Usually, a company releasing news late on a Friday night is a bad sign, but Microsoft went the other way. After starting off Friday by awkwardly announcing revised pricing for Xbox Live Gold that would’ve doubled the cost for new Xbox accounts to access multiplayer, it backtracked. Admitting that “We messed up today and you were right to let us know,” the company announced that not only will pricing not change, but it’s also working on enabling free multiplayer for free-to-play games like Fortnite and Apex Legends and its upcoming title Halo Infinite.
There’s no word on how long it will take for the free part of the announcement to turn on, but since that’s already free on PlayStation Network, it can’t come soon enough. Even with the existence of Game Pass, asking $120 annually for new players would’ve made Xbox by far a second-class multiplayer experience for new customers and existing ones.
It’s good that Microsoft reconsidered the move (after shipping $60 6-month Xbox Live cards that now feel like collector’s items), but if it really wanted to turn the tide in the console wars then free multiplayer for all would be a better choice. Hey, they seem to be open to suggestions, so why not ask?
-- Richard Lawler
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Ok, but why?
If you use iOS and still have a Facebook account, you probably got logged out on Friday night. In a statement to Engadget the company said “We believe this was due to a configuration change” and that they’re looking into it, but didn’t provide any more information.
The latest MacBook Pro with the new M1 chipset is $80 off at Amazon.
This week brought a return of some holiday sale prices, plus a few deals that are even better than those we saw late last year. Google’s Pixel 4a 5G fell to a new record-low price, while the 8th-generation iPad remains on sale for $299. If you want to up your smart-home game, August’s WiFi smart lock is more than $65 off and some Beats headphones are 50 percent off, too.
Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra review
Cherlynn dishes her thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra, and whether they’re worthy upgrades over last year’s phones. Do all those cameras make a difference? And is there a point to releasing a Galaxy Note this year? Also, Devindra discusses the virtual inauguration for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, as well as the rumors around Apple’s upcoming and potentially pricey VR headset. Is this the best strategy to get to an AR headset?
There are also fixes for a number of quests and bugged achievements.
As promised, the first of two early-2021 patches for CD Projekt Red’s troubled Cyberpunk 2077 has arrived. This updates the game to version 1.1 on PC, consoles and Stadia, and according to the notes it lays the groundwork for future updates, while also addressing memory usage and crash problems. These patches are supposed to make the game more playable on PS4 and Xbox One consoles, and the one planned for February is apparently going to be more significant.