Pass with flying colours
Microsoft unveils its Game Pass, granting Xbox One owners more than 100 downloadable games for just £7.99 a month. At long last: it’s the Netflix of videogames!
Microsoft has announced a brand-new subscription service that will provide players with unlimited access to a catalogue of more than 100 games for just £7.99 a month. The Xbox Game Pass is coming to your console in late spring 2017 and will let you choose from a smorgasbord of Xbox One and Xbox 360 games to download and play at your leisure. 12 titles have already been confirmed for the new service, including bona-fide modern classics such as Halo 5, open-world odysseys like Mad Max, and even remastered favourites such as Gears Of War: Ultimate Edition.
To put it another way, Game Pass is essentially the Netflix of videogames, but instead of binge-watching The Big Bang Theory until you long for the heat death of the universe, you’ll be calling down requisitions in Halo 5’ s Warzone mode or planning co-operative crime sprees in Payday 2. And while the Game Pass isn’t the first subscription gaming service to hit the market, it’ll differ from the competition on one crucial point: every title in its catalogue will be available to download directly to your Xbox One. That means you’ll be playing at full resolution, rather than streaming some fuzzy facsimile of your favourite game, and you won’t be kicked out of your Halo 5 campaign just because your cat knocks out your ethernet cable or your python swallows the router whole.
Of course, EA Access already provides Xbox One owners with access to a vault of downloadable titles, but the Game Pass promises to be a home for a huge catalogue of games from a wide selection of publishers, ensuring a healthy range of titles from indie darlings and thirdparty favourites through to first-party blockbusters. Publishers like Capcom, Bandai Namco, Warner Brothers and Sega have already joined the party, and when Game Pass launches there’ll be at least 12 publishers providing games for the service.
Spice of life
Microsoft has also confirmed that it plans to add new titles to the Game Pass service on a monthly basis, so there’s no danger of the catalogue growing stale. Instead, you can expect an ever-changing line-up of delectable downloadable games to sample at your leisure. There’s no contract to worry about either – you’ll be free to cancel your subscription at any time and pick it up again once you’ve got a bit of spare dosh. So it’s perfect for gamers working on a tight budget, or those with a desperate fear of commitment.
And while we already know 12 of the games that will be available to Game Pass subscribers once spring has sprung, that won’t stop us from wildly speculating as to what other gaming goodies might be winding
their way onto the service. The presence of Capcom on Microsoft’s list of publisher partners could hint at the Dead Rising series shuffling onto the service, or perhaps a selection of artisanal fighting games drawn from the company’s exemplary back catalogue. 2k Games is a confirmed pass-holder too, which maybe – just maybe – could mean that Red Dead Revolver and an assortment of Grand Theft Auto games will eventually be available for subscribers to sample.
It’s all terribly exciting, and if you simply cannot wait for late spring to roll around – perhaps you sleep through the hottest months of the year like the North American desert tortoise – then boy howdy, do we have some thrilling news for you: Microsoft has confirmed that an early version of the Game Pass functionality will be available as part of the Xbox Insider Program. That means that Insiders will be able to trial the service long before its official launch, picking and choosing from a selection of 20 or so games. You might run into the odd bug or error message along the way, but it’s a small price to pay for early access to one of the biggest features coming to Xbox One.
More to come
But if you thought that the Xbox Game Pass was the only reason to get all fired up for 2017, then go home and get some rest, because you’re clearly off your ever-loving head on liquid Wrong. Xbox boss Phil Spencer has recently been shedding some light on the company’s plans for the coming year, which include the launch of the most powerful games console ever made: Project Scorpio.
But it isn’t just hardware and services that have us all aquiver with anticipation. 2017 will also see the launch of one of the most exciting new IPs in years when Rare’s buccaneering Sea Of Thieves sets sail for adventure. And, thanks to Microsoft’s amazing Insider Program, you could be in with a chance to sample the salty pleasures of the game’s technical alpha right now. There’s some superb sequels on the horizon too, in the form of the explosive Crackdown 3 and the shambling sandbox multiplayer jamboree that is State Of Decay 2.
And then there’s a handful of concussive blasts from the past to look forward to as well. If you’re as old and desiccated as Team OXM, you might remember the preternatural platforming pleasures of Voodoo Vince, which casts you as patchwork voodoo doll in a world of magic and mystery. A fully remastered
“With the Xbox Insider Program you can trial the service before its official launch”
edition is on the way, promising to introduce a whole new generation of impressionable young gamers to occult magicks. Cult-classic Phantom Dust is also in line for a re-release, and this utterly idiosyncratic blend of strategy, action and collectible card game will now feature achievements and online play for the first time ever.
And all that’s to say nothing of the roster of bold new blockbusters and super-secret sequels that Microsoft no doubt has lined up for the annual games industry mega-expo that is E3. Taken together, we’re looking at what could very well be the most exciting year in the history of Xbox. “With such a broad and varied roster of games and first-party exclusives on the horizon, continuous improvements across Xbox Live, and the upcoming launch of Project Scorpio, 2017 is going to be an incredible year for Xbox One,” Phil Spencer explained in his message to gamers. “On behalf of everyone at Team Xbox, thank you for your continued passion and support.” You’re very welcome, Phil.
above Want to keep certain games but need to end your subscription? All titles will be available at a discount to purchase permanently.
James Nouch “Excited as I am for Game Pass, it’s going to be amazing for new Xbox owners. Imagine bringing home a new Xbox One, firing it up and getting instant access to 100 great games. That’s going to make Game Pass a huge selling point.”
Daniella Lucas “It’s great to see Microsoft innovating like this and going one step further than the likes of PlayStation Now. Much like how Netflix has changed the way people watch TV, this could be huge for the future of how we buy games.”
Matt Gilman “The days of muddled messaging are long gone. Welcome to the new era for Xbox, where innovation with gamers at the centre holds sway. This is just the beginning, too. Project Scorpio will tempt gamers from all camps.”
right Fighting, space-shooting, exploring rocky crags... Game Pass will have something for everyone.
above Xbox boss Phil Spencer. That cheeky chappie.