We have enjoyed entertainment on demand services for the better part of this decade and now consider them to be pretty commonplace. However, the same cannot be said for the gaming world, as the top game manufacturers have only recently begun implementing services that allow you enjoy video gaming on demand. This June, Microsoft takes a major step in direction with Xbox Game Pass: a Netflix-like service that gives you access to over a hundred games on your Xbox One for a flat monthly access fee.
Xbox Game Pass allows you unlimited access to the games available on the 100-game strong catalog for the duration of your monthly subscription. Unlike PlayStation Now; PlayStation’s subscription service, Xbox Game Pass is not a streaming service. With this brand new Xbox service, you get the ability to download games directly to your console and play them in full fidelity. As a result of this setup, you can play Game Pass title while offline, as the complete game data is stored on your Xbox One hard drive and the service does not require you to be online while playing.
For a relatively small price, Xbox Game Pass allows you play from an impressive selection of games that include top titles available for Xbox One, as well as a selection of backward compatible Xbox 360 heavy hitters. However, despite featuring titles from the older console, the Game Pass service will not work on the Xbox 360 and is only available for the Xbox One and Xbox One S. Titles available on the service include the BioShock trilogy, Halo 5: Guardians, Gears of War I-IV, and an array of retro games from Xbox Live.
The new game subscription service from Xbox is set to be officially launched on June 1; from whence you can start out a 2-week free trial of the service before signing up for a full subscription. However, the service is now available via Early Access for Gold Members; a setup that allows Gold members of Xbox Live to begin their 14-day trial of Xbox Game Pass from June 25.
How Xbox Game Pass works
Xbox Game Pass operates a full download-first setup for playing games from the service. Consequently, depending on your internet speed, you will have to wait for a set period (download time) before playing the downloaded games. However, once you download a game from the Xbox Game Pass catalog to your Xbox One, you can play the game even when offline as there is no ‘always-online requirement.’ With Xbox Game Pass, you do not have to worry about dodgy connections interrupting your gameplay.
Once you subscribe to the Game Pass service, you are immediately granted unlimited access to the games on the catalog. You can download and play as many games as you want, as your only limit is storage space. Microsoft has promised to update the Game Pass catalog monthly by adding new games and removing titles that are no longer supported.
After downloading a game from the service, Microsoft gives you full access to that title (for 30 days,) akin to what you would get from buying the game in full. Hence, you’ll be able to enjoy the full gameplay as well as earn achievements and Gamerscore. Also, any game saves, progress, or DLC/add-ons you purchase from the Xbox Store for a particular game will be automatically associated with your Xbox account and will be available for use even after leaving the Xbox Game Pass service.
However, it is important to note that downloading a game on the service is not exactly the same as purchasing the game standalone as you only get access to the game while your Xbox Game Pass subscription is on. Once your subscription expires, you can go ahead and purchase the game to continue playing the game using your game saves. Even better, you can buy a game title while still on your Xbox Game Pass subscription to get a 20% discount on the purchase and a further 10% off any related game add-ons and consumables (as long as the game is still listed in the Xbox Game Pass catalog.)
Game titles available on Xbox Game Pass
At launch, the Xbox Game Pass service boast over 100 games with popular titles from Xbox One and Xbox Live, as well as some backward-compatible featured titles from the Xbox 360.
However, Microsoft has stated that the Xbox Game Pass catalog will evolve over time with new titles coming in monthly and a few leaving the inventory as well. You can visit Xbox.com/gamepass to see a current list of game title offerings available each month.
As you would expect from such a large game database, the 100+ game titles include lots of options for all categories of gamers. Popular games such as NBA 2k16, Halo 5, and Mad Max are available for play with Xbox Game Pass. You also get vintage game titles such as Mega Man Legacy Collection, Resident Evil 0, Perfect Dark Zero, and Pac-man, as well as family-friendly games like LEGO Batman, Terraria and Viva Piñata.
Here is a full list of the games available on the Xbox Game Pass service at launch. The current list includes a total of 111 game titles; including 40 from the Xbox One, 47 on Xbox Live, and 24 backward-compatible games from the Xbox 360.
