Change is never easy, but if done correctly, it almost always results in an improved experienced. Microsoft, makers of the Xbox One and Xbox One S, thought that they were on to something when they attempted to change the way their consoles and ecosystem handled digital games. The company said its new scheme would make it easier to share games with friends. That change would have resulted in a more convoluted approach to used game sales. Sensing this, budget conscious fans who preferred to buy used game games revolted. Microsoft canned the approach and never attempted to offer budget conscious gamers something again. That is, until it announced Xbox Game Pass.
Xbox Game Pass is a subscription gaming service, not unlike the subscription you may have to Netflix. The basic idea is the same at least, through paying a single monthly fee, gamers get access to hundreds of titles. They can play these titles for as long as they want, and these games come complete with access to Achievements and multiplayer modes.
Microsoft began testing Xbox Game Pass with members of its Xbox Insider Program in February. It plans for the service to launch to the public sometime this spring.
Naturally, the question to be ask yourself at this very moment is if Xbox Game Pass is worth buying? It’s too early to say whether it is definitively, but there’s enough information that you can start to come to your own conclusion.
Is Xbox Game Pass Worth It: Things in Favor
Like Netflix, Xbox Game Pass could seemingly thrive on simplicity. $9.99 gets subscribers access to a library of games that Microsoft says will be over one-hundred strong by the time the service arrives for everyone. Keeping the service an entire year will cost $120, or the cost of two newly released games. That’s the value proposition of the service. You can pay for just 2 new games, or you get instant access to a decent existing library.
The games themselves work as you’d expect. After signing up for a subscription, subscribers go to the Game Pass app on their console and download the games that they want to play. Subscribers don’t get permanent access to the titles they download from the Game Pass library, but they do get to share them with other family members on their console at no additional charge. Achievements unlock and game saves work the way that you’d expect. They can be enjoyed without an internet connection for 30 days.
Because the games are stored on your console locally and treated like any other digital title, gamers don’t have to worry about killing their internet connection’s data because of bandwidth caps from cable providers. This isn’t a perk of Sony’s PlayStation Now service.
Xbox Game Pass is part digital discount membership too. The games featured in the subscription service will be available to subscribers for 10% less than they are to other Xbox users. Additionally, downloadable content for those games will be discounted by a hefty 20%.
Is Xbox Game Pass Worth It: Things You Need to Consider
One of the downsides of getting access to a vast, instant library in a subscription service is that things aren’t under your control. Specifically, it’s not up to you what content is in the service. One month, Netflix could have your favorite television show. The next month it could be gone. Xbox Game Pass will have this same limitation too.
The company says that there’ll be a rotating library of titles, with new titles coming in and possibly some titles leaving once a month. That’s where that digital games discount becomes handy. If gamers really like a title that’s on the way out, they can get it for cheap.
That rotating library isn’t the only thing to worry about when trying to decide if Xbox Game Pass might be something worth considering when you get access to it. There’s the library itself to consider.
Publishers Warner Brothers, Microsoft Studios, THQ Nordic GmbH, SNK Corporation, Sega, Focus Home Interactive, Deep Silver, Codemasters, Capcom, Bandi Namco, 505 Games and 2K Games are all confirmed for the service. Halo 5: Guardians, Payday 2, NBA 2K17 and Lego Batman are all confirmed titles. Also included in an image on the Xbox site detailing the service is Saints Row IV, NBA 2K16, Payday 2, Fable 3 and Gears of War Ultimate Edition. Again, Microsoft says that there’ll be over 100 titles for launch. That’s way more than contemporaries, like EA Access, which is another subscription service available on Xbox One.
None of these games were introduced in 2016. We expect that to be indicative of the service going forward. It’d make no sense for publishers to make their recently launched titles available for so little. Microsoft hasn’t gone into the deals it made with publishers, but it seems the service will stay a full year behind current releases on purpose.
Such a move would make sense. People trade in last year’s titles to places like GameStop to get credit on new ones. It’s the biggest indicator yet that this service is aimed at the used games industry. What this means is that if you’re one of those people who loves to have the latest titles, this service won’t do you a lot of good. It’ll fill out your library in between new games, but you’ll still buy titles from time to time.
Lastly, and this is very important, Xbox Game Pass doesn’t include Xbox Live Gold. You’ll have to pay another $10 a month to experience multiplayer in the games you download from the service.
Should You Get Excited for Xbox Game Pass?
Only you can decide whether Xbox Game Pass is worth investing in. Until we see that final line-up of digital titles, I’d suggest keeping an open mind.
There’s a lot to be said for a $9.99 a month service that gives you access to games you might not otherwise play. No, it won’t replace your new releases, but it will give you the chance to try out a wide range of titles. Depending on how many games you buy with its discount, the service might even manage to pay for itself. The service sounds perfect for parents tired of hearing their kids complain about not having any new games to play.
Microsoft says that Xbox Live Gold users will get a chance to try Xbox Game Pass free of charge before it arrives for everyone this spring. The service is only available for Xbox One and Xbox One S. It won’t be coming to the Xbox 360.