Microsoft Announces Xbox Game Pass, The Latest 'Netflix For Games'

Microsoft announced Xbox Game Pass, a new service that will offer access to "more than 100 games" for $10 per month, when it debuts this Spring.

Xbox Game Pass is the latest effort to create a "Netflix for games." It might be able to succeed where other attempts have failed, however, because Microsoft won't limit the service to streaming games from central servers to someone's Xbox One. Instead, subscribers will be able to download games  to their consoles. This should prove more convenient for games were streaming-induced lag can be a problem or for people with spotty internet access.

Microsoft also said Xbox Game Pass subscribers will receive an exclusive discount on titles included in the service. This will give people a chance to experience a game with little upfront cost--$10 for more than 100 games is a much better deal than $60 for a single game--while also receiving a nice little price reduction if they do buy something. (The discount offers 20% off base games and 10% off add-ons for anything in the service's catalog.)

Other details about the program are sparse. Microsoft didn't provide a full list of titles available at launch, probably because it's still negotiating with other companies to bring their games to the service, and instead listed a few publishers and specific games that will support Xbox Game Pass at launch:

With great games from top industry publishers such as 2K, 505 Games, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment, Capcom, Codemasters, Deep Silver, Focus Home Interactive, SEGA, SNK CORPORATION, THQ Nordic GmbH, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Microsoft Studios, there’s something for everyone to enjoy and you will always find something exciting to play across a variety of genres. Some of the fan-favorite titles coming to Xbox Game Pass when it launches to the broader Xbox community later this spring include Halo 5: Guardians, Payday 2, NBA 2K16 and SoulCalibur II.

We do know that Xbox Game Pass will include both Xbox One titles and "backwards compatible" Xbox 360 games. That's a better offer than Sony's PlayStation Now service, which costs more but only streams PlayStation 3 games to a shrinking number of devices, and combined with the ability to download titles it could make Xbox Game Pass the more appealing solution even if someone owns both an Xbox One and a PlayStation 4 or PS4 Pro.

Microsoft said it's already testing Xbox Game Pass with "select members of the Xbox Insider Program in the Alpha Preview ring" and "a very limited number of titles." Xbox Live Gold members will also get early access to the service. The company said it will reveal more information closer to launch.

One potential morsel of information that could be revealed as Xbox Game Pass approaches its debut is whether or not the service will be available on PC. Several eagle-eyed Redditors noticed that a previous version of the service's FAQ said that "Xbox Game Pass will only be available on Xbox One and Windows 10 devices." That line has been amended in the current version of the FAQ to say that Xbox Game Pass is restricted to Xbox One consoles.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • Fluffybunnyofdoom
    "This should prove more convenient for games were <-- (where) streaming-induced lag can be a problem or for people with spotty internet access."
  • alextheblue
    $10/month for the ability to download and install games, instead of streaming... and they offer a discount if you buy? If that pricing is accurate that is actually pretty decent. I generally dislike these types of services because they overcharge and underdeliver but this is cheap enough it's like renting a game or two a month back in the cartridge days.

    PS Now is more expensive and it is (by necessity) a streaming service, since the PS4 can't support emulation profiles for the overly complex PS3.