How does Xbox Game Pass work?

Alex Kidman 25 May 2017

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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:

TitlePlatform
#IDARBXbox One
Blood Bowl 2Xbox One
Brothers: a Tale of Two SonsXbox One
D4: Dark Dreams Don't DieXbox One
Defense Grid 2Xbox One
DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive EditionXbox One
Farming Simulator 15Xbox One
Gears of War: Ultimate EditionXbox One
Halo 5: GuardiansXbox One
Halo: Spartan AssaultXbox One
Knight SquadXbox One
Layers of FearXbox One
LumoXbox One
Mad MaxXbox One
MASSIVE CHALICEXbox One
Max: The Curse of BrotherhoodXbox One
Mega Man Legacy CollectionXbox One
NBA 2K16Xbox One
OlliOlliXbox One
PAYDAY 2: CRIMEWAVE EDITIONXbox One
Pumped BMX +Xbox One
Resident Evil 0Xbox One
Saints Row IV: Re-ElectedXbox One
ScreamRideXbox One
Shantae and the Pirate's CurseXbox One
StriderXbox One
Sunset OverdriveXbox One
Super Mega Baseball: Extra InningsXbox One
Super Time ForceXbox One
TerrariaXbox One
The Book of Unwritten Tales 2Xbox One
The Golf ClubXbox One
The SwapperXbox One
WWE 2K16Xbox One
A Kingdom for KeflingsXbox 360
A World of KeflingsXbox 360
Age of BootyXbox 360
Banjo Kazooie: N n BXbox 360
Banjo-KazooieXbox 360
Banjo-TooieXbox 360
BC - Rearmed 2Xbox 360
BioShockXbox 360
BioShock 2Xbox 360
BioShock InfiniteXbox 360
BorderlandsXbox 360
Bound by FlameXbox 360
BraidXbox 360
CAPCOM ARCADE CABINETXbox 360
CastleStormXbox 360
Comic JumperXbox 360
Comix ZoneXbox 360
de Blob 2Xbox 360
Defense GridXbox 360
DIG DUGXbox 360
Double Dragon NeonXbox 360
Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of MystaraXbox 360
Fable IIIXbox 360
Final Fight: DblImpactXbox 360
FLOCK!Xbox 360
Galaga Legions DXXbox 360
Gears of WarXbox 360
Gears of War 2Xbox 360
Gears of War 3Xbox 360
Gears of War: JudgmentXbox 360
GRID 2Xbox 360
Hexic 2Xbox 360
Iron BrigadeXbox 360
Jetpac RefuelledXbox 360
Joe Danger 2: The MovieXbox 360
Joe Danger Special EditionXbox 360
Joy Ride TurboXbox 360
KameoXbox 360
KOF98UMXbox 360
LEGO BatmanXbox 360
Metal Slug 3Xbox 360
Monday Night CombatXbox 360
Ms. Splosion ManXbox 360
MX vs ATV ReflexXbox 360
N+Xbox 360
NEOGEO BATTLE COLISEUMXbox 360
OF: Dragon RisingXbox 360
PAC-MAN CE DX+Xbox 360
PAC-MAN MUSEUMXbox 360
Perfect Dark ZeroXbox 360
Sacred 3Xbox 360
Sam&Max Beyond Time...Xbox 360
Sam&Max Save the WorldXbox 360
Samurai Shodown IIXbox 360
Sega Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Co.Xbox 360
Sega Vintage Collection: Golden AxeXbox 360
Sega Vintage Collection: Monster WorldXbox 360
Sega Vintage Collection: Streets of RageXbox 360
SOULCALIBURXbox 360
SOULCALIBUR II HDXbox 360
SpelunkyXbox 360
Splosion ManXbox 360
StackingXbox 360
TEKKEN TAG TOURNAMENT 2Xbox 360
The MawXbox 360
Toy SoldiersXbox 360
Toy Soldiers: Cold WarXbox 360
Virtua Fighter 5 Final ShowdownXbox 360
Viva PiñataXbox 360
Viva Piñata: TIPXbox 360
XCOM: Enemy WithinXbox 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.

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