Early Xbox Gamepass Thoughts

The future is finally here. No you still can’t work on an iPad, but game streaming is finally good and starting to remove the need for hardware. You should already know going into this that I am already well on the boat with cloud services like this, and a heavy Stadia user. It was the service that got me playing games again, and although I feel no affiliation to the service, I like it very much.

This morning for some strange reason I noticed that I can sign up for Gamepass ultimate now for a £1! Whilst still in beta, the service allows for anyone to sign up following a pretty lengthy closed beta period. I don’t own any gaming hardware at all, so cloud services are all I am really interested in currently. Despite my love of Stadia I have alway had half an eye on Gamepass Ultimate. It contains a few games that I would want to play, and seems like it should put Googles dalliance with cloud gaming into the shade.

The two services have lots of crossover parts, whilst adopting two pretty different approaches to gaming. Stadia wants to be your everything, provide you with free games for a small fee and allow you to buy others from them. Whilst Microsoft simply wants you to pay a subscription and be allowed to play games from studios it owns or works very closely with. There is no facility to buy games outside of these provided with your subscription.

With Stadia, games do rotate in and out of ‘pro’ (which costs £8.99) but once you have claimed the games you can continue to play them — as long as you keep paying the subscription of course. With Gamepass you’ll never own anything, presumably games will stay on the service and more will be added, but if you stop paying, no more gaming. Where as Google will allow you to keep playing any games you have purchased without paying a penny, all be it at 1080p and not 4K like with the pro service.

With all this said, Gamepass is actually amazing value for money, and even more so if you own an Xbox or a gaming PC. Included is Xbox Live Gold and EA Play in the £10.99 a month subscription. If you have hardware you will also get more games — for example you can play FIFA 21 on Xbox or PC, but not cloud streaming for some strange reason. However the quality of game available for free is much larger on Gamepass.

Ultimatly it all boils down to Microsofts ability to do what Google wanted to do. It has the power to make games available because it has been doing this longer, and owns its own studios. Google have shuttered all of its first party studios despite spending millions on them, and instead are to focus on partnering with others the develop or port over games, with varying success.

Although Gamepass is the much better value for money, I am reluctant to jump in without being able to buy other games. this may lead to me having both services until that happens, or as MS no doubt will hope, I buy an Xbox. I see Gamepass as a huge edition if you have an Xbox or a gaming PC, and will only get stronger over time. However for someone like me I could run out of games I actually want to play fast and then have no where to go. 

I expect Gamepass to very quickly outshine Stadia and hopefully push it to get much better. Or kill it off completely.

Greg Morris @gr36