Microsoft's take on EA Access is available now to Alpha ring members of the Xbox Insider Program. Here's how it all works.
The announcement of Xbox Game Pass is a huge deal for both Microsoft and Xbox gamers. Along with EA Access, it's a serious differentiator between Xbox and the competition and will help folks discover new games without the need to fork out cash to buy them.
Unlike Sony's subscription service, PlayStation Now, Xbox Game Pass allows you to download and install the games locally on your console, so you won't have to stream them from the cloud. It'll also offer a mix of Xbox One and Xbox 360 games, an extra dose of awesome.
We fired it up to take a quick look.
Alpha ring members are set up with a one-month pass to the service right now free of charge. To take part, you first have to enroll. You can do this either from the Store or Home screen. Right now you'll find a direct link, but the longer term option will be through the Xbox Insider app.
There's nothing to download, you just select get and after a few seconds your console is enrolled. Game Pass then shows up as an active subscription, next to things such as Xbox Live Gold and EA Access.
Microsoft says there will be 100 titles at the launch of the Game Pass service, which substantially more than you get right now. The test catalog is limited, and it includes a host of (not surprisingly) first-party titles. Gears of War Ultimate Edition is there, as is Sunset Overdrive and a decent selection of Xbox 360 titles.
Installing games is very much like the EA Access model, except there's no dedicated app to see what's included. Game Pass is, as you'd expect, integrated directly into the Store. Right now there's not much to show, but it looks like Game Pass will be curated with featured titles, games broken down by genre, or you can just view them all alphabetically.
Once you find a game you want to play, there's an install button next to it in the Store, as well as a message and a button that gives you the option to buy a copy to keep forever. Naturally, Game Pass games expire if you stop your subscription.
It's fairly straightforward to use, and we assume subscribing will be no more difficult than doing the same for Xbox Live Gold. It looks pretty tightly integrated into the Store, so there's no danger of finding it difficult to locate games. It's not scheduled to launch for a while, so there will no doubt be more improvements, as well as a wider rollout to Xbox Insiders ahead of that.
If you're on the Alpha ring, make sure you take the latest update to your console and dive right in. After you do, let us know what you think in the comments.