OPINION: It’s become a cliché to bang on about how good Xbox Game Pass is, so it’s hardly an original take for me to tell you that it represents outstanding value and is effectively the ‘Netflix’ of the gaming world.
But one element of Game Pass that I think has gone under the radar is the offering for PC gamers. Xbox Game Pass is usually discussed as a service for Xbox owners, which is understandable given its original name. But I actually believe the PC version of Game Pass has a noticeably better library of games, and therefore has far broader appeal than just those who own an Xbox One, Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X.
It’s clear that Microsoft thinks the PC side of Game Pass is being under-appreciated too, as it announced it would be rebranding ‘Xbox Game Pass for PC’, to a far more suitable ‘PC Game Pass’.
For just £7.99 per month, PC Game Pass not only has all of the same major exclusives as Xbox Game Pass (including the likes of Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, Doom Eternal and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim) but also features some of the very best PC games to launch in the last few years.
PC Game Pass features gems such as Among Us, Age of Empire IV, Crusader Kings 3 and Humankind. And while the likes of Cities: Skyline, Football Manger 2022, Frostpunk, Stellaris and Tropico 6 all have console editions available on Xbox Game Pass, these titles are all arguably best experienced on PC since their better suited to a keyboard and mouse.
I’m also impressed that Microsoft has been able to add some older PC classics to the service. Age of Empires II, Europa Universalis IV, Sim City 4, Spore and The Sims 3 all feature on PC Game Pass, but are inaccessible when playing on an Xbox.
PC Game Pass only looks to be improving too, with Microsoft confirming that the likes of Total War: Warhammer III will be heading over to the service on day one of launch. That’s a major coup for Microsoft, and also makes me hopeful that older Total War games could also make the jump over to the service in the future.
It’s not just about the games either. The cloud-streaming feature, xCloud, is now available on both Xbox and PC, but I reckon it’s far more useful on the latter platform. If you’ve got a low-powered laptop and don’t want to empty your bank account by purchasing an all-powerful gaming laptop, then PC Game Pass allows you to play via the cloud instead once you’ve subscribed to the Ultimate plan.
That’s an obvious use case for xCloud, while using it on an Xbox only really means you don’t have to bother with downloads. Streaming via the cloud also limits the resolution and frame rate of a game, making xCloud far less appealing when used on a console. This yet again shows that Microsoft isn’t treating PC players as an afterthought with Game Pass, as they’re arguably getting more useful features than Xbox owners.
With all that said, I want to clarify that I’m not trying to encourage a rivalry between PC Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass subscribers – both services are fantastic after all, and if you subscribe to the Ultimate plan, you get both bundled together anyway.
Instead, I just wanted to emphasise that PC Game Pass isn’t a substandard version of Xbox Game Pass, as it offers all of the same games while also adding some PC exclusives on top.
Now Microsoft has changed the name to distance it from the Xbox branding, I hope more people will begin to realise that Game Pass is a fantastic option for gamers who aren’t in the Xbox ecosystem. In fact, PC Game Pass is arguably one of the best things to happen to PC gamers since the launch of Steam.