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Pandemic Olympics: Health Experts Worry COVID May Win Gold

Pandemic Olympics: Health Experts Worry COVID May Win Gold

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Like all Olympic hopefuls, swimmer Michael Andrew, 22, has his eye on the gold ― and the training needed to grab that medal.

But this week, during an interview on Fox Business, Andrew laid bare the fact that these Games will not be like any other.

Andrew made news when he said he will not get a COVID-19 vaccine before heading to the Games because he didn’t want anything to possibly derail his training.

“I’m an elite athlete. Everything we take and put in our body is very calculated,” he said. “With the period going into Olympic trials, I didn’t want to risk any time out of the pool.”

It was a signal that the first Pandemic Olympic Games are near.

Andrew’s statement triggered outrage among people calling it selfish ― as well as concerns from public health experts, who say they are already worried about COVID-19 spreading at the Games. And it further shifted attention from the thousands of athletes from around the world gathering in Tokyo to the very real fact that these Olympics, already postponed from 2020, will be about the fight against coronavirus as much as it will be about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Already, COVID-19 has changed these Olympics. Gone will be the iconic moments where winning athletes bow their heads and have a medal placed around their necks. No, this year, winners will pick up their own medals off a tray.

What’s more, the coronavirus appears to be in fighting shape: Seven employees of a Tokyo hotel, where members of the Brazilian team will stay, have already tested positive.

Vaccinations Suggested, Not Required

While the International Olympic Committee (IOC) doesn’t mandate vaccination, it says that 85% of athletes and officials are vaccinated or have natural immunity from a prior infection. Still, public health officials wish that percent would be closer to 100%. On Twitter and medical journals and other publications, public health experts are calling out the IOC for what they see as a failure to take the coronavirus risks seriously enough.

Their suggestions about how to reduce risks even more have largely fallen on deaf ears, says Annie Sparrow, MD, assistant professor of population health science and policy at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, one of a group of U.S. experts invited to submit ideas to the IOC planning meetings on reducing COVID-19 risk. “Our input really hasn’t been taken seriously,” she says.

In a tweet Wednesday, Sparrow lashed out at IOC President Thomas Bach, calling him “all talk, no action” for falling short on public health measures to reduce risk.

Brian McCloskey, chair of the IOC’s independent expert panel and expert in global health and infectious diseases, disagrees.

He says some of their concerns have been addressed as the IOC’s Olympic Playbooks have been continually updated. The third version, released in June, is a 70-page document for athletes and officials and covers recommendations for before, during, and after the Games.

“They are a key part of our risk reduction strategy for the Games and have been regularly updated as we learn from the wide range of sporting events that have successfully been staged in recent months,” McCloskey says.

Other playbooks cover the workforce, marketing partners, media, families of Olympics and Paralympics participants, and international federations.

Countdown to Tokyo

An estimated 11,000 athletes from more than 200 countries are expected to gather in Tokyo for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad.

Along the way to the July 23 opening ceremonies, IOC officials have met with much resistance and concern about COVID-19, including substantial pushback from Japanese residents. In May, a survey by Asahi Shimbun, a leading daily newspaper, found that 83% of Japanese voters opposed the Olympics. More recently, however, that resistance seems to be fading. A poll in late June by Fuji Television found just 30.5% were in favor of cancellation.

Resistance may have fallen when citizens found out that the stands wouldn’t be packed with people. After the government of Japan declared a state of emergency on July 8, meant to reduce the number of incoming people, the IOC and other organizing groups prohibited spectators in the Tokyo venues (but still allowing fans in some venues outside the city).

As of July 12, about 19% of the population of Japan is fully vaccinated, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. That is low, but a sharp increase from the end of May, when other data found a fully vaccinated rate of under 3%.

As of July 12, Japan has had 824,990 COVID-19 cases and nearly 15,000 deaths.

IOC’s Perspective

On Wednesday, the IOC’s Bach met with Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide to discuss final preparations. Bach noted that besides the 85% vaccination rate of athletes and officials in the village, nearly 100% of the IOC members and staff are vaccinated, along with 70% to 80% of media expected at the Games.

