I finally subscribed to Ubisoft+ this week. I've enjoyed a lot of the company's games over the years, not least The Division 2, but there's hardly a catalog I'm dying to play. The game that changed all that is Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, which is due to drop in just over a month as I write this. Releasing a AAA game in December is a nightmare for parents who have to spend all their money on kids Christmas presents, so I figure two or three months of Ubisoft+ will relieve the burden somewhat.
There's also The Crew Motorfest, a follow-up I am keen to play but not so keen to buy. Do you sense a pattern? So I've subscribed a month ahead of Avatar with the view to playing The Crew Motorfest first.
But anyway, enough waffling. Upon subscribing, I was pleasantly surprised. Ubisoft not only puts its games into the subscription service, but it doesn't seem shy about putting the expensive versions in. I've just downloaded the Ultimate Edition of The Crew Motorfest, and in December I'll be playing the Ultimate Edition of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora.
It puts Xbox Game Pass to shame.
The Ubisoft vs Xbox Game Pass value proposition
So let's look at how some Xbox first-party releases on Game Pass that I've played myself compare to what Ubisoft + is offering. Forza Motorsport released on Game Pass, but only the standard edition of the game, the same was true of Starfield and Forza Horizon 5. I actually wrote a piece around the Starfield launch detailing how disappointed I'd have been if I'd given in to FOMO and paid for the Deluxe Edition upgrade, so I could play the game 'early.'
Forza Horizon 5 I have access to the base game through Game Pass, and I've spent my own money on the DLC expansions. Yes, I've paid money to buy DLC for a game I don't even own. Forza Motorsport is a similar story (though admittedly, I have a review code of that one), with the base game in Game Pass and the DLC requiring cold, hard cash.
Flip over to Ubisoft+ then, what do we have there. I've already mentioned two above, but in addition there's the Deluxe Edition of Assassin's Creed Mirage, the Ultimate Edition of Rainbow Six Siege, and the Premium Edition of Skull & Bones will join the library if it ever actually releases.
Alongside all of this there's still the same convenience of being able to play on Xbox, PC and the cloud via Amazon Luna.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is missing a trick here
How many new subscriptions do you think Microsoft could have driven to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate when Starfield launched had the early-access edition been on the service?
That singular question sums it up for me. Xbox Game Pass is the future of Xbox, that much is clear. But Microsoft is falling short by not offering full access to its first-party titles. Is Game Pass really the future, or is Microsoft's desired outcome the one where you subscribe, play games, then buy them and all the DLC as well while remaining subscribed?
I love Xbox and I love Game Pass. Not as much as my son loves Game Pass, but quite a lot. But when you see what others are doing in comparison, it makes you think. Game Pass prices have not long since increased, and I'll be honest, I'm starting to feel like Xbox is nickel-and-diming me. Making me pay for DLC for first-party Game Pass titles, making you pay to play Game Pass titles early, shoveling ads down your eyeballs at every opportunity on the Xbox dashboard. I do feel like Xbox is pushing me as far as it can to see where the line is.
It's getting closer, I'll tell you that much.
But to end on a more positive spin, the solution seems simple. Grow Game Pass subscribers by making Game Pass better. I refer back to the question above. Compared to how many upgrades to play Starfield early that Microsoft sold, I wonder how many new Game Pass subscribers could have been added if the expensive version had been available day one?
Surely I can't be the only person seeing this? Right?
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine