Xbox Game Pass Overview and Highlights

May 27, 2017

On Thursday, Xbox announced the launch of Xbox Game Pass, a new subscription service that launches officially on 1 June, although it’s already available to Xbox Live Gold members in an early access program. Xbox Game Pass gives Xbox One owners access to a special catalogue of over 100 games, which are comprised of both Xbox 360 Backwards Compatible and Xbox One titles. You can download a game and play it as much as you want, but only as long as your subscription lasts. If you decide you want to keep a certain game outside the subscription, Game Pass offers you the choice of buying it outright, at a discounted price.

At AU $10.95 a month, it’s a very attractively priced option to instantly have access to a huge library of games. If you’ve just bought an Xbox One and want to build your game library, having instant access to a huge range of games in a Netflix-like service is absolutely ideal. I’ve had a toy around with Game Pass, and while it has its pros and cons, it’s certainly a service with great potential.

There Are Great (but Older) AAA Titles

Impressively, Xbox has put out quite a few AAA franchises on Game Pass. Halo 5: Guardians headlines the service, alongside every Gears of War release (aside from Gears of War 4), the Bioshock trilogy, Payday 2, Saints Row IV: Re-elected, WWE 2K16 and NBA2k16. While none of these are incredibly recent, and some of them can be bought quite cheaply these days, they are all pretty solid titles that collectively more than make up for the $10.95 a month price.

Some Cool Indie and Niche Titles Made it in Too

Classic indie games like Braid, The Swapper, Stacking, Ms. Splosion Man, Layers of Fear and Brothers are currently all up on the service. PlayStation’s Plus service has become well known for relying mostly on indie game releases over the last few years, for better or worse, but it’s good to see a good range of indie titles available on Game Pass, especially ones that are mostly well reviewed and have generally positive response among players.

There’s also a few niche titles to sweeten the deal, like Resident Evil 0 for classic horror fans and Sam & Max Save the World/Beyond Time & Space and The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 for point-and-click adventure fans.

Currently, Most of the Games are from Xbox 360

Not that there’s anything wrong with games from last generation, but it is something to be aware of. Out of 105 games currently available on the Australian Game Pass service, 70 are Xbox 360 Backwards Compatible titles, which means only a third of the library is current-gen. It’s great that Xbox is delving into the back catalogue to flesh out content for Game Pass, although the Backwards Compatibility is still a little awkward with loading the mini 360-dashboard and interface within each game.

Retro Fans Should be Happy

One category that stands out in the Game Pass catalogue is its expansive Retro section, with quite a few ports, remasters and collections. The cynic in me says that they’re here to pad out the number of titles, since they’re comparatively cheaper, but there’s still a lot of quality content here. Included are Soul Calibur and Soul Calibur IIBanjo Kazooie, Banjo Tooie, Megaman Legacy Collection, Pac Man Museum, Capcom Arcade Cabinet, Comix Zone, The King of Fighters ’98, Metal Slug 3, NeoGeo Battle Coliseum II and four Sega Vintage Collections.

The Jank is Minimal, For Now

While the Game Pass library isn’t exceptionally recent, it is mostly made up of tried and tested, good quality games. There’s only really a couple of holes where mediocre titles like Bound by Flame, Kameo and Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts have snuck in. It would be easy for Xbox to flood the catalogue with Xbox 360 shovelware to blow out the number of titles available, just for the sake of having a larger number, but for now the selection is relatively sensible.


If you sign up for Xbox Game Pass and expect instant access to the biggest games from the last two years, you’re going to come away disappointed. The catalogue seems to be the result of a fine balance between what games would be affordable/profitable for Xbox to include, yet still remain quality titles that people would want to play. At the moment, I would say it’s great value for AU $10.95 a month, especially if there’s a number of titles you haven’t played yet; although I can foresee a potential future where the catalogue becomes bloated with jank that’s not selling on the Xbox Store. You can have a look at the full catalogue for yourself and be the judge at the official Xbox Australia website.