He also reported a low positivity rate so far. An estimated 8,000 people involved in the Games traveled to Japan from July 1-13; all had pre-departure tests and health checks. According to Bach, only three tested positive for COVID-19 after arrival. All were isolated right away. Close contacts were quarantined.

In the latest playbook, the IOC issues a number of guidelines. Among the highlights for athletes and officials:

  • Self-monitoring. Monitoring for symptoms should begin 14 days before departure.

  • Testing. Athletes are tested before departing for the Games, on arrival at the airport, and daily at the Games. They are also tested if any symptoms develop. If positive, they are isolated.

  • Contact tracing. Close contacts of infected people will also be tested. Contact tracing is by smartphone app.

  • Risk reduction. Masks are to be worn at all times except when eating, drinking, training, competing, or sleeping. Physical interactions are to be minimalized. Ventilation in all areas is recommended.

Even with the publication of the third version of the playbook, the protocols fall short, Sparrow says. Among the strategies that she and others say should also be employed:

  • Risk stratification. Classify events as low, moderate, or high risk depending on the activity and the venue. Outdoor events in which competitors are naturally spaced out (like sailing, equestrian) may be viewed as low risk. Indoor sports, such as boxing and wrestling, are probably high risk. Protocols should vary depending on risk levels. The risk stratification can also be applied to non-competition spaces, with hotels, buses, and cafeterias viewed as higher risk than outdoor areas.

  • Testing frequency. Testing frequency is not ideal, Sparrow says. “All the athletes should be tested twice daily.”

  • Ventilation. Key issues about things like ventilation are not addressed sufficiently. Hotel hallways have high density and low ventilation ― a bad combination.

  • HEPA. HEPA filters, placed widely in athletes’ rooms, dining areas, and elsewhere, can reduce transmission of airborne particles.

  • Contact tracing. Contact-tracing apps are often not effective. Sparrow says very few athletes will compete as they carry a mobile phone. Better: wearable devices (rings, bracelets) with proximity sensors.

In an opinion piece in The Hill July 6, Sparrow and Lisa Brosseau, ScD, a retired professor from the University of Illinois and an expert in infectious diseases, elaborate on the importance of stratifying sports by risk. “Wrestling is riskier than weightlifting,” they write. “Boxing is riskier than badminton. Thomas Bach, PhD, IOC president and gold medalist in fencing, should understand that fencers have a much higher risk of spreading COVID-19 than track-and-field athletes.”

Besides the playbooks about how to stay safe, McCloskey says the IOC on July 9 published the “Sports Specific Rules” that set out specific requirements for different sports. The rules focus on a course of action once an athlete or official tests positive, according to the IOC. As participants gather in Tokyo, McCloskey says, ”we can communicate directly with them in the Village and the venues, and go through the individual sports’ rules and countermeasures.”

But Sparrow was hoping for risk reduction strategies by sport to prevent positive tests, not information on what to do once a specific sport has a positive test.

In an earlier perspective published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Sparrow, University of Minnesota infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, and colleagues, urged IOC organizers to heed lessons from other large sporting events, adapting measures that work, such as single hotel rooms for athletes, frequent testing, and wearable technology for contact monitoring.

Lots of Moving Parts

While much of the risk management focuses on athletes and officials, ”there are many opportunities beyond the athletic venues for the virus to spread,” says William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. He’s talking about all the people who make the Olympics run, ”the people in the proverbial boiler room, the local people sweeping streets, selling tickets.”

The latest version of the playbook does include recommendations for the workforce, such as staff, volunteers, and contractors. Many of the same recommendations are made for them as for athletes.

Many of these people may be older, and so more vulnerable to COVID-19, Schaffner says. “And if it’s anything like the U.S. there will be gatherings in homes, as people get together and talk about [the Games].”

As for whether the Games have the potential to be a superspreader event, Schaffner says: “Of course it has that potential. Given everything I’ve heard [about prevention measures], I think that potential is reduced.”

He does, however, expect some transmission.

Schaffner has sympathy for the IOC planning committee.

“The IOC has millions of issues to deal with,” he says. “Along comes coronavirus and says ‘Hello, I’m in charge now.”’

Ethics and the Olympics

The lack of an IOC mandate for vaccination doesn’t sit well with Arthur Caplan, PhD, professor of bioethics at New York University.

