Xbox Game Pass
|Type||Video game subscription service|
|Launch date||June 1, 2017|
Xbox Series X/S
Xbox Game Pass is a video game subscription service from Microsoft for use with its Xbox One console and Windows 10, as well as Android devices via xCloud. Described by Forbes as "Netflix for video games", Xbox Game Pass grants users access to a catalog of games from a range of publishers for a single monthly subscription price. The service was launched on June 1, 2017 while Xbox Live Gold subscribers received priority access on May 24.
On February 28, 2017, Microsoft announced the debut of Xbox Game Pass and made a limited catalog of games available to select members of its Xbox Insider community for testing and feedback. Later in the second quarter of 2017, the service was opened up to players who subscribe to Xbox Live Gold, and then to the general user population. An Xbox Live Gold subscription is not required for Xbox Game Pass, but it is required for any online multiplayer content the games in the catalog may contain.
As part of Microsoft's E3 2017 press conference, Microsoft announced that selected Xbox titles would be made available through a new backwards-compatibility feature similar to that in place for Xbox 360 titles. In a later interview, Phil Spencer stated that some of those games could make their way onto Game Pass, as well.
On January 23, 2018, Microsoft announced an expansion of Game Pass that would see first-party titles arrive on the catalog day-and-date with the retail release of the game. Sea of Thieves was the first new title to appear on Game Pass on its retail launch date, March 20, 2018. Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2 and Forza Horizon 4 would also be added upon launch, although their launch dates were not announced at the time, and future releases in existing Microsoft franchises, such as Halo and Gears of War, would also be added upon their release. Additionally, select ID@Xbox titles are also added to the service on their release dates, the first being Robocraft Infinity.
Spencer has stated that Microsoft's intent with the Xbox Game Pass is to make it available across many devices, including those of their competitors. Spencer stated "We want to bring Game Pass to any device that somebody wants to play on...Not just because it’s our business, but really because the business model allows for people to consume and find games that they wouldn’t have played in any other space." Microsoft announced in May 2019 that Xbox Game Pass would be coming for Windows 10 computers, bringing over 100 games from Microsoft's own studios as well as third-parties when it launches.
On April 18, 2019, Microsoft announced Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, a new tier that combines both Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold into a single subscription package. It became available for testing to Xbox Insiders that same day, while general availability began on June 9, 2019. On June 9, 2019, Microsoft announced that Game Pass for PC would launch in open beta, and this would also be included in Ultimate.
In the Q3 2020 earnings call, Microsoft disclosed the service has over 10 million subscribers.
While the visual branding for Xbox Game Pass had removed "Xbox" in August 2020, Microsoft stated that the service remained named "Xbox Game Pass".
xCloud will be included for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers on September 15, 2020, which adds the ability for cloud gaming to select Android mobile devices, with initially over 100 games optimized for the services. More mobile devices including iOS ones are expected to be added later.
Microsoft partnered with Electronic Arts (EA) so that by the end of 2020, subscribers to Game Pass will also have access to the basic EA Play subscription page to get access to numerous EA titles available on either Xbox or Windows.
Xbox Game Pass is similar to Xbox One's existing EA Access video game subscription and to the PlayStation Now service offered by rival Sony. The subscription catalog contains more than 100 games at launch, with games being added to, and sometimes withdrawn from, the catalog from time to time. Xbox Game Pass allows the player to download the full game to the console; according to Head of Xbox Phil Spencer, this was done to give players "continuous, full-fidelity gameplay without having to worry about streaming, bandwidth or connectivity issues". Unlike EA Access, Xbox Game Pass offers games from a wide range of publishers, such as Namco, Capcom, WB Games, 2K Games, Bethesda Softworks, and first-party games from Xbox Game Studios. According to Spencer, Microsoft sees the Game Pass as more of a platform to offer games that do not fit the common mold that sell well and would be difficult to gain a publisher, and instead to allow these games to be offered in the subscription model, encouraging both developers to create new and experimental titles. The Game Pass also provides a way for players to try games they would not normally have purchased.
The catalog features select games for Xbox One as well as select Xbox 360 and Xbox titles with which Xbox One is backwards-compatible. There is no limit to the number of games a player can download and install to their consoles, other than the amount of storage space available to the console. As long as a game remains in the catalog, it is available for unlimited download and play by subscribers. Players can purchase games in the catalog at a 20% discount, and any related add-on content for those games at a 10% discount. The discounted price is available only while the game is in the catalog and is only for the particular game. Games from the catalog can be played while the console is offline, but for no more than 30 days before it must reconnect to verify an active subscription.