Xbox One Game Pass games:
- Super Time Force
- WWE 2K16
- The Swapper
- The Golf Club
- The Book of Unwritten Tales 2
- Sunset Overdrive
- Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings
- D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die
- Blood Bowl 2
- Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
- Defense Grid 2
- DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition
- Electronic Super Joy
- Farming Simulator 15
- Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
- Halo 5: Guardians
- Halo: Spartan Assault
- JumpJet Rex
- Knight Squad
- Layers of Fear
- Mad Max
- Massive Chalice
- Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
- Mega Coin Squad
- Mega Man Legacy Collection
- NBA 2K16 (Xbox One)
- Pumped BMX+
- Resident Evil 0
- Payday 2: Crimewave Edition
- Saints Row IV: Re-Elected
- Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse
Xbox Live Game Pass games:
- A Kingdom for Keflings
- A World of Keflings
- Age of Booty
- Bionic Commando Rearmed 2
- Capcom Arcade Cabinet
- Comic Jumper
- Comix Zone
- Defense Grid
- Dig Dug
- Double Dragon Neon
- Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara
- Final Fight: Double Impact
- Galaga Legions DX
- Hexic 2
- Iron Brigade
- Jetpac Refuelled
- Joe Danger: Special Edition
- Joe Danger 2: The Movie
- Joy Ride Turbo
- King of Fighters ’98 Ultimate Match
- Metal Slug 3
- Monday Night Combat
- Splosion Man
- NeoGeo Battle Coliseum
- Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+
- Pac-Man Museum
- Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space
- Samurai Showdown 2
- SEGA Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Co
- SEGA Vintage Collection: Golden Axe
- SEGA Vintage Collection: Monster World
- SEGA Vintage Collection: Streets of Rage
- Soulcalibur 2 HD
- Splosion Man
- The Maw
- Toy Soldiers
- Toy Soldiers: Cold War
- Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown
Xbox 360 Game Pass games ((Playable on Xbox One):
- Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts
- BioShock 2
- BioShock Infinite
- Bound by Flame
- Gears of War
- Gears of War 2
- Gears of War 3
- Gears of War: Judgment
- Dark Void
- De Blob 2
- Fable 3
- Sam & Max Save the World
- GRID 2
- LEGO Batman: The Videogame
- MX ATX Reflex
- Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
- Perfect Dark Zero
- Sacred 3
- Tekken Tag Tournament 2
- Viva Piñata
- Vita Piñata: Trouble in Paradise
- XCOM: Enemy Within
With this exciting array of games and a promise of new titles monthly, the Game Pass service is already looking promising regarding game availability.
However, there is a noticeable absence of games from third party publishers such as EA and Rockstar Games. We are yet to see if the Xbox team will be able to include games these publishers, some of who already have native subscription networks. However, Xbox CMO, Mike Nichols, has stated that they will “work with the publishing partners to deliver the best possible gaming experiences.”
Xbox Game Pass: Availability
Only the newer Xbox One and Xbox One S consoles support the Xbox Game Pass service. While some Xbox 360 backward compatible games are included in the Xbox Game Pass catalog, those titles will not be available on the Xbox 360 console via a subscription to the service.
Xbox Game Pass is now available for Xbox Live Gold subscribers beginning with a 14-day full trial of the service. Other users can jump onto the service from June 1st; the official launch date of the service. However, you will still need an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play multiplayer games, even on the Xbox Game Pass service.
Currently, Xbox Game Pass is available in up to 30 Xbox markets including;
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- United States
Furthermore, the Xbox team has promised that the service coverage will be expanded quickly to cater to as many new markets as the catalog availability permits.
Xbox Game Pass: Pricing
Xbox Game Pass is now available to Xbox Live Gold Subscribers (June 1st for other users) for a full 14-day trial before signing up for the service proper at $9.99/£7.99 a month. At the end of your 2-week period, your free trial automatically continues to a monthly subscription to the service at the regular price unless you cancel before the end of the trial period.
Once you are fully subscribed to the service, your monthly subscription will renew automatically at the then-current regular price of the subscription and automatically renew every month until you cancel the service before a renewal date.
After canceling your subscription, your access to the Xbox Game Pass service will end at the end of the last day of your then-current billing cycle. You also lose access to the Game Pass catalog, as well as the game titles available on the service.
Once a Game Pass subscription lapses, all downloaded games will no longer be playable.
Xbox Game Pass: Our Verdict
For less than half the price of a PlayStation Now subscription you get the ability to play an excellent selection of games, and completely offline too. In theory, Xbox Game Pass is set to be every gamers dream come true, that is as long as the execution is inch-perfect.
Also, it will be interesting to see if the Xbox team can uphold their promise of adding new interesting game titles to the service as it evolves. And while there are no promises, it will be nice to see the occasion new title popping up in the catalog.
Xbox Game Pass is already looking like absolute bang for your buck and has the potential to be even more. The system of making games available for offline play is sure to win over a lot of gamers. And a potential addition of day-one titles is sure to revolutionize console gaming as we know it.