We are moving ever closer to a time where specific game purchases could be replaced by a la carte, streaming style options. Both Sony and Microsoft have had their hands in that pie now, with the latter only launching fairly recently. Xbox Game Pass Is Microsoft’s answer to creating a Netflix style service for their games, but without the need for high bandwidth internet to ensure you’re able to actually “stream” the games themselves. Instead, you’re just given access to the library of over 100 titles for as long as you’re subscribed, and it’s a great service in some particular scenarios.
The Game Pass library is pretty robust, but even more so if you’re only starting your journey with Xbox. Many of the exclusives Microsoft have pumped into the service make up their three core franchise pillars – Forza, Halo and Gears of War – with offerings from each franchise that have launched in the past on Xbox One. If you’re an existing Xbox One owner, and have been for some time, these offerings seem a bit muted. Either you’re already the proud owner of said titles, or have made peace with the fact that you’re likely not interested in what they have to offer. The temptation of having them there might sway it, but it’s not enough to make the Xbox One offerings that much more enticing.
Where it does work is for brand new Xbox One owners. Picking up a new console is usually followed by numerous game purchases, which are often impulsive as you stare at a massive library and scratch your head at what to play first. Game Pass alleviates that problem with the added benefit of savings. For a small monthly fee you could have access to some of the more traditional Xbox One games out there, including stellar (overlooked) exclusives such as Sunset Overdrive and (the not as stellar) ReCore. Legacy exclusives also pepper the line-up right now, so it’s easy to suggest picking up Viva Piñata or the entire Gears of War collection when they’re right there to download.
Just be sure you have the data to handle it. Game Pass works on the assumption that you’re able to download all of these games, which alleviates one issue but presents another. By downloading the game you don’t have to rely on a fast internet connection to play a game with hefty input lag anyway (looking at you PlayStation Now), but it does mean your monthly usage will skyrocket. This programme works less for those on stricter internet packages, but can still be worth the monthly subscription if you’re looking to just cherry pick a few titles irregularly.
And that’s the real draw here – the price. Xbox Game Pass only costs R159 a month, and is available on a month to month basis. As Microsoft updates the library, you can easily hop in and out of the service as you wish to play or drop any of the titles that may have been added to the service. Something which Microsoft themselves promise will just keep growing as the time goes on. This flexibility is exactly why on-demand streaming services are also so popular. The freedom to only use the service when you need it coupled with the attractive pricing is something that Games Pass absolutely nail down.
So even if its offerings don’t yet appeal to you as an existing Xbox owners, that could readily change in the near future. There’s an argument to be had about the viability of a service such as this on top of an active Gold Subscription – which already rewards you with monthly games to own, many of which are duplicated on Game Pass – but the service as it stands now aims to serve a different type of Xbox user. While Microsoft actively pushes to get more Xboxs in people’s home, Game Pass solves the problem of not having an active library to draw from with a new purchase. And it’s a great way to breathe life into games that might not have been so well received the first time around.
How the service evolves will give clarity as to whether it’s a necessary subscription to have as a long standing owner, because right now that mileage will vary based on how robust your library of games already is. But even if you’re curious over a handful of titles you might have missed, Game Pass’ alluring price makes it easy to recommend for even short periods of time. It’s a consumer focused service that delivers games for a fraction of what you’d normal spend on one purchase. What’s not to love about that?
Last Updated: September 5, 2017