The recent X019 event unveiled a huge amount of new features and content coming to Xbox in the near future, including new games, upcoming deals, and limited edition hardware. The event also unveiled a huge amount of information surrounding Xbox Game Pass, a service which has grown massively in popularity over time.
Not only were a bevy of new games revealed or teased for Game Pass, but the number of titles on Game Pass for PC expanded as well. Several of the newly announced titles are already available, while many brand new IPs and classic games will be coming in the near future. Microsoft also made it a point to make Game Pass as appealing as possible, presenting deals for newcomers. Perhaps the most interesting development is the expansion of the service into the PC-gaming sphere. This new direction is important to keep an eye on with the ongoing renaissance in game streaming, subscription services, and digital-only content continuing to rapidly develop before the gaming community's eyes.
The first thing that any newcomers to Game Pass Ultimate should know is that the first three months of the service are currently only $1 total for anyone who hasn't tried it before. This includes access to both console and PC titles, making it extremely appealing to those with enough hardware to take advantage of the offer. Not only this, but Black Friday deals were announced at the event as well.
At the same time, Microsoft has stated that all eligible Game Pass Ultimate members will get a free month of EA Access, 3 months of Discord Nitro, and 6 months of Spotify Premium.
The Halo games are one of the crowning jewels of the Xbox, stretching back to the launch of the original console. Halo: Reach is easily one of the best games in the series, and it is being added to the Master Chief Collection on December 3rd. This is great news for any Halo fan, and it makes the appeal of the collection that much greater for anyone who wants to jump into one of the best greatest FPS series ever created. The Master Chief Collection, with all six of its great titles, will finally be available on PC as well for a price of $39.99. Reach will be offered for an additional 9.99. Of course, those with Xbox Game Pass will have access to all of these titles as a part of the service, which will likely prove too good to pass up for many. The bundle will be updated to include Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach on console.
On par with the Master Chief Collection, the Final Fantasy series is coming to Xbox Game Pass for both console and PC in 2020. These legendary Square Enix games have left an indelible mark on gaming history, and all are worth playing today. Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII Remastered, Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster, Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age, Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, and Final Fantasy XV will all be included.
The Yakuza games are brilliant, criminally underrated titles that swing from serious storytelling to wildly entertaining side content like an amped-up metronome. The cult classics Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami 1, and Yakuza Kiwami 2 will all be coming to Xbox soon, and will also be available on Game Pass. These incredible, quirky titles deserve to reach a wider audience, and their availability on Game Pass promises just that.
Obsidian has had something of a heyday recently, growing from cult classics like Pillars of Eternity to a major hit with The Outer Worlds (not to be confused with Outer Wilds). Grounded represents a complete shift in direction for Obsidian, however. Instead of a deep, story-driven RPG with a huge amount of freedom, Grounded is a survival game set in a back yard. The player character has been shrunk down to a minuscule size and will have to survive in a now gigantic world. The title will be available on Game Pass in the spring, and should be very intriguing to anyone who wants to see how Obsidian can inject their successful style into a genre they haven't tackled before.
Rare, the makers of all-time greats like Banjo Kazooie, also announced a new IP, Everwild.
Age of Empires IV revealed its first gameplay trailer at X019, but for those who can't wait for the newest Age of Empires game's release, there is another option. The classic title Age of Empires II is getting remastered 4K graphics and a new expansion titled "The Last Khans." It is available now on PC through Game Pass as well as Steam.
Another new game launching on Xbox Game Pass is Wasteland 3, set for May 19, 2020. This 80s-style post-apocalypse RPG that takes place in a frozen Colorado wasteland. This is a promising title, and is yet another game to look forward to on both Xbox and PC.
Other Games of Note
A huge number of games were announced for Game Pass, so what follows is a collection of just a few of the others to look out for: Age of Wonders: Planetfall, Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet Edition, Rage 2, and Remnant: From the Ashes are all available on Game Pass now, among others.
Just a few of the many games coming to Game Pass later in 2020 are: Darksiders III (Console & PC), It Lurks Below (Console & PC), Life Is Strange 2: Episodes 4 & 5 (Console), Pandemic (PC), She Dreams Elsewhere (Console & PC), Streets of Rage 4 (Console & PC), Tekken 7 (Console), The Escapists 2 (Console), The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Console), Microsoft Flight Simulator (PC), and Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Console & PC).
The Future of Microsoft's Gaming Ecosystem
On the surface, all of this is simply Microsoft expanding one of their most popular services, but it is indicative of a larger sea-change in the way that games are being sold, consumed, and experienced. In the past, games were sold as individual copies to be owned permanently and consumed on a single, specific piece of hardware. Now, as subscription services like Game Pass and streaming services like Google Stadia expand, the possibility of experiencing games across a single account on a console and PC, or just streaming them to any device, becomes ever more viable.
In the past, the best way to play a game was to own a copy. This model will likely shift towards subscription services, which may do to traditional gaming platforms what Netflix did to Blockbuster. It remains to be seen which new model will earn the most long-term success, and how such a drastic change in the industry will alter the way that games are made. Video streaming has completely changed shows and movies in innumerable ways, both good and bad. Game streaming and subscriptions will likewise change how developers profit from their work, and thus the kinds of games that get made.