Microsoft could be about to revolutionise gaming by introducing a Netflix-style model to its online subscription service.
Xbox Game Pass isn’t a new concept – in fact it arrived several years later than Sony‘s PlayStation Now, which offers access to a catalogue of games for a monthly fee. However, neither Microsoft or Sony‘s service has exactly set the world alight – mainly because the games on offer aren’t particularly interesting – and in Sony‘s case largely consist of last-gen titles.
But that could be about to change, because as of March 20th 2018, Microsoft will be making all first-party titles available on Xbox Game Pass from the day of release. They’ve picked that date because it coincides with the launch of Rare‘s Sea Of Thieves, which is one of the biggest Xbox One exclusives planned for this year.
Microsoft will be hoping that this pushes Xbox Game Pass into the same domain as Netflix, which has boomed in popularity over the last few years as its focus has turned towards creating its own content. And the numbers look good for consumers in terms of numbers – you could fork out £42 on Sea Of Thieves on the day it releases, or for the same price you could get five months access to Xbox Game Pass, which would give you access to that game and over 100 more titles, including new entries in the Halo and Forza series’.
The obvious downside so far is that there aren’t exactly a huge number of Xbox One exclusives lined up for 2018 to join Sea Of Thieves as a killer incentive. It’s also hard to imagine that third-party companies will follow Microsoft‘s lead and forgo over-the-counter sales of brand new games to offer them through Xbox Game Pass.
Microsoft boss Phil Spencer was typically non-specific about numbers when asked by Business Insider about the performance of Xbox Game Pass so far (“We’re not releasing any numbers. I will say that this is playing to a strength that we see on our platform”). But the Xbox One desperately needs to find a place between the market-leading PlayStation 4 and the runaway success of the Switch, and this could be it.
You can read Oliver’s thoughts on what 2018 holds for the Xbox One here.