Xbox Game Pass Is Exactly What The Xbox One Needed

Image: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo

In this generation of console wars, the Xbox One has lagged behind the PS4 in both sales and consumer mindshare. In fact, a January report from games intelligence firm SuperData pegged Microsoft has selling half the number of consoles as Sony. To be frank, Microsoft is getting its arse kicked.

Which is why Microsoft's new Xbox Game Pass is exactly the sort of thing the console needs. Think of the service as Spotify or Netflix, but for the Xbox One. When it launches later this autumn, the $US10 ($13) a month Xbox Game Pass subscription will give subscribers unlimited access to over 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 games. (At time of writing Australian pricing has not been confirmed.)

Sony has its own subscription service, PlayStation Now, but it differs from Xbox Game Pass in a few ways. First. PlayStation Now is just PS3 games; Xbox Game Pass will include Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles. Second, PlayStation Now only streams titles, whereas you can actually download the full Xbox title with Xbox Game Pass. It's similar to EA's EA Access, which offers PC and Xbox One users unlimited access to select EA games for $39.99 a year.

Microsoft hasn't released a title list, but the graphics on the teaser page show off Halo 5, NBA 2K16, Payday 2, SoulCalibur 2, Fable 3, Mad Max, Saint's Row 4, LEGO Batman and others. Microsoft says it will add more titles to the service each month.

If you want to buy a game after you've played it, you can buy it for a 20 per cent discount. Xbox Live Gold members already get access to free games each month, covering Xbox 360 and Xbox One titles. Xbox Game Pass will not require an Xbox Live Gold subscription, though, Xbox Live Gold subscribers will get access to the service before it launches for everyone.

The game selection will likely determine the overall value of Xbox Game Pass, but assuming Microsoft can deliver AAA and first-party titles that aren't too old, this could be a great way to get more casual gamers into the Xbox.

One of the ways Microsoft was able to really capitalise in the later years of the Xbox 360 was the growing number of Xbox Live Arcade titles. XBLA was an inexpensive way for the casual gamers who bought an Xbox 360 primarily as a media player to game too; if done correctly, Xbox Game Pass could have a similar impact.

Moreover, this move to game subscriptions is something we should all prepare for. The same way subscription services for movies, TV and music have replaced buying digital or physical media for a generation of consumers, game subscriptions could eventually become the de facto way gamers get games.

Now, there are pros and cons to that reality. On the plus side, it would make it cheaper for gamers to try out different types of titles and try a wider variety of games. On the negative side, a move to subscription gaming could make it harder for game developers — especially those in smaller studios — to actually make money. We saw that with the shift to subscriptions for TV, music and movies too — consumers got access to way more content (good!) but it became harder for creators to make a living (bad!).

Still, as someone who got an Xbox One S primarily as a 4K Blu-ray player, I'm looking forward to playing more games for it (on the cheap!) later this autumn.

This story originally appeared on Gizmodo


    Brilliant idea! Depending on the success of the service this move may make me purchase an Xbox One. Now Sony, step up with something similar, PS+ has been average for far too long.

      PS plus has been average since the PS4 launch. its been almost 3 years and not one AAA title. I mean games like Knack, Killzone, Drive club, should have all been free 2 years ago...

        Agree. Infamous First Light is probably the closest it's gotten to a AAA game on PS+. It's become very disappointing, when at one point it was a must-have thing. Now I pretty much only subscribe because I want the extra cloud storage for saved games & multiplayer access if I ever feel like playing something multiplayer.

          Even most of the indie titles have been quite mediocre. A handful of gems, granted, but i dont even think im breaking even anymore if i add up the value of the games id actually play.

          Last edited 02/03/17 8:51 am

        not to mention, forwards (and backwards) compatibility and free unlimited cloud sync, xpa, etc.
        forwards comp (my collection) and cloud sync (my data) is more important than anything to me imo. I own Alienwares / Surface Pros and Bluetooth xb1 controller, xpa is a bonus.

    That copyright/games preservation stuff from an earlier article today - you can't have that and this at the same time.

    "Netflix for Games, yaaaaay!"

    "What do you mean the original or current owners of that IP actually want to see some financial return on their work? Boooooo!"

      Why do you see them as being in conflict? Taking another medium, I can appreciate Project Gutenberg and book shops at the same time.

      Part of the deal with copyright is that you get a time limited protection of your work in exchange for enriching the public domain in the future. For that second part to actually kick in, a copy needs to survive long enough for copyright to expire, which is a problem with software.

      There is no guarantee that the distribution medium for many games will survive that long, and DRM could render more permanent copies unplayable in the future. So there is definitely a place for preservation efforts pre-expiry.


    Let's not hold our breaths for a reversal of momentum towards MS this gen.

