Microsoft announces Xbox Game Pass, a Netflix-like video game subscription service
Rotating selection of titles available for $11.99/month
Microsoft announced a new Netflix-like service for its gaming platforms that will offer players over 100 titles to play when it launches this spring.
Xbox Game Pass will offer a rotating selection of Xbox One games — as well as games from its previous system, the Xbox 360 — for a monthly fee of $11.99. It will be available on both the Xbox One console and Windows 10 PCs.
It won't feature the newest games that retail in stores for $80 each, but the selection shown off so far include recent major titles like Halo 5: Guardians, Mad Max and NBA 2K16 as well as older fan favourites like Soulcalibur 2.
Microsoft said in a release that players should expect games from publishers like 2K, Warner Bros., and others to appear on Xbox Game Pass. Some notable larger publishers, like Activision (Call of Duty) and Ubisoft (Assassin's Creed, The Division) were not on the list.
If players prefer to cancel their subscription but keep some of the games afterward, they can buy games permanently at a 20 per cent discount.
Free games for subscribers aren't new to console gaming.
Subscribers to Xbox Live Gold, which is required for online play, are offered a few free games every month. This allows players to slowly build a library of games, as long as they remain a member.
Xbox Game Pass will give players a large library of games from the start.
At $11.99 ($9.99 US), Xbox Game Pass is cheaper than Sony's equivalent, the PlayStation Now streaming service, which currently offer more games but costs $19.99 US a month.
Notably, Xbox Game Pass offers full game downloads.
"That means continuous, full-fidelity gameplay without having to worry about streaming, bandwidth or connectivity issues," unlike Netflix or PlayStation Now, Microsoft said.
Like Netflix, however, the service will add and remove titles on a cycle, with new games being added and some removed every month.
"This is an interesting shift away from traditional premium gaming on consoles, although the viability of the service will likely depend on the quality of the games offered for download and play every month," wrote Polygon's Ben Kuchera.
Beginning today, a preview version of Game Pass with a "very limited number of titles" will be available for members of Xbox Insider — a program that allows gamers to test out unreleased games or services.
A caveat to note, however: Microsoft said "you can expect to run into bugs" in the pre-release version.