Microsoft is finally returning to its computer-based roots in the gaming market by bringing the company's Xbox Game Pass subscription service to PC users. Called the 'Xbox Game Pass for PC,' this service will be similar to what Xbox console users currently have: a library of video games that subscribers can access, download, and play for as long as it's available. Game Pass on consoles launched two years ago, but this is the first time it's extending to PC users.
Essentially, it's a service best described as a "Netflix for video games."
In a press release made this morning, Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, described the Xbox Game Pass for PC as "a curated library of over 100 high-quality PC games on Windows 10, from well-known PC game developers and publishers such as Bethesda, Deep Silver, Devolver Digital, Paradox Interactive, SEGA, and more." Just like the console version, the library will add or withdraw different games from the catalog every month. The service will offer a discount for subscribers who want to fully purchase the games in the library at a 10-20 percent price cut. Spencer did not mention the price of the subscription nor the projected release date, but there will be more information about the service and the games offered during E3 in June.
The Xbox Game Pass for PC comes after years of Microsoft pushing video games for the Xbox console instead of the PC. It was an interesting move for a company made successful by the PC market, but one that proved strategic at the time as the Xbox combated for dominance over the Sony PlayStation. With consoles, each company could fight the other over game exclusives — video games that only appear on a specific console. This forced many console players to choose one or the other depending on which console had the most games they were interested in playing.
PC players, on the other hand, are more used to flexibility. Many users enjoy gaming on the PC because they can build their own computers for higher quality graphics and create game modifications if they have the skills. In the press release, Spencer acknowledged this part of the PC community and expressed Microsoft's intent to embrace it.
"As the creators of Windows," he wrote, "we have a unique responsibility to ensure we’re investing in experiences that benefit players everywhere, while respecting the PC community’s preference for an open, highly customizable platform."
Microsoft is taking further steps to entice PC players in addition to the Xbox Game Pass for PC service. The company also announced they will enable more opportunities for cross-platform and cross-network play between Windows-run computers and consoles. This will allow people to play with each other no matter what platform they're using. Microsoft is also planning to make the company's first-party games, made by Xbox development team, available in multiple digital and physical stores. These games will first release on Steam and the Microsoft Store for Windows, but will become available in other online shops in the future.
Microsoft is also going to fully support Win32 games, a format used frequently by game developers and other game titles, for developers who still enjoy using it for their games.
Spencer notes these are just a few steps towards many that Microsoft plans to take as the company contributes to the Windows PC gaming community. More information about the Xbox Game Pass for PC service, as well as other offerings, will be available on June 9.