Review: Xbox Game Pass – A Budget-friendly option for Xbox gamers

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After almost a year with Xbox Game Pass, it’s finally time to talk about its pros, it cons and whether the service is a massive win for Microsoft. Here are our thoughts.

Since 2013, I’ve slowly become a PlayStation loyalist. I’ve spent countless hours on my PlayStation 4, my Vita, and at times – my PlayStation 3. I’ve begun to scoop in adventures I’d missed over the previous generation cycle, mostly for the fact Sony has had a lot to offer as of late. I’d taken advantage of the PlayStation Plus offers, Flash Sales, and special publisher sales for nearly an entire console cycle.

In stark comparison, my Xbox One hasn’t gotten near the love many would feel it should. It’s had maybe several hundred hours put through it since my extremely amateur unboxing video of the Halo 5: Guardians Limited Edition Xbox One on our YouTube channel. Since then, I’ve only worked my way through a handful of games such as Halo 5: GuardiansForza Motorsport 7RecoreSunset Overdrive, and even Halo: The Master Chief Collection since its launch.

But, I was given an opportunity by Microsoft I couldn’t pass down. They offered up some Xbox Game Pass time for a few reviews we had going at the time. It gave us instant access to Forza Horizon 4Halo: The Master Chief CollectionDOOM, and even the Soulsborne style boss-rush title SINNER: Sacrifice for Redemption. Having used PlayStation Now and taken to its various ways of delivering classic PlayStation and Third-Party titles, I’d almost begun to wonder: Can Xbox Game Pass really be all that better? Is it even worth it?

First, let’s talk about where my areas of concern began before we talk about the highs, the lows, and why you absolutely should give it a try if you’re a money-cautious spender.

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The cost can be a bit daunting, it requires both Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Subscriptions

Anyone that games already knows one simple fact about gaming – it’s not a cheap hobby by any means. For some, it’s not a cheap career to be a content creator. It comes with higher-than-expected costs as the cost of games continues to increase due to DLC, microtransactions, and those unbelievably gorgeous collector’s editions that get announced.

Now, the thing that may throw people off, Xbox Live isn’t cheap to use. It’s already sitting at a mind-boggling $59.99 a year. For some, that’s a make or break when a pay period games around, for others, it’s just a minor shrug of the shoulders and a few bucks back every pay period or so. But, now toss in $9.99 a month. That’s another $120 or so a year to play. That’s bringing Xbox Live and Game Pass up to a total of $180 a year just to own.

While that doesn’t sound like a bad day considering games are $59.99 at launch before local tax, Game Pass and Xbox Live memberships sound like a pretty easy deal when things get going around. The question is, why not include Xbox Live into Game Pass itself and allow Game Pass owners to dip their toes in both memberships at the exact same time? Well, it’s beyond us, but for those looking to only spend a nickel on the dollar a day, Xbox Game Pass is a solid alternative thanks to its multi-generational library of games it has to offer.

Luckily, you aren’t locked down to just using it on Xbox One.

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PC gamers with Windows 10 can also take advantage of what Xbox Game Pass has to offer

Whether you know it or not, Xbox Game Pass isn’t locked down to just an Xbox One. Instead, it also works on PC with a select handful of games. I was able to jump straight into games such as Gears of War Ultimate EditionCupheadForza Horizon 4, and even Sea of Thieves with my membership.

Granted, it works just like Xbox One. Once your membership runs out, your games are gone and it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to keep your membership going. Luckily, the amount of games offered for both PC and Xbox One is rather generous considering Microsoft has been slowly making moves to make their Xbox Anywhere initiative even more profound than ever before.

There have even been rumors circulating that Microsoft is getting ready for some massive Halo news during SXSW 2019 (thanks GameSpot for the heads up!). What might it be? A lot of fans are speculating a PC announcement or even news regarding Halo: Reach joining the collection. Regardless, PC players have a lot to look forward to and can still take advantage of Microsoft’s games that are Xbox Anywhere compatible.

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Xbox exclusive games will be included in the Xbox Game Pass indefinitely

One big win for Microsoft is their ability to keep their games apart of the pass as long as they wish. Even with their newly found partnerships with Bethesda (remember that tidbit?), we’ve also been seeing plenty of other games making the rounds and staying on board longer than expected.

However, the big promise here is clear. Microsoft is staying 1000% invested in what their program has to offer. There’s no doubt that even as we slowly move away from physical games and – hopefully not a new trend – streaming services, Microsoft exclusives will forever remain included in the Xbox Game Pass membership.

Games like Halo: The Master Chief CollectionQuantum Break, and even Gears of War; will always remain a part of your subscription whether you lapse or not.

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There are a couple of drawbacks in regards to Xbox Game Pass

One of the problems I have with when it comes to Xbox Game Pass is that I have gotten where I enjoy insanely long games. I’ve been spending plenty of time with Fallout 76Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and Resident Evil 2 as of late. The issue here is that two of the three games have infinite playability while the latter is relatively short compared to two massive open world titles.

Because of that, it’s hard to take advantage of Xbox Game Pass offerings such as Sea of ThievesFallout 4Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and or even Halo 5: Guardians due to the fact you could play each of those very titles until your fingers quite literally fall off your hands. That’s where Xbox Game Pass became quite tricky for me. It was a double-edged sword of an offering.

On one hand, I do get to play the titles that ARE Xbox Anywhere on both Xbox One and PC for a minimal fee. My save files, achievements, game access, and the ability to play with my friends whenever and wherever I do follow me where I go, but there’s a catch. Not all the games will transfer between the two platforms. Not all games will actually be accessible to me and for the cost of those games I’ll more than likely put quite a bit of time into? I might as well just buy them for a flat-rate-fee.

But, if that’s not a problem, hey! You’ve saved 50+ bucks on a game for the month. So not a bad trade-off in all reality.

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For fans of Xbox and Xbox 360, there are quite a few games in store for you

One of the great things about Xbox Game Pass is its multi-generational offerings. Because of Phil Spencer and the teams at Microsofts’ ideas to include multiple generations of gamers into a single fold, Xbox Game Pass has steadily grown in what it has to offer. There’s been a healthy serving of Xbox games joining the fray. I’ve had the chance to go back in revisit the adventures of Ryu Hayabusa in his reboot title Ninja Gaiden Black.

I’ve even had a chance to dive back into games such as Halo: Spartan Assault, Fable: Anniversary Edition and LEGO Star Wars among a handful of other titles that launched for Xbox 360 quite a few years back. With the library always growing, it won’t be a surprise if we soon see more Xbox and Xbox 360 titles getting added into the mix, allowing the library not to continually offer just Xbox One games, but plenty of games across each of Microsoft’s gaming console generations.

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Conclusion – It’s budget-friendly and offers Sony’s PlayStation Now great competition

At the end of the day, Microsoft and Sony are still competing against one another in more aspect than one. The biggest one isn’t just going to be who can offer the best exclusive games. It’s also going to boil down to who can offer the best secondary content in the forms of extended services such as Xbox Game Pass and Sony’s PlayStation Now.

As it is at the moment, Xbox Game Pass is a worthwhile investment for those with a tight-wallet budget that want to save a few bucks here or there, this is the route to go and it’s a distribution format I’ve found myself even having taken a liking to thanks to its support of Xbox Anywhere and allowing me to enjoy the Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusives that I can wherever and whenever I please for a few bucks a week.

 

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