Xbox Games with Gold will no longer include Xbox 360 titles

As of October 2022, Microsoft will stop offering free Xbox 360 titles through Games with Gold. The company announced the change in an email sent out to Xbox Live Gold subscribers in the US, Canada and other parts of the world. “We have reached the limit of our ability to bring Xbox 360 games to the catalog,” the company states in the message. “However, Games with Gold will continue to include exciting Xbox One titles and exclusive savings each month.”

The email adds that Xbox users can redownload any 360 titles they claimed through Games with Gold regardless of whether they continue to subscribe to Xbox Live Gold. 

"No other Xbox Live Gold benefits will be impacted by this change," a Microsoft spokesperson told Engadget. “We’re always looking at ways to evolve the Xbox experience based on community engagement, feedback and shifting company priorities. We have reached the limit of our ability to bring new games to the catalog from the past due to licensing and technical constraints. We will continue to focus on providing Xbox One titles through the Games with Gold program."

Xbox Live Gold email
Microsoft

Introduced in 2013, Microsoft added Games with Gold to Xbox Live Gold in response to the success of Sony’s PS Plus service, which was the first to offer free monthly games to customers. Microsoft later extended the perk to include the Xbox One. In recent years, the allure of the bonus has waned with the introduction of Xbox Game Pass. After Microsoft recently dropped the Xbox Live Gold requirement to play free-to-play games online, it felt like the company was preparing to reconfigure the service, and this announcement adds to that. See the full email from Microsoft above.

Update 12:47PM ET: Added comment from Microsoft.

Sony’s new hardware brand will launch with gaming headsets and PS5-optimized monitors

Sony has announced the launch of Inzone, a new brand of PC gaming displays and headsets. They'll be coming out of the company's Electronics division (not to be confused with its Interactive Entertainment unit) and its flagship product will be the Inzone M9, a 27-inch 4K monitor. The M9 boasts an IPS panel with full-array local dimming, a 144Hz refresh rate and a claimed 1-millisecond gray to gray response time.

Sony says the panel is also DisplayHDR 600-certified and covers 95 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut. Additionally, the monitor is G-Sync compatible and features support for variable refresh rate (VRR) gaming thanks to the inclusion of an HDMI 2.1 port. If you connect the M9 to a PS5 through that port, you’ll get access to a feature that will automatically switch the monitor between its included low-latency and picture processing modes when it detects you’re about to play a game or watch a movie. Sony has also optimized the PS5’s HDR output for the M9, and you’ll see the benefits of that tuning automatically as well. Sony's M9 will hit shelves this summer and retail for $899.

Alongside a 4K display, Sony will also offer a 240Hz Full HD monitor. Like the company’s new flagship, the M3 will boast a 1-millisecond gray to gray response time, PlayStation 5-specific features and compatibility for both G-Sync and VRR. As you might expect, high dynamic range performance won’t be as good as the 4K variant, with the monitor only earning VESA’s DisplayHDR 400 certification. Sony plans to begin selling the M3 sometime this winter for $529.

If you’re looking for a new gaming headset, Sony has you covered there too. For those who want it all, there’s the $299 H9. It features active noise cancellation, Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless connectivity, support for spatial audio and the same synthetic leather found on Sony’s recently announced WH-1000XM5 headphones. For a more affordable option, there’s the H7. It omits the H9’s ANC and “soft fit” leather features for a $229 price tag. The H7 will also come with better battery life. Sony claims you can get 40 hours of use from its new mid-tier headphones compared to 32 hours from the H9. Lastly, there’s the $99 H3, which you can connect to your PC or PS5 through a 3.5mm headphone jack or wired USB adapter. Sony will release all three models this summer.

