Xbox announces Game Pass: a Netflix style subscription service. We spoke to Microsoft to find out more

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Microsoft has just announced Xbox Game Pass, an all you can eat game library for a fixed monthly fee. 

The gaming subscription service is due this spring (although Preview testers are trying a reduced version of the service now) and will give you 100 Xbox One and backward compatible Xbox 360 games for £7.99/$9.99 per month.  

It's not a streaming service though, games are downloaded directly rather than streamed, but that access to an unlimited library for a tiny monthly fee does have that Netflix-y feel. All the Xbox One games on the service will also include a discount if you want to buy them permanently.

New games will arrive every month with Microsoft promising this as a sample of games on offer: Halo 5: Guardians, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Saints Row 4 Re-Elected, NBA 2K16, Mad Max, LEGO Batman, Mega Man Legacy Collection, Terraria, Payday 2,  SoulCalibur II, and Tekken Tag 2. 

I spoke to Parimal Deshpande the director of marketing for Xbox Game Pass to find out more. 

Can you clarify the service in your own words - it sounds like a cross between Netflix and Games with Gold?

I think there are always comparisons to extremely popular subscription services like Netflix – a long-standing Xbox partner – when a new type of service is launched. There are certainly differences between the services in terms of content being offered; we’re focused on offering a choice of games. Also, all games in the Xbox Game Pass catalogue will be downloaded to your Xbox One. This means continuous, full-fidelity gameplay without streaming. We know that this has been something the gaming community values in order to provide an enjoyable and seamless experience.

How will this sit alongside services such as Games with Gold and backwards compatibility?

Games with Gold and Xbox Game Pass are two different service offerings with unique benefits. Games with Gold is an added benefit specific to Xbox Live Gold members that rewards players with two to four free games each month to enjoy. Xbox Game Pass is a subscription-based service that gives you unlimited access to over 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 backward compatible games for Xbox One for £7.99/$9.99 per month. Xbox Live Gold is not required for Xbox Game Pass, however, Xbox Live Gold is required for multiplayer titles that are part of the Xbox Game Pass catalogue.

Will games be permanently added to the library? Or removed after a time? 

We’re always looking for ways to give our fans choice with the ability to discover new games each month. This means that we continuously re-evaluate the titles in the catalogue based on the needs of our fans. One of the great things about Xbox Game Pass is that we will add new games every month, so there is always something new to play. With the Leaving Soon section, you can see which games will be rotating out of Xbox Game Pass. If you love an Xbox One game currently in the catalogue, you can buy it and instantly save 20 percent off the price of the game, as well as an additional 10 percent off related game add-ons, while the base game is still in the catalog.

How will it work with multiple profiles on one machine, or the same profile on multiple machines? 

Xbox Game Pass follows the same Home Sharing rights as the Xbox Live Gold subscription and individual base games. In short, if a home user has an active Game Pass subscription, or if an active Game Pass subscriber is logged into the machine, all other logged in profiles can enjoy Game Pass as well. 

Is there a partnership system requiring an input from publishers, or will any Xbox game be viable? 

Based on fan feedback, quality, variety/selection and value represent the three main pillars of a great gaming subscription service. With Xbox Game Pass, our goal is to deliver the best-possible gaming experience and give our fans great games of every fashion, from AAA to ID, and from hits to hidden gems from Microsoft Studios as well as top industry publishers. 

Our goal is to deliver a variety of games for one low monthly price, and while we won’t be able to include every game, we’re focusing on giving fans a high-quality catalogue of diverse experiences. We’re excited to offer a curated experience that gives our fans the best choice and value, and with new games added every month for one low monthly price, there’s always a new game to discover.

Will there be full online functionality and, if there is, will Game Pass games work with retail versions?

For any title with active online servers and/or multiplayer, Xbox Game Pass titles will work and cross-play with both digital and physical retail versions. From time to time, and in rare instances, there may be a title in Xbox Game Pass with robust single player experiences, but previously discontinued online servers and/or multiplayer features. Online functionality is at the sole discretion of the publisher and may be adjusted or discontinued for a variety of reasons. Rest assured, all of these factors have been carefully considered in selecting titles that will deliver tremendous fun and enjoyment to Game Pass subscribers.

Are there any qualification criteria? Say a certain time after launch? 

With Xbox Game Pass, fans get the opportunity to discover new games you’ve always wanted to play or revisit old favourites that you’ve been missing. Newly-launched games may be available on Xbox Game Pass after a period of time.

How will this work with other similar programs like EA Access? 

While we can’t speak to what others offer, we’re always committed to providing our fans choice and value when it comes to gaming. Our fans cited that the right balance of selection, quality, and value are key factors when considering game subscription services. Xbox Game Pass gives you unlimited access to a catalogue of more than 100 Xbox 360 and Xbox One games for Xbox One. Xbox Game Pass will add new games to its catalogue every month, which means you will always find something fresh and exciting to play. Fans also called out streaming issues due to intermittent internet connectivity as the top pain point for game streaming services, which is why with Xbox Game Pass, you can download and experience games in their full fidelity and native resolution.

Will subscription cancelation be immediate or by calendar month?

If your subscription expires or is cancelled, any games downloaded through Xbox Game Pass will no longer be available for you to play.


If you don't currently have an Xbox One but this is making you think about it then check out the best Xbox One bundle deals.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

In former lives Leon's been a scientist, a musician and teacher, stints that included a shoe full of liquid nitrogen, a small tour of Germany and oh GOD so much marking.
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