I’m a big fan of Game Pass. I see many positives to it, and frankly little to no negatives. It is no surprise to me that Game Pass surpassed 10 million subscribers as of late April according to various media outlets. It is unclear what composition of these 10 million subscribers are Game Pass for Console, Game Pass for PC, or like myself subscribers of Game Pass Ultimate. However, 10 million is still a large number. In my view, it is not large enough. Many more people can benefit from the Game Pass subscription. Many have wondered how many subscribers to Game Pass there will be once “soccer moms” and “soccer dads” learn about it. These terms refer to people unlike me (although my kids player soccer) that don’t follow gaming news and/or their households have very casual or infrequent gaming sessions However, I’ve heard some myths out there about Game Pass that are either misleading, at best a half-truth, or flat wrong that could have stopped folks from signing up by now. Let’s address five that I’ve personally heard.
- Game Pass is just Halo, Gears, and a bunch of filler.
Anyone that knows even a little about Game Pass knows that this statement is quite silly. This is likely just some fanboy-ism of a competing platform that is trying to cloak itself in, at best – ignorance, or worse – an attempt to completely mischaracterize the service. But if you’re friends with people like that and don’t know anyone who currently subscribes to Game Pass, you might have believed them. But, let’s expose this first myth. A lot of people like Halo. A lot of people like the Gears franchise. However, people also like The Witcher 3, which of as of April has sold over 28 million copies worldwide. What? Game Pass (for console) has The Witcher 3? You mean the same Witcher from the Netflix show? Yes! That one! It also recently had Grand Theft Auto V, which is the highest selling game across multiple platforms the last few years. It also currently has Red Dead Redemption 2, which broke many console sales records it’s first launch weekend in late 2018. Filler, you say? Just for clarity, I’m not recommending any of those games in particular for the children of said soccer parents.
According to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass website, there are 240 games currently on Game Pass for Console and 197 on Game Pass for PC. I’ve only mentioned three games so far. Granted, I’ve mentioned really really great games, but intentionally more-so well-known games (or franchises) to highlight a point so that hopefully these named examples will sound familiar to the soccer moms and soccer dads out there. Personally, I’ve only actually played one of those three that I mentioned. Why? Because there are so many other great games that I’ve spent time playing and I just can’t find the time to play all of them. I’ll mention more of those other games a little later, but just a handful of others I’ll mention to deal the finishing blow to this myth would be Batman Arkham Knight (sold 5 million copies in its first few months after launch), Rocket League, which if I’m going to reach the soccer moms or dads then maybe I should mention that this game was actually part of the center plot to an episode of Fuller House on Netflix, and Untitled Goose Game which won game of the year at the DICE 2020 awards. Again, I could keep going about the games, but I’m sure at some point that I have a character limit. Let’s move on, and I’ll do my best to stop saying soccer moms and soccer dads.
2. If I play games on Game Pass, I’m not supporting developers.
There may be lack of business knowledge to this one. Yes, in a perfect world, we would all be able to pay $60 on the release date for every game we’ve ever wanted to play. And indeed, this would put the maximum amount of net profit dollars into the pocket of your favorite developer or a developer that you think did an amazing job on a game. And there’s no argument to that. Heck, if you love a developer enough, buy their Day 1 special edition, buy hats and shirts, and gift additional copies of their game to friends and family. That’s what I would do if money weren’t an issue. However, the average person does not have that sort of disposable income to buy every new game, even if you tend to like every game that comes out. I do know a handful of people that seemingly buy every game on day 1 and I wonder how they do it. But guess what? Those same people are also subscribed to Game Pass, so who knows?
For those of us without unlimited disposable income, other hobbies to throw money at, or have varying long term financial goals, we can’t buy everything. This is partly why many of us are on Game Pass. But, allow me to insert Morpheus from The Matrix and say, “what if I told you that most developers are receiving financial compensation for their game to be on Game Pass?” It’s true. Developers don’t just say “well, shucks looks like we can’t sell anymore copies of our game, so let’s just throw it on Game Pass.” And the data showing the number of downloads and time spent playing the individual Game Pass games is no doubt being collected. If the developer/publisher’s game is a big hit on Game Pass, then that gives them a little bit more bargaining power (for more compensation) when it comes time to renew the Game Pass contract agreement. More people playing their game and talking about their game is free publicity and furthers their brand. However, there’s actually more to it than that. It leads up into our next one.