“It is ethical lunacy to have athletes coming to compete from around the world without requiring vaccination,” he says. The idea ”that we have to respect choice makes zero sense when the risks are real and the danger of putting other athletes and spectators and even the community at risk are high. Tokyo is poorly vaccinated and so is Japan.”

“Athletes have no fundamental right to harm others in the name of competition or getting a medal. I still don’t understand why everyone [going to the Olympics] wasn’t vaccinated a month ago.”

Caplan calls any athlete declining vaccines ”a very poor role model for young people,” unless there is a legitimate health or religious reason for passing it up.

Last week, Andrew, the Olympic swimmer, said during a news conference that he wasn’t vaccinated and didn’t plan to get a shot. He contracted COVID-19 months ago and said he was concerned about potential vaccine side effects that could affect his training schedule. He also said he felt protected by the safety protocols implemented by USA Swimming.

“I didn’t think this is what the hype and excitement around the ‘Michael Andrew’ name would be — would revolve around vaccines,” he added. “But I understand, and it’s something I’m willing to stand for.”

As the Games begin, Caplan says he hopes the media also pays attention to ethics, reporting not only on the Games but about any outbreaks, and continues to report about Japanese resistance to the Games.

Frustrations Aside, an Opportunity to Unite?

Despite debates about risk reduction, the Olympics are seen as an opportunity to unite the world at a time when it’s sorely needed. Even with the frustration that Sparrow expresses about what she sees as the lack of ideal risk reduction, will she watch? “Definitely,” she says. “We kind of need this to work.”

In his July 14 statement, the IOC’s Bach predicted that the Games ”will be followed by billions of people around the world. They will admire what the Japanese people have achieved under these difficult circumstances.”

Carolyn Crist contributed to this report.


Reuters: “U.S. Olympic Swimmer Michael Andrew Won’t Get Vaccinated.”

Brian McCloskey, chair, IOC Independent Expert Panel.

International Olympic Committee: “Statement after the Meeting of IOC President Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide,” “Joint Statement on Spectator Capacities at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” Playbooks.

Annie Sparrow, MD, MPH, assistant professor of population health science and policy, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York; special advisor to the CEO, WHO Foundation.

William Schaffner, MD, professor of preventive medicine and infectious disease specialist, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville.

Arthur Caplan, PhD, Mitty Professor of Bioethics, New York University.

Asahi Shimbun: “Survey: 83% against holding Tokyo Olympic this summer.”

Bloomberg: “Japan polls show more public support for Olympics.”

The Hill: “Olympics: Unanswered questions about serious COVID-19 risks.”

The New England Journal of Medicine: “Protecting Olympic Participants from Covid-19—The Urgent Need for a Risk-Management Approach.”

Inside with Brett Hawke: “Michael Andrew.”

Read more
This post originally posted here Medscape Medical News

Gold price in Azerbaijan continues to grow

Gold price in Azerbaijan continues to grow

BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 7

By Zeyni Jafarov – Trend:

The prices of precious metals, except gold, decreased in Azerbaijan on July 7 compared to the previous price, Trend reports referring to the data published by the Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA).

The price of gold increased by 2.6095 manat or $ 1.53 (0.09 percent) and made up 3,060.1615 manat or $ 1,800.09 per ounce.

The price of silver shrank by 0.6168 manat or 36 cents (1.37 percent) and amounted to 44.5327 manat ($ 26.2).

The price of platinum went down by 29.376 manat or $ 17.28 (1.56 percent) and equaled to 1,857.403 manat ($ 1,092.59).

The price of palladium declined by 52.6235 manat or $ 30.95 (1.1 percent) and stood at 4,748.304 manat ($ 2,793.12).

In monthly terms, the price of gold fell by 146.3785 manat or $ 86.1 (4.6 percent) per ounce, silver reduced by 2.3928 manat or $ 1.41 (5.1 percent) per ounce, platinum dropped by 131.8945 manat or $ 77.58 per ounce (6.6 percent), while palladium lowered by 84.439 manat or $ 49.67 (1.7 percent).

On annual basis, the price of gold rose by 27.2935 manat or $ 16.05 (0.9 percent), silver grew by 13.551 manat or $ 7.97 (43.7 percent), platinum spiked by 455.2855 manat or $ 267.81 (32.5 percent), and palladium surged by 1,459.5095 manat or $ 858.53 (44.4 percent).










