This week saw Xbox unveil some of their first-party games for the Xbox Series X. While the show itself was average, the narrative following it was the future of Xbox Game Pass. This week I’m talking about what I as a fan want from a service I currently subscribe to. Xbox Game Pass.
Perhaps the most important message from yesterday’s Xbox Event, was that every single game shown would be on Game Pass. Gaming subscriptions is an avenue that Microsoft’s Xbox Division is pushing into far more than that of Sony or Nintendo. So first off, let’s talk about what Game Pass does right now.
What is Game Pass?
For those that do not own an Xbox console, or a PC, you may have no idea what Game Pass actually does. So let me lay it out for you, before we explore it’s potential. Xbox Game Pass is a monthly subscription to a service within Xbox and also on PC. The fee is comparable to the likes of Disney+ and is cheaper than Netflix. Game Pass allows you to play any game within its library.
Now, some fans who don’t have Xbox assume this is a streaming service, it’s not. Games do not perform well on streaming. Maybe they will in the future, but right now they don’t. Game Pass allows you to completely download any game available fully, as if you owned the game. You then have full access to that game until it either leaves Game Pass or you decide to uninstall it.
Every single Xbox first-party game is available through Game Pass. That’s it’s biggest selling feature. However, there are also many top-quality third-party games that appear on the service as well. Some of them only stay for a short while like GTA5, some seem to be on indefinitely. Game Pass subscribers know that any game from an Xbox owned studio is going to be there. For fans of those games, it makes the price value for money for that alone.
I’m in a slightly strange position with Game Pass. I already own a lot of those big first-party games, from before Game Pass existed. Therefore, I decided to get a deal for a year to see what else would come later. But where I have benefited, is in having friends try games they did not previously own. This breathed new life into them for me personally. Secondly, my son gets a lot of use out of Game Pass on his Xbox, having more time than I. Game Pass is a family subscription.
We are now moving into a new console era and as a Game Pass subscriber, I have no fears of deciding which games to buy. When the Xbox Series X launches, I’ll be getting one, and as a subscriber, I will have Halo: Infinite day one. So will my Son. I’m being gifted an SeX by my wealthy Xbox clan member, but my son won’t be getting one until Xmas. However, he will still be able to play Halo: Infinite for free on his Xbox One. Once I do get him an Xbox Series X, he can simply install the games again and pick up where he left off. There are a few other games shown on yesterday’s Xbox Event which have my attention, and I know I can try them without any buyer’s remorse. That’s not what really caught my attention though.
What really caught my attention yesterday, was one of the ways things are changing in Halo this time. Plus an announcement from Bungie about another of my favourite games Destiny 2. If you read this column weekly, you may recall the article where I discussed what I’d like to see from Halo: Infinite. Whilst I didn’t actually expect any of it to come true, I was actually surprised by a few of my wishes coming true.
I like GAAS games, that means Games As A Service. The kind of game I can sink my teeth, and a lot of hours into, progressing until new content arrives to feed the addiction once more. Destiny 2 and The Division 2 are my current GAAS addictions. From what we can see, Halo: Infinite is taking in some elements of a GAAS game. The developers announced that they would be updating Halo: Infinite for the next 10 years with no sequels, just updates to the base game. Sounds Like a GAAS game to me. You can catch that story, as I wrote it already, Here.
Hooking Me Into Game Pass
If Halo becomes a GAAS game as I suspect it will evolve into, then it would normally be subject to the complications of a GAAS game. That means every time there is a new update or DLC, you either pay for it or fall behind the players who do. A GAAS games player base can become fragmented due to updates. Some of the fan base can decide a new update is not value for money. But for anyone on Xbox, who subscribes to Game Pass, you will have access to all updates. There is no extra charge, and therefore gamers are more likely to keep playing the game. Then there was the announcement from Bungie that Destiny 2 would also be on Game Pass. Not just the old out of date content as I wrongly assumed, but brand new expansion Beyond Light this November.
If I can get access to all updates on two GAAS games that fill my time, I’m pretty much sorted for years. Not to mention the fact I can also dip my toe into the other Xbox first-party games I fancy. What is the betting that the new RPG from Obsidian (Avowed) lasts for years and has regular updates? What about Forza, and so on and so forth. I’m saying that big games that last for years with regular updates and Game Pass go together like magnet and steel. This IS the future of Xbox Game Pass, this is the kind of gaming that subscription gaming should be. I think it could really kick off once people gamers realise what value for money this can be.
What if Xbox were able to get other similar GAAS games on to their Game Pass? No longer to the devs need to sell individual DLC’s. You just have to look at GTA5 for evidence about how you can make money from a game years after release. GTA5 has been out since the previous generation and yet it’s still insanely popular because Rockstar keep updating the online. It’s also free of charge, Rockstar instead make their money by selling online currency.
Some would call GTA5 pay to win and it does border on that, however by playing the game, you can generate enough money on your own to never have to use real money. I have purchased one Shark Card for GTA on a deal, but none of my friends ever had and they all have more in-game money than I do. If Game Pass can evolve into a haven for GAAS gamers like me, then gamers like me will be attracted to Xbox over their competitors. That’s an interesting way to look at market share.
Wrap it Up, Fanboy
Now, you may be thinking that you don’t like GAAS games. You prefer story-based games you play, finish and move on from. That’s fine, because there are tons of them on Game Pass as well, and for the very biggest of those games, they can still be bought the same as on any other console. I.e. It’s a win/win, and if you ever decide you are not getting value for money, you can stop subscribing to Game Pass and pick it back up whenever you wish.
For me, it means that unless your gaming passions lie in the PlayStation exclusives, then Xbox X Series X could be The value for money console in the long run. For those that do love those Sony exclusives, well, you were probably never even considering switching. Going where your passions lie, is usually always the right choice. And if you prefer PC gaming, you can still have an Xbox Game Pass anyway. Xbox doesn’t need to sell consoles, they need to sell subscriptions.
Let us know what you think of the future of Xbox Game Pass. Do you agree with me, that long-term investment for gamers is crucial. Do you think this is the way gaming is going? Leave your thoughts below as always.
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