Sony’s new hardware brand will launch with gaming headsets and PS5-optimized monitors

Sony has announced the launch of Inzone, a new brand of PC gaming displays and headsets. They'll be coming out of the company's Electronics division (not to be confused with its Interactive Entertainment unit) and its flagship product will be the Inzone M9, a 27-inch 4K monitor. The M9 boasts an IPS panel with full-array local dimming, a 144Hz refresh rate and a claimed 1-millisecond gray to gray response time.

Sony says the panel is also DisplayHDR 600-certified and covers 95 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut. Additionally, the monitor is G-Sync compatible and features support for variable refresh rate (VRR) gaming thanks to the inclusion of an HDMI 2.1 port. If you connect the M9 to a PS5 through that port, you’ll get access to a feature that will automatically switch the monitor between its included low-latency and picture processing modes when it detects you’re about to play a game or watch a movie. Sony has also optimized the PS5’s HDR output for the M9, and you’ll see the benefits of that tuning automatically as well. Sony's M9 will hit shelves this summer and retail for $899.

Alongside a 4K display, Sony will also offer a 240Hz Full HD monitor. Like the company’s new flagship, the M3 will boast a 1-millisecond gray to gray response time, PlayStation 5-specific features and compatibility for both G-Sync and VRR. As you might expect, high dynamic range performance won’t be as good as the 4K variant, with the monitor only earning VESA’s DisplayHDR 400 certification. Sony plans to begin selling the M3 sometime this winter for $529.

If you’re looking for a new gaming headset, Sony has you covered there too. For those who want it all, there’s the $299 H9. It features active noise cancellation, Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless connectivity, support for spatial audio and the same synthetic leather found on Sony’s recently announced WH-1000XM5 headphones. For a more affordable option, there’s the H7. It omits the H9’s ANC and “soft fit” leather features for a $229 price tag. The H7 will also come with better battery life. Sony claims you can get 40 hours of use from its new mid-tier headphones compared to 32 hours from the H9. Lastly, there’s the $99 H3, which you can connect to your PC or PS5 through a 3.5mm headphone jack or wired USB adapter. Sony will release all three models this summer.

Sony’s new gaming brand merges the best of its PlayStation and consumer gear

I've always wondered why aside from a handful of peripherals like the Pulse 3D headset and that weird 3D display, Sony never really tried to expand the PlayStation brand outside of consoles. And while you won’t find any PS logos on its new line of headsets and monitors, with Inzone it really feels like Sony is finally bringing its wider tech expertise to gaming.

Now the reason we haven’t seen a ton of PlayStation-branded peripherals before is because the Sony most people think about is actually a conglomerate of several companies that make everything from medical diagnostic tools to camera sensors. And in the case of Inzone, its new gaming gear isn’t being made by the same Sony that produces its iconic consoles (Sony Interactive Entertainment) but instead by the Sony that makes everyday consumer gadgets (Sony Corp/Sony Electronics) like TVs and headphones including the excellent WH-1000XM5.

The first three new headsets part of Sony's Inzone gaming line are the $99 H3, $229 H7, and the $299 H9.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

That’s important because, while these devices have design cues borrowed from the PS5, including their black and white color scheme and sleek sci-fi lines, much of the tech inside has trickled down from a range of Sony Electronics' devices. And after using a handful of Inzone’s new peripherals for about a week, it really feels like you’re getting a great mix of tech from two different branches of Sony.

Let’s start with Inzone’s headphones which consist of three different models: the entry-level $99 H3, the mid-range $229 H7 and the high-end $299 H9. As the cheapest of the three, the H3 are incredibly simple and straightforward. Unlike their more expensive siblings, they don’t support wireless audio and instead rely on either a 3.5mm cord or a USB cable for connecting to your console or PC. On the bright side, the thick padded headband and cloth earcups make the H3 a joy to wear, even during marathon gaming sessions.

