi shooter “Void Bastards,” which made a big impression at FanFest).
At the start of the year, Xbox Game Pass had been redefined as the day-and-date home for big releases from Microsoft’s internal studios — “Halo,” “Sea of Thieves,” “Forza Horizon 4” and so on — and one of those big names, superpowered law enforcement joint “Crackdown 3,” originally due November 2017, received a long-awaited final release date of Feb. 15, 2019.
In addition, there was a preview of “Crackdown 3” multiplayer mode, while 2007’s Xbox 360 “Crackdown” is being given away as a free download until Nov. 30.
Among its other announcements, Xbox also began reclaiming two franchises traditionally associated with PlayStation: “Kingdom Hearts” and “Final Fantasy.”
Winnie the Pooh, increasing in popularity thanks to a recent movie adaptation, will be part of the Disney character roster appearing in “Kingdom Hearts III,” a franchise whose previous two core entries were PlayStation-only.
Similarly, the “Final Fantasy” franchise — well-associated with PlayStation — was given its own FanFest spot: Xbox 360 copies of “Final Fantasy XIII,” “XIII-2,” and “Lightning Returns” will work on Xbox One from this week; franchise entries “VII,” “IX,” “X,” “X-2,” and “XII” will arrive on XBO in some form or another in 2019.
As for Sony, its usual end-of-year PlayStation Experience fan event will not take place in 2018, attributed to a lack of big game announcements. The omission raises expectations of a PlayStation 5 announcement in 2019, while PlayStation can present its combined subscription and online access service, PlayStation Plus, as even more wallet-friendly than Xbox Game Pass. KM
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