I’m always skeptical of Xbox as a gaming brand. A lot of aspects of its structure, like Xbox Live Gold (which is now part of “Xbox Network”), seem like pretty transparent ploys to separate customers from their money without offering any real value—a view Microsoft occasionally tacitly admits to and agrees with. So when Microsoft announced Xbox Game Pass back in 2017, I wasn’t in any hurry to give the company my money.
Fast-forward to now, and every single month brings more and more reasons to have a Game Pass subscription. This month’s reasons are MLB The Show 21 and Outriders. Both are $69.99 titles on current-gen consoles ($59.99 on last-gen), and yet, you can get day-one access to both for $15 per month on Game Pass.
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The insanity of these two games being on Game Pass can’t be understated. Outriders is a third-party Square Enix game, and seeing third-party titles hit a subscription service that isn’t theirs on day one is rare. On the other side of the fence is MLB The Show 21, a game developed by Microsoft’s primary gaming competition: Sony. One of Sony’s first-party games is coming to its competitor’s subscription service on day one at a price cheaper than on its own console.
Outriders released day one on Game Pass.Source: Square Enix
Both of these games arriving on Game Pass make sense in some way from Square Enix’s and Sony’s perspectives. For Square Enix, the company likely remembers what happened to the playerbase for Marvel’s Avengers and knows Game Pass is an easy way to avoid that situation again while earning a nice bit of coin from Microsoft. And for MLB The Show 21: Sony’s introducing a new audience to its first-party offerings and probably collecting quite a bit of money in the process. Both are profitable publicity moves.
But though Sony and Square Enix might get value out of Game Pass, the service is most certainly getting the lion’s share of benefits by further cementing itself as the one-stop-shop for gamers of all flavors to congregate and spend money.
Xbox Game Pass: too big to beat
MLB The Show 21, on Game Pass day one.Source: Sony Interactive Entertainment
The service’s value is, even to one-time skeptics like me, undeniable. So many hundreds of games flow in and out of Game Pass—much like movies and TV shows do with Netflix—that it’s impossible to highlight the best of the batch since the selection is ever-changing and ever-growing. Recent Game Pass partnerships with EA Play only serve to make a monstrously huge library that much bigger.
The immensity of the Xbox Game Pass collection isn’t its biggest selling point, either. Rather, it’s the number of relevant titles available. Microsoft isn’t hawking shovelware—it’s offering all of its first-party AAA titles on day one and now, as we’re seeing, even some third-party titles on their launch days.
If you’re not sold on Game Pass because you like to own permanent licenses to your games and aren’t a fan of renting, consider that Microsoft routinely has Xbox Game Pass 14-day trial codes given out for promotions. Plus, on holidays such as Black Friday, the price of a three-month subscription often drops down to a single dollar (yes, $1.00). If you’re hesitant, imagine getting a ninety-day buffet of most major AAA games for the price of four gumballs.
I’m not here to tell you to get Game Pass, but that’s mainly because I don’t need to. The service is doing an excellent job of selling itself. All I hope is that Microsoft keeps the excellence coming long enough to convince me to renew that trial subscription of mine that ended a few months ago.