Can you believe that it's been four years since Microsoft introduced Xbox Game Pass to the world? Back in early 2017 (February 28, 2017, to be exact), the company officially announced its "new digital gaming subscription service" that would provide an "enjoyable and seamless experience" with over 100 titles at launch.
Initially, Xbox Game Pass was made available to members of the Xbox Insider Program before eventually rolling out to the public on June 1, 2017, launching at a price of $9.99 USD per month on Xbox One with a 14-day free trial.
"Xbox Game Pass reflects our continuing aspiration and commitment to offer gamers the best product for the most value, and joins the diverse experiences only available on Xbox One such as Xbox One Backward Compatibility and Xbox Play Anywhere.
With one low monthly price for unlimited access to tons of games, along with exclusive discounts, Xbox Game Pass is a tremendous opportunity to better meet the needs of all gamers."
Something the Xbox team also made very sure to highlight at the time was that you could download (rather than stream) the games to your Xbox One console through the Xbox Game Pass service, meaning you could enjoy "continuous, full-fidelity gameplay without having to worry about streaming, bandwidth or connectivity issues."
As for the games, it was a fairly barren selection at launch compared to the hundreds of great titles available in today's incredible Xbox Game Pass library, with the majority actually made up of Xbox 360 games, but nevertheless the likes of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Halo 5: Guardians and Sunset Overdrive were notable Xbox One highlights.
Here's a list of the Xbox One specific games that were included at launch (thanks VG247):
- Bard’s Gold
- Blood Bowl
- D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die
- DmC: Devil May Cry – Definitive Edition
- The Book of Unwritten Tales 2
- Defense Grid 2
- Electronic Super Joy
- Farming Simulator 16
- Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
- Halo: Spartan Assault
- Halo 5: Guardians
- Jumpjet Rex
- Knight Squad
- Layers of Fear
- Mad Max
- Massive Chalice
- Max: The Curse Of Brotherhood
- Mega Coin Squad
- Mega Man Legacy Collection
- NBA 2K16
- Olli Olli
- Payday 2 Crimewave Edition
- Resident Evil 0
- Saints Row 4 Re-Elected
- Sunset Overdrive
- Super Mega Baseball Extra Innings
- Super Time Force
- Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse
- The Golf Club
- The Swapper
- WWE 2K16
The Xbox 360 selection was actually significantly more impressive, including the full BioShock trilogy, Banjo-Kazooie & Tooie, multiple Gears of War classics and many, many more. Interestingly, some of the titles included in this initial version of Xbox Game Pass are still present in the library in 2021, despite not being published by Microsoft.
It's a common misconception that Xbox Game Pass was releasing day one first-party games into the service at launch, but that wasn't actually announced until January of 2018, when Xbox boss Phil Spencer revealed the news on the Xbox Wire website, saying the team had been "blown away with the incredible response" to Xbox Game Pass.
"Moving forward, we plan to release all new Xbox One exclusive games from Microsoft Studios into Xbox Game Pass on the same date as their global release.
This plan to bring new games timed with their global release into Xbox Game Pass not only includes announced titles like Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, and Crackdown 3 but future unannounced games from Microsoft Studios including new iterations of our biggest Xbox One exclusive franchises such as Halo, Forza and Gears of War, on the same day they launch."
The first game from Xbox Game Studios (then known as Microsoft Studios) to be launched into Xbox Game Pass was Sea of Thieves on March 20, 2018, and the first non-Xbox published game to release day one on the service was the indie multiplayer vehicular shooter Robocraft Infinity a month later.
Of course, we all know what happened from there. Xbox Game Pass continued to evolve with many more games and perks for members, including two more variations of the service in the form of Xbox Game Pass for PC and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, as well as the long-awaited rollout of Xbox Cloud Gaming as recently as a few months ago.
But even back at launch, Xbox boss Phil Spencer was promising big things from Xbox Game Pass, and we couldn't have predicted it would have evolved to the extent it has in 2021. It's been a crazy journey, and it's still just getting started!
"We’ve only scratched the surface of the opportunity this new model brings to the industry and what we can deliver to our fans. We firmly believe Xbox Game Pass will be a catalyst to create new opportunities for game developers and publishers to innovate in the way games are developed and delivered, leading to entirely new ways to play."
Were you subscribed to Xbox Game Pass back at launch in 2017? Let us know in the comments below.