Microsoft Will Refund Some Xbox Owners’ Xbox Live Gold Fees

Xbox One Media Apps

If you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription only to access media apps such as Netflix and Hulu, Microsoft’s recent decision to remove the digital requirement may have left you feeling short-changed. After all, many consumers buy an upfront 12-month subscription to get a discount on the standard monthly fee. To make amends, Microsoft is promising to refund Xbox Live Gold subscribers who will no longer need their membership from June, when the changes come into effect. Payments will be made on a pro-rata basis, calculated from the day of cancellation to when their membership would have normally ended. “Cancellation and pro-rata refund requests must be made by August 31, 2014 and require six to eight weeks for processing,” the company said.

Read the full story at The Next Web.

Titanfall’s Launch on Xbox One Marred by Xbox Live Outage


Now is the absolute worst time for Xbox Live to be down. Tuesday marked the debut of Titanfall, the game that could make or break the Xbox One game console. It’s a masterpiece of mechanical manslaughter, and Microsoft pulled out all the stops for its release, delivering new system updates, new peripherals and even a “fix” for the Xbox One game controller ahead of its launch on Tuesday. But now, as prospective US players return home from work to play the Xbox One’s killer app, many are finding themselves unable to sign into their consoles and actually play the game. With some games, that might not be a gigantic problem. You could simply play a single-player mode. But Titanfall is a multiplayer-only game that’s joined at the hip to Xbox Live, dependant on the service for everything from dedicated servers to AI calculations. You can’t even play the tutorial without a connection.

A later update said the situation was fixed: “The official Xbox Support Twitter account claims that Xbox Live is “good to go,” though the status page still lists service as “limited.”

Read the full story at The Verge.

Xbox 360 Dashboard update pictures and hands-on

Bing search, Metro-styling and more…

Microsoft is set to release its most ambitious Xbox 360 Dashboard update in the six-year-old console’s life to date, and Pocket-lint was invited to a swanky location in the heart of London to test the new features.

Available for download globally from 6 December (tomorrow), the new update is a complete refresh for the user interface and brings the experience in line with the styling of the company’s Windows Phone 7 operating system, and the front end of the forthcoming Windows 8.

It adopts the new Metro-style interface, offering a tiled aesthetic, and splits content categories into tabs that run across the top of the screen. There’s some that are familiar, some not so, and all have been simplified.

Video and Games are still present, obviously, but new to this update are entire categories for Social, Apps, TV and, possibly the standout new feature, Bing. The latter brings about a new way to search for content, whether it be a movie, game, music video or such-like, and it can be accessed or controlled via the joypad or, as we experienced, Kinect – using the microphone and our voice.

In essence, the new Bing search functionality comes across a bit like Apple’s Siri software found on the iPhone 4S, and has already been advertised on UK TV. However, the feature is much more impressive in the flesh. It’s not a fully functioning version of the Bing in-browser search engine, and technically can only find content that’s available to play, download or stream on or to your Xbox 360, but it is revolutionary in the way that you can access it all through speech.

If you have a Kinect plugged into your console, all you have to do is say “Xbox. Bing. Search…” and choose a term. In our demonstration, we performed several searches, including “Xbox. Bing. Search Batman” and “Search Christian Bale”, and both of which came up with plenty of entertainment suggestions. “Batman”, in fact, came up with the game Lego Batman, some of the full length cartoon series and Batman Begins, both available to rent. Additionally, some of the new content partners that come with the update also have content that will be displayed after a Bing search, as well as those that are Microsoft-hosted. And, as more join up, the results will become farther reaching still.

You can search for common titles, actors names and directors, and, like with Siri, half the fun is finding out what works and what doesn’t. The Kinect certainly recognises a hell of a lot of vocal commands, and can now be used throughout the new Dashboard experience too (not just in-game or in a Kinect-specific menu). The same is true for motion control.

The other major non-cosmetic additions to this update come in the form of the aforementioned new content partners. Along with new zones and an easier to understand menu structure, come video apps for Lovefilm, 4OD, blinkbox, Demand 5 (Channel Five’s VOD service), YouTube, Dailymotion and MSN. And, unlike on rival platforms, Microsoft has made a clever move in getting them to ditch their own front ends and user interfaces in favour of the Metro approach. On the PS3, for example, the Lovefilm app looks nothing like Sony’s XrossMediaBar – it uses the same UI as found on Samsung Smart TVs, et al. Not so here.

