I subscribed to Xbox Game Pass for PC this past weekend after my colleagues called me an old man.
For the record, I am not an old man. My only crime was buying PC games on Steam.
“Why don’t you just use a Game Pass subscription?” these whippersnappers would ask, mockingly, when I spoke about games on sale.
Their suggestions were Xbox Game Pass for PC or Origin Access. The former is from Microsoft, while the latter is run by EA.
As a child who would take his birthday money to Reggies to buy the latest game cartridge for his shared Golden China (aka NES), gaming meant buying a title and owning it.
The Game Pass option, however, makes a very strong case as to why it should replace this behaviour.
What you get
Xbox Game Pass for PC works as follows.
You pay a monthly fee, and you get access to over 100 PC games. There’s no need to buy the games – you click the one you want to play, install it, and Git Gud.
The interface you use is the “beta” version of the Xbox app for Windows 10, which works similarly to Steam in that it contains your profile settings, your library of games, and it displays the titles you can play.
After downloading the app, signing in using my Windows profile, and then subscribing to Game Pass, I was all set.
Game Pass is priced at R15.90 for the first month, after which it costs R69 per month.
For this you will receive access to the games, with new titles “added all the time”. You will also receive discounts on games you would like to buy and own permanently.
At the time of writing, I had only tested Age of Empires II Definitive Edition. It downloaded quickly and worked as expected once installed.
There were, however, a vast range of games on offer – including The Outer Worlds, a new sci-fi RPG.
The game normally sells for $59.99 (R880) and is not yet available on Steam, but was included as one of the titles for my R15.90 subscription.
The logic of a subscription service over purchasing the game was already making sense, as 12 months of access to Game Pass will cost me R775.
Other titles on offer included Rage 2, The Talos Principle, Gears 5, and Forza Horizon 4.
Although I did not subscribe to Origin Access, it is good to provide an overview of what is on offer.
EA gives gamers two subscription options:
- Basic for R48.50 per month/R299.00 per year
- Premier for R199.95 per month/R1,199.99 per year
The differences between the two is:
- Extra content included with new EA games on Premier.
- Early access to upcoming games provides 10 hours vs full game time limit.
- 153 vs 163 games.
Games which are included with the Premier subscription are Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, Need for Speed Heat, FIFA 20, Madden 20, and Battlefield V.
Even at R1,200 per year, gamers will get their money’s worth if they play 2 or more AAA titles every 12 months.
Thanks to Netflix
A move from buying PC games to subscribing to them makes sense if we look at how we consume TV series and movies today.
Buying shows or movies on DVD was followed by buying digital copies of content online, which then shifted to a subscription model made popular by Netflix.
Today, the idea of paying R169 per month for unlimited watching of a wide range of series and movies is standard for many of us – and Disney and Apple have realised this.
The companies both launched subscription streaming services recently, where users pay a monthly fee to watch the content on offer.
In the gaming space, subscription services look similarly promising.
For those keen to try Game Pass, I encountered an issue when signing up.
I originally went to the Xbox Game Pass page and downloaded the Xbox app. I then logged into the app with my Windows profile, and tried to sign up for the service using PayPal, and then my credit card.
This did not work, as when paying it said there was a location mismatch. When paying using card, it also only allowed me to select the USA as the country I was in.
What worked is to rather visit the Microsoft “Buy” Xbox Game Pass page and sign up in your browser.
This allowed me to select South Africa as my country and pay using my credit card. The subscription was then activated in the Xbox app, as I was already logged in.
This is an opinion piece.