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Xbox Game Pass' success isn’t entirely down to value

I love Xbox Game Pass, but value isn’t why.

An Xbox Series S, with a lot of games scattered around it, fades into some green-hued British money.
Image credit: VG247

It’s been widely reported that Xbox added approximately $5k worth of games to Game Pass in 2023. That’s a great number. Amazing value, you could say, given at its most expensive a year of Game Pass Ultimate would set you back just over $200.

The following statement isn’t true, but that stat might lead some to say YOU are saving $4800 a year. Incredible! Of course, it’s highly unlikely you were going to buy every game added to Game Pass in 2023. But (excuse the use of “but” to start the sentence there, I needed some dramatic effect) making Game Pass all about value is doing the sprawling games catalogue subscription a disservice. For me, Game Pass is mostly about discovery... the freedom (from burgeoning costs) to give things a go.

It’s obviously great to get big, hyped games on Game Pass. Towards the end of 2023 we got Starfield and Forza Motorsport – two games I would have bought if Game Pass didn’t exist – but Game Pass feels more special when something surprises you. Without thinking too hard (mainly because I only allotted 45 minutes to write this), I’ve had this feeling with Tunic, Cocoon, PowerWash Simulator, Everspace 2, and Remnant 2. All well-regarded games, for sure, but not safe buys as far as I’m concerned.

I always liked the look of Tunic, but generally I don’t get on well with old-school Zelda/Souls clones. I wouldn’t have bought it. Cocoon is an incredible puzzle game, but its trailers didn’t grab me and I’ve been burned on obtuse puzzle games in the past. I wouldn’t have bought it. PowerWash Simulator is a game about cleaning things with water. I wouldn’t have bought it. Everspace 2 is an epic space adventure, but you can’t get out of your ship. I wouldn’t have bought it. Remnant 2 is a Soulslike sequel to a game I didn’t play and I massively dislike most Soulslikes. I wouldn’t have bought it. Do you see what I’m saying?

Triptych of images featuring the player character, a small cute fox, in Tunic.
No fox given for Tunic. | Image credit: Finji

Three of those games now sit amongst my favorites of all time and the other two among the best of 2023. I can’t say for sure what would have happened if I didn’t have a Game Pass sub, but there’s a very strong chance I wouldn’t have played any of them. I’d have missed out on some incredible gaming experiences and been left with Starfield and Forza Motorsport – one bored me and the other isn’t finished, you decide which.

I’m old enough to remember magazine cover discs, back when I didn’t spend hours contemplating death or worrying about my retirement pot. The Official PlayStation Magazine in particular, in my world, represents the pinnacle of discovery that era offered (sorry PC fans, I was a console boy). I’d look forward to trying out new games, most of which I’d never have had a chance to play if the demos hadn’t existed. Today we’re lucky to get a beta for a multiplayer game a few months before launch. I love the fact that, today, my son can use Game Pass to go wild and see what sticks. A fiver in 1995 is probably worth about the same today as the cost of Game Pass, so there’s some sense to this comparison.

So yes, Xbox Game Pass is incredible value if you look at it purely from a monetary point of view. I’m sure this is great for starting arguments on social media, but I’m more enamored by what Game Pass has given people that they simply would have missed out on. This, for me, is Game Pass’s greatest accomplishment.

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Access hundreds of great games for Xbox and PC when you become a Game Pass member. Benefits include playing new games on day one, enjoying new game additions each month, plus you can get exclusive member discounts and other free perks. Choose from Xbox Game Pass, PC Game Pass, or a Game Pass Ultimate subscription so that you can play all your favourite games on your console, gaming PC or on your phone, tablet or TV using cloud. Prices start from just £7.99 per month from Microsoft, or you can support our site when you buy Game Pass subscriptions from our eShop.

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