Instead, while it is the same streamed movie content found on all other Lovefilm streaming platforms, it is a seamless experience, looking like the Xbox’s own new Dashboard with minor colour changes. You’ll still need a streaming-enabled subscription, but you won’t feel like you are leaving the Xbox arena at any time.

The same is true with all of the other content partners, including music service Even 4OD shows are offered through a Metro-style interface, although the font has been changed to Channel 4 s.

Remarkably, Pocket-lint was also told that, when it arrives, the BBC iPlayer application will sport the same Metro aesthetic. Seeing as how much the Beeb is protective over its branding and styling, this comes as a massive shock, and much kudos to Microsoft if it manages to pull of such a coup. We were also told that, because of this, and contrary to former rumours, iPlayer will not be available on the Xbox 360 until 2012. The same is true of ITV Player.

The big M won’t end there either. It told us, in our one-to-one briefing, that it plans to release around 15 applications before the end of 2011, and has a healthy roadmap for the introduction of many more throughout the coming year, month-by-month.

Some of those will be social too, although there’s no word at present on Skype integration (considering Microsoft now owns it), but Twitter and Facebook are already present (as before). There will also be new features for social gaming, such as leaving a beacon for friends who are not online. As soon as they log in, that beacon will ask them to join you in a game. Plus, as Gamertag information will be stored in the cloud from now on, rather than locally, you can even log into your account from a different Xbox 360, and play as yourself rather than a guest, with all your achievements and information being accessible.

At this juncture, it’s worth pointing out that some of these new services are only available to Xbox Live Gold members. Silver members still get the new look, the search functionality, and voice and gesture control through a Kinect (if they have one), but will not be able to access a vast amount of the content.

We haven’t been told of an exact time for the Dashboard’s release in the UK, but it is totally on track for this Tuesday. And, given our initial viewing, we reckon it’ll blow your socks off.

No BBC iPlayer for Xbox 360 Dashboard update

Delayed until 2012

The Xbox 360 Dashboard update hits tomorrow (6 December), but while it comes with plenty of new features and applications for content providers, including 4OD and Demand 5, the much-touted BBC iPlayer won’t be one of them. Yet.

Pocket-lint has been told, in a one-to-one briefing, that the iPlayer app is unlikely to be available on the platform this year, with a 2012 release date much more likely. This is because both parties, Microsoft and the BBC, want the functionality and look of the service to be as good as it possibly can be, and to feature complete integration with the new features offered by the refreshed Metro-style interface:

“We are working with them to deliver their application, probably in 2012,” said Pav Bhardwaj, Xbox Live UK product manager. “We are working to make sure that the app that we deliver for the BBC is the best app that we could possibly deliver. That it is seamless. That it is a great consumer experience. That’s what both the BBC and Microsoft want to deliver.”

However, at least this means that the iPlayer app for Xbox 360 will feature search through voice control, for example:

“That’s what’s most important. Rather than rushing it through, we’re going to make sure it’s a quality app,” he added.

“What’s important about the BBC is that they have such rich content. They’ve got so much content that’s it’s really important that we bring the whole Bing experience, the whole Kinect experience, and the whole search and gesture control functionality correctly to that application. And that it works seamlessly.”

Additionally, the company is working with the other major UK terrestrial broadcaster ITV to bring its ITV Player service to the platform in 2012 too:

“They are one of the partners we’re looking to work with,” Bhardwaj said.

PS4 Details Will Possibly Emerge This Month

Rumors are abound that Sony is set to reveal more details about the much-anticipated PS4. It was widely believed that they would use E3 to finalize details or at least give us more info but now speculation is that Sony will make an announcement as early as this month. Sony likely wants to keep the hype train rolling in their favor after the not so surprising PS4 announcement this past February.

My own personal opinion is that Sony wants to have all details available and perhaps even start taking pre-orders before Microsoft announces their next console. In January Microsoft posted a countdown to E3 on its blog which most people assumed was to be taken as a countdown to the NextBox. However there’s still a chance Microsoft will also preempt E3 with their own standalone announcement. Both consoles could possibly release by the end of 2013.

