Xbox Game Pass and its PC counterpart are quickly becoming one of the best ways to shower yourself with games on the cheap. For £4/$5 a month you can currently download 372 games (though a few of these are dual editions of the same game), including new releases. It's ridiculously good value, and not surprisingly it isn't a huge money tap for Microsoft.
It's a common refrain: "How the hell does Microsoft make any money out of this?" If I was to buy only three games like Gears Tactics in the next year, that would set me back £150. With Xbox Game Pass, I can play as many as I have time for and, across the whole year, I'd pay less than £50. That's a huge chunk of cash that a lot of people—in April there were 10 million subscribers—are no longer giving to Microsoft.
On a recent episode of What's Good Games, Xbox Games Marketing boss Aaron Greenberg casually explained that it wasn't a "big profit play," but it's a powerful marketing tool.
"It's a different mindset," Greenberg says. "You can either say, 'How we do get as much profit out of each customer?' Or, do you pivot that opposite and say, 'How do we add as much value to our fans?' 'How can we actually over-deliver on value?' And if you do that, you build fans for life. And if people feel like you're over-delivering on value, they want to not only continue to use your service, but they want to tell their friends about it. That is actually the most powerful marketing; it's word of mouth marketing."
The strategy seems to be working. Xbox Game Pass is one of the few moves Microsoft has made that gets consistently praised, and it's hard not to recommend it. I'm always doing it, even though I'm hesitant to tell people to get tangled up in Microsoft's ecosystem forever. Thankfully, while Greenberg hopes you'll be a fan for life, cancelling the subscription is easy.
At the moment, you can get your first month of Xbox Game Pass for just £1/$1. If you've not signed up yet, you might want to wait until Microsoft Flight Simulator launches. It's coming on August 18 and would normally set you back £60/$60, but this way you can fly around in the standard edition for next to nothing, at least for a month.