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The holiday season has arrived, and Xbox Game Pass may be the best game to gift. Consider: You will not be receiving an Xbox Series X. As we detail in our Xbox Series S review, you may be able to get an Xbox Series S in time for the holidays, but it's not the best system for everyone.

Xbox Game Pass, however, is a digital product. Stock will not — and cannot — run out, and you can instantly begin utilising it on devices you currently possess.

Unlike Google Stadia, individual game purchases are not required. In contrast to Nvidia GeForce Now, you are not required to bring your own library. Unlike PlayStation Now, you can play first-party titles on the day of their release. Xbox Game Pass is without a doubt the most extensive and versatile cloud gaming service currently available, despite its flaws.

In addition to requiring a critical distance from its subjects, games journalism necessitates honest and straightforward assessments when a company achieves something correctly. Xbox Game Pass is an example of Microsoft's accomplishments. If you're tired of trying to find Xbox Series X restocks or simply want to play some new games this month but don't know where to begin, allow me to make the case for Microsoft's cloud gaming competitor.

What is Xbox Game Pass?

Xbox Game Pass has been covered numerous times before, most notably in our Xbox Series X refill alternative article. Rather than providing a full description of the service (Microsoft provides one(opens in new tab), if you're interested), the following are the most important aspects:

  • Xbox Game Pass is a game subscription service from Microsoft
  • You can download games to Xbox consoles or gaming PCs
  • You can stream games to consoles, non-gaming PCs, Android and iOS devices
  • There are more than 400 games available
  • Prices range between $10 and $15 per month, depending on your subscription

Xbox Game Pass ($10 per month), PC Game Pass ($10 per month), and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate ($15 per month) are the three available subscription packages. Xbox Game Pass allows you to download Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S games. PC Game Pass enables the same functionality for gaming PCs (exact specs vary by game).

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is where the fun begins. Similar to the individual Xbox and PC passes, you can download Xbox and PC titles for $15 each month. However, you can also stream hundreds of games to Android and iOS devices, as well as non-gaming PCs through a web browser. Even Xbox consoles can stream content for quick play. The functionality is currently in beta and is imperfect. However, it is sufficient for everyday use.

Why Xbox Game Pass is a great deal

If you are anticipating a large catch, you will have to continue to wait. I've been using Xbox Game Pass for years without seeing any big issues. Playing downloaded games is flawless; playing streamed games is a work in progress, but it's significantly more stable than you'd expect from a beta programme. (Whether Microsoft should charge consumers for beta access is a separate question, but that battle appears lost.)

The greatest disadvantage is that you will not own any of the games you play with Game Pass. Therefore, when games leave the service — or you do — you will be required to purchase them in order to continue playing. However, you will typically receive a discount, and you may not wish to keep every game.

Additionally, the Xbox Game Pass library is extensive and broad. You can play Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, Microsoft Flight Simulator, and a range of other Xbox exclusives for less than the original price if you subscribe to Microsoft's Game Pass (assuming you can finish them within three months).

Additionally, cross-save compatibility is generally excellent. This implies that you can begin playing a game on your Xbox, switch to your PC when your spouse wants the TV, then complete the game on your smartphone just before bed, and it will just take a few seconds to sync the data between devices.

However, keep in mind that Xbox Game Pass is not for everyone. You may dislike the concept of renting games forever rather than purchasing them, or you may discover that the Game Pass library does not contain the titles you wish to play. In this scenario, you can simply terminate your subscription. Microsoft usually offers $1 Game Pass promos for new customers, so you won't even lose $15.

Xbox Game Pass provides access to hundreds of amazing games across several platforms, regardless of whether you own a dedicated gaming console. And if you don't like it, cancelling your subscription is straightforward. If the service has a major flaw, it is difficult to determine what it is.

Xbox Game Pass: Trade-offs and concerns

This leads me to my one main reservation regarding Xbox Game Pass. At its current growth pace, the price seems unsustainable. The introduction of the subscription service included 100 titles on a single platform, Xbox One. Now, the number of games and available platforms have increased by more than fourfold. Even if $15 is expensive for a monthly streaming subscription, it seems excessive for hundreds of products that typically cost $60 per.

Microsoft's development of an ecosystem as opposed to a single platform is one of its major strengths in this console generation. Compare and contrast this strategy with Sony's approach: PS5-only, always. On the other hand, if Xbox Game Pass can offer parity with a gaming system, gamers may question why they need an Xbox Series X, and Microsoft may question how much those gamers would be ready to spend for a full-fledged console replacement.

In the interim, a dedicated Xbox Series X or one of the top gaming PCs can still provide a smoother gaming experience and higher resolutions and frame rates than Xbox Game Pass' streaming component. However, streaming technology has made significant progress over the previous few years, and we must assume that the coming years will bring similar advancements.

Xbox Game Pass bottom line

For now, Xbox Game Pass is a thing of beauty, particularly if you're willing to spring for the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate variant. And, if it ever gets too expensive or unwieldy in the future, you can simply cancel your subscription and go back to buying games the old-fashioned way.

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