Eventually I will own both consoles but my first choice and the console I will pre-order in hopes of getting my hands on at launch will be the PS4. I think a lot of gamers have similarly made up their minds regardless of announcements. So geeks, what’s your thoughts on the impending next console generation? We’d love to hear your thoughts on what will undoubtedly be a competition that in the end can only end in a win for us gamers.

Maybe that next Xbox won’t require a constant net connection!


It’s been a mess of rumors and angry gamers since the first hint of the next Xbox, code-named Durango, would require a constant internet connection. A connection not only for online multiplayer, not only for updates but also to play games. Of course the cynic in us felt it was also a way to block used games, the “always on” component either way has been an irritating thorn in all our sides.

Thanks to recent reports at The Verge and VGLeaks, we’re now hearing that the constant connection will be only for the push of media content. Durango will still play games offline, without the need for the internet. It also seems the likelihood of Microsoft using this as a means to slit the used games market’s throat is pretty low.

The origin of the rumors seem to stem from the already out there dev units needing the connection. There was some mention of a possible second Xbox device needing a full-on connection. Of course we don’t know anything for certain as Microsoft won’t respond to rumors. We just have to wait until the alleged unveiling in May.

Sacred Citadel Available Now For Multi-Platforms

Sacred Citadel the side scrolling hack and slash action game is now available for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. Sacred Citadel offers all of the comforts of the action brawler but kicks it up a notch by incorporating RPG elements. As if that weren’t enough, gameplay includes dual wielding of weapons, combos galore and some pretty stunning graphics.

Play solo or bring a friend or two, as Sacred Citadel offers fun co-op gameplay for up to 3 people.

Download Sacred Citadel on the platform of your choice for the low price of $14.99 on PSN and Steam or 1200 Microsoft points on XBLA. You can also add the DLC pack, Jungle Hunt for $4.99 / 400 Microsoft points.

Sacred Citadel was developed by Southend Studios and is being published by Deep Silver.

Look for my full review of Sacred Citadel coming soon to Don’t Hate The Geek. Check out the launch trailer below.

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May 21st the day Microsoft finally unveils the new Xbox.


It’s been hinted at, it’s been speculated and it’s been whispered in hallways, the date when Microsoft officially and loudly opens up about the future, their new fangled Xbox Next, Xbox 720, Durango – whatever it’s called. Most of us hoped they might say something before E3, much like Sony did but the days drug on, getting closer to the annual event.

Today Microsoft caused fanboys to grease up their palms because they admitted that May 21st is the official unveiling, the coming out party for the next iteration of the Xbox gaming console. According to Major Nelson, the 21st is just the first step in the unwrapping, 19 days later at E3 they will showcase the system’s new games.

Interested geeks will be able to watch the live stream on, Xbox Live and on Spike TV (where else?) on May 21st. Kick off time is 1 p.m. EST so set your countdown timers now!

Call Of Duty Ghosts Will Be Haunting Gamers In November

Activision has officially announced the next installment of Call Of Duty and its name is, Call Of Duty Ghosts. As far as COD reveals go, Ghosts was actually pretty lackluster. A short teaser trailer with a press release stating COD Ghosts is “An All-New World, Story, Characters and Experience, All Powered By A New, Next Gen Call Of Duty Engine from the Developer that started it all, Infinity Ward“.

November 5, 2013 is the release date and COD Ghosts will be available for Xbox 360, PS3, PC and next generation consoles. We will get to see the first gameplay later this month at Microsoft’s event and announcement of their next console, May 21. No word yet if it will appear on Nintendo’s Wii U.

I, like so many assumed Ghosts would have something to do with the character, Simon “Ghost” Riley from Modern Warfare 2. Given the title and the fact that the official Call Of Duty website teased an image of a skull infused balaclava, it was an honest mistake. In a way I’m kind of glad, Ghost belongs to a COD of the past. As far as I’m concerned he died with MW2 as did much of what I loved about COD. Silly Activision, everyone knows the developer who started it all have mostly “Respawned” elsewhere.

I’m still a fan of the franchise, or maybe I’m just a slave to the COD machine but I hope to once again be amazed by it. As we wait for more information, I present you with the teaser trailer followed up by Activision’s official press release.

