This year was the first-ever joint Microsoft-Bethesda E3 press conference. Overall, the presentation delivered a promising vision of the future of Xbox, building on the past few years of good will that the brand has fostered. The event started strong, with a release date reveal for Starfield, and it kept going from there.
Psychonauts 2 got a release date, and Halo Infinite got a release window. We got loads of surprises, like A Plague Tale: Requiem and Redfall. But the real winner of this conference? Hands down, it’s Xbox Game Pass. It’s not even a contest.
The Ultimate Xbox Exclusive
Every E3, the age-old console war debate always comes up. Which is better, Xbox or PlayStation? For years now, PlayStation has been a dominant force with its powerhouse exclusives. Whether you like or hate Ellie and Kratos, it’s hard to deny that their games dominated the mainstream conversation when they launched.
Instead of combating PlayStation with its own version of The Last of Us, Xbox went for a different angle: consumer convenience. Every year, Game Pass continues getting better as more titles find a home there.
This year, 27 games were announced for the subscription service, and among them are some of the most exciting titles to come. Games like Starfield, Halo Infinite, Age of Empires IV, and Forza Horizon 5 will easily be day-one purchases for some people. However, everyone has different tastes, meaning that some games will garner more hype than others.
Some people will only be excited for some of these games, only pre-ordering maybe one or two right after the presentation. Yet, with all four of those games — and more — coming to Game Pass, all the money goes to one place. Whenever someone thinks, “Wow, that game looks cool,” there’s a good chance that results in a Game Pass subscription.
The Beginning of a New Era for Xbox
For years now, pundits and outlets have said something like, “Xbox Game Pass is a great deal.” It’s not necessarily that Game Pass has that one killer app on it; instead, the service itself is the killer app. That’s about to change, though.
Xbox may have been a little lacking in exclusives for the past couple years, but this year’s E3 conference spun a different tale. Whether you like Xbox or PlayStation exclusives more is really up to personal taste, but the financial offer in Game Pass will almost always be a big feather in Microsoft’s cap. Even if you like PlayStation exclusives more, they’re still going to be $70 a pop.
Meanwhile, by tapping into a subscription business model, Microsoft creates the illusion of saving players some money. Not only that, but Game Pass builds on the massive success seen in the streaming wars. Services like Netflix and Hulu have created a new market, where consumers want new content on demand without worrying about an upfront cost. Now, instead of that new content being Bo Burnham’s 87-minute Inside, it’s the nearly infinite hours of Forza Horizon 5.
Let’s not forget, between all the heavy hitters lies a bevy of smaller yet equally exciting titles. New releases like Slime Rancher 2 and Twelve Minutes will hit Game Pass on day one. Little-known indie gem Hades isn’t just making its way to a new console — it’s hitting the console’s premier service.
Bringing the Games to the Players
The little cherry on top of all these announcements is that a majority of these games are making their way to the newest part of Game Pass: Cloud gaming. Today, Xbox offers a variety of games that you can stream to your phone, many of which can be played by touch.
In other words, you don’t even need a controller to play games like Two Point Hospital, Sea of Thieves, or Dragon Quest XI right there on your phone, assuming you have a decent internet connection. With a controller, your options expand even more.
Mobile gaming might not be for everyone, but that’s missing the point. Xbox isn’t trying to make one thing appeal to everyone. Instead, the brand is trying to appeal to everyone by bringing the content to them. If a player prefers mobile gaming, they don’t have to miss out on Xbox’s biggest games. If a player prefers lounging on the couch in front of their 4K TV, they’re already covered. If a player wants to play on keyboard and mouse, a majority of those exclusives will hit Game Pass for PC, too.
At the end of the day, that’s been Xbox’s brand promise since Game Pass became a central part of its business model. However, with all the exciting exclusive software announced today, that promise has never felt as strong as it did today.
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