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Follow the author on Twitter: @jafarov_zeyni

Read more here >>> Trend – News from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran and Turkey.

Disappointed with Games with Gold? Xbox Game Pass has new July games

Disappointed with Games with Gold? Xbox Game Pass has new July games

While there were no Xbox Series X games included in this month’s Games with Gold lineup, the same can’t be said for Xbox Game Pass.

The rival subscription service from Microsoft has been ramping up its offering, and July could be the perfect month to drop Games with Gold and try Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

While it costs more, it also comes with more benefits and has constantly offered more titles to play each month than Games with Gold.

And July will be no different, with a total of six new games coming to Xbox Game Pass over the coming weeks.

Disappointed Games with Gold subscribers who might have lost interest should check out what is being offered.

The end of this week will see the launch of three new games, and you will need to have Xbox Game Pass Ultimate access them all.

Tropico 6 will be available to play on July 6 across console, cloud and PC platforms, meaning everyone can download and play.

Meanwhile, Dragon Quest Builders 2 will also be available to play via the Microsoft Cloud streaming service.

UFC 4 is also coming to EA Play on the same date, and that will be another game to play if you have Ultimate.

As many will already know, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate allows gamers to access and play a library of games Xbox, PC and Mobile platforms.

This accessibility was recently expanded to allow Xbox Cloud streaming on Windows 10 PCs and Apple phones and tablets, on Xbox.com.

Xbox Cloud Gaming is also now powered by custom Xbox Series X hardware, which means faster load times and improved frame rates.

Ultimate subscribers can head over to xbox.com/play on Microsoft Edge, Chrome, or Safari on their PC or mobile device to start playing.

The second half of July will also contain some notable additions for Xbox Game Pass, including the launch of Bloodroots, Farming Simulator 19 and The Medium.

All three games are coming to the Cloud platform, meaning access to an Xbox Series X exclusive on your phone or browser.

It should also be noted that A Plague Tale has just recently upgraded for Xbox Series X and is currently available on Game Pass.

So there will be the games to check out this week if you’re planning on switching from Games with Gold:

A Plague Tale: Innocence Series X|S Update – Available now

Follow the critically acclaimed tale of young Amicia and her little brother Hugo, in a heartrending journey through the darkest hours of history. Now optimized for Xbox Series X|S with native 4K resolution on Series X, 60 FPS, 3D audio support and improved visuals.

Tropico 6 (Cloud, Console, and PC) [email protected] – July 8

In Tropico 6, travel to a beautiful island state and make it your own. In this sixth entry in the series, build and manage a whole archipelago, decking it out with your choice of buildings, industry, and décor. Will you rule your people as a generous statesman or ruthless dictator? The choice is yours.

UFC 4 (Console) EA Play – July 8

Shape your legend with EA Play and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate – UFC 4 is coming soon to The Play List! Members can enter the Octagon on July 8 to create and customize their own character and start their journey from unknown amateur to UFC superstar.

Bloodroots (Cloud, Console, and PC) [email protected] – July 15

Left for dead by a colourful group of bandits, you will chain killing sprees to exact revenge on the treacherous Mr. Black Wolf. Improvise your kills with utterly everything you can get your hands on from carrots to plasma guns.

The Medium (Cloud) [email protected] – July 15

Discover a dark mystery only a medium can solve. Travel to an abandoned hotel resort and use your unique psychic abilities to uncover its deeply disturbing secrets, solve dual-reality puzzles, survive encounters with sinister spirits, and explore two realities at the same time.

Author: Gary Jones
Read more here >>> Daily Express

USA looks in good shape for 7th straight Olympic women’s basketball gold

USA looks in good shape for 7th straight Olympic women's basketball gold

The U.S. has dominated the world in women’s basketball at the Olympics over the last quarter-century, winning every game by double digits since 2004.

Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird will try to become the first players ever to win five Olympic gold medals in basketball when the United States women’s team begins play at the Tokyo Games.

The pair has been an integral part of the U.S. run of six consecutive golds at the Olympics.

“As far as being named to a fifth Olympics, especially with Sue, you know, it’s just a great honor. It just makes you really appreciate all the people that have helped you,” Taurasi said. “You know, everyone, USA Basketball, that, you know, after being around for 20 years now, you know, it’s like a big family.”

