Sony already offers the Playstation Now subscription service to their console users which includes over 450 titles for $19.99 per month and over on the Xbox One Electronic Arts offers their EA Access subscription option for a small selection of their game titles for just $4.99 per month.
Microsoft has decided it is time for them to offer their own subscription based gaming service that will give users access to a library of games that will contain over 100 titles including Xbox One and Backwards Compatible Xbox 360 titles and it will cost subscribers just $9.99 per month.
According to Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft's Xbox division, the Xbox Game Pass will arrive later this Spring. I suspect it might just be in April alongside of the release of the Windows 10 Creators Update because some of these titles will also work with Windows 10. Access to this library of games will allow you to download each title to your console and have unlimited time to play them. You will be able to take advantage of games with multi-player features and earn all of the achievements and gamer score along the way.
The Xbox Game Pass FAQ indicates that the library of games will not remain static and titles will be added each month. As long as you are an active subscriber and the game is in the library than you will be able to play the game without any problems. Members of the Xbox Game Pass program will also be able to purchase games from the library and get an instant 20% discount plus 10% off any DLC/Add-Ons they buy for the game while it is in the library.
Purchased games stay in your library even after you cancel the subscription but any other games will no longer be available once you cancel your Xbox Game Pass.
Testing of this new library of games begins today with members of the Xbox Insider Program Alpha Preview Ring and Spencer says this is an important part of the subscriptions roll out:
"It’s important to us that Xbox Game Pass provides an enjoyable and seamless experience. Before the program rolls out to the broader community later this spring, we’ll be testing Xbox Game Pass with select members of the Xbox Insider Program in the Alpha Preview ring starting today with a very limited number of titles. The titles that are available in Preview are just a small glimpse at the expansive catalog of games that will be available when Xbox Game Pass launches this spring. Xbox Live Gold members will also be receiving exclusive access to Xbox Game Pass prior to the program launching to the broader community. We’ll have more details on timing closer to launch."
Although Xbox Live Gold is not needed to subscribe to the Xbox Game Pass a XBL Gold subscription will be necessary to play multi-player titles from the library. Another benefit for Xbox Live Gold members will be getting early access to the subscription before its general release to the public this Spring.
On a personal note, I am an EA Access subscriber and the biggest secret to that subscription is to be patient for a title to show up in the library and not buy it on release day or shortly thereafter. I have failed at that 100% of the time on a couple of my favorite titles like PGA Tour and Madden NFL but the Xbox Game Pass presents an even bigger challenge in this area.
There are a lot more titles in the overall Xbox One and Xbox 360 Backwards Compatibility Library so that means a much smaller percentage of those games will eventually make their way into the subscription pool. That means it is not going to be nearly as easy to predict what will show up because this library is across many more developers/companies than just one like EA Access covers.
The first library release will give us a good indicator of what kind of mix the games will be from both a genre and age of the title perspective.