Xbox Game Pass’s Greatest Strength Could Be its Biggest Weakness

Posted in Kulturecade by - June 11, 2017

With less than two weeks to go before E3, Microsoft has already tipped their hand with the initial rollout of their Xbox Game Pass. A service similar to the existing PlayStation Now, the Xbox Game Pass trumps that service right out of the gate by allowing users to download full games to their system, rather than relying on a streaming service. The streaming aspect of PlayStation Now was my biggest issue with the service when I first tried it out last year, mainly because internet connections where I live aren’t the greatest, so input lag became a serious problem when trying to play anything that wasn’t a Telltale game or turn based RPG.

At this point, you’re no doubt wondering just what kind of games a service like this could offer. Well, with an initial entry point of $9.99 a month, it’s safe to say you aren’t going to be seeing games like Mass Effect: Andromeda or Injustice 2 on the service anytime soon. Of course, you’d be hard pressed to look down the list and find anything that’s less than a year old. Sure, there’s some big titles to out the window, but regardless of its AAA status, Halo 5: Guardians is still nearly two years old. Looking at the list of titles, you’ll also notice there are far more Xbox 360 titles available than Xbox One, which again, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Of course, a big issue here is due to the fact that a number of these titles have been either released in a package format on the Xbox One, been made free through the Games with Gold program, or they’ve been given away free with other titles. Let’s take the Gears of War trilogy for example if you’ve bought either Gears of War: Ultimate Edition or last year’s Gears of War 4, then you already have digital copies of the 360 Gears of War titles, rendering their inclusion moot.

I can understand developers having wet feet when it comes to this style of platform, but not even Microsoft is bringing their ‘A’ game. Sure, I mentioned above that they’re offering Halo 5, but where is the Master Chief Collection? Surely that would entice some people to bite on the program. Where is Gears of War 4? What about any rendition of Forza Motorsport? Neither of those options are anywhere to be found. Instead, they’re offering you Halo: Spartan Assault, a port of a mobile game, and Sunset Overdrive, a title that we’ve heard nothing about in the nearly three years since it’s release.

I understand that Xbox Game Pass is currently in its infancy, but it feels like Microsoft is touting this as a game changer, but they’re limping out of the game with a smattering of titles that many of the hardcore gaming audience they’re targeting already own. Now, I’m not saying that the Game Pass should be written off, as with the right support, it could be something special, but if Microsoft wants other developers to offer up more than two-year-old sports titles and Xbox 360 launch games, then they’re going to need to up the ante themselves. When the best you offer for your launch is something you’ve been giving away for free with your systems, then there’s something wrong with what you’re trying to do. Here’s hoping that Microsoft can turn Game Pass into the “Netflix for Games” that they’re touting it as because it’s already a lot more appealing that the alternatives, it’s just a little lacking right out of the gate.

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He is a senior editor at Kulture Shocked. A seasoned gamer, Zach has been playing video games since the early 90s and have owned everything from the NES to the Xbox One. Aside from video games, Zach is a nerd of all trades and dabbles in everything from collectible card games to Gunpla.
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