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Microsoft launches all-digital PUBG Xbox One bundle – sadly there’s no grass growing out of it

The Xbox One version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds just got out the door in 2017, with barely a couple of weeks to spare. That’s not the best time to be bothering retailers with a new console bundle, so it’s understandable that Microsoft has waited a few weeks before launching this one.

It was kind of inevitable that it would, with the game being Microsoft’s key exclusive of last year, and with over four million copies of the game sold on Xbox already. The bundle is priced at £250, though street price is bound to be lower than that.

Unusually, PUBG is still in its Game Preview Edition, so purchasers can expect some rough edges to the game as it’s still being tuned up. Selling such a game to current Xbox owners is one thing, but it’s a bit more of a risk when it’s someone’s first experience of the console.

It’s also only available as a digital download, physical copies of the game contained no disc just a code. Now Microsoft has sold code-only bundles for some time, but with the inclusion here of a month’s worth of Xbox Game Pass it’s a trend-setter for the future of bundles. And with a 1TB drive there’s plenty of space for downloads.

Then there’s two weeks of Xbox Live included, which consumers will need to play the multiplayer-only PUBG. In short, anyone buying this bundle is being led firmly down the digital path from day one, and will be paying Microsoft for the pleasure of playing the only included game very shortly after.

Microsoft strongly believes that such services are the future of gaming and this is exactly the kind of ‘onboarding’ bundle that is going to sell them. Of course, it still needs retailers to sell such a bundle in the first place and that’s where potential friction lies. 

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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