Taurasi and Bird both played with Dawn Staley on the 2004 Olympic team. Staley helped start this unprecedented run with the 1996 squad and now is the first Black head coach of the women’s national team after being an assistant for the last two Olympics.

“Any time that you represent USA Basketball, you’ve got the biggest target on your on your back, on your chest,” Staley said. “And everybody seems to play their best basketball.”

It’s been 25 years of dominance for the Americans in the Olympics. They’ve won 49 consecutive games on the biggest international stage. No team has come within single digits of the U.S. since Russia lost in the semifinals of the 2004 Athens Games — the first Olympics that Taurasi and Bird played in — 66-62.

The Americans haven’t dropped an Olympic contest since 1992 when they were beaten in the semis by the Unified Team. Only host Japan has beaten the U.S. in an Olympics, topping the Americans in 1976, the inaugural appearance of women’s basketball.

If the women can capture another gold medal in Tokyo, they would match the U.S. men’s team that won seven consecutive golds from 1936-68.

While there are no guarantees, it would take a monumental upset for the team not to come home with gold.

The competition for the other two medals is wide open with Australia, Belgium, France, Canada, Serbia and Spain all having a shot at reaching the podium. Serbia just beat France to win the Eurobasket championship.

The Olympics switched to three pools of four teams for the Tokyo Games. South Korea, Serbia, Canada and Spain are in Group A. Joining the U.S. in Group B are France, Nigeria and Japan. Australia, Puerto Rico, China and Belgium are in Group C.

Games begin on July 26 with the bronze medal game on Aug. 7 and the gold medal contest the next day to close out the Olympics.

Some other things to watch for at the Olympics in women’s basketball:


Besides the U.S. team, many of the other countries are led by WNBA stars. Half of the Australian roster, led by Liz Cambage, is currently in the WNBA. The Opals are led by Phoenix Mercury coach Sandy Brondello. Some of the other WNBA players in the Olympics include Emma Meesseman (Belgium), Kia Nurse (Canada), Marine Johannès (France), Astou Ndour (Spain), The WNBA will be on an Olympic break from July 15-Aug. 11.


Nigeria will try and end a winless drought for African teams at the Olympics since the 2004 Athens Games. The African nation went 1-5 that year and no team from that continent has won a game since. There are hopes for that to potentially change: Nigeria went 3-4 at the World Champions in 2018, falling to the U.S. in the quarterfinals.


With the addition of 3×3 as a basketball discipline, teams are now only playing potentially six games at most in the tournament instead of eight. The last time the medalists played fewer than eight games was 1992. The 12 teams were put into three pools instead of two. The quarterfinalists will be the top two teams in each pool and two others based on a FIBA ranking system.

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Author: DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer
This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Games with Gold July 2021 confirmed ahead of PlayStation reveal

Games with Gold July 2021 confirmed ahead of PlayStation reveal

The new Games with Gold lineup for July has been confirmed to include four games, none of which have Xbox Series X upgrades.

The official Xbox Games with Gold roster of free games for July includes the following titles:

Planet Alpha Available July 1 to 31.

Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break Available July 16 to August 15.

Conker: Live & Reloaded Available July 1 to 15.

Midway Arcade Origins Available July 16 to 31.

The newest of these games is Planet Alpha, which launched in 2018 and has a medium rating on the Xbox platform based on reviews.

And here’s the full description as shared by Microsoft today: “Planet Alph, a beautiful alien world filled with mystery and danger. Pursued by relentless enemies, you must harness the power of night and day as you struggle to survive.

“You have awoken on a strange alien world. Injured, alone and stranded you venture across this foreign land, navigating beautiful and varied terrain as you try to stay alive.

“The world of PLANET ALPHA is affected by the solar cycle, and as you progress you’ll discover a unique gift – you can manipulate the time of day and use it to your advantage.

“Explore a unique world and piece together your story. What will you discover on PLANET ALPHA?”

The new Games with Gold reveal came just a day before Sony is due to announce its official PlayStation Plus plans for July.

And based on the latest reports and rumours, there is a good chance that they have included one game that will boast PS5 upgrades.

