Xbox readies digital subscription service

Pay 7.99/$9.99 a month to receive access to 100 games

Microsoft have today detailed a video game subscription service - Xbox Game Pass.

For $9.99 a month (or 7.99) gamers will get access to Xbox One and Xbox 360 games - across both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs. The service launches in the spring.

Games include Xbox One AAA titles such as Halo 5, Mad Max, LEGO Batman and NBA 2K16, as well as Xbox 360 backwards compatibility titles such as Fable III and Tekken Tag Tournament 2.

The service is being rolled out to test for those on the Xbox Insider Programme now.

Unlike PlayStation Now, this is not a streaming service and players will download the titles fully. Xbox boss Phil Spencer explained: "That means continuous, full-fidelity gameplay without having to worry about streaming, bandwidth or connectivity issues."

Xbox Game Pass is in addition to Xbox Live Gold subscriptions, although gamers do not need Gold to buy Xbox Game Pass. Gold members will receive early access to Xbox Game Pass when it goes live, Microsoft says.

Additional DLC to any games within the Game Pass catalogue will have a discount on it although 'only while the base game is currently in the catalogue', which suggests that the 100 titles will change month-to-month.

The business model follows the success of other subscription services like Spotify (for music) and Netflix (for movies). However, in games this model has yet to resonate with consumers - EA Access and PlayStation Now have had limited success, although both companies are continuing to push the offerings.

Xbox will hope its larger base of titles from multiple companies will offer a more compelling service.

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Latest comments (6)

Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing A year ago
EA Access seems to be doing great based on the number of people who I run into who subscribe.

But it also doesn't need to do that well even if my anectodotal sample isn't accurate. The overhead on it is near zero. PSNow eats mad dollars every second of every day keeping up servers that do nothing else. Access and Game Pass simply run on the existing store infrastructure. The cost of serving up a game to the end user is a few cents.

I've been telling people this was coming for years, and it's definitely going to drive original Xbox one sales this Christmas. In fact I won't be shocked if it's how they'll get rid of the remaining stock of vanilla X1. Buy Xbox Live Platinum combined pass and Gold for a year or two up front and get one for $50 or something like that.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser A year ago
This is a really great idea and not a bad monthly price either considering the amount of games you will have access to. And I'm pretty sure they aren't going to block EA Access because of this. They are going to show Sony the right way to have your own subscription service while also hosting your partner's subscription services. No BS excuses about "their subscription service doesn't offer good value and WE ALONE, NOT POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS, can decide this for you" required.

@Jeff Kleist--I bet they are going to start offering either 2 week or 1 month trials to Xbox Game Pass with all available systems during the holidays. It's worked for Xbox Live Gold all these years so I don't see why it can't also boost Xbox Game Pass sales.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing A year ago
EA Took the offer, and showed everyone that it could be done and be popular. They're not blocking their partners.

Sony couldn't offer this kind of service. Their backbone doesn't support the dynamic handling of digital rights. Once you disable something, it's permanently blocked on PSN. You can't re-enable it. Couple that with the fact that they can't do static binary translation on PS3 games, all they could do was poo poo it.

I agree that they'll likely be selling systems with INSTANT GAME COLLECTION! stamped all over it ;)
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James Coote Independent Game Developer A year ago
So, is this like Amazon Underground, where devs get paid according to how many minutes a player plays for? Or is the catalogue solely MS & partners' games?
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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome EnterprisesA year ago
I like it, only because I never got an XBox One. So I can play all the games I missed on my Windows 10 PC instead. (If I've read and understand it correctly... there's always a catch and some fine print haha)

@Jeff, they can always write something new to handle the rights. Or change what they already have.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing A year ago
Microsoft has since clarified that it's not on Windows 10 (yet). Doing Xbox 360 BC is a very tricky proposition on PC, as the porting process they use is very much about going from A to B. All the games are tuned for the timings of the Xbox One, and the variable environment of PC is a hell of a lot more work to get them running up to snuff. Guessing they want a lot bigger PlayAnywhere library first.

Sony would have to do extensive surgery to the base PSN to implement it. Given how kludgey Trophies still are, and Sony's typical "what's the least we can get away with" network strategy, combined with the undermining of PSNow, don't hold your breath. I personally believe that doing so will indicate that PSNow is on the way out the door.

Personally I would have spent some of that billion dollars porting the top 4-500 PS1/2/3 games to PS4

@James Coote: I would imagine that there is some kind of base guarantee payout to get the games on the system, potentially on a dev by dev basis having performance based bonuses. In the film and TV world, streaming rights are often just up front lump sums, though big fish with extremely desirable property may see extra cash.

The more I thin about it, I've come to two conclusions about this announcement:


1- They were fishing at GDC for games to add to the service, PlayAnywhere etc, knew it would leak and got ahead of it


2- Thry have a lot more bombs to drop at E3 and did t need this one.

I've been telling people about this for years that it was coming. Other features like FamilyShare (officially supported sharing of approved titles with a small group of people) and the buy/sell/trade of your digital property are certainly possibilities.

Personally the return of the system level invert Y so I don't have to change it every time is my bombshell :)How do people play with up being up? ;)
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