The Xbox Game Pass aims to offer direct competition to equivalent services like EA Access and PS Now, which offer a library of games in exchange for a monthly service fee of $9.99. Microsoft sees this as instantly giving Xbox One owners access to a library of games from both the Xbox One and Xbox 360.
Revealed at the tail end of February, Microsoft's new service differs slightly from PS Now. While PS Now allows PlayStation 4 owners to stream games from older PlayStation eras, Xbox Game Pass will instead allow players to download those games and play them off of their own hard drives. This means that gameplay won't be subject to the fickle whims of an ISP or wireless signal.
But how big will that instant library be? So far Microsoft isn't being exact with their numbers, aside from saying that the service will offer over 100 games when it launches. Their announcement mentions working with 2K, 505 Games, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Codemasters, Deep Silver, Focus Home Interactive, SEGA, SNK, THQ Nordic, Warner Bros., and (of course) Microsoft Studios. The only directly confirmed titles are Halo 5: Guardians, Payday 2, NBA 2K16 and SoulCalibur II. However, marketing images also show off titles like Mad Max, Saints Row IV, Lego Batman, and Fable III.
The Xbox Game Pass also gives Xbox One owners special discounts on Xbox One games included in the library catalog. Why would you buy a game that's part of the instant library? Each month the library cycles in new games and expels others. Buying a game ensures that players will have access to it even if it gets cycled out or if a player decides to discontinue their subscription.
While the Xbox Game Pass doesn't have a solid release date, it is slated to become widely available sometime this spring. It has already entered an alpha testing phase with some members of the Xbox Insider community and will be available for a wider beta release to Xbox Gold subscribers closer to launch.