Earlier today, Microsoft released a surprise announcement for the Xbox Game Pass, a new subscription service that will allow access to a large rotating catalogue of games in a similar vein to Netflix. According to the service’s page, the service will cost $10 a month and will feature a roster of over 100 games spanning both Xbox One and Xbox 360 backwards compatible titles (Note: this service is only available on Xbox One however, there is speculation they might branch to Windows 10). Featured games on the article include Xbox flagship games like Halo 5: Guardians, Gears of War Ultimate Edition, Fable 3, and third party titles like NBA 2K16, Payday 2, Mad Max, and Saints Row 4.
Really it doesn’t seem like such a bad deal! Additional reading from the featured FAQ included some juicy morsels detailing the service with some surprising info, including that an Xbox Live Gold subscription is not required to own a Game Pass subscription however, online functionality would be lost without Gold. Also, there is no limit to how many games you can download at a time with Game Pass, and you can access games in your library for up to 30 days even if you happen to go offline. It should be clarified here that though this service is being compared to Netflix, the games are not actually streamed to your console. Each title needs to be individually downloaded to your Xbox, which means you might have to do some tidying up on hard drive before your downloading spree can commence.
The last interesting piece from the reveal was that titles included in the Game Pass would be available to purchase at a 20% discount to Game Pass subscription holders and DLC on featured games could be purchased at 10% off. So I guess if you need to fill out some missing DLC or stock up on some classic games, the Game Pass might be the way to do it.
However, the games available to download are going to make or break this system. I imagine that similarly to Netflix’s library of oddities and masterpieces, the Xbox Game Pass is going to have five throwaway games to every one that will be worth a download. Microsoft is going to have to work pretty hard to make this service seem worthwhile, especially if players are paying for a yearly Gold subscription on top of it.
But it is a magnificent thing how video games are becoming more accessible and easier to acquire than ever before. Think about it, would you rather spend $60 on one new game? Or $60 to get to choose between hundreds of games for six months? Ahhhh… the gamer’s dilemma.
The Xbox Game Pass is scheduled for a Spring 2017 launch.