      Yeah I don't even think Microsoft is that optimistic. They're just aiming to slow their annihilation a little bit.

        Yeah, I figured them making their Exclusives available to PC was their way of saying "we give up" a Playstation is worth owning for it's exclusives, a Nintendo is worth owning for it's exclusives. If Xbox had any decent exclusives it might be worth owning but why would I chose it over a PC now? besides affordability of course but I'd still rather put that $300 towards a PC.

          That might just be the plan seeing as they have their sights set on creating a distribution platform.

          Exclusives are distinctly consumer-unfriendly, they're not something we should be praising consoles for. If anything Microsoft did the right thing by putting their games on multiple platforms.

          They are aiming at creating a PLATFORM, like AppStore or Google Play.
          I'm never a PC gamer. No Instant-On / Resume and it's time consuming to get back where you left it days ago (unless you don't exit your game session), and troublesome.

          I own a good PC, a few Alienwares and a few Surface Pros.
          I used to buy games from different stores but after Scorpio got announced... I withheld buying any games for a short while. I know Backwards / Forwards Comp is coming. (why waste all the effort porting xb360 games for just one generations?) Now I only buy games from MS Store. Even re-bought some games while it's cheap.

          Last edited 05/03/17 8:50 pm

        Well, my main pc is 2000+usd, I own a few Alienwares, Surface Pros but I also game on console.
        I used to buy games from different stores, but now only from MS (even re-bought some of the game I previously bought somewhere else) because of the forwards comp and free unlimited cloud sync.
        PC is now a XPA and PC indie exclusive (also interesting game programming concept experiments) medicine.
        I now live in Japan, able to hot swap store region is really something.
        I also gave up Google and start buying digital contents (movie, etc) from MS.

    PS4 FTW (and that comes from someone who also owns an Xbox One as well)....!

    Last edited 01/03/17 3:38 pm

      PC, ps4, xb1 owner here.
      I see no reason buying any cross platform games from steam or ps4 anymore because of xbox backwards / forwards comp...
      Some of'em even run / cloud sync (the service is free and syncs automatically) with win10 version! (e.g. middle earth shadow of war)
      PS4's not FTW...

      Last edited 05/03/17 9:07 pm

    I just wish that they allow pre-downloading of games before you subscribe. Games like Halo 5 (close to 100gb) will take a week to download for me, so by the time it is ready to play, I've already used up a quarter of the subscription time.

    It's the same with open betas and free play weekends - by the time the game has finished downloading, the weekend is over!

    I just sold my xb1 because I cant justify having somthing I never play. The biggest problem is that pretty much all exclusive xb1 games are also on pc and run/look better so there is really no need to havr an xbox one if you have a pc that can run the games.

      Yeah, plan on trading mine in for a Switch. Really is no point to Xbox now that it has no exclusives.

        So... you guys don't play any 3rd party game like Mass Effect?
        How bout Superhot, Cuphead, Ori, We Happy Few, Rare Replay, Gears, Forza, Halo, Quantum Break, Sunset Overdrive, Dead Rising, Recore, Killer Instinct, FRU, Below, State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves, Crackdown 3, Rivals of Aether, Far: Lone Sales, The Culling, Ashen?

        Last edited 05/03/17 9:00 pm

          Oh yeah.. Still an awesome console if you just want one (console). But it's the obvious weak link in my collection.

          I can pay most of the games you listed on my gaming laptop (which I can hook up to the TV). PS4 has some excellent exclusives, and Switch has Nintendo's in-house stuff.

          Not hating on Xbox. But it kinda feels like Xbox will be a platform (like Stream) before too long? But for those without a PC, there's still a very good cases to own one.

    No interest in XBOX one because of the slant towards really westernised games and mainstream games.
    BUT... I would really like a subscription service like this on ps4. The PS4 plus is terrible value for money and has shitty games most of the time.
    No interest in ps now because Australia's god awful internet can't handle it.

      There are many (console exclusive) indie titles on xbox platform tho... (and it's forward compatibled)

      * Middle Earth: Shadow of War is also playable / cloud synced across win10, xb1, scorpio.

      Last edited 05/03/17 8:56 pm

    Seems to me like a push to 'trap' people into monthly subs. $7 XBL, $13 100 games (lol, 100, that's <10% of current Xbox-one-only titles. Can I hear another 'backwards compatibility'?). $20 a month ain't chump change, assuming you're buying some normal releases here and there too. The value of investing a couple-hundred extra in a gaming PC is rising ...

      Putting aside that the library is obviously going to grow in future, and the fact it comes with a 20% discount if you want to buy any of the games on there permanently, are you actually complaining about getting access to 100 titles for $11/month because...100 games isn't enough? How many games do you play each month if 100 isn't enough?

    Good move was waiting for something like this, more options which is exactly what I want.

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