What is Xbox Game Pass?
So, what is Xbox Game Pass? Some people may refer to this as the "Netflix of video games", and there is some truth to that. With Game Pass you get access to a large library of games for a relatively cheap price. In addition, Microsoft has committed to releasing a lot of its Xbox Game Studio games simultaneously as a full price product and as part of the Xbox Game Pass subscription. So instead of paying the £50 or whatever a game will be on launch, you can play it on the day of release for no extra cost.
As with Netflix, games from Xbox Game Studios are always available on Game Pass, while games from third-party, such as Downwell from Devolver Digital or Endless Space 2 from Amplitude STUDIOS, are ever changing so it is always a good idea to keep your eye on the Coming Soon and Leaving Soon sections to see what’s going on.
In contrast to services such as Netflix, if you find a game that you really like and want to keep playing after it has left Game Pass, you can buy the game at a decent discount, 20% off at time of writing, which is a nice way of keeping a game you are enjoying.
Of course, all the information and prices are correct at the time of writing, features may be added or removed, and the game library is constantly being refreshed but I'll try to keep the article up to date with any price changes or additional features and benefits.
Screenshot from the Xbox Game Pass page on the Xbox website
Who are Xbox Game Studios?
So, I have mentioned Xbox Game Studios a few times, but who are they? Well, Xbox Game Studios are a collection for game studios who were founded, bought, or otherwise owned by Microsoft. Some notable studios include: Bethesda Softworks, makers of The Elder Scrolls and Fallout games; Double Fine Productions, makers of Psychonauts; Mojang Studios of Minecraft fame; as well as one of my personal favourites, id Software, the studio behind the legendary franchise DOOM.
One thing to consider with Xbox Game Studios, is that the number of studios is ever expanding with Microsoft appearing to be buying out multiple studios every year. Over the last 2 years or so, Microsoft has been building up their portfolio of game studios and has grown to over 20 studios and they seem to be announcing more studios every year at E3. Chances are, there will be more in the coming months and with every new studio bought, this means more new games and exclusive content for PC and Xbox. Most, if not all, of which are going to be released on Game Pass on Day One.
What’s with the different versions of Xbox Game Pass?
At the time of writing, there are 3 versions of Game Pass. There is Game Pass for Xbox for £7.99 a month, which gives access to a large library of games, but only on Xbox consoles. Conversely, there is Game Pass for PC, which is also £7.99 a month, which gives access to the PC games library only. The PC version of Game Pass also includes access to EA Play, which is a large library of EA games and some other benefits.
Lastly, there is Game Pass Ultimate at £10.99, which gives access to both the Xbox and PC libraries as well as access to EA Play on BOTH PC and console. The Ultimate tier gives all the benefits of Xbox Live Gold including the free games for Xbox consoles and Deals with Gold discounts. So, for the sake of an additional £3 a month, you get tons of more features. So if any of these features are interesting, it might be worth the additional cost.
Microsoft has been developing its' cloud gaming service called Xbox Cloud Gaming (formally known as xCloud) to rival the likes Google Stadia, GeForce Now or Playstation Now. We won’t go into too much detail about cloud gaming in this article, but long story short, you can stream games from the internet and play them in your web browser or dedicated app without the upfront costs of buying expensive computers or consoles.
Bridge Constructor Portal running on iPhone 12 via Xbox Cloud Streaming
Which version of Xbox Game Pass should I buy?
First thing you need to ask yourself, what do you have and what do you want? If you’re only a PC gamer with no Xbox or interest in cloud gaming, just stick with Game Pass for PC. The PC library is decent enough size and is bolstered with the EA Play games, so you won’t be wanting for games.
If you are a solo Xbox player or only play free-to-play games, like Epic Games’ Fortnite or Path of Exile from Grinding Gear Games, you might be better off sticking with Game Pass for Xbox because Microsoft recently updated its terms to no longer require Xbox Live Gold for free-to-play games.
If you only have an Xbox and want to play online, you may as well go for Game Pass Ultimate. This means you would get the additional discount when compared to buying Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold separately. You'd also get extra features including the EA Play and Xbox Cloud Streaming, so why not?
If you have both Xbox and PC, it is a no brainer really. Essentially, you’re getting all 3 services at around half-price individually, as well as all the benefits of cloud gaming, EA Play on Xbox and other discounts. It might be worth mentioning that there appears to be no discount in buying multiple months of any of the subscriptions, however at the time of writing Microsoft are offering the first month for only £1, so if you are considering it, why not give it a try for a month?