I grew up in a different time. Game cartridges and joysticks, external memory cards and rumble packs. Games were moved on discs and forgetting to grab your memory card meant starting completely over from the beginning. New games meant a trip to your local Gamestop or Walmart even going so far as to camp out overnight if you were truly committed. There was a sense of pride in displaying all of your cases so your friends could see just how big a gamer you were. But then the internet happened. In the sixteen years since its launch Xbox Live has become a staple in the gaming world. The ability to play games online with your friends, store saves in the cloud, and receive bonus content is objectively a pretty amazing package.
But Game Pass? Is this really the next evolution? Coming in at a modest $7.99 I found myself skeptical as to whether it would be worth the investment. An additional nearly $100 annually for what? A few new games earlier? After it was announced, I examined it and promptly dismissed the idea.
Jump-cut to XO18
As Microsoft unveiled sixteen “release day” titles and continued to reveal an ever-growing back catalog of games which would become available I found my previously hardened heart softening. I found myself thinking extremely critically about my gameplay habits. Typically the games my wife and I purchase per year consist of a mix of indie titles and triple-A releases; the value of which would at least be equal to that of Game Pass. As game prices have continued to rise in recent years I’ve grown more and more hesitant to pick new games up on opening weekend. Gambling our hard earned gaming budget on an unknown entity has never been worth this risk to us.
Enter Game Pass
All of these variables proceeded to chip away at perhaps rash initial judgment call for a few specific reasons.
1) Try before you buy
Game prices have continued increasing without an end in sight as experiences have grown in size and scope. At the low cost of £7.99, you can have access to all of Microsoft Studios games the same day they release. While not owning games outright, players are able to test high caliber titles for a low budget cost. I often find that once I have completed a games main storyline that my gameplay experience is essentially over. It is extremely rare to find myself replaying a game unless I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. If a minimum of the triple-A games are fun to play but contain little replay value, the 95.88 has already paid for itself.
2) Buying Discounts
Some games DO possess great replay value, though. If players find a game, they’d like to add to their library permanently, Sea of Thieves, for example, they can save up to 20% and additionally receive up to 10% off add-ons and consumable items. If the upcoming releases don’t catch your fancy, you could buy the game you enjoyed and turn off your subscription for a bit.
3) Giving Gamers options
As consoles move ever closer to a diskless design a fear of mine is that the secondary market of used games will eventually cease to exist. By losing this critical component of the market we could very well see gaming becoming increasingly inaccessible to lower-income individuals and families. While the pricing scheme of Xbox Live and Game Pass is not exactly ideal, it does provide a more budget-friendly alternative to try test games without having to commit to the retail sticker price.
I’ve changed my tune
Even as I write this article, I’ve found myself continuing to warm up to the idea of Game Pass. As we enter the holiday season parents and family members are inevitably going to be looking for gift ideas for the nerds in their life. After some consideration, I think Game Pass would make a fine gift and be worthy of a place in a holiday gift exchange.
Allen works professionally in photography, cinematography, and marketing. As a lifelong camera junkie, he channels his creative and technical energy into the craft of photography, both in digital and analog processes.
He also loves playing games of all sorts, shapes, and play styles. Most days when he’s not doing photo related things he can be found playing D&D, Diablo III, Battlefield 1, or something retro. He also is a co-host and producer on both the Min/Max Podcast and the Deep Pixel Podcast.