Back in June 2017, the announcement of the Xbox Game Pass was music to many gamers’ ears. For a low monthly subscription cost, it would mean that at any point in time, more than 100 Xbox games would be available to download, play and enjoy. With big titles promised, this was no micro-developer bonanza either – this was proper subscription based gaming with AAA games included.
But then it arrived, and the enthusiasm quickly dwindled.
As a long term Xbox gamer – one who has been fully wrapped up in its ecosystem since 2002 and the introduction of the original big black box – the Xbox Game Pass delivered nothing. I had already made the decision to go digital when the first details surrounding Xbox One had surfaced, and other than begging and pleading for some kind of digital trade-in system ever since, have been more than happy with that choice. I had also played the vast majority of the Xbox 360 library to death, and managed to spend a good few hours with many OG Xbox games over the years. I therefore have very little need to go back to those again, and if I did, then Backwards Compatibility would sort me out. And unfortunately, the Xbox Game Pass is full of old games that hold little in the way of sway.
Now though, as the Xbox Game Pass heads towards its year long anniversary, things are beginning to change – and very much for the better.
The promise of Microsoft Studios launch titles arriving to all those who wish to pay for the Game Pass, on day of release, is a big deal. A very big deal. With the likes of Sea of Thieves kicking the feature off, and then Crackdown 3 and State of Decay 2 both promised, this is going to be an awesome opportunity for many gamers who cannot afford a full price game at launch, or just wish to delve in and out as they see fit, the chance to enjoy hardcore AAA gaming.
Forza, Halo and Gears of War future iterations have also been promised and as we all know, these are console sellers for the big dogs at Xbox HQ. And rightly so too for, as series’, they have delivered some of the best gaming moments known to man.
So yes, as things stand, and until further details arrive, the Xbox Game Pass will become a no-brainer – at least from 20th March 2018 when Sea of Thieves arrives.
But there are, much like most things in life, concerns. Obviously those out there who like to hold on to something physical will get absolutely no joy from the fact that firstly they have no actual product in their hands, and secondly, they don’t own the game in question. But no matter what anyone says, rental is the future and perhaps it’s time to embrace the gaming industry much like the music and film side of things have gone. There will always be a place for the odd physical memento, but for ease of use and accessibility, there is nothing easier than signing up to a month long subscription. Spotify and Netflix prove that to be the case.
The length of time these titles are available in the Xbox Game Pass is also a question that has to be asked. It’s all well and good promising launch day access, but what happens if the finer details see Sea of Thieves disappear after a week, a month, or even two months? Even the assurance of discounts on games that are due to be removed from the system may hold many back from really embracing the culture. Thinking of the whole pass as a try before you buy scheme, with the added incentive that you get hold of over 100 other games in the process is tempting, but this takes me back to my previous thoughts and worries over the whole subscription based model – it is still no good for the long term Xbox gamer who just wants to play newer games.
I’m sure those slight issues will be clarified in the weeks ahead, and with Sea of Thieves due to drop in just a couple of months, it’ll be interesting to see exactly how long it stays in the system. Would it be beyond the realms of possibility that we’ll see it staying just long enough for either Crackdown 3 or State of Decay 2 to arrive, therefore seeing just the one Microsoft Studios launch title available at any one time? I dunno, and I guess release date timings are key, but it could well be something that happens.
Without concern, I’d be hyping the Xbox Game Pass to newcomers of the Xbox way of life every single day of the week, and the inclusion of launch games just enforces that. But, until we know for sure exactly how long each of the promised titles will be staying in the system, and how many will be available at the some point in time, I still think that the pass is packed full of filler that many veteran Xbox gamers just don’t want or need.
We shall however see!
[…] had an absolute blast playing the Sea of Thieves beta with friends. Now that it will be part of the Xbox Game Pass at launch, there is simply no reason to not give it a try. If you do, I can say with confidence that you will […]
Once they add new games in I will definitely give it a go. I’ve avoided up to now as anything in there that I’ve wanted to play I already own. Drop in drop out month at a time would be pretty good too.
I am a long time Xbox gamer and tbh, I’m not really interested in this. For new Xbox converts it is a sure thing and if I was new I’d be all over it. I tend to buy the games I want (and too many already) when they are in sales and I impulse purchase a bit too.
Great article Neil!
Interesting point about Spotify and Netflix, and as a subscriber to both, I have never looked at it that way before. I rarely buy physical CDs or films anymore as a result of both of these, but always pump for a physical game over digital where possible. Simply for the actual physicality of it. Nothing used to thrill me more than buying a game and then flicking through the instruction manual on the bus home, but these have all been replaced by artbooks and collectors editions instead. And steelbooks, Im a sucker for a good steelbook
Okay, I guess no digital game can ever reproduce the fun of a SteelBook, but for everything else, subscription has got to be the way to go. I bet at some point in time you got enjoyment from heading down to HMV and grabbing a CD or the latest DVD. You got over not doing that though (or at least I did!), and I’d love to see gaming go the same way. Perhaps developers would disagree though – in fact, I’m 100% certain developers would disagree. But as a consumer…
No I do agree with you, it is going to happen at some point, I will just miss the Steelbooks! Plus there is the whole argument of only buying a license for the game when buying digital, but as long as the industry learns and puts tighter controls in regarding de-listings etc. (which is a major sticking point for a lot of people) then its only a matter of time
Also, Major Nelson confirmed that all first party releases will be permanent features on Game Pass, so this became an essential purchase now. I think his tweet just got lost in the myriad of new Leeds United badge mock-ups!