Microsoft Unveils New Xbox Game Pass

As streaming services become bigger, more and more businesses are going to take up the model.

First it was food. Companies like Blue Apron and HelloFresh ship pre-portioned, ready-to-cook meals straight to your door. Pick your meals, order on demand, cancel whenever you like. Every year, more and more of these grocery delivery companies open up shop.

Then it was themed boxes. To suggest that there is a themed box subscription service for just about every product under the sun is only slightly hyperbolic. BarkBox – a box subscription delivering dog treats and toys – might be the most famous, but there are subscription services now for razors, T-shirts, toys, hot sauce, craft beer (a good idea, that one) and just about anything else you can think of.

Video game subscription services are also looming on the market. Electronic Arts released Origin Access a couple years ago, and for a low monthly fee, you can play any game on their online catalogue.

Now, Microsoft Studios are unveiling their own subscription service: Xbox Game Pass. The Game Pass works a lot like Netflix. For a modest $10/month, you have unlimited play of any game in the Microsoft catalog, including the Halo and Gears of War franchises.

The big selling point for the Xbox Game Pass, however, is Microsoft’s latest release. Sea of Thieves, which recently made its debut for both PC and console, is the first Microsoft game to be immediately available through their Game Pass. What’s more, Microsoft plans to follow this model for each subsequent release. From now on, their goal is to make each new game immediately available through their game subscription service.

Will the Game Pass actually save you money? That depends. If you’re just signing up to play Sea of Thieves, you’re probably better off just buying the game. Yes, it’s $60, but it will pay for itself in a few months. But if you’re looking at playing through Microsoft Game Studio’s extensive catalogue, this is a killer deal.

“Sea of Thieves” Upcoming Stress Test

After the great reception of its closed beta from two weeks ago, “Sea of Thieves” is set for another weekend of early access. From Feb. 16 to 18, the game will be playable to those who pre-ordered, are part of the game’s founders club or have Xbox Insider. Rare is using this weekend as a much-needed stress test for their server capacity. The closed beta was much buggier than expected.

Though not officially released until March 20th, Rare’s pirate-themed adventure game is making a big splash in the gaming community. Many of the game’s eventual features were leaked in press conferences earlier this week. With plans for supporting the game for at least five years after launch, it seems that “Sea of Thieves” will offer no shortage of fun pirate activities for groups of up to four players. Some of the announced features encourage several groups to work together towards a common objective.

On the other hand, the developers have caught some flack for opening the gates for microtransactions. Game developers have been exploiting this feature for years, and Rare looks excited to jump into the mix. Rare has made great efforts, however, to point out that only cosmetic gear can be purchased with microtransactions. The last thing gamers want is for “Sea of Thieves” to become a pay-to-win affair.

Despite all the new content on the horizon, this weekend’s playable build figures to be a lot like the closed beta from two weeks ago. Rare has made efforts to publicize this weekend as a stress test and not a sample of new content. Unless there’s full beta between now and launch, we’ll have to wait until March 20th to fend off the newly-announced Kraken.