Out of the 30 or so games featured on Microsoft and Bethesda’s E3 2021 show, 27 of them will be available at launch on Xbox Game Pass. This is a big deal not just for Xbox, but also the future of the entire gaming industry. Let’s discuss.
For most discerning gamers on a limited budget, I think, the decision to purchase this or that next-gen console probably involves some consideration of exclusives. If you’re a Mario or Zelda fan, for example, Nintendo’s console is the obvious choice. EZPZ. Exclusives are important like that, so up to and even subsequent to the 2020 launch of the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 consoles and who got what for Xmas, Microsoft and Sony’s franchise prospects have inevitably been a subject of some contention. That’s mostly because – real talk, kids – Sony has multiple PS5 games out now or in the queue, including Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Returnal, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Horizon Forbidden West, and a new God of War, and Microsoft has… Halo Infinite? Until this week, anyway.
But besides the announcements of Starfield, Forza Horizon 5, Redfall, and one or two intriguing indies, the number of super compelling Xbox exclusives is limited. Microsoft, it seems, is banking on its Xbox Game Pass subscription service instead.
First introduced in 2017 with about 100 games, Xbox Game Pass has since expanded to over 300 games and 20 million subscribers. And for R99 per month, that limited number of super compelling Xbox exclusives has become increasingly irrelevant to a lot of subscribers. Who could’ve predicted it? Me, actually. LIKE A BOSS.
“With Microsoft’s recent acquisition of ZeniMax Media, previous acquisitions like Obsidian, inXile, Ninja Theory, and other studios, and simultaneous launch on Xbox Game Pass for first-party games, the company’s focus going into the next-gen is its subscription service,” I wrote back in September. “For the moment, we don’t know whether or not games like the inevitable Fallout 5 will be exclusive to Xbox and Windows PC, but I’m not convinced that it even matters much. From a gamer’s perspective, those must-have exclusives launch once or twice a year. Xbox Game Pass has something new to play every weekend.”
And by 2022, you won’t even need an Xbox Series X/S console to play those new games – this week, Microsoft is also talking about supporting next-gen games on Xbox One and mobile devices via its Xbox Cloud Gaming service.
Sony has the exclusives now, maybe, but Microsoft has the innovation for tomorrow. Game on.