This blogpost has been a long time in the making and one I have been meaning to get around to for a while, tackling the big issue of the day (at least for Xbox owners); is the Microsoft Game Pass any good?
Value for Money
Before we get into the ins and outs of what you get with Microsoft Game Pass, I want to address the big elephant in the room. Is it good value for money?
Well, currently Microsoft have an introductory offer of £2 (sorry to my US readers, I am not sure what offer is available stateside) for two months. Alongside the Game Pass you also get two months of Gold membership included in that cost. In other words, it is as dirty cheap as Microsoft could make it without giving it out for free and making sure they capture those all-important bank details for the recurring payment.
That said, at £2, the Game Pass is exceptional value and you can diarise to cancel it at the two-month mark or anytime for that matter by managing your subscriptions on the Xbox menu.
Now for the good stuff…
What do You Get with Microsoft Game Pass Ultimate?
The Microsoft Game Pass works by giving you access to titles on a rolling basis (in kind of the way Netflix adds and removes titles) and players can download the titles available and play the full game for the entire time it is available on Game Pass.
In summarising Game Pass, Microsoft have coined the phrase “It’s Netflix for games”. And for us gamers it really is an absolute gem.
Here are the key things you get when you subscribe.
- Access to over 100 titles including Xbox 360 and Xbox games.
- Cross platform functionality – works on PC and Xbox One with the Ultimate Plan.
- Access to discounts in the Microsoft Store.
- Access to Xbox Live Gold Membership – allowing you to play with friends online.
Let’s Be Honest About What You Get with Microsoft Game Pass
Okay, before we get carried away and act as though the above is exceptional, I want to break down the reality of those headline figures.
Game Selection on Game Pass
The range of titles isn’t fantastic and there will only realistically be about 20-30 games at any one time that you will want to play. For gamers with very specific tastes this will be limited further, and you might be lucky to find up to 10 games you would try.
Of those games you try, there are going to be a few that aren’t good enough to draw you in and keep you playing. Making you wonder why you spent all that time downloading the game and then waiting while your next pick downloads.
Microsoft do appear to be working actively on the range available and I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of 2020 they are showcasing 200 titles at any one time. There are some truly epic titles available on Game Pass though so don’t think you will subscribe and not find a single thing to play. It is good but it could be better.
Cross Platform Functionality
This seems like a great perk to have, but pouring a bit of cold water onto the fire, it isn’t really necessary and I suspect most people that subscribe to Ultimate do so for the bundled in Gold Membership rather than the PC/Xbox feature.
In fact, I know many gamers and I can count only a couple that even play both Xbox and PC titles. I guess there is a niche market for gamers that like to play across platforms, but my experience is that most PC gamers with decent PCs wouldn’t play on a console and most console gamers wouldn’t want to play on the PC. But hey ho, I am sure there are a few people this is of interest to. A decent add on but I suspect largely unused.
Access to Discounts in Microsoft Store
This is probably the most useless feature with the Game Pass because the Microsoft Store is that overpriced that even with a discount, things are poor value for money.
Saving a few pounds off a title that is £10 in stores and £30 direct from Microsoft is just nutty. Considering they have no middlemen it is daylight robbery the prices Microsoft charge on their store and I suspect the poor value for money most gamers have come to expect from Microsoft might dissuade them from taking the Game Pass, even if it is a bargain. It’s all just pointless until Microsoft start pricing competitively with the wider market.
This is a great feature of the Game Pass Ultimate as it keeps your Xbox payments together and it represents good value for money.
Normally Gold Membership is £6.99 a month and discounts aside Game Pass Ultimate is £10.99.
If you’re already a Gold subscriber, it seems mad to me that you wouldn’t pay an extra £4 a month to get access to great games including latest releases.
The Gold Membership thrown in also adds fluidity to everything. You can talk to friends, pick a game, download it and play each other online for a flat monthly cost. Without Gold Membership, the Game Pass is a different proposition altogether and one that I can’t fully say is worth it. With Gold Membership it gives you a complete gaming package and is great value.
In total, the Microsoft Game Pass Ultimate gets a score of 5/10 which reflects its need to improve some of its features. Specifically, I would like to see the value for money on Microsoft Store prices as this would allow me to get all my gaming needs without venturing out to a shop. I would also like more titles – but I think these will come with time.
If you’re a console gamer and play online, the Game Pass Ultimate is excellent and great value for money. Occasional gamers and PC gamers should check out the full list of titles on offer before committing to it as I think some may be disappointed. If that is the case, you can always cancel your subscription and spend your money on other Xbox games.
While the offer is good though, which I think has even been made £1 for 3 months at time of publishing this – it is worth giving it a good testing and deciding for yourself.
For more game-related articles, check out my review of Fallout 4 or browse all game reviews by myself and The Subtext.