Yesterday, Microsoft unveiled the Xbox Game Pass, a new subscription service that gives players access to a rotating selection of Xbox One and Xbox 360 games. Now, the company has pledged that the Xbox Game Pass won’t affect the quality of titles offered as part of the Games with Gold bonus for Xbox Live subscribers.
“Games with Gold and Xbox Game Pass are two different service offerings with unique benefits,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Kotaku shortly after Xbox Game Pass was unveiled. The representative went on to delineate exactly what separates the two programs.
“Games with Gold is an added benefit specific to Xbox Live Gold members that rewards players with two to four free games each month to enjoy,” explained the spokesperson. “Xbox Game Pass is a subscription-based service that gives you unlimited access to over 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 backward compatible games for Xbox One for $9.99 USD per month.”
Microsoft has confirmed that users won’t need an Xbox Live subscription to use the Xbox Game Pass, unless they’re planning on playing online. The library of games available will be updated on a monthly basis, with games sometimes leaving — although there’s currently no word on how often titles will be removed from the selection.
The fact that Microsoft is pitching the Xbox Game Pass as a completely separate program to Games with Gold seems to be good news for players. The best case scenario for the company is that Xbox owners feel the need to maintain an Xbox Game Pass subscription as well as an Xbox Live Gold membership, and if that’s going to be the case, both services need to have a compelling game library.
If the Xbox Game Pass starts cannibalizing the best games offered via Games with Gold, Xbox owners have one less reason to subscribe to Xbox Live. It’s in Microsoft’s best interests to ensure that both services stand on their own, and complement one another.
Of course, we’ll have to wait until the Xbox Game Pass has been officially rolled out to see whether or not the service lives up to expectations. The program is currently available to members of the Xbox Insider program for testing, and its official launch is scheduled for this spring.