Microsoft is investing yet more money in its Xbox Game Pass service, with a range of announcements that are really beginning to give some credence to the idea that it’s the ‘Netflix of games’ – huge apologies for rolling out that overused phrase again.
The key announcement among many was the addition of some highly-desirable day-and-date releases being added to Game Pass: action RPG Ashen, co-op shooter Warhammer Vermintide, turn-based Phoenix Point and comedy adventure Afterparty. All well thought of games, and all of which will now be included on the service the day they launch on console.
The company announced its FastStart technology, though details were thin on the ground. It apparently uses AI machine learning to reduce the amount of data it needs to download before you can start playing any title, which should half the amount of time it takes to get started. This will launch later this month.
To provide some more immediate reasons to get players signing up, Microsoft has signed up The Division, the first major Ubisoft title on the service. That’s potentially good business for both of them, as Ubisoft will potentially engage a whole new round of players before the Division 2 launches next year.
Also added were Elder Scrolls Online Tamriel Unlimited (again another potential earner for Bethesda in the long term), and Fallout 4, which could whet appetites for Fallout 76. THose are some seriously hefty games too, with hundreds of hours of play.
Microsoft also reiterated its promise to bring its exclusives day-and-date to the service, including Forza Horizon 4 and Crackdown 3. Plus subscribers will get more back catalogue, such as Halo: Master Chief Collection later this year – presumably to get everyone ready for Halo Infinite.
Ashley Speicher, lead engineer on Game Pass, said: "We’ve never had so many games to play… so we’ve set out to solve the problem of having to choose one game over another.. and not only are you playing more games, but spending more time playing them… which leads to greater discovery and more fun."