Xbox Game Pass has grown into the home for online gaming — and I'm here for it

An image of an Xbox controller and Xbox Game Pass
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Since signing up for Xbox Game Pass last Spring, I’ve noticed a recurring trend. The service is quickly becoming a destination for online gaming, with multiple high-profile online games launching on Game Pass over the past year. 

A subscription service like Xbox Game Pass is the perfect home for online games, especially ones that may have struggled to carve out their own niche otherwise. Launching on Game Pass allows these titles to find a bigger audience at launch, and also helps keep the player base healthy, with a steady stream of new recruits jumping in over time. 

I consider myself primarily a single-player gamer. But since becoming an Xbox Game Pass subscriber I’ve found myself drawn more and more to playing online co-op games, such as Back 4 Blood and Aliens Fireteam Elite.

Xbox Game Pass is the de facto home for online games 

back 4 blood

(Image credit: Warner Brothers)

Xbox Game Pass has an impressively varied content library. From massive open-world RPGs to smaller narrative-driven adventure games, the service likely has something you'll enjoy. Online multiplayer title make up a big chunk of what's on offer.

In the last 10 or so months, a slew of online-centric games have hit Xbox Game Pass. Halo Infinite, Outriders, Back 4 Blood and Rainbow Six: Extraction all launched on the subscription service day-one, with Aliens Fireteam Elite coming just a few months after its launch. There are also titles such as Dead by Daylight and Ark Survival Evolved, which have been in the Game Pass content library for a couple of years now. 

If you enjoy online play, either cooperative or competitive (and own an Xbox Series X or gaming PC), then Xbox Game Pass is practically an essential subscription service. Plus, there are more games to come in the near future ,with Arkane’s new co-op vampire hunting game Redfall set for a day-one Game Pass release this summer.

How Xbox Game Pass is making online gaming easier

The Division key art

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

There are several reasons why Xbox Game Pass is a natural home for online games. Firstly, it removes a significant barrier to entry: the high cost of games.

I can vividly remember back in 2015 being extremely excited for The Division, but struggling to convince my friends to share in my enthusiasm. They were all still feeling burnt after buying the underwhelming original Destiny at my insistence the previous year. 

Because of this, I didn't have anybody on my friends list to play with at launch. This resulted in a less-than-ideal experience, as I had to brave the wilderness of random matchmaking. Now, when an online game hits Xbox Game Pass, it’s a lot easier to convince my co-op partners to give the game a shot, since we’re all getting access at essentially no additional cost. 

Had I been faced with forking over up to $70 for the likes of Outriders of Back 4 Blood, I would have definitely given them a skip until a general critical consensus formed. However, because these tiles launched on Xbox Game Pass, I was able to give them a shot, with no fear blowing my money on games ultimately not worth the admission price. 

Hosting online games on Xbox Game Pass also ensures that there’s a significantly larger chance of them finding a consistently an active player base. I played Aliens Fireteam Elite at launch, and within just a few weeks, its player count was already dwindling. Its launch on Xbox Game Pass in December reignited the community, and helped populate the matchmaking servers with new recruits.

Looking ahead at what’s coming to Game Pass in 2022, I’m definitely most excited for the single-player experiences that will be hitting the service (gimme Starfield now!). However, I also look forward to getting unexpectedly hooked on several of the new online games that will inevitably come to the Xbox Game Pass library in the coming months. 

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.