The top-end Inzone H9 headset features dual wireless connection modes along with built-in digital noise cancellation, RGB lighting and up to 32 hours of battery life.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Another bonus is that due to cooperation between two arms of Sony, all Inzone headsets, including the H3, support the PS5’s Tempest 3D audio engine just like you get on the official Pulse 3D headphones. That means you get spatial audio and customizable sound profiles that make it easier to hear things like the footsteps of someone trying to sneak up behind you. That said, with the Pulse 3D also costing just $99 for wireless headphones that are just as comfortable as the H3, I think they’re probably the better buy for anyone on a budget.

Where things get really interesting though is when you move up to the H7 and H9, which feature dual-mode wireless connectivity (Bluetooth and a dedicated 2.4GHz wireless dongle), a slightly more streamlined design and strong battery life. On top of that, the H9 also feature digital noise canceling using the same tech as Sony’s 1000X line, and it shows.

Unlike the cloth earcups you get on the H3 and H7 headsets, the flagship H9 features soft fit leather earcups just like you get on Sony's WH-1000XM5 headphones.
Unlike the cloth earcups you get on the H3 and H7 headsets, the flagship H9 features soft fit leather earcups just like you get on Sony's WH-1000XM5 headphones.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Now I should mention Sony was only able to send out the H3 and H9 for testing, so I’ve been using those for my comparisons. But the H7 and H9 are fairly close in terms of specs, with the main difference being the H7’s lack of exterior RGB lighting, no support for digital noise canceling and the use of cloth earcups instead of the soft fit leather padding you get on the H9 (which is the same material Sony uses on the WH-100XM5). In return, because they don’t have built-in noise canceling, the H7 offer slightly longer battery life (around 40 hours) compared to the H9 (around 32 hours).

Regardless, my time with the H9 so far has been great, and in a lot of ways, they feel like a pair of WH-1000XM5 that have been tuned for gaming. The noise cancellation works wonders for drowning out background sounds, and the super supple leather makes wearing them feel like putting a cloud around your head.

Sony's first monitor under the Inzone brand will be the 27-inch M9 which features a 4K resolution, 144Hz refresh rate and full-array local dimming with 96 lighting zones.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

I also really appreciate some of the small details Sony added to the H9. On a lot of headphones that offer two modes of wireless connectivity, you can typically only use one type at a time. But with the H7 and H9s, you can connect to two different devices simultaneously. This means you can use the wireless dongle to connect to your PlayStation or PC, and then use Bluetooth to get audio from your phone. And because the PS5 doesn’t have native support for chat apps like Discord, this makes it much easier to talk to your friends regardless of what platform you’re on at the moment.

Additionally, the H7 and H9 are the only other headphones besides the Pulse 3Ds that can use the PS5’s on-screen status notifications, which means you can see stuff like volume levels, battery status, mic mute, and game/chat balance all at glance. So while they aren’t the PS5’s official headphones, they behave like they are, while also offering even more features and better audio quality. And just like the WH-1000XM5, you can even use your phone to take a picture of your ear, to tune their sound even further.

The back of the M9 has similar design elements to the PS5 along with customizable RGB lighting and a height and tilt-adjustable stand.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

As for Inzone’s new monitors, there’s the $529 M3 and the $899 M9. However, since the M3 won’t be available until sometime this winter, I’m going to focus on my time with the M9. Featuring a 27-inch 4K IPS panel with a 144Hz refresh rate, the M9 isn’t the biggest or fastest gaming monitor around. But for the money, it packs a ton of features compared to similarly-priced rivals. Not only does it support VRR and NVIDIA G-Sync, it also sports a strong one millisecond gray-to-gray time, DisplayHDR 600 certification and a gamut that covers more than 95 percent of the DCI-P3 spectrum. In short, colors are bright, rich and vivid while also being largely immune from the ghosting you often see on less sophisticated displays.

