It’s billed as the best deal in gaming: Microsoft’s Game Pass on Xbox and PC gives players instant access to an impressive library of free games. In the era of expensive mega-consoles and high-priced games, Game Pass is an oasis for empty-wallet gamers—just maybe not for their backlogs.
Recently, I downloaded Halo: Infinite and fought my way through the campaign. In previous eras, a new Halo meant a day one purchase. This year, money has been a bit tight, and I likely would have had to delay liberating Zeta Halo from The Banished. Thanks to Game Pass, I started the campaign the day of its release.
The beauty of Game Pass though is not games like Halo: Infinite, which I certainly would have played regardless. What makes Game Pass so special is the freedom to try games I might otherwise have deemed unworthy of the financial risk.
I’m embarrassed to write this, but one of those games was Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, which I recently downloaded. I would never have risked spending full price on this game—and my goodness would I have missed out. If it weren’t for Game Pass, I wouldn’t have discovered this game with stunning visuals, deep writing, and engaging gameplay. And that’s the thing: I get to have this experience again and again because there’s so many others out there to try.
Finally, I must say that it’s quite liberating to quit games I don’t like and that Game Pass gives me the freedom to do that. I’ve been a gamer for nearly 40 years, and for most of that time, when I bought a game, I played it. (Or it sat there in my backlog gnawing away at my soul). But with such a large library of free games, I no longer feel this burden. I refuse to grind my way through a mediocre game when so much potential is out there.