We’re just about halfway through 2017, and the year is already shaping up to be one of the greatest in gaming history.
This list of great games we’ve been treated to this year is dizzying. If you’re somehow able to look past major titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Resident Evil 7, you’re still left with a plethora of great under the radar titles such as Persona 5 that may very well be stealing game of the year awards come December.
Yet, the most fascinating release this year isn’t a game, a console, or any other piece of traditional video game content. It’s a service called Xbox Game Pass
For those who don’t know, Xbox Game Pass is a subscription service currently available to Xbox Live Gold users. Those gamers can subscribe to Game Pass for $10 a month and immediately access a library of over 100 games These games can then be downloaded and accessed for as long as the user remains subscribed to Game Pass. Even if a title rotates out when the selection changes month-to-month, they get to keep it.
Technically, this isn’t an unprecedented idea. Services like PlayStation Now and EA Access allow gamers to play a large library of games for a monthly fee.
Where Game Pass distinguishes itself is through sheer value. Game Pass is more expensive than EA Access, but it offers a far greater variety of content. Its library isn’t quite as large as PlayStation Now’s, but Game Pass does feature more modern titles than Sony’s service and allows gamers to download titles rather than stream them.
In short, Game Pass is trying to be the best of all worlds in terms of video game streaming services. It’s trying to be the Netflix of video games.
It’s too early to say whether Game Pass will achieve that lofty goal, but that doesn’t matter this early in the game. What does matter is that Game Pass is arguably the one release this year that nearly every gamer regardless of preference would purchase if they were able to do so.
Yes, Game Pass is a slightly unconventional candidate for the title “Best Release of the Year.” However, that’s the point. It’s trying to shatter the shackles of conventional game releases by offering gamers the chance to play a variety of titles and find new experiences without having to make the commitment of buying a game at full retail price.
In a perfect world, Xbox Game Pass would include some of the individual titles currently in the running for game of the year 2017. Of course, in a perfect world, Netflix would immediately start streaming films the moment they hit theaters. These services aren’t there quite yet.
However, Game Pass has advanced the idea of how a video game subscription service can work by leaps and bounds. Its price is right, its initial library is fantastic, and it’s intuitive to use.
There have been a lot of great games released this year, but Game Pass may be the most exciting release of all.