The next batch of PS Plus free games will be officially revealed on June 30 at 4.30pm. The games will be available to download less than a week later on July 6.

For those keeping track, this gives existing subscribers just over a week to download the current selection of games, which include Star Wars Squadrons and Operation Tango.

Meanwhile, Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown is staying on PlayStation Plus until August 2021.

And the most promising rumours suggest that Sony will be offering an upgraded version of Plague Tale as part of the new PS Plus lineup.

This report was connected to the game’s sequel being revealed during the Xbox E3 event and being announced as an Xbox Game Pass title.

And like what was rumoured, a Microsoft announcement confirmed earlier in June: “If you want to experience A Plague Tale: Innocence and discover Amicia and Hugo’s story today, the game is available to play with Xbox Game Pass for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows PC.

“No matter how you choose to play the game, there has never been a better time to discover or revisit the poignant tale of the story’s first arc in anticipation of its sequel’s release in 2022, which will also come day one with Xbox Game Pass.”

That’s on top of a recent announcement confirming that the next-gen Plague Tale upgrade would be released on Tuesday, July 6, the same day PS Plus games are released.

That’s just another piece of evidence to back up this rumour, although, like all reports of this nature, they still need to be taken with a big pinch of salt.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Gaming Feed

New Games with Gold for July 2021

The July Games with Gold lineup is here! On the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S, explore a mysterious, strange world in Planet Alpha, and create your own levels and destroy everyone else’s in Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break. And for our classic lineup via Backward Compatibility, play as everyone’s favorite raunchy squirrel in Conker: Live & Reloaded, and relive the golden age of arcade gaming in Midway Arcade Origins.

Xbox Live Gold members will have exclusive access to these games for a limited time as part of Games with Gold. So will Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members, who receive all the fantastic benefits of Gold plus access to over 100 high-quality games with Xbox Game Pass.

Planet Alpha
Survive a strange planet filled with danger and mystery. Marooned and alone, venture across the beautiful foreign land and unlock its many hidden secrets. With relentless enemies pursuing you, harness the power of night and day in your fight to stay alive in this alien world.

Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break
Jump into a sprawling, gut-busting story featuring bizarre and absurd takes on legendary characters. Design, build, and share your custom levels with friends in this Monty Python-esque tower defense and arcade game.

Conker: Live & Reloaded
Back with a hangover and a heavy dose of attitude, play gaming’s notorious squirrel, Conker, through a raunchy world full of twisted characters, innuendos, and outrageous movie parodies.

Midway Arcade Origins
With more than 30 timeless entries from the golden age of arcade gaming, relive your childhood or discover classic games for the first time, such as Defender, Gauntlet, Rampart, and more. No quarters needed to play!

Read more about our Games with Gold program here and stay tuned to Xbox Wire for all the latest news on Xbox. Like we said before, if you’re an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate member, you get all the benefits of Xbox Live Gold, over 100 high-quality games you can play on console, PC, and Android devices with cloud gaming (Beta, where available), and access to EA Play at no extra cost. New games are added all the time, so you’re never without something new to try when you’re looking to find your next favorite game. If you’re new, or if you’re an existing Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass for Console member, join or upgrade today for just $ 1. 

Author: Dean Shimabukuro, Sr. Marketing Program Manager
This post originally appeared on Xbox Wire

Games with Gold July 2021: Free Xbox One and Xbox Series X games countdown

Games with Gold July 2021: Free Xbox One and Xbox Series X games countdown

Microsoft is preparing to reveal the free Games with Gold games for July 2021.

Unlike the official PS Plus announcement – which has a fixed date to be revealed each month – we don’t know when this news will be dropped.

Recent months have seen Microsoft reveal the lineup just days before the month ends, and the first of the new Xbox One free games are released.

But while we don’t know exactly when the news will be shared, we know that the two games will be available to download on Thursday, July 1, and another batch on July 16.

And for those keeping track, this gives existing subscribers less than a week to download the current The King’s Bird and Injustice.

Shadows: Awakening is staying on Games with Gold until July 16, 2021.

Making predictions for Games with Gold can be a difficult task, as there are so many titles to choose from.

Highlights so far include Little Nightmares, Dungeons 3 and Gears 5, which remains one of the only Xbox Series X optimised games released so far.

