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Xbox Game Pass was originally meant to be a rental service

Xbox Game Pass
Xbox Game Pass (Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Xbox Game Pass was originally conceived as a rental service for temporarily accessing games, according to a recent GQ interview with several key Xbox figures.
  • The project, originally codenamed "Arches," saw pushback from reluctant developers for its Netflix-inspired format during its early days.

Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass subscription service has shaken up its gaming empire, serving up hundreds of games on Xbox consoles and PC for a flat monthly fee. The service continues to expand its ever-rotating library with new games every month, including the latest Microsoft-published titles like Forza Horizon 5 and the upcoming sci-fi shooter, Halo Infinite.

Head of gaming ecosystems for Microsoft, Sarah Bond, has now discussed the early days of Xbox Game Pass, and how the concept initially scared developers away. A recent interview with GQ touches on how many developers expected Xbox Game Pass to devalue games, outweighing the increased mindshare granted by the service. We now see many developers touting Xbox Game Pass success stories, with Microsoft regularly securing deals with developers on the service.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate games

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

MIcrosoft showed the promise of Game Pass when it launched in June 2017, first bringing in-house games Halo 5: Guardians, Banjo-Kazooie, Gears of War 1-3, and Perfect Dark Zero as only a few of the first games for the service. The same month also saw a good range of third-party titles pilot the service too which included franchises like BioShock, Borderlands, Streets of Rage, and more.

What started off as a rental service for temporarily buying games later evolved into what many call "The Netflix of Gaming." The promises of the service helped justify the price, now boasting hundreds of third-party games, coupled with day-one Xbox Game Studio releases.

4 Comments
  • This would have been a great idea too, but I think I much perfer this one. It certainly wouldn't have had the effect of pushing people into genres they would never try.
  • Agreed.
    As a per-game rental service ala Firefly it made sense...as an alternative to the resale market.
    (Buy at full list, run through, and sell to recoupsome of the cost. Developers get nothing from used sales but they would from a rental service.)
    But it wouldn't have grown the market as the on-demand subscription service does, it would still bring the risk of spending on tbe "wrong" game. The risk-free discovery aspect combined with the deep backlist catalog is the difference; it helps keep people engaged (and paying).
  • Duh.
    Yeah, Gamefly. Not Firefly. 😵
  • So GamePass was originally supposed to be a streaming version of Game Fly. Makes sense. I like this version better.