For weeks I’d been staring at the three months of Game Pass for $1 advertisement on my Xbox dashboard every time I turned the console on. Each time I thought, “that’s a pretty good deal.” But then I’d simply move on to play whatever I turned on the console for in the first place.
Last week, I finally took advantage of that deal.
So far during my time with the service I’ve tried out a handful of games. Forza Horizon 4, Metro 2033 Redux, Cities Skylines, Disneyland Adventures, Minecraft, Ori and the Blind Forest and I finished What Remains of Edith Finch. I also plan on trying out Ninja Gaiden Black, Sea of Thieves, Fallout 3, Metro: Last Light Redux and Surviving Mars.
I knew what games were available on Game Pass before I started paying for it, but when I started downloading and playing the games, I was actually quite impressed. At first, I was amazed that I was getting all of these games for three months at the low price of $1. But then I thought that even if I was paying $10 a month, or $30 every three months, that’s still an incredible deal. Some of these are games that I’d gladly pay at least $30 for, but for the most part I had no interest in. This is what’s so great about Game Pass. I’m playing games that I never would’ve played if I wasn’t subscribed to the service and I’m saving a ton of money by doing so.
Since its official launch in June 2018, the “Netflix for games” service has reached over 200 titles available to subscribers. There are other services that are similar to Game Pass such as EA Access – exclusively for EA games – and PlayStation Now. Unlike those other services, Game Pass seems to be much more important to its platform’s success.
Xbox has been a platform slowly on the decline the past couple of years for me with Game Pass now being its lone bright spot. The service has made great strides since it was first launched, with all first party Xbox games, such as new Halo or Gears of War games, guaranteed to hit Game Pass the same day as release. Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, has even been open to bringing Game Pass to other platforms.
Back in February 2019, rumors were floating around that Game Pass would be coming to the Nintendo Switch as a streaming service with Spencer not doing much to shut those rumors down. As of late, Spencer’s talk has been more so about what’s best for gaming, rather than just Xbox. For Xbox and Game Pass to continue to succeed, their future needs to be streaming. It has been clear that gaming has been heading to a streaming future with Google Stadia set to lead the charge. Xbox can change that, though. They have the service in place with Game Pass and they have the ambition and willingness to bring their first party games to other platforms. Phil Spencer has already been openly talking about the future of gaming being streaming and his desire to be a part of it.
During my time with Game Pass, I can confidently say I’d love to see it transition to a streaming service. With over 200 games readily available to be streamed over a steady internet connection on my Xbox One, Switch or laptop, I am so down for that.
Right now, Stadia is Xbox’s only clear opponent for streaming. Luckily for Xbox, they’ve been in the gaming business for a while and have a large selection of games they can throw at you. It’s still unclear how many games will be available through Stadia. What Xbox needs to do to not only improve their own situation but secure their place in the streaming future, is to announce more of a solid streaming plan this year at E3. Whether that be announcing Game Pass for Switch or just talking more openly about it. Since Stadia requires internet speeds of at least 25 mbps, Xbox could also try and find a way to improve on that for their own service.
I had been pretty disappointed with my purchase of an Xbox One at launch rather than a PlayStation 4. Seeing great games such as Persona 5 or Nier: Automata (for a little bit) be only available on the PS4 was hard when in terms of big first-party exclusives, Xbox didn’t have much come out outside of a disappointing Halo 5 or multiple Forzas and Crackdown 3. Game Pass is a breath of fresh air, a saving grace even, for Xbox. I can only hope they can continue to improve upon their early success with the service and start their transition to streaming. In April 2019, Xbox launched a disc-less version of the Xbox One S, possibly signaling an imminent major announcement of streaming plans.
Even as of right now, their new all-digital console is perfect for consumers who are new to Xbox. If they can get them to buy Game Pass, or even try it for three months for $1, they now have over 200 digital games ready to be installed. It was clear when it was first announced, but now it’s even more evident just how much Game Pass means for Xbox’s future.