And the big question is whether Microsoft is going to repeat that release with another cross-gen title soon.

Games that would prove popular as part of Games with Gold would include titles like Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Minecraft Dungeons, State of Decay 2, and Grounded.

But with the Xbox Game Pass proving to be Microsoft’s main focus in 2021, the Games with Gold lineup has failed to live up to fan expectations most months.

In the meantime, Games With Gold subscribers can download and play The King’s Bird and Shadows: Awakening.

The King’s Bird is a precision platformer that “is an artistic, momentum-based game that seamlessly combines precision-platforming with physics-based gliding.”

Meanwhile, Shadows: Awakening is described as a unique, isometric single-player RPG with real-time tactical combat.

“Take control of a demon summoned from the Shadow Realm – the Devourer – to consume the souls of long-dead heroes and embark on an epic adventure with challenging gameplay, a gripping storyline and enchanting graphics.

“Do you have the focus and wits to master the world of the Heretic Kingdoms? Gather your party, control powerful heroes and use their skills to your advantage.

“But who is in charge… the demon, or the souls that it has devoured? It’s up to you to either thwart a major threat and save the world, or to plunge it into complete disaster.

“After the members of the secret council known as the Penta Nera are assassinated, their souls are consumed by the Devourers – evil demons which possess the ability to absorb the memories and personalities of the souls they acquire and materialize them as their puppets.

“Re-emerging into the mortal realm once again, the demonic Penta Nera continue their quest for power and immortality, but at what cost?”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Gaming Feed

Xbox: Why you should download these free games before Games with Gold

Xbox: Why you should download these free games before Games with Gold

Microsoft will be announcing its plans for Games with Gold for July 2021 between Monday and Wednesday this coming week.

Included in the announcement will be the four games available to download and play for free next month on Xbox One and Xbox Series X consoles.

This is expected to include two games from Xbox One and two games from Xbox 360, with very few Xbox Series X titles, included so far.

This could be seen as a frustrating situation to be in for those with an Xbox Series X hoping to see another next-gen title added to the list.

But with more next-gen upgraded games expected to be announced for Games with Gold over the coming months and years, there’s something worth checking out this weekend.

Gamers can download three titles and play them at no extra charge until Monday at 7:59am BST, if they have a Games with Gold or Xbox Game Pass subscription.

And while many of these titles have been available for some time, gamers should note that one of them boasts an Xbox Series X upgrade.

Warhammer: Vermintide 2 was optimised for Xbox Series X late last year and comes with some notable upgrades.

The next-gen makes it possible to play a smoother console experience and includes support for 4K resolution with 60 frames per second.

The full list of games includes Overwatch and Saints Row IV: Re-Elected, although neither has been officially listed as offering Series X upgrades on the Microsoft site.

Descriptions can be found listed below for each of the three games that can be played for free over the next 24-hours:

Overwatch Origins Edition

Challenge your enemies in the ultimate team-based shooter game and take your place in the world of Overwatch for free now through June 27. Choose your hero from a diverse cast of soldiers, scientists, adventurers, and oddities.

Play with friends across Xbox and other platforms with the launch of Cross-Play. Group up now for free and join the limited time in-game event, Ashe’s Deadlock Challenge, to unlock explosive rewards. Keep pushing the payload and purchase Overwatch Legendary Edition for 67% off now through June 28.

Warhammer: Vermintide 2

Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is an epic 4-player co-op game set in the Warhammer Fantasy Battle world. Fight together with your friends through waves of hordes and progress through the game to unlock new careers, missions, and weapons.

This entry in the series expands the first-person combat with 15 unique careers, intense challenges in the all-new Heroic Deeds System, and breathtaking new levels set around Helmgart.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Entertainment Feed

Go for Gold in Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game

We’re a mere month out from the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – but for aspiring Olympians eager to experience the triumph and heartbreak of the world’s greatest sporting event, the journey starts today with the Xbox One release of Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game!

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 offers anyone the opportunity to live out their Olympic dream. Choose your sport and take to the track, pool, or field across 18 unique playable events in a fun-filled, arcade sports experience that brings the unparalleled global sports festival directly into your home. Create the athlete of your dreams, compete solo or online in actual Olympic venues (including the Olympic stadium!), or test your skills against the world’s best in online play supporting up to 8 players. No matter your level of competition, you too can chart your own path toward Olympic glory!

