The Xbox Games Showcase is in the books, giving us our best look yet at Halo Infinite, while revealing promising new Xbox Series X titles such as Forza Motorsport and Fable 4. And while it didn’t leave me quite as slack-jawed as Sony’s exciting PS5 games reveal in June, Microsoft’s event did something even more important: It solidified Xbox Game Pass as the best value in gaming.
Every single one of the nearly 20 games shown off at Microsoft’s big Xbox event will be available on Xbox Game Pass as soon as they launch. This means you’ll be able to access the games with a monthly subscription fee between $5 and $15 per month, rather than buying them for $60 apiece. They run the gamut from major first-party games like Halo Infinite and State of Decay 3, to hot third-party titles like Destiny 2: Beyond Light and Stalker 2.
With two expensive new consoles set to debut this fall, and some next-gen games getting a price bump to $70, Microsoft’s Netflix-like approach to delivering games is a refreshingly consumer-friendly move.
The value of Xbox Game Pass
“Microsoft is pushing hard at subscription plans like Xbox Game Pass... so the retail price of AAA games right out of the gate has become less of an important factor over time for a growing portion of the console gamer base,” Lewis Ward, research director of gaming at marketing research firm IDC, told us earlier this month.
This doubling down on Game Pass further ties into Microsoft’s focus on creating an entire Xbox ecosystem, rather than forcing you to buy a single console. Many of the titles shown off at the Xbox Games Showcase will be playable across Xbox Series X, Xbox One and PC. And soon, you’ll even be able to play them on your phone, tablet or cheap laptop over the cloud, now that Microsoft’s Project xCloud streaming service is set to become part of Game Pass.
You could argue that Microsoft’s approach holds the Xbox Series X back against the PS5. Titles such as Horizon: Forbidden West and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart are specifically designed to tap into the power of Sony’s new console. These two games arguably looked more impressive than Halo Infinite, which didn’t quite exhibit the polish and sheen of a true next-gen game.
However, Microsoft is playing the long game here, and its recent moves could position the Xbox Series X as the ultimate console for gamers who want the most bang for their buck. Buying exclusive games such as Spider-Man and Horizon on top of your $400-$500 console can add up fast; being able to get big games like Halo and Fable for a few bucks a month could prove much easier to swallow.
The Game Pass approach also widens the reach of Microsoft’s games, including to folks like me who don’t plan on buying an Xbox Series X but can’t wait to play Halo Infinite and Grounded on a PC. So while this week’s Xbox Games Showcase might not have put the PS5 on notice, it has ensured that I’ll keep my Game Pass subscription for years to come — and Microsoft should chalk that up as a win.