On Monday, July 17th, Microsoft announced that they would be doing away with their well-established subscription service Games with Gold on September 14th, and the service will be replaced with Game Pass Core. Let’s talk a little bit about the updates in subscription services that we will be seeing and what Microsoft plans entail.
Allow me to start by highlighting a little bias that I may have – I have been a Gold subscriber for almost the entire duration of the program, which has been well over two decades at this point. If you are unfamiliar with the program, allow me to give you a bit of a breakdown. Xbox Live Gold began on the original Xbox system on November 15th of, 2002 and came to prominence with the popularity of online multiplayer games such as Halo 2. This service stayed greatly the same for a little over a decade.
However, July of 2013 saw the dawning of a new era – Games with Gold. This was initially an incentive program to motivate people to continue their Gold subscriptions by providing free Xbox 360 games each month. It’s clear that this was also a move to tempt users to migrate over to the new Xbox One which would be released in November of 2013.
Games with Gold wasn’t just a move to push subscriptions. With the release of the Xbox One, Microsoft initiated a monumental shift in gaming – backward compatibility. This was far from a small move. Nintendo had always had some semblance of backward compatibility when it came to their portable systems. Still, as things stood at the time of release, Microsoft was the only competitor that was able to implement the ability to play both digital and physical games from a previous generation on a home console.
This eventually evolved into Xbox One subscribers getting four free games each month. 2 for Xbox 360 and 2 for Xbox One. This was another incentive for Xbox 360 owners to migrate to the newer platform as they could still redeem the Xbox One titles and have a free library of games to start them out when they got their new system. Eventually, this grew to include the original Xbox titles in backward compatibility as well. This worked for me and is the reason that I eventually broke down and migrated to the new system.
Fast-forward another four years, and we are introduced to a new evolution in digital game distribution and backward compatibility – Game Pass. A streaming service similar to a video game version of Netflix would provide users with 100 games on demand. Game Pass has certainly gone through an ebb and flow as it has grown, but this brings us forward to the present day. So let us take a look at the offerings proposed by Microsoft moving forward with their transition from Games with Gold to Game Pass Core subscriptions.
Replacing the two free games each month, Games with Gold subscribers will be met with a catalogue of 25 games as well as their previous benefits of Online Multiplayer, deals, and discounts. This Core package will not change in price, and all redeemed Xbox 360 games will be available to users forever, whereas Xbox One titles redeemed will still be attached to active membership.
I’m not incredibly impressed by the catalogue of games that have been confirmed will be available for Core subscribers – not that they are bad by any means, just not too exciting. There is also a “Console” plan for $1 more per month that will provide you with all of the games on the Game Pass Console, Day One releases, deals, and discounts. Note that the “Console” subscription does not mention Online Multiplayer – which seems to be a little short-sighted considering a decent number of the offerings on Game Pass are online multiplayer games. I personally have been an Ultimate subscriber since the offering was made available, as I like having access to the EA Play membership and PC titles. Not to mention, sometimes you don’t want to wait for a game to completely install before testing it out to see if you like it – so Cloud gaming is an incredibly cool offering (Cloud also allows you to play Xbox X/S games on Xbox One as well- and that ain’t too shabby).
So, what do you all think of the new Game Pass Core subscription tier? Let us know on our socials! Looking for new games to play this week? Check out our Weekly Release article for July 17th! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter or Instagram for updates and news! We also recently started our YouTube channel for our Q&As!