Game Pass is Microsoft’s “Netflix for Games” service that gives you access to a bunch of games (169 currently) for $10/month. When I bought my Xbox One X, it came with a 1 month free trial of the service which I’ve been sitting on. This week Sea of Thieves launched and MS stuck it into Game Pass, so I decided it was time to cash in that free month.
Sea of Thieves is a bust for me — but that’s a post in and of its own self — so I dove into the Game Pass library to see what else was on offer. There’s a lot of filler but there are some pretty good titles in there too, stuff like Gears of War 4 and Halo Wars 2. I’ve been downloading a ton of different games and it’s been fun to have a gaming buffet to sample from. That’s the good news.
The bad news, for me because I’m weird, is the subscription fee. In the same way that when I used to subscribe to MMOs I’d have this sense of a clock ticking all the time, I feel the same way with Game Pass. I feel like I should be playing the Game Pass games because I’m paying for it (even though technically I haven’t paid a cent yet and even if I was, it’s $10/month, not exactly bank-breaking). I’ve been finding myself playing games that are “OK” just so I could get some use out of Game Pass, instead of playing games I absolutely adore (Assassin’s Creed Origins, I’m looking at you) but own outright.
The other downside is that the games feel really disposable. As soon as I hit a point that frustrates me or bores me the tiniest bit, I toss that game aside and move on to something new since I have no investment, either fiscal or emotional, in that title. It isn’t a game I’d been looking forward to or had spent money on, it’s a game I’m playing because it was ‘free’. (I realize this is in direct opposition to my first point about money spent and the clock ticking…none of this is based on logic.)
I think in future I’ll dip into Game Pass now and then. When there is a game that I really want to play in the service, I’ll subscribe and play it via Game Pass because why not? Assuming a game is $60, there are very few games I play for more than 6 months so Game Pass will be the cheaper option. In other words, subscribe for a specific title or titles rather than for the library of games in general.
Of course having said that, they’re adding City Skylines in April and that is a game I’ve wanted to try on the Xbox (or PS4) so I’m glad my subscription will be active when that arrives. Then in May State of Decay 2 comes to Game Pass (and Xbox in general) and I’m looking forward to trying that, too. So for both April and May there are games that should make the subscription worth having.
Until then, I have enjoyed revisiting, briefly, some games I played in yesteryear — stuff like Fable II and Darksiders — so I don’t have any real regrets. I guess I’m just sharing my weird reaction to having a “Netflix for Games” and it’s really strange because when it comes to actual Netflix, which I also subscribe to, I never feel that tug of “I NEED to watch stuff on Netflix because I’m paying for it.” I’ll watch what I feel like watching no matter where it is.
I guess the difference is that in a given month you can watch dozens of TV shows and movies and some are bound to be on Netflix, but games take a lot longer to play, so in any given month I’ll only play a couple. It’s much more likely that a month will pass without me touching a Game Pass game than it is that a month goes by and I don’t watch anything on Netflix, particularly if I’m really invested in some particular non-Game Pass title.
In fact I have Far Cry 5 pre-ordered and it drops on Tuesday so it’ll be interesting to see if I play anything from Game Pass once that arrives.