There is a reason why Xbox Game Pass (XGP) has 10 million subscribers; it offers ridiculous value for money for gamers at a time where anti-consumer practices and predatory pricing is rife in the industry. The Xbox Games Showcase, despite its mixed reception, had one outstanding feature that only the most ardent of haters could argue against and that was how every single game shown at the event was going to be on XGP day and date of release. You may have heard (or even espoused yourself) that XGP just is not sustainable because of just how cheap it is for what it is offering. Expect that sentiment to increase when the service got an incredible boost that seldom few expected. Such a sentiment in itself is proof of the unmatched quality of Xbox Games Pass.
Making Gaming Accessible For All
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused tremendous loss and upheaval worldwide and millions across the globe have been financially affected. The toll of this will no doubt be felt by most and therefore such a service really should be lauded. Gamers have been complaining about the cost of games for years now but with XGP, Microsoft have removed a considerable barrier to gaming experiences. Even prior to the Xbox Games Show event, the service already represented the best value in gaming; after it, the service just became unmatched with a litany of third party publishers joining the fray with incredibly diverse and heavy hitting titles.
Only a few days before the Xbox Games Event, Microsoft announced that Game Pass Ultimate subscribers would also get access to Project XCloud for free; the streaming service enabling them to play their Xbox games on their mobile devices. Again, Xbox did not ‘need’ to do this but by doing so, served a statement of intent that it truly meant to stick by its slogan of opening up the gaming landscape for the masses. In one fell swoop, gamers across the world declared the demise of Google Stadia. A bit premature at this stage as Google is a powerhouse and the owner of YouTube could quite easily make moves that would disrupt any monopoly XCloud could potentially enjoy in the streaming space.
What about Craig?
The shortcomings of the Xbox Games Event however have served to eclipse the biggest announcement made by Phil Spencer. The underwhelming visual quality of Halo Infinite and the lack of substantive gameplay shown off quite naturally commanded the mindshare of core gamers, many of whom were promised a show that would undo the problems of the Inside Xbox show. Nonetheless, a service such as this will withstand any PR gaffes because of the sheer value of it.
What the service already does and will continue to do is enable gamers to experience games they wouldn’t normally try so if Craig put a damper on your mood on all things Halo, you have a whole library of games at your disposal to try; like a kid being let loose in a candy store. XCloud integration onto consoles will also enhance this experience with the ability to stream those games without contending with long download times.
The PlayStation 4 most likely has an install base that is double that of the Xbox One and yet, despite that, its own service, PlayStation Now, which was announced 3 years before Xbox Game pass has 2.2 million subscribers compared to the 10 million enjoyed by Microsoft. Whilst Game Pass is also available on PC, gamers on the latter platform still by in large resort to services like Steam for their purchases. The disparity in subscribers is striking but can be attributed to the following:
- Xbox first party exclusives appear on XGP on the day of release and remain there forever. PS Now offers no such incentive and that by far is its biggest downfall
- All games on XGP can be downloaded as opposed to PS Now which, whilst having introduced the ability to download games started off with the ability to only stream games, many of which cannot be downloaded today
- Uncertainty regarding future offerings for the service. Knowing that all first party titles will appear on XGP means you can plan what purchases to make/not to make.
Until Sony decides to release all its first party titles to PS Now on the day of release it will struggle to make the kind of waves Xbox is with XGP.
With the launch of next gen consoles around the corner, services like Xbox Game Pass will really shine because of the immense cost savings on hand. Think about it; you just need to buy the console and pay for the subscription and get access to a whole library of games including Halo Infinite, the flagship title for the Xbox all the while knowing that there are a whole load of games incoming too courtesy of the Xbox Games Event. Irrespective of Sony’s dominance in the arena, you can bet that they are nervously and carefully looking at XGP and strategising to counter it as they should.
The Future is Game Pass
Do not underestimate what Xbox is doing here. This is a massive battle cry by Xbox making it clear that it willing to forsake profits to get your mindshare when it comes to all things gaming. Couple this with the release of the world’s most powerful console, its arsenal in both the software, hardware and services space has never been more potent. For now Xbox Games Pass should be applauded for really being an incredible service for gamers, saving us all hundreds and opening a wide variety of gaming experiences, many of which we may have never bothered experiencing before.