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game

18 Epic Arcade Sports

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 features 18 fun-fueled arcade sports events that can be played solo or multiplayer with friends & family. Bump, set, and spike your way to Beach Volleyball gold, throw down in the boxing ring or judo mat, or sprint past the competition in a wide range of official Olympic events. From traditional Olympic events like the 100m and Hammer Throw, team sports like baseball and basketball, or newer events like BMX and Sport Climbing, the full Olympic experience is represented in Tokyo 2020.

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game

Build Your Dream Olympian

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 also offers a robust avatar creation system that allows players to easily create the athlete of your dreams. Want to hurdle as a pirate or hit the hardcourt as an astronaut? Build your own dream athlete, fill out an entire team, or share your avatar code with friends to build the ultimate dream team. Bonus: over 50 colorful costume options including Sonic the Hedgehog and Miraitowa, the official Olympic mascot!

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game

Compete with Family & Friends

Whether you play solo, couch co-op, or compete online, Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 offers plenty of options for aspiring Olympians to test their skills with or against other players from around the world. 8-player multiplayer, Ranked Games, and global leaderboards provide a wide range of casual or competitive play for Olympic gamers of all ages and skill levels.

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game

The Olympic Games are set to make their glorious return next month, and now it’s your chance to experience everlasting glory from atop the podium. Jump in-game and start training today!

Xbox Live

Xbox Live

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game™


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The Olympic Games are back, and this time it’s your chance for glory! Whether you play with friends, family, or go for gold on the global leaderboards, this is a party game that anyone can pick up and enjoy! Prepare to unleash the competitor within as you create your athlete, customize their skills and pick the perfect costume. Why settle for standard sportswear when you can take center stage as a pirate, astronaut or cowboy? Choose between 18 fun-fueled sporting events—from Tennis and Football to the 100m, Basketball and Boxing—there’s always a record to beat and a score to settle. Going for gold has never been this much fun!

Author: Justin Golenbock, Communications Manager, Sega of America
This post originally appeared on Xbox Wire

No Xbox Live Gold games to play? Try these new freebies for Xbox Series X

No Xbox Live Gold games to play? Try these new freebies for Xbox Series X

Microsoft’s Games with Gold has a range of new titles to claim, but sometimes you can find yourself left without anything new to play.

The latest titles added by Microsoft might not catch your eye, or you might have simply played them all a little too much.

The good news for anyone looking for something new to try is that three new freebies have arrived.

And as part of Microsoft’s Free Play Days programme, they can be accessed at no extra charge by anyone with an Xbox Game Pass or Xbox Live Gold subscription.

The only downside for anyone with an active XGP is that all of this weekend’s new Free Play Days games are already available in the Pass library.

But for those with Xbox Live Gold, it offers the perfect time to try out ARK Survival Evolved, Fallout 76, or Football Manager 2021.

FM21 might be the most enticing game of the bunch as it’s relatively new and offers a different gameplay style.

While ARK Survival Evolved is a survival sim that has been around for years and Fallout 76 proved a massive disappointment to fans, FM21 is a footy-management sim that has only just arrived on Xbox One and Xbox Series X.

While not quite the same as the famous PC experience, Football Manager 2021 on Xbox still provides an interesting blend of matchday and management mechanics.

Building your own manager from scratch, you can choose to helm a number of famous sides from the English Premier League as you try to score as many trophies as possible.

Managers have to balance the budget, build a winning strategy, and sign the top players to have any chance against the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool.

FM21 is available to play for free across Xbox One and Xbox Series X, although the next-gen experience offers a little more.

“If you’re on Xbox One, you’ll be restricted to loading just five of the best footballing nations, so home in on the trophies that matter to you.

“When you’re confident in your managerial abilities, why not compete against your friends for the ultimate bragging rights in one of FM21 Xbox’s online modes?

“You can each select your favourite club and take on the world – and each other – in an online Career Mode game or mix things up in Fantasy Draft where you and your friends can draft squads of the biggest stars in football and face off against each other.”

All three Free Play Day games are available to download now and will remain playable until around 8am BST on Monday, June 14.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Entertainment Feed