The last time we visited the console wars, it seemed like Sony was edging towards a win, with fewer exclusives on Microsoft's Xbox and also the fact that you could play them on a PC, too.
That all changed at this year's E3, and for gamers, this is why we need healthy competition.
About the Xbox Game Pass
If you’re not familiar with the Xbox Game Pass, it essentially is a monthly subscription with Microsoft that allows you to play whatever game that they have in the Game Pass library either on your Xbox or the PC. Sorta like Netflix, but for games.
Most games in the library are made for the Xbox, but there are a few titles that are also playable on the PC. So far, there’s a total of more than 100 games available to play through the Game Pass library.
Prices start at S$14.90 per month for an Xbox-only Game Pass, while the Game Pass library for the PC goes for a slightly higher S$14.99.
But what if you need the Game Pass for both the Xbox and the PC? You only pay a total sum of S$19.99 a month for the Ultimate version that gives you access to both the Xbox and PC Game Pass.
The Ultimate version also includes a month’s subscription to Xbox Live Gold, which is essential to play online-enabled games on the Xbox.
The biggest kicker about the Game Pass is perhaps the ability to cancel your subscription at any time (besides the fact that the first 3 months of subscription is only $1).
So, yes, if you are able to play and finish all the games that you want to play within the month that you purchased your subscription, you are free to cancel the subscription until something else pops up in the library that catches your eye.
What does the PlayStation have?
Sony offers the PS Plus subscription for S$53.90 a year (this can be cheaper with discounts), or S$8.90 a month, which allows the PlayStation user to play online games (akin to the Xbox Live Subscription), and offers PS plus subscribers a free game for the PlayStation 4 and 5 a month.
The thing is, Sony will not divulge which games are going to be the free games of the next month till a week or two before the current month is up. From past records, very rarely does Sony offer a game that is new as the free game.
Sony does have the PS Now streaming service, which is similar to the Xbox Game Pass, but it's as yet unavailable in Southeast Asia with local pricing, so we're unable to do a fair comparison right now.
What does this mean for gamers?
Now with that out of the way, at E3, Microsoft unveiled many games that are coming to the Xbox, and most of the games will be available on launch day on the Xbox Game Pass.
Games like Microsoft’s Flight Simulator, Left 4 Dead’s spiritual successor Back 4 Blood, and Halo: Infinite, among many others, are available to Xbox Game Pass subscribers on the day the game launches.
This means that you could just pay US$19.99 to play any of these games on launch day, and if you don’t like the game, you could just delete it off your hard drive, and proceed to play another game in the Game Pass library.
This is extremely generous for months that have multiple titles releasing at a go. Instead of paying the full price for a game that you may want to try (and that is hefty if you have two to three games that you would like to buy in a month), you are able to just pay a fixed sum to try out and play those games.
Sure, not a lot of AAA games will make it to the Game Pass on Day One (like Far Cry 6), but if you desire, you can still go about the normal way of purchasing the game if you would like to play it on launch day.
For the gamer, this is a great initiative by Microsoft to offer an alternative to paying the full price of purchasing a game that you want to try (most of us have a Cyberpunk 2077 horror story or two).
And if there is something in the Game Pass that you would like to play for that month, you can also take the opportunity to try out a few other games present in the library, for “free”, in your own time.
This is the flexibility that is appreciated if you are not someone that has extra cash flowing out of your wallet.
At a glance, Sony's PS Now library doesn't have the same kind of day one access that we're seeing on the Xbox Game Pass, and as mentioned, it's currently unavailable in the SEA region, leaving gamers here will little option unless they were willing to get around the region restrictions (which, for reasons such as server locations for a streaming service, is not recommended).
The PlayStation may have the upper hand in exclusives, but if you are someone who is budget conscious, you probably wouldn’t buy all the games that are out there and play them on day one.
Like we mentioned earlier, when there are multiple game releases a month, that is when the average gamer struggles. With Microsoft releasing a lot of games on the Xbox in the coming months, having something like the Game Pass will definitely be welcomed to all Xbox owners out there.
This masterstroke of a move may have just swung the console wars in Microsoft's favour. Your move, Sony.