March’s “Sea of Thieves,” Spring’s frequently delayed “Crackdown 3,” and 2018’s “State of Decay 2” are all due to launch as Xbox One and Windows PC exclusives. All were mentioned by name in Spencer’s Xbox Game Pass update. Future entries to the “Halo,” “Forza,” and “Gears of War” franchises were likewise noted and, though none have yet been announced, it’s conceivable (but by no means inevitable) that they will release towards the end of 2018. All are either developed by Microsoft-owned studios (as with “Sea of Thieves”), or published exclusively by Microsoft Studios for Xbox One and Windows PCs (as with “Crackdown 3” and “State of Decay 2”).
In the Game Pass’s favour is the fact that it is relatively inexpensive. For $9.99 USD per month, subscribers gain access to a rotating catalogue of games, both from Microsoft as well as other publishers. It launched in June 2017 to rival PlayStation’s rolling Instant Game Collection, which is packaged in with subscriptions to online access program PlayStation Plus. On Xbox, that $9.99 Game Pass fee is separate from an existing, optional $59 annual sub to Xbox Live Gold, required for certain aspects of online access on the Xbox One, including multiplayer gaming.
By contrast, Sony’s PlayStation Plus comes in at $59 all told. However, it doesn’t include first-party games at release and adds around four PlayStation 4 games (plus 2 Vita and 2 PS3 titles) to a subscriber’s collection, rather than opening up a selection of 150+ compatible games.
One issue lies in the strength of Xbox One’s slate of exclusives, which has been a little sparse of late.
In 2017, “Halo Wars 2” (February), the “Phantom Dust” remaster (May), and “Forza Motorsport 7” (October) released as first-party console exclusives for Xbox One. “Crackdown 3” was pushed into 2018; “Scalebound” was cancelled. Others, like the acclaimed “Cuphead” and “Cities Skylines,” also available on PC, were developed by outside studios and brought to Xbox under console exclusivity agreements. “Cuphead” became part of the Xbox Play Anywhere program for Xbox One and Windows 10, while “Cities Skylines” didn’t.
But $9.99 a month will still look good to those already set on buying Xbox’s biggest games.
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