Microsoft has recently announced that it will be launching a subscription gaming service later this year called Xbox Game Pass, which will essentially be its equivalent of Netflix for games. EA Access laid down the foundations for the service, having delivered its own monthly subscription service back in August 2015, but the Xbox development will go beyond just a single production house system that will include a wide variety of games.
The question is whether or not the development is a good thing or bad thing for gamers and the gaming industry. Cynical views may look at it as an attempt to weaken the impact of second hand games sales, which already has the challenge of digital to face. However, it may well also be another blow for games shops like Game in the UK or GameStop in the US.
At just $9.99 in the States (the UK price is yet to be confirmed, but if it’s much more than £6.99 then it may be frustrating for British gamers), it’s a fairly inexpensive way to get access to a large body of games. However, you could argue that cash strapped gamers have already got access to cheap gaming thanks to the second hand games market. This gives the gamer ultimate choice on what they want play, sell, swap or keep forever, without necessarily having to be locked into paying monthly subscriptions to keep on playing.
For some people it will be a welcome addition, but for other gamers it could be a door closer if the used games market starts to dry up.
Xbox Game Pass has been confirmed for a worldwide release of Spring 2017, so it’s got until the 21st June to make it before the summer, which gives it a few months before coming out. It’s set to launch with more than 100 games, ranging from Halo 5 to Mad Max, which will be a bit annoying for gamers that have already shelled out for these titles. More details on the Xbox Games Pass games list are below and you can see a selection in the pic at the top of the page.
How does Xbox Game Pass work?
Essentially, you pay the monthly subscription service and get unfettered access to all of the games included in the catalogue. New games will be added on a monthly basis, much like Netflix, and there’s even talk of creating exclusive titles just for Game Pass, so the only way to play them will be to subscribe, which could be a smart move on the part of the powers that be at Xbox towers.
It’s this last point that makes the prospect of the release exciting, although it’s worth considering that original content of Netflix took a fair few years to get good. It’s only recently that we’ve had the likes of Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Stranger Things, so if Microsoft take the same amount of time to get things right then we may not get anything decent until 2019.
However, with Project Scorpio on the horizon later this year, it’s fairly pressing for Xbox to get things right sooner rather than later. If it can put out a few impressive original content titles around the same time as its launch of the new console then it could be a big win at the right time for the Christmas spending bedget to kick in.
You’ll essentially get to download games directly to your Xbox ONE and play online or offline in their original full-fidelity. This does mean that you’ll have to wait out the download time to get in on the action, but at least you won’t need to be online the entire time just to play. You’ll be able to play games for 30 days once they’ve been downloaded, but when you factor in the fact that games will be removed from the active catalogue, there’s the possibility of getting half way through a title only for to be ripped away from you.
Xbox Game Pass’ answer to this would appear to be something along the lines of, “well you can always just buy the game if you like it,” which defeats the purpose a little. To sweeten the deal, it’s offering 20% off the base game of any active catalogue games and 10% off any game DLC, but that sounds a bit like a smattering of Canderel, where gamers that subscribe deserve at least a Solero, if not a Mint Vienetta or a Mars Ice-cream Bar, metaphorically speaking.
On a slightly more positive note, if you either cancel your subscription to the service, or a game you’re part way through gets bumped from the active catalogue, your progress and achievements will be saved to your account. What this means is that your efforts won’t entirely be wasted and you can always pick the game up second hand to complete the job.
What games have been confirmed?
This is where Xbox Game Pass is going to be won or lost, but for seasoned gamers that have played the majority on ONE releases, it may not matter in the slightest. However, if it can build enough of an impressive catalogue of games in its 100+ then make it can win over new gamers, or anyone with a small home collection and limited budget spare.
Xbox hasn’t announced all of its games as of yet, as it’s still in discussion with developers to secure a decent haul for day one. Games that have already been confirmed include, Halo 5: Guardians, Payday 2, NBA 2K16 and LEGO Batman. You can also see from the Xbox Game Pass image above that Mad Max, Saint’s Row IV, Gears Of War, Fable III and Tekken Tag Tournament will also be involved in the action, along with indie/old school games like Terarria and Megaman: Legacy Collection.
We’re just not convinced about Xbox Game Pass. It doesn’t necessarily feel like it’s the best thing for gamers, but in all fairness it’ll come down to the quality of the content, how much Xbox removes games from the active catalogue and what the price is going to be in the UK. It may not appeal to a lot of us, and it may be a limited proposition in the first year or so, but if Xbox sticks with it and develops original games for it that are worthwhile playing then it could go on to be a success.