Following the film and music industry, subscriptions infiltrated the gaming industry. They are offered by platform holders and major publishers: EA Play, Ubisoft +, PlayStation Now … Microsoft has also taken a course on Netflix, and the final result is more interesting than that of its competitors. We’re talking about Game Pass for Console and PC. Today we will dive into the history of this service, tell you what is included in different versions of the subscription, and dwell on the “pitfalls”.
A bit of history
In late 2013, Microsoft and Sony launched their new consoles – Xbox One and PS4. The Redmond Corporation promoted the device as a one-stop media center and ultimately failed. Sony outperformed the enemy, not least thanks to the resonant exclusives, and the Xbox One really failed to offer gamers anything, and the graphics in multi-platform projects on it turned out to be poorer compared to PS4 and PC.
After the disastrous premiere of the Xbox One, Microsoft’s gaming division was headed by Phil Spencer. He joined Microsoft back in 1988 and since then has gradually climbed the career ladder. To get the Xbox out of the swamp, Spencer has implemented a few bold ideas:
provided cross-platform play between Xbox and PC under Windows 10. The function is called Play Anywhere – you buy one copy of the game and are free to play it on the console and on the computer;
refused console exclusives. Now all Xbox projects land on PC, the only exception to the rule is Halo 5: Guardians;
revived ancient series like Age of Empires, which earned the approval of a nostalgic audience;
Age of empires 4
has brought together such studios as Double Fine, Ninja Theory, Obsidian, inXile Entertainment, Bethesda Softworks under the Xbox brand. From now on, their upcoming projects are sharpened for the Xbox and PC;
leveraged on backward compatibility, bringing the shores of the Xbox One and Xbox Series to dozens of Xbox and Xbox 360 projects;
replaced one console with two – compact and powerful (Xbox Series S and X). The buyer has a choice;
Removed the requirement to subscribe to Xbox Live Gold multiplayer for free-to-play games;
launched xCloud (Xbox Cloud Gaming) – a cloud service that allows you to play graphically fancy blockbusters from the Xbox on … a phone / tablet for Android and iOS;
did not cash in on gamers by selling separately versions of games for the Xbox One and Xbox Series. If the project supports the Smart Delivery option, then you will receive both versions for the price of one;
finally revealed the Xbox Game Pass to the world.
Perhaps Game Pass is Spencer’s most successful experiment. The service was launched in June 2017. Game Pass is a catalog of games from a bunch of publishers available by subscription. Initially, it was present only on the Xbox, but over time it got to the PC, plus the opportunity to buy Ultimate was added – a subscription with games for Xbox and PC. By January 2021, the service had attracted 18 million users.
What’s included in Game Pass
Microsoft currently sells three subscriptions: Xbox Game Pass for console, PC Game Pass for PC, and Game Pass Ultimate for console and PC. Let’s see what’s inside each.
There are 431 games included with Xbox Game Pass. You can buy them forever (and not only for the duration of the subscription) with a 20% discount, add-ons to them – with a 10% discount.
There are 400 games in PC Game Pass. The discounts are the same as on the console. Also PC Game Pass contains EA Play – a selection of releases from Electronic Arts: different parts of Battlefield, Need for Speed, FIFA, NHL and so on. In addition, EA Play gives you access to exclusive in-game missions, rewards, and trials of fresh hits.
Microsoft Xbox Game Pass 3 Months Access Payment Card for PC 1,799 *
Game Pass Ultimate offers a general catalog, discounts and EA Play, as well as xCloud, Xbox Live Gold (multiplayer modes, gift games and discounts up to 50%) and all sorts of consumables and “cosmetics” for online games like Sea of Thieves.
What games can you find on Game Pass? The most varied – from indie to AAA, from retro from all generations of Xbox to new products. For example, Firewatch, Mortal Kombat 11, Gears 5, A Way Out, A Plague Tale: Innocence, Age of Empires 4, Alien: Isolation, Battletech, Code Vein, Control, Crusader Kings 3, Desperados 3, Doom Eternal …
Projects from internal Microsoft studios are released in Game Pass right on the day of the premiere (The Outer Worlds, Wasteland 3, Gears 5, Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite …). And not only them: so, on January 20, the day of release, the co-op shooter Rainbow Six: Extraction from Ubisoft will knock on Game Pass.
The outer worlds
The library is growing rapidly. For example, in January 2022, the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition and the adventure game Outer Wilds arrived in Game Pass. Enthusiasts have calculated that in 2021 Microsoft added $ 6,317 to the game subscription, which gives about 473 thousand rubles.
How to subscribe
Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass cost $ 9.99 for a month, Game Pass Ultimate for $ 14.99. That is, you pay $ 10-15 for a subscription and get access to the full version of the game, which costs $ 40-60. In October 2020, Spencer announced that he was not going to raise prices.
Microsoft Xbox Game Pass Ultimate 3 Month Billing Card
[Platform: Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Gaming Service Subscription, 3 Months Subscription]
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In stores: in 214 stores
In Russia, Microsoft sells these subscriptions exclusively through retail stores. You pay for the order (subscription for a month, 3 months, six months or a year), receive a key by e-mail, activate it, then select the project you are interested in from the catalog, download and calmly wander around the virtual world, including without an Internet connection.
You are allowed to download and play the game as many times as you like during the subscription period. Progress will be preserved if, for example, you renew your subscription not immediately, but after some time.
What are the limitations
So we got to the “pitfalls” indicated in the introduction. In fact, they are not as critical as some skeptics put forward.
Xbox Game Pass for console does not grant the right to run multiplayer modes. To do this, you need to buy Xbox Live Gold or spend money on Game Pass Ultimate.
Games from the catalog can be played while the subscription is active.
Some of the projects from the catalog are for PC, some are for the console, some are available both there and there. For a complete list by platform, see the Microsoft website.
Microsoft Xbox Game Pass 3 Month Pay Card 1 829 *
Something arrives in the library and something decreases. Only Microsoft releases are guaranteed forever. GTA 5, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and Red Dead Redemption 2 were all in Game Pass for a limited time. Microsoft warns about the removal two weeks in advance. It is convenient to follow the migration of games in the mobile application Xbox Game Pass (iOS, Android) – look for the items “Coming soon” and “Disappearing soon” on the main screen. Let’s say the exciting strategy Desperados 3 is about to leave the catalog.
What is the bottom line
Microsoft no longer wants to participate in console wars and is presenting the Xbox not as a set-top box, but as a platform, moreover, merged with the PC into a single ecosystem. Game Pass also contributes to the convergence of the console and the computer.
The subscription is aimed at those who want to save money, who play a lot and are constantly in search of fresh impressions, and for beginners. For a small fee, Game Pass lets you explore different genres and pick the one that’s close to your heart.
On PS4 / PS5 and Switch, closed platforms, you shouldn’t expect “game pass”. They don’t fit into Phil Spencer’s vision. So for the foreseeable future, Game Pass will not leave Xbox, PC and Android with iOS (via xCloud).
STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl
This year, Game Pass will be based on Total War: Warhammer 3, STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl and Starfield. Strong arguments for subscriptions, what do you think?