3. Game Pass will stop more game purchases in the future.
So I’m nearing completion of Red Dead Redemption 2 through Game Pass. It’s a very good game in my view. I probably don’t love it quite as much as some other folks, but it was a game I knew for certain that I would not buy day 1 because the genre of game tends to not be my favorite. With that said, I’ve definitely enjoyed the experience. It was clearly good enough to make me think about buying the first Red Dead game. It has also made me more likely to buy Red Dead Redemption 3 (or whatever they call it) on day 1 whenever that game releases. So Rockstar games surely didn’t get the equivalent of $60 from me playing their game on Game Pass, but they’ve exposed a new player to their game franchise which could potentially lead to more actual game sales in the future. It won’t work out this way with every game, and that’s OK. Not every game is for everyone. But to tie in with the previous point, it will support developers further.
4.You need an Xbox to have Xbox Game Pass.
Microsoft created a separate subscription service for PC players. As mentioned above, it’s called Xbox Game Pass for PC. There are well over 100 games on the service currently, and hopefully you’ll believe me by now that Game Pass is not just a bunch of filler. It is true that Game Pass for PC does not have the identical library to Game Pass for Console. There are many reasons for this, but I can see how not having an Xbox will prevent you from squeezing the most value out of Game Pass as a whole so perhaps this statement has bit of truth baked into it. With that said, this statement will likely become less true over time.
During E3 2019, Microsoft confirmed that it’s game streaming service, Project Xcloud, will be integrated at some point with Xbox Game Pass. I am currently a part of the IOS beta test group for mobile devices. I haven’t tested my Ipad yet, but I know folks who have and they say it works perfectly fine. I’ve played a few hours of Halo on my Iphone 6s. It’s not the way I prefer to play games, but it’s perfectly good quality for what it is. Further down the road when all of the beta tests are over and Game Pass and Xcloud are integrated, you will be able to utilize your Game Pass subscription on cell phones, tablets, PC’s – either download or stream it, and potentially even Smart TV’s. Microsoft and Samsung recently made an agreement for certain types of Samsung TV’s to have the Xbox Game Pass App pre-loaded on the TV. Some of these TV’s are already in people’s homes by the way. It is not crazy at all to think you will be able to stream games directly on your 4K TV at home, possibly with no intermediary device needed. I will probably always own an Xbox console. But as time goes by, owning the console will be less and less important to enjoy and take advantage of Game Pass.
5. Gamepass isn’t very good value.
I’m actually ok with this statement if they just added “for me” at the end. Maybe you only play games like FIFA or Madden. Or maybe you only play Call of Duty games, or perhaps you spend the majority of your gaming time on retro consoles and their game library. If that’s you, then the value of Game Pass may not be the best fit for you in its present format. It’s fine. We like what we like and I would not suggest someone get the Game Pass service if all they want to do is play the newest FIFA game. I get it. I stopped buying new Nintendo Switch games for my son because he just ignores them and returns to Fortnite as I’m sure many 9 year-old kids are doing these days. However, to say that Game Pass itself isn’t a good value as a general statement would be bordering on the absurd if you ask me. Let me break down how I’ve seen the value.
I’ve been a subscriber to Game Pass Ultimate for nearly a year. In that year’s time, a Game Pass Ultimate subscription has cost me $180 out of pocket. That’s 12 months at $14.99 per month. If you add up the retail prices (at places like Wal-Mart, Amazon, or Best Buy) of all the games that I’ve played through Game Pass Ultimate in that time, it is approximately a $600 value. For Xbox first party games that I’ve played on day 1, it will assume full-price, since that’s when I usually play them. First party games during this time would be Gears 5, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Gears Tactics, Minecraft Dungeons, and The Outer Worlds to name a few. I’ve already mentioned Red Dead Redemption 2, but I’ve also played through all the newer Tomb Raider games, some of the Wolfenstein games, some of the Batman Arkham games, and many others.
But wait a minute, you wouldn’t have played ALL of those games if you didn’t have Gamepass, so you can’t say that it saved you over $400 over the last year! That’s true, I wouldn’t have played all of those games, and some of them definitely not day 1. But with a fixed cost of $180 per year, I’m experiencing much the value of the service. I don’t have to ever buy any of Microsoft’s first party games, and I get them on day 1. Even if I only played 3 regularly priced day 1 Microsoft titles per year, the service would pay for itself.
Again, I have the ultimate subscription. Currently if you just want Xbox Gamepass for console, it’s only $120 for the year ($10 per month), which drops it to 2 first party day 1 titles per year in order to be a wash. I’m using the Microsoft 1st party games as the example here because they are always there on day 1 and they never leave Game Pass, so it’s not a moving target of trying to add up 3rd party game values at different price points, but you definitely could if you wanted to. To finish off the point, I leave you with a tidbit I shared with friends on twitter on May 4th. For the calendar month (May) I would be playing the new Gears Tactics game and Red Dead Redemption 2. Out of pocket on that day, it would have cost me $98. For the month of May, it still only cost me $14.99. Value, my friends, value.