After over 20 years of service, rumours suggest that Xbox Live could be nearing game over. Microsoft is apparently going to relaunch its online multiplayer service as Xbox Game Pass Core.
It seems this isn't just a name change either, while the price will stay the same it looks like Game Pass Core subscribers will receive access to a smaller version of the Game Pass library to play 25+ titles for free. That's all well and good, but how can Xbox ensure that Game Pass Core is a glorious new era for online gaming and not another Stadia? I hope you're taking notes, Phil Spencer.
1. A strong game offering
Leaks suggest that the 25+ free titles included as part of Game Pass Core will include a few big names such as Forza Horizon 4, Gears of War 5 and Grounded. These are quality titles, but also a few years old now. Hopefully, the rest are not just filler titles, especially with the free monthly "Games With Gold" looking set to end with Xbox Live.
It's not like Game Pass has a shortage of top titles to choose from but the rumoured list will also include the likes of Among Us. To be frank, this sound like filler as the game is already free on mobile and goes for just a few pounds/dollars on consoles. Fingers crossed that some more recent full-price releases in the Game Pass library like Atomic Heart, Ghostwire: Tokyo and Redfall (now that it's in a playable state) sweeten the deal.
Microsoft needs to continue to add to the free titles too, overwise with the disappearance of "Games With Gold" we'll be losing out long term.
2. Access to discounts and perks
Everyone loves to save money and one of the best things about Game Pass and Sony's PlayStation Plus service is access to exclusive discounts and extra benefits. PS Plus subscribers get free cloud storage and access to share play. Similarly, all PS5 owners recently got a nice Apple TV treat.
GamePass Ultimate subscribers get a plethora of perks. As well as in-game items like skins and add-ons, EA Play comes bundled with the service. This offers a host of top titles like Fifa 23 exclusively for Ultimate tier subscribers. Hopefully, a Game Pass Core subscription will come with some access to EA games. Similarly cloud gaming is currently exclusive to Game Pass Ultimate, but surely a smaller selection of titles could be streamable for Core subscribers too?
3. Sharing the fun
This is a bit of a pipe dream probably, but I'd love a return to the multiplayer days of the Nintendo DS. Hear me out.
Titles like Mario Kart DS had what was called "Single-cart multiplayer" letting multiple players join locally even if only one DS owner had the game. I'd love it if there was a way for Game Pass Core to do something similar online, or for gamers to share a trial of titles with their friends. After all, what use is online multiplayer without someone to play with?
Failing that, crossplay between PC as a minimum for all titles and ideally also with PS5 players would be appreciated. Similarly, parity between all existing Xbox consoles is not a given, with the Xbox One and even Xbox Series S lagging behind the Xbox Series X.