Xbox Game Pass in 2021: games and evolutions of an increasingly top-notch service

Xbox Game Pass in 2021: games and evolutions of an increasingly top-notch service

Xbox Game Pass in 2021

Contrary to the historic agreement between Lando Calrissian and Darth Vader and the accompanying meme, Xbox Game Pass appears to be a business that continues to improve for users, and the 2021 budget further demonstrates this. The subscription service is now a pillar of Xbox within Microsoft, if not its main feature, so much so that it is in effect the element around which the entire division seems to be built. The Redmond house has for some time now implemented a reorganization focused on the expansion of services and the amount of subscribed users, so much so as to generate a real paradigm shift that makes the old reference points of the videogame market obsolete, also generating not a few headaches to all those who try to understand how everything is going.

For this reason there are still a thousand questions: is Xbox Game Pass sustainable? Does it generate profit? Does it negatively affect sales? It is very difficult to answer these legitimate questions, also because the data is not provided frequently or explicitly, but if the indices are positive and Microsoft continues to invest in the service, it probably means that everything works and it is above all a question of abandoning the old ones. parameters and reference points to frame the new phenomenon.

On the other hand, Netflix and similar services have also gone through phases of huge investments before coming to dominate the market, so there will be time to see how it will continue, even if for Xbox it is probably just a matter of offering a viable alternative rather than dominating the competition. And this goal has certainly already been achieved, considering how convenient this subscription continues to be, which is also confirmed by the budget on the games and features of Xbox Game Pass in 2021.

Game Pass at the center of the next gen

Xbox Game Pass in 2021 also focused on strengthening the offer in the cloud With the launch of Xbox Series X | S, the evolution of Xbox Game Pass as a central service of the Xbox experience has become even more evident, given the increasing integration of the subscription within the interface of support services, obviously also transferred to Xbox One given the sharing of the operating system.

The evolution we have witnessed this year has been impressive: beyond the simple growth of the catalog, some features of the service have also improved, in particular as regards the cloud and its integration on devices . In addition to progressing in terms of stability and performance, the Xbox Cloud is now usable directly from PCs and consoles, effectively making Xbox One compatible with next-gen titles in streaming and contributing to a sort of dematerialization of the hardware in a continuum of offer. videogame that goes beyond the boundaries of single generations in a rather revolutionary way.

The care of this aspect is also demonstrated by the large amount of games that obtain specific optimizations for control via touch screen: of the almost 350 games in the Cloud , at the moment there are about 130 titles that support touch controls to be used more easily on mobile devices and the quantity grows regularly from month to month, demonstrating how Microsoft wants to focus on this type of use of the service.

Great strides have also been made on the PC front: after initially being a sort of secondary service, the Windows-based Game Pass took on great importance during 2021, also confirmed by the centrality of the dedicated app within the PC operating system and even more so in Windows 11.

Even the recent name change to PC Game Pass, albeit marginal, can be considered a sort of definitive stabilization of the service on this platform as an entity in its own right, more than just a rib of the console section.

A cornucopia of games

Xbox Game Pass continues to increase the overall value of the offer year after year The new introductions in catalog have continued on a fairly regular basis, following the now classic pattern of two waves of titles per month, although there have been cases with extra introductions or more or less rich sessions. In total, around 260 games were included in the catalog in 2021, against a certainly lower amount of defections, confirming a growth trend that has been constant from year to year. According to a calculation carried out by The Loadout site, the total value of the new introductions in 2021 amounts to over 5,600 euros, obviously scattered between triple A titles and numerous indies, but this is a truly impressive offer, against a total cost of 155 euros per year for the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, considering its list price and significantly higher than the total value of the games offered in 2020, equal to about 3,500 euros. Obviously it is a somewhat superficial speech, since then you have to evaluate the intrinsic tastes and qualities of the various games present, but it already gives a good idea of ​​the convenience that characterizes the service at the moment.

2021 has also seen some particularly interesting events for the Xbox Game Pass catalog: with the definition of the acquisition of Bethesda by Microsoft, the entire publisher's catalog has entered the block within the service, which happened in particular during the month of March, which in fact turned out to be the richest in terms of the quantity of games introduced and their overall value.

Xbox Game Pass and games optimized for touch screens: a growing element We have also seen the introduction of EA Play in the Game Pass subscription on PC, after its arrival on consoles, which has further extended the quantity of titles available to subscribers and the offer of related services on both sides equalized, further proof of the parallel attention to both channels, between console and PC. Also not to be underestimated are the movements made by Electronic Arts, which this year led to the introduction of the entire catalog of Codemasters within EA Play and therefore of the Game Pass, following the acquisition of the British team, with a ' A massive injection of racing games.

