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Xbox Game Pass continues to march forwards. Over the last year, Xbox Game Pass has added a number of EA titles to the service. It has also added mountains of third-party games, ranging from indie experimental titles to AAA blockbusters. Microsoft has added the ability to stream Xbox Game Pass titles to your Android devices from the cloud.
As we approach 2022, I thought I'd take a look back at the previous few years and how the service has grown and expanded. Here are some thoughts on Xbox Game Pass in 2022, as well as whether or not it is worth your time and money (spoilers: it is.)
Xbox Game Pass 2022: So, what is it exactly?
For the uninitiated, Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft's all-you-can-eat video game subscription service, similar to Netflix. As of this writing, the service is available on Xbox One consoles, Xbox Series X and S consoles, PCs, and Android devices, and has since expanded to the web, granting access to iOS devices, Chromebooks, and many more.
Xbox Game Pass is available in three flavours: "Xbox Game Pass" provides access to a large library of games on your Xbox console. "Xbox Game Pass for PC" allows you to play a large library of games on your Windows PC. Finally, "Xbox Game Pass Ultimate" grants you access to all Xbox console games, Windows PC games, and a selection of games to stream from the cloud to PC, Android, and modern web-friendly devices. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also includes Xbox Live Gold, which is required for Xbox console multiplayer gaming.
Each tier guarantees day-one access to almost all of Microsoft's own first-party games, which has grown exponentially in recent years as a result of Microsoft's acquisition of ZeniMax and all of its subsidiary studios. Xbox Game Pass now includes Bethesda games like Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, id Software games like DOOM, and Machine Games' Wolfenstein, in addition to Microsoft's internal studio titles like Halo, Forza, and so on. Microsoft has also struck a deal with EA for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which includes dozens of classics from EA's back catalogue, such as Dead Space, Mass Effect, and others. If Microsoft's acquisition attempt is successful, Activision Blizzard games ranging from Call of Duty to Diablo may be added to the service in the future.
Xbox Game Pass for consoles and PC are both $9.99, with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate costing $14.99. Instead of purchasing Xbox Live Gold, Game Pass, and PC Game Pass separately, Game Pass Ultimate is clearly the best value if you intend to use all services across multiple devices. For those who haven't converted yet, Microsoft has an introductory offer to convert Xbox Live Gold long-term subscriptions directly into Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
Once subscribed, the attached account has immediate access to all of the games in the Xbox Game Pass games list, just as if they were licences owned by that account. On Xbox, simply go to your library and look for the Xbox Game Pass section. Xbox Game Pass is available on PC via the Xbox app for Windows 10. To access Xbox Game Pass in the cloud, download the Android app or use the Xbox app on PC. Because Apple's anti-competitive store policies effectively prohibit Xbox Game Pass cloud, you can use the Game Pass website on iOS and Chromebooks.
Now that you're up to speed, let's look at what makes Xbox Game Pass so special (and in some ways, not so great).
Xbox Game Pass 2022: What's great
The first reason should come as no surprise: video games. There are games, games, games, and more games. Unsurprisingly, Xbox Game Pass is chock-full of video games of all shapes and sizes, types and genres, and budgets large and small for all types of people.
Microsoft adds all of its games to Xbox Game Pass on a daily basis, including major upcoming titles like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5. This demonstrates a high level of dedication and consistency to the platform, similar to how Netflix and Disney+ have built their services with exclusive "original" content.
Many of the games developed by Microsoft for Xbox Game Pass receive regular updates. Post-launch support is being provided to titles such as Sea of Thieves, State of Decay, Minecraft Dungeons, and others. You have to wonder how much of the budget for these efforts is funded by Xbox Game Pass, given that keeping people engaged in your titles will also keep people engaged in your subscription service. However, Microsoft has also invested heavily in smaller genres and unique indie titles, ranging from truly great titles like Death's Door to the oft-overlooked RTS genre's Age of Empires IV. The variety in Xbox Game Pass is truly outstanding.
Aside from Microsoft's extensive library of games, the best Xbox Game Pass games also include titles from major third-party publishers. Football Manager from Sega and Crusader Kings III from Paradox are available for PC. We have a large library of classic EA games on console, including Mass Effect and Dead Space. Games like Streets of Rage 4 and Hades can be played on mobile devices without the use of a controller. There's literally something for everyone here, regardless of modality, preference, or level of attention. Xbox Game Pass's sheer volume and variety cannot be overstated.
When it comes to video games, I'm in a unique position. If I don't get them for review, I can frequently invoice them via Windows Central, and so on. But I haven't been doing this for so long that I can't recall working long hours in a minimum-wage job and struggling to justify spending £50 here or £40 there on games. Buying games has always been a difficult task for me. How many hours of fun can I expect? What is the replayability? How much is the resale value? and so forth.
I recall being told as a child that I'd have to use both my Christmas and birthday presents to get a copy of Majora's Mask for the N64 because it was inexplicably £70 at the time. It would have been a godsend if I had had Xbox Game Pass when I was a kid. The freedom to graze and experiment with games without fear of losing money is a liberating experience. Microsoft will even give you Microsoft Rewards Points for playing Xbox Game Pass titles, which you can then use to get free Xbox Game Pass months. Xbox Game Pass is unrivalled in terms of sheer entertainment hours-per-cost value.
Some developers have expressed concerns about the value of Game Pass inclusion for them, but data appears to show that Game Pass inclusion actually helps retail sales in some cases, rather than hurts them. Despite being included in PC Game Pass, Sea of Thieves remained a top seller on Steam. The virality of access alone could be a game changer in this case, especially for multiplayer titles.
There have been times when I decided to try a game on a whim and discovered something new to enjoy. Star Renegades is one such example for me, as are Hades and Monster Train, as well as a variety of other indie titles. Finally, accessibility is critical for Xbox Game Pass. To that end, Microsoft built in the ability to stream Game Pass titles directly to any device, regardless of location (providing you have a semi-decent internet connection). Many of these games also include touch controls. And, if your internet connection is of sufficient quality, you can discover new games at any time and from any location.
Xbox Game Pass has made me fall in love not only with new games, but also with entire new studios, as I now want to follow their work and future games. Game Pass isn't just a platform for gaming; it's also a platform for fandom, which is one area of the platform that I believe Microsoft could improve for developers in some ways. Indeed, there are a few ways I'd like to see Xbox Game Pass improved, even if it's already excellent.
Xbox Game Pass 2022: Is it worth it?
Even the most ardent Xbox and Microsoft haters will struggle to find a reason to dislike this service. For a maximum of $15 per month, you get unlimited access to all Xbox Game Studios games, all ZeniMax Media games, a slew of classic EA games, and a slew of other third-party games.
Xbox Game Pass is simply divine for anyone who wants to game while saving money, for those who simply want all-you-can-eat exploration and discovery, and for those who want to take their games on the go.
There are some features and improvements that need to be added before I can call the service mature. The Xbox app on Windows 10/11, for example, leaves a lot to be desired, and the ergonomics of gaming on a phone have a long way to go. However, at its heart, Xbox Game Pass is all about games. There are games, games, and more games. When it comes to this, Xbox Game Pass reigns supreme. There are also games.
XBox Game Box
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