six colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Pay a monthly fee, play a lot of (probably older) Xbox games

Everything else seems to offer a subscription option, so no reason console games should be any different. Microsoft announced its new Xbox Game Pass service, which for $9.99 a month gives you access to more than 100 games. The games aren’t streamed, however—the full title is downloaded on to your Xbox One; presumably if/when you cancel your subscription, any games you’ve downloaded as part of it are no longer playable. However, subscribers also get a discount to permanently purchasing any games in the catalog: 20 percent off games, 10 percent off add-ons.

Video and audio streaming services have been pretty successful in these sorts of unlimited access plans. Games are an even bigger time and money investment in most cases, so I can see a compelling argument from a price perspective: Microsoft’s service will run $120 a year, which is the price of two new titles.

Except. The titles available in the catalog are pretty unlikely to be new, high-profile titles. Instead, they’re probably mostly older titles whose heyday has passed. Note in particular that the announcement says “over 100 Xbox One and backwards compatible Xbox 360 games” [emphasis added]. Many of those games probably run more like $10-$20, which changes the value proposition to more like 6 to 12 games.1 That’s fine, if those older catalog titles are what you’re interested in playing, but it’s probably not as compelling to hardcore gamers who want to play the newest titles. For the more casual gaming market, though, this could be a decent deal, but either way it’s not likely to be a huge shift in the gaming market.

As someone who has dialed back his gaming in recent years, this isn’t super compelling—I don’t need a huge catalog of games when I already have so many I haven’t finished yet. (I’ve also learned the key trick to playing newer games: if you don’t need to have them right away, you can wait a month or two and usually snag them for 30-50% cheaper.)


  1. Halo 5 looks to be one of the more recent games on the list, having come out in 2015. But a quick look on Amazon shows you can buy it on disc for under $20.  ↩

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[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at dan@sixcolors.com or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]