Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass membership service offers access to over 100 titles for a monthly price of $10. Microsoft aspires to make Xbox Game Pass the “Netflix of video games”—but is it truly worth it?
What Is Xbox Game Pass?
In exchange for a monthly subscription, Xbox Game Pass grants you unrestricted access to a game library. As an alternative to paying for each game you wish to play, you may pay $10 a month for unrestricted access to a library of games. You’re free to engage in as many gaming sessions as you like. To get you started, there’s a 14-day free trial available.
Unlike Sony’s PlayStation Now, which streams games over the Internet, Xbox Game Pass isn’t doing anything too unconventional. Paying the subscription fee allows you to download games to your Xbox One and play them like you would any other game you purchased from the Xbox Store.
This service requires an Xbox One. Microsoft may one day extend Xbox Game Pass to Windows 10 PCs, but that hasn’t happened yet. While it does incorporate Xbox 360 games, those games can only be played in backwards compatibility mode on an Xbox One—not on an Xbox 360.
Note that Xbox Game Pass is separate from Xbox Live Gold, Microsoft’s subscription service that enables online multiplayer gameplay allows access to game deals, and offers free games every month. You can use Xbox Game Pass without paying for Xbox Live Gold. However, if a game available via Xbox Game Pass has online multiplayer features, you can only play multiplayer if you’re also paying for Xbox Live Gold.
How Many Games Are Available?
So Xbox Game Pass is pretty simple: For $10 per month, you get access to a catalogue of games and you can download and play them all you want on your Xbox One.
The variety of games is what makes or breaks a service like this. There are now 119 games in the library as of July 12th, 2017. Not all of these are Xbox One exclusives. Actually, a large percentage of these titles are ported over from the Xbox 360 to the Xbox One thanks to the backwards compatibility option.
You will see some big-name games here. You’ll find five games from the Gears of War series, Halo 5: Guardians, all three BioShock games, NBA 2K16, Saints Row IV: Re-Elected, and more. But the list is rounded out with older Xbox 360 games and smaller indie games. That doesn’t mean they’re bad, but you certainly aren’t getting all the latest full-price Xbox One games. You can view the full list of Xbox Game Pass games on Microsoft’s website. Microsoft adds new games every month.
Remember, You’ll Have to Download Them First
There’s one major way this experience doesn’t compare to Netflix or even Sony’s PlayStation Now. While both Netflix and PlayStation Now allow you to start streaming a video or game immediately, Xbox Game Pass requires you to download a game to your Xbox One before you play it.
For example, BioShock Infinite, which is 13 GB in size, took nearly an hour to download on our fairly speedy Internet connection.
It’s great to hear that you want to stay with the game. With the game installed, your Xbox One will run faster. The problem is that you can’t just sit down and check out a bunch of different games to determine which ones you enjoy. Each game requires a complete download before you can start playing. You can live with it, because it’s the norm for Xbox One games. Just be realistic about your expectations. Playing a game will take time depending on your Internet connection speed.
Once a game is installed, you can play it all you like. If your Xbox Game Pass subscription expires, the game will remain installed, but you won’t be able to play it until you either resubscribe or purchase the game. You don’t get to keep games you download via Xbox Game Pass—you lose access to them when your subscription stops.
So, Is It Worth It?
Whether Xbox Game Pass is worth it is a tough question. If you have a lot of time and want to play a lot of games, you’ll get a month of access to over 100 games for $10, and that’s quite the deal.
The limiting factor, of course, is time. How many of those games do you really want to play, and how fast will you play them?
The real issue here is that Xbox Game Pass largely gives you access to older games. You can often pick up used copies of these older games for very low prices, so that $10 a month may not be quite as awesome as it seems.
The BioShock series has all three games accessible for $10 per month as part of the Xbox Game Pass. According to a quick search on eBay, the Xbox 360 edition of BioShock Infinite is now available for $4.59 with free delivery. There is no need to spend money on a brand new copy when buying a secondhand one and playing it at your own pace. Xbox Game Pass, on the other hand, appears to be an excellent deal if you anticipate playing through BioShock Infinite quickly and then going on to anything else.
Considering how much time you have for gaming, evaluate which games you really want to play and if it’s a better bargain to purchase them individually. For me, Xbox Game Pass is a worse bargain than just purchasing the titles I want to play, given how much free time I have these days. Personally, I’m not convinced.
But you can try Xbox Game Pass for yourself thanks to that fourteen day free trial. If nothing else, it’ll let you play some games for free for two weeks.
Just be sure to cancel the free trial before the fourteen days are up if you don’t want to keep it. If you forget, Microsoft will begin charging you $10 per month until you remember to cancel. You can view and cancel this subscription on your Microsoft account’s Services & subscriptions page, if you like.