Activision Announces the Next Generation of Call of Duty with Call of Duty : Ghosts
Call of Duty: Ghosts will set a new Benchmark for the Next Generation
All-New World, Story, Characters and Experience, All Powered by New, Next Gen Call of Duty Engine from the Developer that started it all, Infinity Ward
For an Exclusive First Look at the Game, Tune in to Xbox: The New Generation Revealed, May 21 at 10AM PDT on, Xbox Live or SPIKE TV
Groundbreaking Title Lands on November 5
SANTA MONICA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Prepare for the next generation of Call of Duty . The franchise that has defined a generation of gaming is set to raise the bar once again with the all-new Call of Duty : Ghosts. Published by Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI), and developed by Infinity Ward, the studio that created the original Call of Duty and the seminal Call of Duty : Modern Warfare series, Call of Duty: Ghosts ushers in the next generation of the franchise. The new title delivers a riveting all-new gameplay experience built on an entirely new story, setting and cast of characters, all powered by a new, next generation Call of Duty engine that redefines the series for the next generation.
“Infinity Ward set the gold standard for first-person action for a generation, and they’re going to do it again with Call of Duty: Ghosts,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, Inc. “Ghosts delivers an all-new story, all-new characters, an all-new Call of Duty world, all powered by a next generation Call of Duty engine, which is a leap forward for the franchise. Infinity Ward is going all-in to create the next generation of Call of Duty worthy of the world’s greatest fans.”
“Everyone was expecting us to make Modern Warfare 4, which would have been the safe thing to do. But we’re not resting on our laurels,” said Mark Rubin, executive producer of developer Infinity Ward. “We saw the console transition as the perfect opportunity to start a new chapter for Call of Duty. So we’re building a new sub-brand, a new engine, and a lot of new ideas and experiences for our players. We can’t wait to share them with our community.”
To see an exclusive first look at Call of Duty: Ghosts tune in to Xbox: the Next Generation Revealed on May 21 at 10AM PDT on, Xbox LIVE or SPIKE TV for the debut of the all-new game from Infinity Ward.
“We are consistently thrilled with the overwhelming response received from critics and consumers alike to the Call of Duty series, which has firmly established its home on the Xbox 360 with the game’s largest and most engaged community,” said Don Mattrick, president of the interactive entertainment business at Microsoft. “With Call of Duty: Ghosts, we have no doubt that our longtime partners, Activision and Infinity Ward, will raise the bar higher than ever before for this incredible franchise.”
Starting today, fans can begin pre-ordering their copy of Call of Duty: Ghosts at retail outlets worldwide.
“There’s no other video game property like Call of Duty. It’s the biggest game franchise on the planet that has had some of the biggest game entertainment launches in history,” said Tony Bartel, president of GameStop. “We are very excited for the launch of Call of Duty: Ghosts, as we transition to next generation consoles.”
Call of Duty: Ghosts will release on Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system and PC on November 5. Call of Duty: Ghosts will also be available for next generation platforms. For the latest intel, check out:,, or follow on Twitter @InfinityWard. Call of Duty: Ghosts is not yet rated.
About Activision Publishing, Inc.
Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision Publishing, Inc. is a leading worldwide developer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and leisure products.
Activision maintains operations in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, South Korea, mainland China and the region of Taiwan. More information about Activision and its products can be found on the company’s website,
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements: Information in this press release that involves Activision Publishing’s expectations, plans, intentions or strategies regarding the future, including statements about the expected Call of Duty: Ghosts release date of November 5, 2013, are forward-looking statements that are not facts and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Factors that could cause Activision Publishing’s actual future results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements set forth in this release include unanticipated product delays and other factors identified in the risk factors sections of Activision Blizzard’s most recent annual report on Form 10-K and any subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. The forward-looking statements in this release are based upon information available to Activision Publishing and Activision Blizzard as of the date of this release, and neither Activision Publishing nor Activision Blizzard assumes any obligation to update any such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements believed to be true when made may ultimately prove to be incorrect. These statements are not guarantees of the future performance of Activision Publishing or Activision Blizzard and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond its control and may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations.
ACTIVISION, CALL OF DUTY, CALL OF DUTY MODERN WARFARE and CALL OF DUTY GHOSTS are trademarks of Activision Publishing, Inc. Microsoft, Windows, Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE are either registered trademarks or trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies. All other trademarks and trade names are the properties of their respective owners.

