How does Xbox Game Pass work?
Microsoft's Xbox Live Game Pass provides you with a large library of games to play for a single subscription fee.
Microsoft has announced the launch of Xbox Game Pass, a subscription service that offers a large library of Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles on an effective on-demand basis. It's an additional service to its existing paid Xbox Live Gold subscription tier targeted specifically at players who want a large library of games to play without the associated ownership costs.
How much will Xbox Game Pass cost?
In Australia, Microsoft has set the pricing of Xbox Live Game Pass at $10.95 per month. There's no sign at this stage of an annual subscription package, but then the idea is that you'd subscribe for as long as you felt the service offered you genuine value. If you're an Xbox Live Gold subscriber the service is available to you now with a 14 day trial. If you're not a subscriber, the service will be available from 1 June 2017.
How many games will Xbox Game Pass offer?
Microsoft's hype for Xbox Game Pass is that it offers "over 100" games to play, but at launch it only just squeaks past that limit, with 34 Xbox One titles and 71 backwards-compatible Xbox 360 titles to play. Here's the full rundown of launch titles:
|Blood Bowl 2||Xbox One|
|Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons||Xbox One|
|D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die||Xbox One|
|Defense Grid 2||Xbox One|
|DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition||Xbox One|
|Farming Simulator 15||Xbox One|
|Gears of War: Ultimate Edition||Xbox One|
|Halo 5: Guardians||Xbox One|
|Halo: Spartan Assault||Xbox One|
|Knight Squad||Xbox One|
|Layers of Fear||Xbox One|
|Mad Max||Xbox One|
|MASSIVE CHALICE||Xbox One|
|Max: The Curse of Brotherhood||Xbox One|
|Mega Man Legacy Collection||Xbox One|
|NBA 2K16||Xbox One|
|PAYDAY 2: CRIMEWAVE EDITION||Xbox One|
|Pumped BMX +||Xbox One|
|Resident Evil 0||Xbox One|
|Saints Row IV: Re-Elected||Xbox One|
|Shantae and the Pirate's Curse||Xbox One|
|Sunset Overdrive||Xbox One|
|Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings||Xbox One|
|Super Time Force||Xbox One|
|The Book of Unwritten Tales 2||Xbox One|
|The Golf Club||Xbox One|
|The Swapper||Xbox One|
|WWE 2K16||Xbox One|
|A Kingdom for Keflings||Xbox 360|
|A World of Keflings||Xbox 360|
|Age of Booty||Xbox 360|
|Banjo Kazooie: N n B||Xbox 360|
|BC - Rearmed 2||Xbox 360|
|BioShock 2||Xbox 360|
|BioShock Infinite||Xbox 360|
|Bound by Flame||Xbox 360|
|CAPCOM ARCADE CABINET||Xbox 360|
|Comic Jumper||Xbox 360|
|Comix Zone||Xbox 360|
|de Blob 2||Xbox 360|
|Defense Grid||Xbox 360|
|DIG DUG||Xbox 360|
|Double Dragon Neon||Xbox 360|
|Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara||Xbox 360|
|Fable III||Xbox 360|
|Final Fight: DblImpact||Xbox 360|
|Galaga Legions DX||Xbox 360|
|Gears of War||Xbox 360|
|Gears of War 2||Xbox 360|
|Gears of War 3||Xbox 360|
|Gears of War: Judgment||Xbox 360|
|GRID 2||Xbox 360|
|Hexic 2||Xbox 360|
|Iron Brigade||Xbox 360|
|Jetpac Refuelled||Xbox 360|
|Joe Danger 2: The Movie||Xbox 360|
|Joe Danger Special Edition||Xbox 360|
|Joy Ride Turbo||Xbox 360|
|LEGO Batman||Xbox 360|
|Metal Slug 3||Xbox 360|
|Monday Night Combat||Xbox 360|
|Ms. Splosion Man||Xbox 360|
|MX vs ATV Reflex||Xbox 360|
|NEOGEO BATTLE COLISEUM||Xbox 360|
|OF: Dragon Rising||Xbox 360|
|PAC-MAN CE DX+||Xbox 360|
|PAC-MAN MUSEUM||Xbox 360|
|Perfect Dark Zero||Xbox 360|
|Sacred 3||Xbox 360|
|Sam&Max Beyond Time...||Xbox 360|
|Sam&Max Save the World||Xbox 360|
|Samurai Shodown II||Xbox 360|
|Sega Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Co.||Xbox 360|
|Sega Vintage Collection: Golden Axe||Xbox 360|
|Sega Vintage Collection: Monster World||Xbox 360|
|Sega Vintage Collection: Streets of Rage||Xbox 360|
|SOULCALIBUR II HD||Xbox 360|
|Splosion Man||Xbox 360|
|TEKKEN TAG TOURNAMENT 2||Xbox 360|
|The Maw||Xbox 360|
|Toy Soldiers||Xbox 360|
|Toy Soldiers: Cold War||Xbox 360|
|Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown||Xbox 360|
|Viva Piñata||Xbox 360|
|Viva Piñata: TIP||Xbox 360|
|XCOM: Enemy Within||Xbox 360|
Is Xbox Game Pass compatible with Xbox 360?
While Xbox Game Pass features Xbox 360 titles as part of the overall backwards compatibility feature of the Xbox One, it's not a service available on the Xbox 360 console itself.
So is this just Netflix for Xbox owners?
Not quite. While both services trade on a large library of on-demand entertainment content, the key difference is that Netflix (or even Sony's PlayStation Now service, which has never officially launched in Australia) streams content on demand in an effectively "live" fashion.
Xbox Game Pass gives you access to games, but in order to play them you've got to download each title.
That does have an obvious impact on how quickly you'll be able to play games, because you'll have to wait for them to fully download and install, and you'll need the space to store them and bandwidth to get them down to your Xbox One as well. The upside there is that an installed Xbox Game Pass game will, by definition, be free of any buffering issues, because all the code will be local.
Will Microsoft offer any discounts for Xbox Game Pass owners?
If you choose to buy an Xbox One game title that is in the Game Pass library at the time you buy it through the Xbox One store, Microsoft will cut 20% off the purchase price, plus 10% off any DLC or other in-game consumable, such as in-game currency. These discounts apply only to Xbox One titles, and not Xbox 360 backwards compatible titles or its DLC.
Will Microsoft add newer titles to Xbox Game Pass?
Microsoft hasn't announced which newer titles will come to the service, but it's definitely on the cards. Microsoft's own site for Xbox Game Pass notes that
The Xbox Game Pass catalogue will change and evolve over time. In addition to titles entering the catalogue every month, titles may also leave the catalogue over time as well. Length of participation in Xbox Game Pass will vary on a game-to-game basis. Any time a game is scheduled to leave the catalogue, we will make sure that information is available on your Xbox and on Xbox.com."
What's the difference between Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold?
Ever since the original Xbox, Microsoft has offered an online subscription service in the form of Xbox Live. That's the service that you need to subscribe to in order to play Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles in online multiplayer, and if you want to use those features of Xbox Game Pass games, you'll also need an Xbox Live Gold subscription as well. If you are an Xbox Live Gold subscriber, there's no specific discount on Xbox Game Pass.
Xbox Live Gold offers its own free games offering, Games With Gold, and like Games with Gold, if you cease your Xbox Game Pass subscription, your access to that library of games will cease, although you will keep any gamerscore you've accrued. If you resubscribe down the track and the game in question is still available, you should also be able to use game saves and any purchased DLC at that time.