If the game is removed from the catalog or the player ends their subscription, access is suspended until the player purchases the game or renews their subscription, but their in-game progress will be saved in the interim. If the game is an Xbox 360 title, it will be backward-compatible and must be used on Xbox One; it cannot be downloaded to a player's Xbox 360 console unless the player chooses to purchase it.
The specific means by which developers are compensated for their games on the service is not clear, but Paradox Interactive's Fredrik Wester stated the terms follows the Netflix model where the developer or publisher was paid a lump sum by Microsoft for their game on the service for a fixed period of time based on a perceived value, rather than the per-play royalty-based approach used by services like Spotify. The upfront approach, along with the large subscriber numbers, allows developers to select ongoing directions for their games. In the case of Obsidian Entertainment, they were able to consider additional downloadable content for their game Outer Worlds as they knew millions were playing it.
In a July 2020 interview, Xbox's marketing director Aaron Greenberg said that Xbox Game Pass is not necessarily meant to be profitable for Microsoft at the current time but is designed to help draw more players to use it through word-of-mouth by offering a large set of features as a seemingly under priced value, and in the long-term become valuable. This allows them to avoid high costs of advertising the service.
Xbox Game Pass is available in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
- The PC edition had cost US$4.99 during its beta phase, which ended on September 17, 2020.
- Bailey, Dustin (September 9, 2020). "Xbox Game Pass for PC doubles in price on September 17". PCGamesN. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
- Paul Tassi (February 28, 2017). "Microsoft Takes Aim At PlayStation Now With Netflix-Like Xbox Game Pass". Forbes. Archived from the original on February 28, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
- Alex Osborn (June 11, 2017). "E3 2017: Xbox One Original Xbox Backwards Compatibility Details Revealed". ign.com. Ziff Davis, LLC. Archived from the original on June 12, 2017. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
- Phil Spencer (January 23, 2018). "Xbox Game Pass Expands To Include New Releases From Microsoft Studios". news.xbox.com. Microsoft Corporation. Archived from the original on April 7, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
- "Robocraft Infinity is Available Now Exclusively on Xbox One and Xbox Game Pass". Xbox Wire. April 12, 2018. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved May 26, 2018.
- Levy, Nat (March 4, 2019). "Beyond the console: Xbox leaders detail Microsoft's gaming future, led by xCloud streaming service". Geek Wire. Archived from the original on March 2, 2019. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- Statt, Nick (May 30, 2019). "Microsoft is bringing Xbox Game Pass to PC with over 100 titles". The Verge. Archived from the original on May 30, 2019. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
- Warren, Tom (April 5, 2019). "Microsoft to combine Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live into $14.99-a-month subscription". The Verge. Archived from the original on May 27, 2019. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
- Warren, Tom (June 9, 2019). "Microsoft launches Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with PC and Xbox games for $14.99 per month". The Verge. Archived from the original on June 9, 2019. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
- Kastrenakes, Jacob (April 29, 2020). "Xbox Game Pass hits 10 million subscribers". The Verge. The Verge. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
- Robinson, Andy (August 4, 2020). "Microsoft says Game Pass isn't dropping 'Xbox', despite logo change". Video Games Chronicle. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
- Warren, Tom (August 4, 2020). "Microsoft's xCloud game streaming will launch on September 15th on Android". The Verge. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
- Nunneley, Stephany (September 9, 2020). "EA Play to be included with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate starting this holiday". VG247. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
- "Microsoft to acquire ZeniMax Media and its game publisher Bethesda Softworks". September 21, 2020.
- Tom Warren (February 28, 2017). "Microsoft's new Xbox Game Pass subscription grants access to more than 100 games". The Verge. Archived from the original on March 1, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
- Romain Dillet (February 28, 2017). "The Xbox Game Pass is a $9.99 Spotify-like game subscription". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on March 1, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
- Phil Spencer (February 28, 2017). "Introducing Xbox Game Pass: Unlimited Access to More Than 100 Games". Microsoft. Archived from the original on February 28, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
- Wesley Copeland (February 28, 2017). "Microsoft Announces Xbox Game Pass Subscription Service". ign.com. Ziff Davis. Archived from the original on February 28, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
- Dring, Christopher (July 9, 2020). "Developing for Xbox Game Pass: "I could never pitch these ideas to a publisher"". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
- "Xbox Game Pass". Microsoft. Archived from the original on March 1, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
- Handrahan, Matthew (July 8, 2019). ""Xbox Game Pass is the first time subscription is fair for developers"". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved July 20, 2020.}
- Makuch, Eddie (July 28, 2020). "Xbox Game Pass Is Not A Big Money-Maker Right Now, But Microsoft Is Thinking Long Term". GameSpot. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
- "Xbox Game Pass for Console FAQ". Archived from the original on March 5, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2019.