Last year I did a Q&A week with my Twitter followers and this year, we’re doing a whole month baby. August is always the calm right before the storm of AAA titles flood the market and own every second of my free time, so I’m going to spend a full month answering questions from the community. And I’ll answer anything. Literally anything. Just hit me up on Twitter and I’ll answer whatever you want through the entire month of August.
So the first question to kick off the month: What do you think of Xbox’s plan for next-generation especially with the heavy focus on Game Pass?
Well to be blunt, I think it’s a shit plan.
Ever since Bungie and Epic Games moved on from being Xbox’s first-party studios, the brand has never been the same. Halo and Gears are a shell of the flagship franchises they were in the Xbox/Xbox 360 eras and very few of the newly acquired studios have met fans expectations. Meanwhile, Nintendo and PlayStation have just been OWNING the last few years. I mean think about just this year alone so far: Nintendo has Animal Crossing: New Horizons, PlayStation has The Last of Us 2 and Ghost of Tsushima, and Xbox has…Bleeding Edge.
Xbox fanboy: “Not fair, we still have Halo Infinite coming later this year.”
The fanboys that are defending this garbage gameplay reveal by saying “it’s from an old build and they still have months to finish polishing the game” clearly have no fucking clue how game development works. The shit that needs to be fixed in this game to bring it up to par with next-gen titles like TLOU2 and Ghost of Tsushima had to be done in the first year or so, not in the last 6 months. There is a fundamental issue with this game right now that people are intentionally or blindly ignoring. But don’t worry, they’re going to find out when the game launches in November.
Like I said last Thursday, it feels like Xbox put all their eggs in one basket for the launch of the Xbox Series X by depending too much on Halo Infinite. Well…maybe not all their eggs…they are pushing the fuck out of Xbox Game Pass right now.
I love how all the big members of gaming media said immediately after the Xbox Games Showcase that “no one seems to be talking about how incredible of a deal Xbox Game Pass is”. Well, maybe that’s because it isn’t as good of a deal as it looks on the surface. And again, I’m speaking objectively. I owned all 3 systems and the one I played the most is the Xbox One. This is not coming from some PlayStation or Nintendo fanboy. This is coming straight from a top Xbox consumer.
If I divided the games that are on Game Pass into groups, I would have 4 categories.
The first is games I will never fucking play like Demon’s Tilt Pinball or Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure. I won’t play them and about 90% of the people that own Game Pass won’t either. They’re filler titles that Xbox uses to be able to say “We offer over 200+ titles”.
The second is games that if I wanted to play them, I would already own them. These are games like GTA V, Red Dead Redemption 2, Destiny 2, No Man’s Sky, Fallout 76, etc. Be honest: if you’re a Destiny 2 fan you literally didn’t care that it was being added to Game Pass because you’ve owned it since launch week.
The third is games that I never would have bought if they weren’t on Game Pass and I enjoyed it. Most of those games are indie games like Hollow Knight, GRIS, Dead Cells, and Slay The Spire. This honestly is where I see the biggest value for both the consumer and the developer, because most people don’t go out of their way looking for indie titles but by scrolling through the Game Pass catalogue you can sometimes find something new and fresh that you actually might enjoy.
And the fourth and final category is games that were added on launch day. Take the quality of the game out for just a second and think about how awesome it is to be able to try a game for yourself. Usually, when I buy a game I’ve either already been sold by the marketing or I’ve read really good reviews that have compelled me to try it. With Game Pass, you can just download it and try it out. And that’s pretty valuable…sometimes.
Here’s the problem though: over 80% of the time I find the games in the Game Pass to fall into those first two categories. And of all the games I’ve played on launch day, I’ve only finished two (Afterparty and Gears 5) and I didn’t even enjoy either. That means that over 90% of the Game Pass library is essentially worthless to me.
Now it costs $180 a year (12 months x $15 a month) to own Xbox Game Pass. That’s the cost of 3 triple A $60 games.
I am telling you guys right now: I have not played $180 worth of games on Game Pass in the two years I’ve owned it. Not even close.
The point I’m trying to make is this: quality over quantity. If you gave me exactly $180 to spend on games this year, I would not be spending it on Game Pass titles. It would actually be on games that aren’t even playable on Xbox, and that’s the problem Xbox needs to solve. They need to have a compelling reason for me to buy an Xbox or Game Pass and at the moment they don’t have that. They’re working on it with the games that were shown in the Xbox Games Showcase, but a lot of those titles needed to be ready by launch or Spring 2021.
And finally, my last issue with Xbox’s new strategy is more of a theory than fact. Monthly subscription services all work the same: they string you along as long as possible. They do everything they can to stagger releases and content to keep you paying month after month. How is that going to look for a gaming subscription service? Again, Halo is the example I’m going to use. 343 has already stated that they will be releasing a ray tracing patch post-launch. There was a rumor that multiplayer may come a month after launch. There are rumors of a battle royale that will be coming a few months after the game releases like how Warzone launched. They are saying that Halo is going to have seasonal content updates like Destiny.
Am I the only one noticing this? Am I the only one slightly concerned that Xbox is trying to stretch out the typical $60 game? I mean some of that sounds cool but my gut tells me it’s gonna be a lot like Destiny, Anthem, The Division, Sea of Thieves, and every other game that’s structured like this: the game launches as a bugfest with like 8-10 hours of content and then after 6 months is actually worth playing. It happens every time.
Xbox fanboy: “So you’re saying we’re fucked?”
Me: “…Yes. For now.”
There is one little itsy bitsy light at the end of the tunnel. Project xCloud. If somehow Xbox is able to put xCloud and Game Pass together with ACTUAL NEXT-GEN games, they can come back. Will they take the top spot from PlayStation? I don’t think so. The lead is too great. But nothing is ever completely over until it’s over and Xbox has the money to really do whatever they want. But it doesn’t look good at the moment from my perspective.
Again, hit me up on Twitter with more questions or topics you want to hear about during Q&August! Later this week we’re gonna revisit a topic I wrote about last year: building PCs.