First party, third party and day one launches

Halo Infinite starred in the Xbox Game Pass lineup in 2021 The organization of Xbox Game Pass should tend above all to focus on internal productions, which is why Microsoft has significantly extended the amount of first party team within Xbox Game Studios, in order to be able to count on a constant supply of games to launch directly. within the service catalog. However, these cannot alone sustain the rate of growth of the offer that we have witnessed so far from month to month and the agreements with third party publishers have however continued in the course of 2021 and will continue in the near future with similar consistency: these yes play in various ways and may include triple A games or minor productions, in most cases introductions in the catalog after a few months from the release or even launches on day one in the service, especially with regard to indie games but in some cases also with the titles of the highest caliber.

The first parties, or games from Xbox Game Studios, have begun to mesh especially on Xbox Series X in 2021, with a series of major releases especially in the second half of 'year, after a rather long period of adjustment that left the next gen console almost dry of exclusives. Starting in August, we've seen an exhilarating succession of releases: Microsoft Flight Simulator, Psychonauts 2, Age of Empires 4, Forza Horizon 5, and Halo Infinite have all been playing the Xbox charge over the course of 2021, all high-profile games that have led Microsoft to be named publisher of the year by many newspapers.

Moving on to third parties, from the standpoint of independent games, ID @ Xbox has also confirmed itself in 2021 as a real war machine , churning out every month a significant amount of games from which real pearls have also emerged such as The Artful Escape, The Gunk, The Ascent, The Forgotten City, Exo One, Twelve Minutes, Echo Generation, Sable, RiftBreaker and Genesis Noir, for name a few.

MLB The Show 21 offered the unprecedented show of a Sony first party game on day one on Xbox Game Pass However, there were also many triple A third party games launched on day one on Xbox Game Pass, demonstrating a growing trend compared to previous years also in this respect, despite the increase in internal releases. Among the most important events we remember the release of Outriders directly on Xbox Game Pass, as well as Back 4 Blood, The Medium, Hades, Humankind, Octopath Traveler, D&D: Dark Alliance, Subnautica: Below Zero, GTA San Andreas (in the day launch of the GTA Trilogy: Definitive Edition), Among Us, Serious Sam 4 and also the strange case of MLB: The Show 2021, the first game from PlayStation Studios to land directly on Xbox Game Pass. All this in addition to the standard triple A introductions that appear monthly in the catalog, in some cases not many months after the original launch.

Quality and quantity

Forza Horizon 5 is the game with the highest ratings released in 2021, available on Xbox Game Pass The thunderous numbers from a quantitative point of view demonstrate an overwhelming superiority of Xbox Game Pass as a subscription-based videogame service, but they only tell a part of reality, which could also be of little relevance compared to to an overall evaluation of the offer. However, even going to see the quality of the games released in the course of 2021, the catalog is still impressive, with a significant amount of games evaluated very positively within it. Also in this case we cannot ignore that much from a considerable degree of subjectivity, but we can try to make a qualitative balance on the Xbox Game Pass releases by relying on Metacritic, which should provide a fairly accurate overview of the games awarded by some of the criticism, at least.

Of the 10 highest-rated games this year on Xbox Series X, as many as 6 are featured on Xbox Game Pass, with five of these having been launched directly within of the catalog.

Psychonauts 2 is another of the best games of 2021 ever, available at launch on Xbox Game Pass It is in fact Hades, Forza Horizon 5, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Psychonauts 2 and Halo Infinite, to which it is added also It Takes Two among those inserted later, demonstrating how quantity also corresponds to a remarkable general quality. The rate of Game Pass games within the titles evaluated in a very positive way always remains considerable, considering that, continuing, they become 10 on the first 20, 16 on the first 40 and 20 on the first 50 considering only Xbox Series X, with an overall quantity which would be even greater if you count Xbox One and PC. Obviously, even on this parameter the role of first party games is central, but there is still a certain attention to quality in terms of the selection of titles to be introduced in the catalog.

Towards 2022

Starfield is certainly one of the most important games of 2022, expected on Xbox Game Pass in November 2021 has ended in a crescendo, especially thanks to the releases of large-caliber first parties in the last months of the year, preparing us for a 2022 that promises great things, obviously net of delays and postponements that, nowadays, we must now always take into account. To tell the truth, as regards the very first part of the year, there are still no particularly exciting titles, but in February Total War: Warhammer III and Shredders should arrive in the meantime, with Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous to follow shortly after. Heavyweights start in April with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl and will continue throughout the year with various games that do not yet have an official release date. First party games will not yet have a stable cycle of releases, as demonstrated by a first half of 2022 probably discovered from this point of view, but in the second part we will see the release of some real hits.

The big internal productions will start in the summer with Redfall, the new Arkane project, which should also be followed by the arrival of Deathloop on Xbox probably in September, upon expiry of the exclusive agreement with Sony. The most important event, however, is scheduled for November with the launch of Starfield, the new game from Bethesda that promises incredible things and currently represents one of the most anticipated titles of 2022 and beyond. In between, we can expect literally hundreds of games and a further strengthening of the service, also considering that the next gen should consolidate (albeit in a situation of continued scarcity of production and distribution on the market) in a second year that should gradually abandon the cross-gen elements, shifting the focus to new hardware and of course cloud gaming.

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