Is the Xbox Game Pass worth adding to the never-ending line up of subscription services, does it offer value for money? If you asked me three years ago when it launched I would have said NO, but a lot can happen in 3 years…
I signed back up to the service in July 2019 after a long absence when Gears 5 was launching on the service, at the time Xbox was offering the service for $1AUD a month for 3 months and $10.95AUD thereafter for new members.
The service can be purchased on several different plans. At the time of this review, there are three on offer.
The Ultimate plan, which Xbox recommends as the “best value” that includes Xbox Gold (online service), Game Pass for Console, and Game Pass for PC. It is worth noting that Game Pass for PC is still a BETA version. The monthly cost for this is $15.95AUD/month, although new members will get the first month for $1AUD.
The PC plan will allow players to access the PC compatible games in the library, which at this time is about 150 games give or take. Xbox is offering this service for an introductory price of $4.95AUD/Month. Xbox quotes the normal price as $10.95AUD/Month.
The Console plan allows players to access about 200 games in the library and will set you back $10.95AUD/Month. This is the plan I am using now because I paid for my Gold service up front annually, and until recently did not have a PC capable of running any games of this level.
Once you have chosen a desired plan you will have access to the full library of games that includes Xbox Game Studio titles when they premiere and third party titles. Unlike the PlayStation 4’s service, the games are not streamed but rather installed on the hard drive so it is as if you own the game. This helps with the performance of each game, but does mean players need to download entire games just to try them out. When the game sizes vary from 5G to 80G that is a lot of data to download to see whether you like a game, especially if you have download restrictions on your internet plans. The system does a great job of giving you accurate information around game size, genre, add on, game play trailers etc. There is also an App available on Android and iOS that gives you the same level of information but more importantly allows you to remotely download games to the console; if you have it set up as your “home console” in the settings menu. That feature was a game changer in my opinion, I would hit download on my coffee break at work and by the time I sat down that night it was ready to go.
There is a constant cycle of games being added and old ones removed. It appears there is always around 200 games to choose from on the console. This is far less than the PlayStation 4, which offers around 800 because of the streaming service. I would argue that although Xbox offers less games, the quality of most games are better at this point in time. The service does a great job of communicating new and removed content to the player and will offer up some large discounts on those games if you want to own them after they are removed. The layout on the console, PC and app works well to highlight recently added, most popular, genres, featured and leaving soon, to guide the players around the library with ease.
In recent months Game Pass has added some big titles to the line-up which include premiere games such as Gears 5 and Outer Worlds and heavy hitters such as GTA 5, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Metal Gear Solid V, Monster Hunter World, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt; conveniently dropping around the same time as the Netflix series. Coincidence, I think not. The line-up for 2020 is also looking positive with titles such as Final Fantasy XV Royal Addition, Tekken 7, Wasteland Remastered, Kingdom of Hearts III & Yakuza 0 all coming in February. It has also rumoured that most, if not all of the Final Fantasy games will be released this year along with a promise of more premieres.
So is Game Pass worth it in 2020? Short answer is yes, and of course that is only my opinion but I have found myself downloading and playing games far more often as the titles get better & better. I believe the best value for money is the Ultimate Pass, which includes the Xbox Gold Live subscription service and the PC platform. I would not recommend the PC only platform even with its introductory offer as the service is still in the BETA version with players reporting drops outs, frame rate & connection issues, although these could be attributed to the PC rather than the service. The game library is not as large as the console version but as new games are added, they will become compatible for both platforms.
If you are like me and purchased the Gold upfront then the console version will give you access to everything you need in the service with a lower monthly price.
• Mobile App for remote downloads
• Premiere games
• PC Platform enabled for most games
• Ability to bundle three services in one
• PC version still in BETA phase
• No streaming service
• Large downloads