Buying a new game is a big investment, but it doesn’t have to be – at least not if Microsoft has a say in it. For the price of roughly two console games, you can get immediate access to all of Microsoft’s new releases moving forward along with upwards of 100 other Xbox One and Xbox 360 games. Microsoft announced on Tuesday that all new Microsoft Studios-published games will hit its Netflix-like Xbox Game Pass service on release day.
The first big addition comes with the March 20 release of Rare’s cartoon-y pirate simulator, Sea of Thieves. As soon as that game is available to download for purchase, you’ll be able to get it through the Xbox Game Pass. That release will be followed up by Microsoft’s other two big titles for the first half of the year, State of Decay and Crackdown 3, and will include all Microsoft Studios games moving forward. That means that the unannounced-but-definitely-coming Forza Horizon 4 and Halo 6 will be on that list, as well as that maybe-Fable game in the works at Playground Games.
Let’s do the math. A new game costs $60, usually. Xbox Game Pass comes in at $9.99 a month. So for $120 – the price of two games – you can guarantee yourself access to each new Microsoft Studios title throughout the year. Or heck, you can save money and just turn the subscription on and off as games come out. The service is a solid value on its own, but this makes it a must-have for Xbox One gamers. Keep an Xbox Game Pass subscription going and some of the best reasons to own an Xbox One are just there waiting for you (if you have the broadband connection necessary to download a 60 to 100GB game, anyway).
Since early in the Xbox ecosystem’s lifespan, Microsoft’s focus has been on the Xbox Live service over anything else. Xbox Live was the reason to get an Xbox and, later, an Xbox 360. It seems like Microsoft is trying to make its services the core of Xbox over the hardware or specific game franchise.
This could be a great move for Microsoft, making their games available to anyone who wants them for just a few dollars as a way to attract people to their Game Pass service. It also makes sense for Microsoft to include their own titles in the service the same way Netflix does with its own shows and films. Instead of linking these games to some investor-pleasing sales number, they’re an investment in adding value to the Xbox Game Pass, and it’ll be tougher to point at them and say, ‘that game isn’t big enough.” Then again, there’s always the danger that it’s devaluing games, which have dropped in relative price over the years (video games should be well over $100 each when you take inflation into account). Time will tell whether this strategy will work out well enough for Microsoft that other publishers will want to jump on board.
Regardless, the Xbox Game Pass is $10 a month, and Sea of Thieves will be available on March 20.