My Xbox Live profile is a museum. Between 2007 and ≈2012, it meticulously catalogued the near-entirety of my gaming history through an extensive collection of achievements and in-game data. Then, a break before my brief trist with the Xbox One era, and then, aside from a few minutes with Microsoft’s new Minecraft build, it sat mostly empty. I’d moved on, preferring the top-value sales and consumer friendliness of PC gaming. When I was playing on console, I knew only the allure of the Nintendo Switch. My Xbox profile went dark.
Then, years later, something bright: a new game appeared atop a dust-covered list of ancient Xbox 360 titles with 12% completion rates. I’d started playing The Outer Worlds. Then, another light: Halo: The Master Chief Collection had joined the collection. Then Wolfenstein II, then SUPERHOT, Minecraft Dungeons, Halo Wars 2, Forager, Carrion. Xbox and I are back in business, all thanks to Game Pass.
I won’t hide my bias for Game Pass; I think it’s the greatest thing to happen to PC gaming since Discord, and Steam Sales before that. Since its introduction by Microsoft last year, Game Pass hasn’t been a secret, selling at least ten million subscriptions, but even that number, to me, seems stunningly low in light of its absolute value. The standard PC version of Game Pass is $5 a month. The Xbox tier is $10, and $15 a month nets you both versions and an Xbox Live Gold subscription.
I understand this reads like an advertising pitch, but, again, it’s the value. For $5 a month, PC players can access everything in the Game Pass catalogue. Obviously, that on its own isn’t much of a sell; I can offer you access to everything in my closet for $5 a month and you’ll have more medium-grade white t-shirts than you’d ever need. Similarly, if Game Pass doesn’t have games you want to play, the price is pretty irrelevant. But, with the service’s current library, I have a hard time believing that’s possible.
Right now, through my $5 subscription, I can play Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Age of Empires II, Cities: Skylines, Dishonored II, Enter the Gungeon, Europa Universalis IV, Fallout 76, Final Fantasy XV, Forza Horizon 4, Gears of War 5, Golf With Your Friends, Hollow Knight, Hotline Miami, Microsoft Flight Simulator, No Man’s Sky, Sea of Thieves, Shadow Warrior 2, Subnautica, Ticket to Ride, Totally Accurate Battle Simulator, Yakuza 0, Zoo Tycoon, and so much more.
That’s just me scrolling through the alphabetical list and picking out some of the most interesting/diverse titles. The library of available games is so expansive that I didn’t know several of those listed above had been added. If none of the above games interest you, I challenge you to search up the full list and put it to the same test; if your interest still isn’t piqued, I’d wager you’re either very discerning or a person who doesn’t play many games (in which case, you’ve spent way too much time reading this).
Still, your interests may vary significantly from mine, and it’s possible the library doesn’t have anything that fits your playstyle, but for five dollars a month, or sixty dollars a year, if you buy in and end up playing one full-price title during the year, it’s already worth your money. Furthermore, I’ve found the service remarkably useful as a way to test out games I might be interested in playing but would have stayed on the fence about before. I’ve played some games I ended up loving (Overcooked! 2, The Outer Worlds), and others that weren’t for me, but even in that latter case, I didn’t have to outright buy them, and I don’t feel I’ve wasted my money.
To me, this is a crazy good deal, and it’s remarkable that its adoption rate isn’t higher. To be absolutely fair, it’s hard to believe the current price is sustainable — the service’s website even notes that the $5 deal is temporary, and that it’ll raise to $10 at some point in the future. Still, at $120 a year, that’s the equivalent of two full-priced games.
Just recently, Microsoft announced that the $15 Ultimate tier will also include their game streaming service, Project xCloud, which adds additional value for those looking for a non-Stadia way to play games remotely.
I could choose to end this piece by trying to wax business genius, offering projections of the future of gaming after the adoption of Netflix-esque subscription services, but that’s not really in the spirit of the article. I don’t know where we’ll be in five years, but I do know that right now, Game Pass is a killer deal.