Microsoft announces Xbox Game Pass

Microsoft has today announced it is now rolling out Xbox Game Pass. The digital game subscription service is dropping for Xbox Live Gold members today (May 24). In a blog post, the company says Game Pass will also come to all users on June 1.

This means users can get a 14-day free trial and access to over 100 titles that made up the service. At the moment, subscriptions will be available from xbox.com/game-pass. A general retail subscription will be purchasable later in the year.

Game Pass was announced in February as a subscription-based service. It gives gamers unlimited access to over 100 games for $9.99 per month.

The titles include Xbox One games and those available from Xbox 360 Backward Compatibility. One of the most interesting aspects of Game Pass is it offers “continuous full-fidelity gameplay”. This essentially means gamers can play without having to worry about stream strength or quality. Sony’s PlayStation Now cannot offer this.

Of course, any game subscription hinges on the games in its catalog. Naturally, Microsoft has this covered by the might of the Xbox brand as a gaming platform. Among the 100 titles are current Xbox One titles and Backward Compatibility Xbox 360 games. Microsoft says some games will be taken and new ones added each month.

“When Xbox Game Pass launches, you can download and play a broad range of games in full fidelity on your Xbox One or Xbox One S console, including blockbusters like Halo 5: Guardians, NBA 2K16 and Payday 2; fun for the whole family in LEGO Batman, Banjo-Kazooie and Viva Pinata; retro and classic games like Mega Man Legacy Collection, Streets of Rage and Pac-Man Championship Edition; and of course, Xbox Game Pass has a number of great first-person and third-person shooter games, including all three titles in the amazing Bioshock franchise, Gears of War 1-3, Gears Ultimate, Perfect Dark Zero, Borderlands and more.”

Microsoft is also giving subscribers a path to buying the games in the catalog. Members can buy titles and all add-ons at a reduced price.

Xbox Game Pass will launch in 31 regions, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK, and United States.

Changing Gaming

Microsoft’s Phil Spencer, chief of Xbox, said in a recent interview that he sees Game Pass as a revolutionary step in the games industry.

Episodic games are changing the way people play games, and are even drawing in non-gamers. It is arguably the biggest potential shake up to the casual gaming dynamic since the Wii opened gaming to the family.

“The audience for those big story-driven games… I won’t say it isn’t as large, but they’re not as consistent,” said Spencer. “You’ll have things like Zelda or Horizon Zero Dawn that’ll come out, and they’ll do really well, but they don’t have the same impact that they used to have, because the big service-based games are capturing such a large amount of the audience”.