Microsoft unveils subscription games service for Xbox One and 360

Oh what I’d have given for something like this when I had time to play through any game regardless of quality. Microsoft has announced Xbox Game Pass: a Netflix-style service where players will be able to freely download and play a rolling selection of Xbox One and 360 titles for a flat monthly fee of £8.

Unlike Netflix, of course, the games won’t be streamed, but downloaded – and if you leave the service, you’ll be able to buy the games and their associated DLC for a knock-down price so you can finish them.

In other words, it’s a bit like EA Access, only with much broader support. At launch 2k, 505 Games, Bandai Namco, Codemasters, Capcom, Deep Silver, Focus Home, Interactive, Sega, SN, THQ Nordic and Warner Brothers all join Microsoft in supporting the service. Notable absences include Activision (Call of Duty, Destiny, Guitar Hero), Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, Far Cry) and EA (FIFA, Battlefield, Mass Effect), but that’s still pretty good support.

At launch there will be more than 100 titles, including Halo 5, Mad Max, Lego Batman, Mega Man Legacy Collection, Terraria, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Fable 3, Tekken Tag 2, Payday 2, NBA 2K16 and SoulCalibur 2.

“One of the best things about Xbox Game Pass is that you can discover and download the full titles directly on your Xbox One,” wrote head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, on the Xbox Wire blog. “That means continuous, full-fidelity gameplay without having to worry about streaming, bandwidth or connectivity issues.” That’s probably a slight dig at PlayStation Now – Sony’s streaming service for PS3 games that last week hugely reduced the number of devices it supported.

Generally, I think this sounds great, but it will live or die by the games that go up on the service. There’s nothing too new on the list of launch titles (even Halo 5 is almost 18 months old now), which may put off new subscribers – although of course it helps that the Xbox 360 titles are fully backwards-compatible with Xbox One. I’m also a little put off by the cycling nature of the games catalogue. It would certainly be annoying if a title left the service before you completed it.

Still, with enough warning, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. We’ll find out for sure this spring when Xbox Game Pass launches.

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