However, the M9’s biggest advantage is its full-array local dimming (FALD) which is made up of 96 different lighting zones compared to just eight or 16 on competitors like the LG 27GP950 or the Samsung S28AG700. And after seeing the results side-by-side, I was kind of shocked at how much of a difference the M9’s FALD makes. A lot of gamers can spot bloom in games when something bright moves quickly across a dark background, which often produces ring of light around the object. But not only does the M9 almost completely eliminate halos, the ability to adjust lighting zones with greater precision also gives the monitor improved dynamic range. So in games like Elden Ring, I saw backgrounds that were much darker and atmospheric compared to the washed-out gray tones I saw on other monitors. This allows you to get much better contrast and black levels without needing to upgrade to more expensive QD-OLED displays like Alienware’s $1,300 AW3423DW.

Sony says it intentionally designed the M9's stand to protrude towards the rear to give gamers more room to position their keyboard close to the monitor.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

And just like its headphones, Inzone’s first monitor has a lot of really thoughtful smaller features. It has a built-in KVM switch, which is extremely useful if you have multiple PCs connected to the same display. It also has a native FPS counter so you can easily keep tabs on performance, while the monitor’s Auto Genre Picture Mode can switch between settings like Cinema Mode and Gaming Mode depending on the content coming from your PS5. And in addition to being height and tilt adjustable, Sony even designed the M9’s stand so that its feet stick out towards the back, which means PC gamers who need to place their keyboard as close as possible to their monitor like Dafran totally can.

But perhaps my favorite little touch, is the software that allows you to navigate the monitor’s on-screen display with your mouse, instead of having to fumble around with the joystick on the back of the panel. The M9 even comes with built-in stereo speakers, so you can plug in your PS5 and get straight to gaming without worrying about audio. And thanks to two HDMI 2.1 ports, one DisplayPort 1.4 jack, support for video over USB-C (DP Alt mode) and a built-in USB Hub, there’s a wealth of connectivity.

All of Inzone's new headsets and monitors will be available this summer except the M3 display, which will go on sale sometime this winter.
All of Inzone's new headsets and monitors will be available this summer except the M3 display, which will go on sale sometime this winter.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

So aside from the H3 which is somewhat basic, I’ve come away quite impressed with Inzone’s first batch of PC and console gaming peripherals. That said, looking at the pedigree of these two faces of Sony, that probably shouldn’t be a surprise. It might not say so on the box, but in a lot of ways, this feels like the marriage between PlayStation and the tech from some of Sony’s best gadgets. But what might be the most promising part is that while Inzone hasn’t shared any future plans just yet, after talking to some of its reps, it’s clear Sony has big plans for its new gaming brand going into 2023 and beyond.

Microsoft Edge update brings Xbox streaming ‘Clarity Boost’ to everyone

Microsoft is hoping to make Edge the browser of choice for gamers. The company is rolling out a host of gaming-related updates to most users, including perks for game streaming. A new (if long in development) Clarity Boost feature improves the visual quality of console titles when you're using Xbox Cloud Gaming on a Windows 10 or 11 PC. The spatial upscaling technology won't make you forget that it's a stream, but the sample Microsoft offered suggests it will reduce the muddy look that sometimes plagues remote games.

You won't need an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription for the other improvements. Windows 10 and 11 users will also see a toggle in Efficiency mode that automatically reduces Edge's resource use when you start a PC game. You might not have to close your browser to wring every last drop of performance out of your system.

Regardless of platform, there's an optional gaming-oriented homepage that points you to news, livestreams, new releases and quick access to the Xbox Cloud Gaming catalog. You can also visit a dedicated games menu that offers free-to-play arcade and casual titles to keep you entertained during uneventful meetings.

This isn't the first browser built for gamers. Opera GX launched three years ago with similar features, such as lower resource usage and quick access to livestreams. Microsoft features like Clarity Boost might be more appealing in some cases, though, and Edge's ubiquity on Windows systems gives it better odds of widespread adoption.

