Microsoft on Wednesday announced a release date for Xbox Game Pass, a subscription program that enables players to pay a monthly fee in exchange for access to over 100 games. The service will roll out to all Xbox players on June 1 and cost $9.99 per month.
Those who already subscribe to Xbox Live were given an added bonus: early access to the service along with a 14-day free trial.
Xbox Game Pass boasts a healthy lineup of popular Xbox One games, including Halo 5: Guardians, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, NBA 2K16, and Sunset Overdrive. To get up to and past the 100 game mark, Microsoft has also dug into its library of backward-compatible Xbox 360 games for the service. Popular Xbox 360 releases included in Xbox Game pass include all three titles in the BioShock trilogy, all Xbox 360 Gears of War titles, Fable III, and XCOM: Enemy Within.
Microsoft has long been looking for ways to differentiate itself from Sony’s PlayStation 4 offerings, and Xbox Game Pass appears to be another attempt. The service is aimed at expanding the Xbox One’s customer base by lowering the cost of entry for a new console buyer. Instead of having to buy hardware and then plunk down additional cash to purchase games, a player can subscribe to Xbox Game pass and instantly have a catalog of over 100 games for the Xbox One. Add to that the fact that Xbox Live subscribers receive at least four free titles (two Xbox One and two Xbox 360) every month, and Microsoft’s plan to become a budget-friendly console comes into focus.
While Xbox Game Pass in its current iteration is comprised mostly of older Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles, the service could one day serve as the launch home for brand new games.
“[Subscription services] might spur new story-based games coming to market because there’s a new business model to help support their monetisation,” said Xbox head Phil Spencer in an interview with The Guardian.
Spencer’s goal is for Xbox Game Pass to become as ubiquitous as Netflix, and for it to spur the creation of new, experimental content in much the same way the streaming video service has.
As Game Pass finds its legs, we’ll see whether or not it can live up to that vision.