For better or worse, Netflix has changed the way we watch movies and TV shows. Now, Microsoft is hoping to do the same with video games through its Xbox Game Pass program.
After a lengthy testing period, Microsoft is ready to launch its game subscription service Xbox Game Pass. Starting June 1, subscribers will be able to play more than a hundred different Xbox games for a monthly fee of $10. Xbox Live Gold subscribers, however, will have early access starting May 24.
Xbox Game Pass has been in the works for about three years, but Microsoft has said such a lengthy testing period was necessary in order to get the technical details worked out as well as to work out licensing agreements with various publishers and developers.
The games, which will span a variety of genres, won't all change on a monthly basis. Rather, Microsoft has said that a "handful" of titles will be taken in and out of rotation each month.
When asked whether third-party games could be removed because of a publisher's dispute, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said that it was important that the games did not feel like trials or demos. He said that users needed to have a reasonable expectation that games found in the service would be sticking around for a while.
Spencer's comments regarding the long-term reliability of the service are welcome, but given some of the issues Netflix and Amazon have faced with licensing movies and TV shows, we'll take them with a grain of salt. Despite Microsoft's intentions, licensing issues can complicate any project.
While the subscription service will naturally draw comparisons to Netflix, there are some key differences to take into account. For starters, games will not be streamed to a user's console. Instead, you will download them to your device. On the plus side, this will eliminate lag and other problems associated with streaming, but it will also eat into precious hard drive space.
It has also been announced that Xbox Game Pass subscribers buying games included in the catalog will be given an "exclusive" discount, though the details of that discount have not yet been revealed.
One way in which the program is similar to Netflix is the fact that there are very few new releases available through Xbox Game Pass. Most of them appear to be older titles.
While most of the titles are older ones, there are still plenty of good ones such as Halo 5, the Gears of War series, Fable III, and the BioShock series.
Check out the full list of the games.
Xbox Game Pass will be a separate service from Xbox Live, but Xbox Live Gold members will receive a 14-day free trial starting May 24. Other Xbox Live members will be offered a free trial starting June 1.