Microsoft Takes on PlayStation Now with Xbox Game Pass

Posted on February 28, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Xbox One with 33 Comments

Microsoft Takes on PlayStation Now with Xbox Game Pass

Microsoft today announced a new subscription service called Xbox Game Pass that will provide unlimited access to over 100 Xbox One and backward compatible Xbox 360 games for $9.99 per month.

It appears that this service is meant to counter Sony’s PlayStation Now service, which provides PS4 and Windows gamers with cloud-based access to over 400 “legacy” PlayStation 3 games. But there are of course some key differences, the most obvious being that Xbox Game Pass includes current generation titles too.

“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,” Microsoft’s Phil Spencer writes in today’s announcement. “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.”

There’s another key difference between Xbox Game Pass and Sony’s offering: Customers will need to download the Xbox titles in order to play them. That is, you don’t stream the games over the Internet as you do with PlayStation Now.

Of course, Microsoft is pushing that as a benefit, not an issue. (Some of these games are humongous downloads.)

“That means continuous, full-fidelity gameplay without having to worry about streaming, bandwidth or connectivity issues,” Spencer says. At least while you’re playing, that is.

Xbox Game Pass members will also be able to purchase games “at an exclusive discount,” Microsoft says, though it’s not clear what that really means. And each month new games will cycle into the subscription with some cycling out, giving you a constantly-updating library of games, the firm notes.

Xbox Game Pass arrives “later this Spring,” so perhaps close to E3. But Xbox Live Gold members will be receiving exclusive access to Xbox Game Pass prior to the program launching to the broader community, Microsoft says.

Very interesting.


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Comments (33)

33 responses to “Microsoft Takes on PlayStation Now with Xbox Game Pass”

  1. Cavorter

    My big question is whether or not the games available via Game Pass will also be usable by non-Game Pass members on their primary Xbox like purchased titles currently are. I've had some inconsistent results with the kids in the house trying to use titles from EA Access, which is really a pretty similar program.

  2. SaintKaze

    10 bucks a month for old games. No thanks and 90% of the games i get from Gold i never pick up.

  3. peterson09

    This is really an amazing offer for game lovers like me. Its really a good counter effect from sony's playstation now service. I think Microsoft is trying to penetrate the gaming market. You can play all latest games for free on iOS devices using Delta emulator. Delta emulator is not available for windows devices right now.

  4. Skolvikings

    I used to have a PlayStation Now subscription, and never had any trouble streaming the games. I can see where the download and install is better, but not when you have to do so just to try a game you might not like after 5 minutes. It's a trade-off.

  5. Awhispersecho

    As an Xbox fan since the original and someone who will be getting Scorpio on day 1, I honestly don't understand why Xbox live isn't just a service across all devices, OS's and formats. I love my Xbox consoles but I really don't know why MS is making hardware. Just put all your games on Xbox Live, make that an integral part of the Windows Store and make Xbox a digital service available everywhere on everything. Heck, the increased traffic to the store might help the UWP platform as well.

    I do have a feeling Scorpio may be the last console from them and they may go the digital direction after that. I just don't get why they haven't yet. This Xbox pass is a perfect example. Tons of PC gamers would pay for this, gamers who have a smaller interest in some console games but don't want to buy a console. I don't know, I just don't get it. I think this is a good move.

  6. CyberDadIO

    Is this likely to be a US only service or will it be available to other countries too?

    • JudaZuk

      In reply to CyberDadIO: -
      I'm in Europe an at least I'm allowed to test it now through the alpha , so it does not seem like it is limited to US so far. 
      What is limited at the moment though is the number of games they offer in the alpha test, but I completely understand why, got to start somewhere. Problem for me is that I can't test to download, or purchase any games from the Game Pass section in the store at this point because I already own all of the games they offer under that section :) but hopefully more will come soon so I can test and provide more feedback

      Downside of buying a lot of games I guess

    • Ukumio

      In reply to CyberDadIO:

      Apparently its launching in 27 different markets, though which are unnamed.

    • fbman

      In reply to CyberDadIO:

      Knowing microsoft, properly US only, but then I was surprised that they launched the play anywhere feature world wide.. so they might surprise us.