A YouTuber built his own PS5 Slim that’s less than an inch thick

Sony typically follows up its PlayStation consoles with a slim version a few years later, but that time hasn't come for the PS5 yet. While we all wait for a slimmer PS5 that would fit in small spaces better, a YouTuber called DIY Perks already built one for himself. He took apart a standard PlayStation 5 and replaced everything that needed to be replaced to get rid of the console's bulk. He substituted components with similar parts and his own home-made creations, including the console's rather voluminous casing, to come up with a device that's just 1.9 centimeters thick.

Putting the current device's power supply and cooling system with the rest of the console's components wouldn't yield a "slim" version of the PS5, though. So, what Perks did was build his own water-cooling system and put the power supply in a long, slim external case that can be placed behind the TV, where it won't be noticeable. While he did run into some issues that took time to solve, he was able to make the console work in the end. His cooling system was even more efficient than the the standard PS5's, based on the temperatures he took when he tested it out using Horizon Forbidden West

Unfortunately, Perks' PS5 Slim is one of a kind and not easy to replicate. You can check out his process in the video below if you need ideas or just want to be awed.

Persona 3, Persona 4 and Persona 5 are coming to Xbox Game Pass

We didn't see it coming. Microsoft is working with Atlus to bring the three latest mainline Persona games to Xbox Game Pass. Yes, that includes Persona 3 Portable, which was first released back in 2009 — on the PlayStation Portable. All three titles will arrive in their advanced versions with expanded content, in-game features and more. 

Persona 5 Royal will be the first game to land on October 21st. For the other games, Xbox promised that every game you're seeing at its Summer Game Fest will arrive to play in the "next 12 months".

Xbox Game Pass comes to new Samsung smart TVs on June 30th

Xbox has been talking about bringing the Game Pass Ultimate library to smart TVs for at least a year, and it’s finally happening in 2022. The Xbox app will hit this year’s lineup of Samsung smart TVs and monitors on June 30th, allowing Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to play titles from the cloud with no additional hardware, aside from a Bluetooth-connected gamepad. Even a PlayStation controller will do the trick.

Some 2022 Samsung smart TV models already support game-streaming services including Google Stadia and NVIDIA’s GeForce Now. Samsung launched a new Gaming Hub for its TVs in January, putting these cloud services front-and-center, and the Xbox app is set to join them. Xbox is one of the biggest forces in cloud gaming, with more than 25 million Game Pass subscribers – though not all of these are at the Ultimate tier, which unlocks streaming capabilities.

The Game Pass Ultimate library has hundreds of games available to stream and Xbox has made it a point to release its big first-party titles on the service on day one. On Samsung devices, the Xbox app will support Bluetooth headsets and gamepads including the Xbox Wireless Controller, and PlayStation’s DualShock 4 and DualSense.

There’s no update for now on the dedicated streaming device that Xbox said it was working on last year alongside the smart TV app.

Xbox Game Pass 2022 updates
Xbox

Xbox has more big plans for Game Pass in the coming months. Later this year, the company plans to add the ability for Ultimate subscribers to stream select games that they purchase outside of the Game Pass library. It’s unclear exactly how this will break down – it likely applies to titles that leave the Game Pass catalog but remain in the Xbox ecosystem, but it could include games from third-party distributors.

In response to a request for clarification, an Xbox spokesperson said, “Later this year, it's our intent to roll out the ability for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members to play select games from the cloud that you already own or purchase outside the Xbox Game Pass library. We'll have more to share on the specific games that will be supported via Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) over the next year.”

Xbox is bringing cloud gaming to two new countries, Argentina and New Zealand, on June 9th. This includes access to the Xbox streaming library and Fortnite. Xbox partnered with Epic Games to bring Fortnite to Xbox Cloud Gaming in May, and it’s available to play there for free without a subscription. At the time, Xbox said it was interested in adding other free-to-play titles to its cloud network.

Over the coming year or so, Xbox plans to test out a system that allows for multiple profiles to play at the same time under a single Game Pass subscription. That’ll be tested in Colombia and Ireland, and Xbox executives are positioning it as a “potential addition” to Game Pass.

