Xbox Game Pass Is A Good Start, But Just A Beginning

Before the era of digital downloads and GameStop ruling over an ever-shrinking retail fiefdom, video stores rented out video games for eager kids. Every gamer of a certain age remembers renting from their local shop, or later the Blockbuster, to play a game for one glorious weekend. Xbox Game Pass feels, a bit, like those old days. But there’s a question remaining on following through.

The service itself is simple and works well. You don’t need a Gold membership, just a credit card and a willingness to part with $10 a month. The interface lets you quickly sort through and find games you’re interested in, and there’s a nice mix of AAA games, indies, console classics (mostly from Sega and Rare at the moment), and more. It’s a good service to get caught up on the games you missed, at the current selection. We downloaded and tried out several different titles, and had smooth experiences getting them on the console and playing them.

But that’s the issue: You can get caught up, not stay current. The elephant in the room, at the moment, is that there’s no games newer than, roughly, a year ago, and a fair bit of the library is backwards compatible titles from the 360. In and of itself, that’s fine; there’s a lot of great games on the 360, and they play well on the One. But the big question is simple: Are we ever going to get newer stuff?

To be fair to Microsoft, that’s largely not up to them; in fact, browsing the launch titles, a big chunk of titles are ones Microsoft owns outright. It’s fairly clear Microsoft is hoping to build a critical mass of users to lure bigger publishers and titles on board, or failing that at least find another avenue to make their back catalogue profitable. If the service never becomes more than Microsoft Catch-Up, that’ll be enough for many, especially gamers who’d rather drop the cost of two games a year and get more for their money. But if the service wants to really stand out, or better yet replace the Blockbuster of yore, it’ll have to find a way to get newer games on there for the players who want them.

Verdict: Worth A Chance

This review was written based on a code provided by Microsoft