Microsoft's Xbox strategy is really getting it right

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, January 5, 2022, 11:00 PM | comments: 0

I've only intermittently subscribed to the Xbox Live service, because I don't really play online with others. For a long time I subscribed just because I stocked up on codes when I could get them cheap as a Microsoft employee, and then through friends. When they started doing Game Pass, I groaned at first, but now that I've had it, I think it's totally the right strategy.

I think it's worth it because they've also backed away from the console being the center of the universe. New games that they're publishing run on the aging Xbox One as well as the new boxes, and many also run on Windows. The big franchise games, Halo and Forza, are included in the subscription, as well as a bunch of EA titles and entire series that I haven't played, like Gears of War, Elder Scrolls, Fallout and such. If you pay full price, and you shouldn't because there are periodic deals, it's $15 a month, or $180 a year. You can access over a hundred games, and it includes Windows games. Heck, it makes Solitaire on my phone ad-free. I figure, one big franchise game typically costs $60, so if I play through three of them a year, I'm getting my money's worth. There are great time wasters in there too, like Tetris. On the PC they have huge games like Flight Simulator.

The other exciting thing, which is currently beta, is that you can play cloud-based games. The video resolution isn't great, but that means the game fires up virtually on an Xbox in a data center somewhere and you don't have to install anything. Some stuff even works on the phone! Again, the device itself has become less important. I didn't need the new machine to play the new Halo, and that's awesome.

I'm honestly not crazy about subscription services, especially for music, but I think this is really fantastic. It would be nice if it included some of the Lego titles, but it's still a really good deal. With a Christmas gift, we're hooked up until March 2023 now. I've played through Halo Infinite campaign, and I'm still going through and collecting stuff in the optional missions. I started to play Psychonauts 2, widely praised by critics, but I waited too long and don't remember how to play, so I have to restart. I've been playing Forza Horizon 5 and having fun with that.

I totally need to get off the couch, but I haven't played many video games in recent years because I'm not adventurous enough to spend $60+ on something that might not be good. I'm sure I'll have to buy LEGO Star Wars: Skywalker Saga in the next few months, but that's a sure thing. We love those games.


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