The Xbox One’s Netflix-style game program is getting a crucial update

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Microsoft

  • Microsoft has a Netflix-style service for gaming on the Xbox platform, and it’s getting a major update.
  • The six-month old service will get new games at the same time as launch in the future, starting with “Sea of Thieves” in March.
  • Microsoft says all upcoming games published by Microsoft will arrive at launch on the Game Pass service – a major change that makes Game Pass a much better value.

Microsoft’s version of Netflix for gaming, the subscription-based Xbox “Game Pass” service, is getting a major change: Going forward, all Xbox One games published by Microsoft Studios will be part of the Game Pass service at the same time that they’re available in stores.

Put more simply: The Xbox Game Pass program is getting a major influx of upcoming new games, starting with “Sea of Thieves” on March 20.

The service, which costs $10/month, offers access to a library of games. Unlike Netflix, where users stream videos to their screen over the internet, Xbox Game Pass allows users to download and play full games. The difference is mostly in functionality – conceptually, Game Pass is very similar to services like Netflix and Hulu.

Xbox One Game Pass

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Microsoft

The concept is simple: You pay a flat monthly fee, and you’re given access to “over 100” Xbox 360 and Xbox One games. The service debuted in June 2017, and Tuesday’s announcement is its first major change since launch.

The first three games that will arrive on Game Pass at the same time as their global launch dates are “Sea of Thieves,” “Crackdown 3,” and “State of Decay 2” – all Xbox One exclusive games, published by Microsoft.

There are no exceptions for this policy, Microsoft’s head of Xbox Phil Spencer told Business Insider in an interview on Monday – first-party Microsoft-owned franchises like “Halo,” “Gears of War,” and “Forza Motorsport” are all included.

No third-party publishers, like EA and Activision, have signed on to the new policy yet. Recently released first-party games, like “Forza Motorsport 7” and “Cuphead,” are notoriously missing from the Game Pass service; despite today’s announcement, Microsoft says it doesn’t “have any other announcements at this time” regarding those titles.

Microsoft-published

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Microsoft-published “Forza Motorsport 7” is notoriously missing from Xbox Game Pass. Future versions of the franchise will head to the service, though.
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Microsoft

It’s unclear how many Xbox One owners are paying $10/month for the service, but enough have expressed interest that Microsoft will now offer a six-month version of the subscription for a one-time $60 fee. Microsoft says it’s been “blown away” by the interest in Game Pass, but Xbox head Phil Spencer declined to share users numbers for the service in an interview ahead of Tuesday’s announcement.

When “Sea of Thieves” arrives on March 20, it will be the first game to launch into the Game Pass service at the same time as launching in retail and digital stores.