Xbox Game Pass 2022 updates
Xbox

Finally, game demos are on their way to Game Pass. Within the next year, Xbox will start rolling out curated, bite-sized bits of upcoming games in Game Pass, allowing subscribers to test these titles for free and provide feedback to developers. The program will focus on independent titles at first, and Xbox said developers will be compensated for participating, meaning all the work that goes into building a demo won’t go unfunded. The demo program is called Project Moorcroft. There’s no word on if a Minecraft Project Moorcroft demo will ever drop, but it’s fun to say that regardless.

Time-limited, free game demos are one of the perks of the new PlayStation Plus subscription service, which will be competing directly with Game Pass. The new PS Plus goes live on June 13th and its most expensive tier, Premium, includes access to about 700 games in the PS Now library, plus cloud play for some games from past PlayStation eras. Sony’s subscription plan doesn’t support native streaming on mobile devices, as Xbox’s does, and it won’t include any new, first-party games at launch.

Sony received negative press in April after reports surfaced that the studio was making it mandatory for developers of certain games to build and release two-hour demos for PlayStation Plus Premium, with no apparent plans to compensate them for the work. Xbox, of course, made sure to highlight its plans to pay developers for building demos.

PlayStation’s next State of Play will showcase PSVR2 games on June 2nd

Sony is holding its first PlayStation State of Play event in months, and you'll want to tune in if you're looking forward to PlayStation VR2. The company has announced a stream for June 2nd at 6PM Eastern that will include a "sneak peek" at several PSVR2 games. There aren't any clues as to what those entail, but the company recently noted that there will be at least 20 "major" games for the VR platform at launch — we wouldn't be surprised to see some of those during the presentation.

The State of Play video will also feature other game reveals from third-party developers as well as some "updates." The event will be available to watch live through PlayStation's Twitch and YouTube channels.

Only a few games have been confirmed for PSVR2 so far, including the spinoff Horizon: Call of the Mountain as well as Among Us VR, Cyan Worlds' Firmament and unnamed projects from Coatsink (Jurassic World Aftermath) and nDreams (Fracked). It's not certain if Sony will mention those games, or even show any gameplay, but it's clear the company is ready to shift more of its attention toward the new headset's software.

Microsoft confirms it’s taking a ‘new approach’ with its game streaming device

Earlier this month, a rumor suggested that Microsoft might be nearly ready to launch a Chromecast-like game streaming stick for its Xbox Cloud Gaming service. The company has now confirmed that such a device (codenamed Keystone) does exist, but it may not be coming any time soon after all, according to a report from Windows Central

"As announced last year, we’ve been working on a game-streaming device, codename Keystone, that could be connected to any TV or monitor without the need for a console," a Microsoft spokesperson told Windows Central. "We have made the decision to pivot away from the current iteration of the Keystone device. We will take our learnings and refocus our efforts on a new approach that will allow us to deliver Xbox Cloud Gaming to more players around the world in the future."

Last year, Microsoft confirmed that it was making Xbox video game streaming sticks and baking the technology into Smart TVs. "We're... developing standalone streaming devices that you can plug into a TV or monitor, so if you have a strong internet connection, you can stream your Xbox experience," the company said at the time. 

Since Stadia didn't light up the market as much as Google likely hoped, Microsoft may be taking stock of its own project. "As part of any technical journey, we are constantly evaluating our efforts, reviewing our learnings, and ensuring we are bringing value to our customers," the spokesperson said. 

Xbox Cloud Gaming (née xCloud) has rolled out to PCs, mobile devices and Xbox consoles as part of the $15/month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription — though it's still technically in beta almost a year after launching widely. However, Stadia can run on Google's relatively inexpensive Chromecast devices, plus NVIDIA Shield TV and numerous Smart TVs. Microsoft is obviously being careful about its own streaming device, so it doesn't look like a launch is in the near future after all.