Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Xbox Game Pass for PC (beta)

Thanks to Bigeye for mentioning the game pass option to play The Outer World. Having looked into it, I decided to try out the Xbox Game Pass for PC (beta). That turned out to be not much of a risk, as I got an offer to subscribe for my first month for €1, with each following month costing €3.99. The installation was a bit weird, with some strange error messages, but after trying a couple of times, I finally had the Xbox (beta) application installed on my PC.

So now I have access to currently 147 PC games. The games aren't streamed, I still need to download them to play. And I assume I can only play them as long as I am subscribed. The games catalogue is neither huge, nor does it contain only triple A games. But then, I downloaded and played "The Flame in the Flood", which turned out to be a fun enough indie survival game. And it costs €14.99 on Steam. Well, I'm not going to play that for 4 months, so even if I used the Game Pass for nothing else, I already paid less than the Steam option. And of course in 2 days The Outer World gets released, and I can play that on release for no additional money, while other people will pay $60 for that. That sounds like a really good deal to me!

I don't know if the Game Pass is going to stay this cheap, but I assume that depends on the size of the game library. I probably wouldn't want to pay more than €9.99 per month, and that only if the game library was a lot bigger than today. But I think of it as Netflix for games, and my Netflix subscription is sure cheaper than buying movies and TV series on DVD, which is what I did previously. Basically the only way to lose money on this is to keep paying the subscription and forgetting to actually use the service.

I assume some people might be bothered by not owning the games anymore. Well, legally speaking you don't even own the games you bought on DVD, you just have a license to use them, and the means to use them for as long as the DVD works and you have a PC that runs it. But practically speaking, games are often consumables which we play for a while and then never again. At zero additional cost, and just the time and effort needed to download the game, you can try out games you aren't sure about. As few games have demo versions these days (unless you abuse the Steam refund system), the ability to try out lots of different games for free is quite nice.

So right now, I am quite happy with my Game Pass subscription. I'll see how it works out over the coming months. 

How was download speed compared to Steam? Any idea how patching happens? What about DLC purchases for titles that have them, if such titles are on Game Pass?

Specifically for Outer Worlds I'd have pre-purchased it on Steam, but it being EGS exclusive for a year means they don't get that money. If I can play the game without directly paying for it via the Pass, all the better.
Looks like a good deal. Do you need to own a physical Xbox console to play anything on PC?
And how big is the library? Any way to check before subscribing?
Do you need a controller to play these games?
How is the picture quality? Console-ish?
@Syncaine: I didn’t measure the download speed, but it seemed fast enough for the admittedly small game I tried.

@AlexF: There is a library of 147 games that work on PC, no Xbox needed. If you have an Xbox, you get access to a larger library of over 200 games that run on Xbox. Follow the link in my post to see the games in the library. You don’t need a controller to play the PC games, but some just play better with a controller. It is not a Xbox emulation, but actual PC games, so no issue with picture quality.
When Netflix first came out it seemed like the greatest deal ever. At the time I was paying something like €40 a month for cable that didn't even come with movies on demand so Netflix with thousands of Movies and series on demand was a complete bargain for €7.99. Today I find that the number of services I am subscribed to is rising. I now have subscriptions to Netflix Amazon Prime and Sky for films and TV. I also have a sub to Spotify for Music and Humble Bundle for games. The convenience of being able to get a vast selection of media products on demand is just awesome but I am already spending as much on monthly subscription fees as I used to spend on discrete media products. That situation is only going to get worse.
It looks okay. Near the top of your list of 147 games, for example is Dead Cells, which many people are happily buying at full price. And if you quit Game Pass and really like it I assume you can still buy it anyway.

I think these passes (they are by no means a new idea, on PC at least) are good value for a lot of people.
I have some more information about the download speed. I am currently pre-installing The Outer World, and it is downloading at 8 Mbyte/s (64 MBit/s), which is pretty close to my maximum download speed of 75 MBit/s.
Ironically being disappointed in another game, Anthem, is what made me first try out game pass.

Why spend $60 on a game that I'm not sure about or I think I'll only play once when I can pay the $5 or whatever and cancel in a week or two when I'm done with the game?

I wish I had done that with Anthem.

The game pass service is a bit buggy but they seem to be improving it rapidly.
The Outer Worlds got me to use Game Pass as well...$60 vs $1? Sure, ok. Clunky interface, very slow download speed (7-8 vs 14 for Steam) but a very deep library! I actually like having a bunch of options on my desktop...Battlenet, Epic, Steam, Uplay, Origin and now XBox are all there now. Hundreds of games for pennies while devs work 100/hrs a week. It seems broken in a way but looking forward to playing a new Obsidian game tonight that I otherwise would not have payed for.
$5/month is a great deal, I didn't know about it but I'll surely give it a try. Can it be "shared" on other computers? Can I install different games and play them at the same time?
@Rugus: I don't know, I haven't tried.
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