The Xbox Game Pass was a good start when it launched. The service, for $10 a month, offers a large rotating library of games to play, with a few new titles added every month while others are taken off. It’s a neat idea, and it works, but the question was what Microsoft might do to make it more appealing. Now we have the answer: It’s adding its new first-party games to the service the same day they hit shelves for sale, opening the door to gamers without a lot of cash in their pockets to rent games instead of buying them.
The announcement, sent out by Microsoft, is fairly simple. All the games published via Microsoft Studios, including its upcoming Crackdown 3 and Sea Of Thieves, and any upcoming entries in franchises like Halo and Forza, arrive on the Game Pass service the same day they go on sale. So, if you can’t justify dropping $60 on a game, and really want to play Halo 6, you can sign up for Game Pass and start blasting whatever’s left of the Covenant.
It’s an interesting move for frugal gamers, but it’s also attention-getting in a larger sense. Keep in mind, the games Microsoft is putting up for de-facto rent are not cheap to make, as the average AAA game on the market cost $60 million to develop and likely at least that much to market it. That’s because the money can be huge: Halo 5 sold five million copies, at $60 a pop, in three months. So, either Microsoft is convinced that in addition to fans, there are plenty of others who want to buy but can’t swing it, or that long-term, it’s better to lock in gamers at $10 a month than try to grab $60 worth of attention.
Either way, retailers are not going to be happy, especially GameStop now that its PowerPass plan has some major competition. And it puts pressure on Sony and Nintendo to respond. Microsoft has little to lose, as it’s thriving but still behind in the console race, and it makes its money in areas well beyond games. One thing, however, is becoming very clear: The days of just paying $60 for a game are numbered.