Can you believe it's been half a decade since Xbox launched its Game Pass program? Well, you better believe it. Xbox's popular subscription service launched for the public in June 2017, which somehow is five years ago now! (We say somehow, that's just how time works...)
Anyway, now that we've established that time passes and we're all slowly growing old, let's take a look back at Game Pass's first five years on the market. When it launched in 2017, the library was pretty slim by today's standards, and the likes of Game Pass Ultimate never existed, not to mention Game Pass Perks and such. In fact, here's the original list of Xbox One games, as we detailed at the four year anniversary.
Since that launch point, the service has transformed. The continued addition of backwards compatible games has bulked out the library significantly, not to mention the inclusion of plenty of day one Xbox One and Series X|S releases. At this point, Microsoft's "100+ games" advertisement for the value of Game Pass sounds a little silly; it massively undersells the library.
Then, there's the big one. In January 2018, Xbox took the gamble of starting to add all of its first party games into the library on day one. That kicked off with Sea of Thieves on March 20th, 2018, and for our money, this has been the biggest move of the Game Pass revolution so far. Day one exclusives turned Game Pass into an essential service for the Xbox gamer, rather than an optional extra for the most engaged users.
Shortly after this move, Xbox also began to grow its first party studio lineup. A slew of acquisitions hugely bolstered Xbox Game Studios in 2018, to the point where at E3 that year, the lineup almost doubled overnight with the addition of The Initiative, Undead Labs, Playground Games, Ninja Theory and Compulsion Games. Seriously, that's a lot of new studios!
And while most of these haven't delivered a game since — minus Playground of course, who continue to pump out amazing Forza games — it promises a very bright future for Xbox. Hellblade 2 looks phenomenal so far, and there's huge promise for Fable, State of Decay 3, Perfect Dark and more. Remember, all of these games will launch on Xbox Game Pass on day one!
That's why the service has become so incredibly important for Xbox's success. Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite were fantastic additions late last year, and that previously mentioned list of exclusives may not be out any time soon, but each of them hits Game Pass at launch. We've not even mentioned the mammoth addition of Bethesda back in 2021 — who'll deliver Redfall and Starfield next year — along with the upcoming merger with Activision Blizzard. Seriously, Game Pass will be the bargain of the century once all these games drop!
The argument of 'platform exclusives' has been thrown around for years and for good reason; you want an incentive to buy a console. However, Game Pass is now more important than any single franchise for Xbox, and has become the brand's biggest selling point over the past few years. In short, it's a priceless service that makes Xbox the best place to play now, and well into the future when all these studios are frequently releasing games.
What do you think? Is Game Pass Xbox's most valuable asset? Tell us down in the comments below.