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Microsoft launches Xbox Game Pass

Monthly all-you-can-play subscription service arrives with a catalog of 112 games

Xbox head Phil Spencer sees the need for a Netflix of games, and his company has taken its first steps toward filling that need. Microsoft today opened up Xbox Game Pass for current Xbox Live Gold subscribers, giving them access to scores of backward compatible Xbox 360 and Xbox One games for a separate monthly subscription fee.

Originally opened up to a limited test group in February, Xbox Game Pass will be available to all Xbox One owners on June 1. For $9.99 a month (or 7.99), subscribers will be able to choose from a rotating catalog of titles. The launch lineup includes 112 games, with Microsoft releases like Halo 5: Guardians and Sunset Overdrive supplemented by third-party publisher offerings like the BioShock series, Mad Max, and Sega's Vintage Collection of Genesis re-releases.

Unlike Sony's PlayStation Now, Xbox Game Pass is not a streaming service, so players will need to download each game to their own machine in order to play. While users will need to account for disk space and download time, Microsoft's approach at least means they won't need to worry the same way about connection speeds impacting the experience.

When games rotate out of the Game Pass catalog, they will no longer be accessible by subscribers. However, Game Pass offers subscribers a 20% discount on any Xbox One title in the service's catalog that they wish to buy, and a 10% discount on those titles' downloadable content or other add-ons.

Microsoft is launching the service in 30 markets, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, United States. It plans to expand that list "to as many new markets as catalog availability permits."

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Latest comments (1)

Dariusz G. Jagielski Game Developer 3 months ago
Really great idea, but looks like Microsoft is playing catch-up again. There are already services that are basically "Netflix for games" and I don't mean streaming ones like GameFly or ill-fated OnLive.

There are several services like this on the PC, one of which, with higher catalogue (500+ games I think) is called Utomik. I could probably find more examples, but this is one that stands out to me. Point is, Microsoft is catching up again instead of setting the trends. Just like they did with Aero in Vista (Compiz was first, could do more and ran on hardware as low as Geforce 2. I mean literally, second Geforce ever released), Metro UI (based largely out of Unity not-the-game-engine-kind and Gnome 3 Shell) and virtual desktops which were available since Win9x times on other systems and as additional windows applications.

Funny thing - the bigger company becomes which makes them have more money to do R&D the less innovative they become. They have resources and yet they're unable to do it.
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