Geeky Game Review: Dead Island: Riptide


Once more into the breach my fellow geeks! We have zombies monsters to slay! After Dead Island dropped in 2011, zombie killing fans were left wanting more, much more. Well here we are, stuck in another island hell hole fighting off hordes of undead monstrosities and were we given the sequel we needed, the sequel we deserved?

Dead Island: Riptide is a psuedo-sequel to Dead Island. You could call it an expansion pack pretty much, a huge expansion at that. The same four heroes from the first are back with a new immune survivor in the mix. The game starts off exactly after the end of the first, with our motley crew escaping the infested Banoi. The gang ends up on a ship in the ocean where they find more hardship. Abducted, they become the focus of experiment after experiment. As with all things science, an outbreak occurs and the ship crashes. Not back on Banoi thankfully but an all new section of the cluster, Palanai.


Palanai is its own creature, separate from Banoi but yet strikingly familiar. It’s a lush tropical paradise but so was Banoi and I believe that’s what starts the downfall of the game. Riptide feels much like its predecessor in every way, the good with the bad. Every thing that was wrong with the original is still wrong in Riptide. We’re talking the poor, stuttering frame rate, the stilted “I got a load in my pants” walk of your chosen avatar, the clipped sound and horribly repetitive fetch quests. It’s almost like Techland didn’t listen to anything the fans said and kept on with business as usual. And they brought along some new glitches to irritate fans.


Did you rely on the quest marker to lead you to the next destination, to help you bypass the throngs of brain hungry foes? Yeah, you can forget that bad boy in Riptide – it’s fundamentally broken. It works when it wants to, which isn’t very often mind you. Routinely you will become over run and murdered by the Left 4 Dead type hordes, by the constantly respawning zombies, by the ninja-like wretches that will appear behind you. It is pure frustration on an epic scale. Something I never encountered in DI but are present everywhere are insta-killing enemies. They throw one tiny knife and full health bar or not, BAM! you’re dead. Utter rubbish.

Not all is bad in Riptide, there are some improvements to be found, some additions to make it stand out. Something I thoroughly enjoyed was the hub defense for the various hideouts the gang holes up in. The zombies will swarm in from a scattering of weak spots in an attempt to swallow up the survivors. Each time I played, I had a blast laying down traps, rushing to a friend’s aid and cutting off little pieces of the horde. That brings up another new and fun item, mines and bombs. It’s delicious fun to drop a mine and watch some schmuck walk into it, set it off and then burn down to the ground. Fun, fun!


Beyond the usual quests, the team now has a set of fetch quests to achieve. Grabbing x number of whatever and bringing them back to a survivor grants newer weapons, cheaper prices at stores and more helpful friends during the hub defense. I handed off 4 blankets to one guy and next thing I knew, he was wielding a monstrous, multi-edged zombie slicer instead of his puny bat.

Techland introduced a few new monsters to the core set. The biggest pain is the Screamer, a monster that..screams. The scream is so deafening that your hero is instantly incapacitated by it, usually knocked to the ground. The Wrestler is a slow and deadly hulk of a monster that can kill in one blow. Also new to the game is the Dead Zones. Dead Zones are chock full of monsters as well as a boss monster. You got to be good and you got to be tough to clear the zone, which includes killing the tough as nails boss. It’s worth it though as Dead Zones usually have something rare for you tucked away in them.

I’m not here to say Riptide is utter trash because it’s not. It does have some serious issues that were never fixed from the first game and it has some new issues that impact gameplay but if you can look past them you’ll find a competent zombie slasher with real potential. There is plenty of real fun to be had in crafting new weapons and busting monster skulls with them. Each kill is a satisfying kill, especially when you’re surrounded by more ready to die – again.


I give Dead Island: Riptide a 6 out of 10 and would gladly bump that up if they can issue a patch to fix some of the technical problems. Hopefully Techland goes ahead with a full-blown sequel and fixes the complaints.

Many thanks to out pals at Deep Silver for the Xbox 360 review copy! May I never hear “I gotta find another way in” again!