      They must learn now, that the world is much bigger than the US. This is one of the reasons why google and apple are more relevant as they embrace the world market.

  7. Narg

    Nice, but I really don't have enough time on my hands to play that many games... ;)

  8. FreeJAC

    "But Xbox Live Gold members will be receiving exclusive access to Xbox Game Pass prior to the program launching to the broader community."

    I was under the impression this was for Xbox Insiders not for XLB Gold members.

  9. DeusFever

    With internet the way it is in 'Murica, PS Now was never going to work. Downloading games is better but the cost benefit looks lacking in the first offering. Hardcore Xbox owners already have Halo, Gears, and probably the Xbox 360 titles. NBA 2K was a PS Plus freebie last spring and expect groans when a Xbox Game Pass game is a Games with Gold freebie. If they can rotate in newish games more often, it'll be a big winner.

  10. Elan Gabriel

    "Xbox Game Pass members will also be able to purchase games “at an exclusive discount,” Microsoft says, though it’s not clear what that really means"

    Paul, on their website they wrote 20% off for games and 10% off for DLC.

  11. CaedenV

    So.... can we get a windows store emulator app and join in this fun? Lots of us have perfectly good gaming PCs with XBox controllers and find it rather difficult to justify buying $500 on hardware to run these lower quality games. I would absolutely sign up for this kind of service in order to catch up on Halo 2+, as well as other exclusives I have missed out on.

  12. maethorechannen

    I wonder if this is going to put an end to Games With Gold.

  13. MutualCore

    Paul always finds a way to spin a positive into a negative. Has he ever even tried PS Now? People say that it's crap.

    • CaedenV

      In reply to MutualCore:

      It is largely crap because it is a streaming service. Meaning compressed video and extreme input lag in many places. Downloading the game and running it locally should not be bad at all. Only real down side is playing SD titles on a 4K display and realizing just how low-fi games were back in the day lol.

  14. MarkH

    So they push the downloads of the games as "a good thing" because, basically, you can't rely on a good experience streaming something like that. So WHY does their stupid Movies & TV app NOT let you download purchased videos? Xbox One is seriously the ONLY platform that forces you to stream instead of giving you the option to download.

    Ok...sorry for the tangent, this article is cool and the service sounds awesome. I'm sure it will turn out to be a fantastic new way to do things. Thank you.

  15. Chris_Kez

    As a potential light/intermittent gamer, this appeals to me. I wonder if at some point this comes to PC as well (Xbox Play Anywhere Game Pass?).

  16. Darekmeridian

    Seems like a great feature, I have been doing this with EA-All Access on the desktop and Xbox already. But on the downside it seems like this may slow down game sales a little? Instead of paying the premiums for new releases, won't this make more people wait until newer games cycle down into the "Endless Play" ring and hurt development studios who depend on those initial release infusions of cash to recoup years of development time?

  17. Polycrastinator

    I always thought the main benefit of PS Now was that you could play on a PC. With these games being downloads, I doubt we'll see PC compatibility for anything that isn't also available as a UWP app (if that) which makes the product a lot less interesting, IMO.

    • ekimvf

      In reply to Polycrastinator:

      I agree... Unfortunately it seems clear that this will be a XBox One exclusive thing. No PC compatibility for now, which is a disapointment. The Sony version has the advantage of letting me play PS3 titles without having to spend money to buy a console.

      • jamiet

        In reply to ekimvf:

        And PSNow has the disadvantage of not being hardware accelerated, not having full fidelity, and completely reliant on a stable internet connection - not always a reality in a lot of homes, with multiple users accessing the internet. There is an upside and downside to PSNow.

  18. iPetr

    I'm so in! Just hope, this will not be limited to US only like so many MS stuff...

  19. Bats

    This is great. Not only is this great fit Xbox players, but also PS4 users as well. I expect a drop in monthly subscription for PS Now and increased services. Very happy with this news.

  20. vernonlvincent

    Any word on if current XBOX Live subscribers get a discount on the membership cost or something similar? It sounds like a decent-enough feature, but I'm being nickel-and-dimed to death on subscription services and it would be nice if this was something for which I didn't have to pay a lot extra.

  21. screen23

    This is the way that we had been needing this nba live mobile hack here.

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