OPINION: It’s Sunday, which means it’s time for another edition of Winners and Losers.
This week, GoPro unveiled its Hero 11 Black action camera, Amazon showed off its smallest and lightest e-reader yet and Sonos announced its own tiny addition as the Sub Mini was finally made official.
It was also a big week in gaming, with Nintendo previewing games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom at its September Direct event and Sony announcing a gaming-focused Xperia accessory during its own Born To Game stream.
However, it was Microsoft who caught our attention with news of a specific game coming to Xbox Game Pass in the near future. Amazon, meanwhile, took the title of Loser for an intrusive new feature coming to Alexa.
Our winner this week is Microsoft after the company revealed that Deathloop is coming to Xbox during its 2022 Tokyo Game Show stream.
The game will be available as a standalone purchase for the Xbox Series X/S and to Game Pass, Game Pass PC and Xbox Cloud gaming users across the world from September 20, which means you won’t have to wait long at all to get your hands on it.
The game will include all the updates released since Deathloop’s PlayStation launch, including photomode, accessibility options that weren’t available at launch, cross-play matchmaking and plenty of quality-of-life fixes.
The game will also come with a new Goldenloop update, which brings with it a new weapon, a new ability, new enemy types, an extended ending and more.
Computing and Gaming Editor Ryan Jones gave the game 4.5/5 stars, describing it as “one of the most innovative games from a major publisher that I’ve ever played”, thanks to its time loop mechanic, clever puzzles and engaging combat.
It’s exciting to see the game come to Xbox after receiving such high praise on the PS5, and the fact it’s coming to Game Pass means you might not even need to pay extra to find out what the hype is about.
This week’s loser is Amazon – or, rather, Amazon Echo users – after the company previewed a new ‘Customers ask Alexa’ feature at its Amazon Accelerate conference.
While the feature might sound innocuous enough at first glance, it’s basically Amazon’s way of sneaking ads into your everyday interactions with through its Alexa voice assistant.
Customers Ask Alexa works by listening out for queries that relate to the features of a specific product and responding with answers provided directly by that product’s brand. Of course, the feature wouldn’t be complete without a link to the brand’s Amazon storefront.
The example Amazon gives is “How can I remove pet hair from my carpet?”. Instead of responding with information gathered from the web, Alexa will now be able to regurgitate a brand’s words and redirect you to their product on Amazon.
While Amazon has reassured users that these brand-provided answers will go through Alexa’s content moderation and quality checks, it’s nevertheless disappointing to hear that the company has found another way to infiltrate our homes with ads.
Not only do these ads have the potential to be incredibly invasive, but they’re also likely to be really annoying – especially for users looking for useful or time-sensitive advice from their smart speaker.
Customers Ask Alexa will only be available to select group of brands in 2022, which raises questions of which products you can expect Alexa to be peddling this Christmas.
It’ll be available to “all eligible brands” in the US from 2023, before rolling out on customer Echo devices midway through next year.