Xbox Game Pass – First Year in Review

In June 2018 Xbox Game Pass will celebrate its first anniversary. Let’s take a look at one of the Xbox One’s most compelling features.

Years ago games were mostly single player affairs that came on cartridges or disks. You played the game and when you finished, it went onto the shelf to gather dust, was traded or given away.

There was no DLC or updates to increase longevity.  You had to be very precious about your purchases so that you don’t end up with a lemon.

I always thought game rental would be a much better way of managing my game library. Thanks to the success of Netflix and other streaming services, games inevitably followed suit. I’m glad they did.

Xbox Game Pass

Announced in February 2017 and launched in June of that same year, Xbox Game Pass is a $10 AUD subscription service. You get access to an ever-growing library of Xbox games with no limitations.

Game Pass boasts over 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 games. Games are regularly added and removed, much like a streaming video service. There’s no limit to the number of games you can download aside from your physical storage space.

The catalogue has a rich mix of first and third party games as well as a growing collection of ID@Xbox titles. Titles include Halo 5 Guardians, Halo Wars, Gears of War series and the Fable Trilogy.

Third party hits like BioShock, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Sunset Overdrive, Devil May Cry and so many more. It’s like being a kid in a candy store.

All First Party Titles

Six months after its launch, Microsoft made the surprising announcement that all first party games would now launch on Game Pass from day one.

Sea of Thieves came first, followed more recently by State of Decay 2. Crackdown 3, Gears of War 5 and Halo 6 all will follow on release. This makes Game Pass a must own for Microsoft exclusives.

Game Pass competes with Sony’s PlayStation Now, which is a direct streaming service. Players stream the games from Sony’s servers, similar to YouTube videos.

As you can imagine, this requires a much higher bandwidth connection to get good gameplay.

Great Value for Money

Game Pass offers a better solution overall. Players download the game to their console at their leisure. Game sizes are clearly marked so you can plan your data caps well. Most of the older games don’t exceed 10gb which is surprising by today’s bloated game sizes.

Microsoft has Sony beat here, at least in Australia with our pitiful bandwidth.

With backwards compatibility which allows all Xbox One, One S and One X to play Xbox 360 titles, the Xbox One is a gamer’s delight. This is an extremely underrated feature of the Xbox. Being able to play hundreds of classic games of years past that you may have missed is priceless.

They might look a bit dated by today’s 4K HDR standard but it’s a treat to play classic blockbusters. I’m currently playing the excellent Bioshock and Rise of the Tomb Raider which is now Xbox One X enhanced. As someone who missed the Xbox 360 generation, this is such a great feature.

No Need to Stream

Even if you run out of space and delete a game, you can always re-download it later. Your save games and achievements remain safely stored. This makes game management a boon.

But there are a few caveats. Firstly, the general selection of games isn’t exactly AAA material. A lot of the games are middling titles which look and feel dated by today’s standard.

Secondly, games often get removed from the library Game Pass every so often. It’s not always with a predictable schedule too. Metal Gear Solid V, one of the best in the series, was available on Game Pass for only two months before being removed.

You may find it difficult to complete many of the bigger games before they’re no longer available.

That said, these are very small compromises for what is undoubtedly the best value in gaming. On top of that, Game Pass subscribers can buy titles at 20% discount as well as 10% off add-ons and DLC.

Not Perfect, but Perfectly Good

Every so often Microsoft will offer a months subscription for $1 to entice new players to give it a go. I cannot overstate how much value you get per dollar here.

Game Pass is a fantastic subscription service. Microsoft shows that it’s not only AAA exclusives that make a console worthwhile. Services like Game Pass and Live with Gold make the Xbox ecosystem quite valuable.

As more and more great exclusives come out of Microsoft Studios, the value of Game Pass will only grow.

Microsoft has lived up to its promises and I’m excited to see how this grows. Game Pass is the best $10 in gaming you can spend right now. 

Microsoft provided PowerUp! with Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass subscriptions for the purposes of this post.

Kizito Katawonga
Kizito Katawonga
Kizzy is our Tech Editor. He's a total nerd with design sensibilities who's always on the hunt for the latest, greatest and sexiest tech that enhances our work and play. When he's not testing the latest gadgets or trying to listen to his three whirlwind daughters, Kizzy likes to sink deep into a good story-driven single player game.

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