Why Risk Buying Games When They’re All Coming To Game Pass Eventually?

Remember when you would watch TV, some commercial for a new movie would come on, and your dad would say, “That’s going to be a rental”? I’m assuming we all had the same dad that hated spending money at the movie theater – even though movies used to only cost like $8, but I digress.

We used to rent games too. If you’ve been alive long enough to remember Blockbuster, then you remember the joy of picking a random game off the shelf and taking it home, playing it for 10 minutes, and realizing that Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time is not a very good game. You’d bring it back the next day and just rent Super Mario RPG for the fifth time this month instead.


When Blockbuster closed down and Red Box died out, movies moved towards digital rentals and streaming services, but games didn’t. For a long time the only way to play new games was to buy them full price, sight unseen, or wait years until they hit the bargain bin. In just a few years, Game Pass has managed to bring back that Blockbuster feeling once again. Suddenly, I’m finding myself turning into my father (it happens to everyone), but instead of saying “That’s going to be a rental”, I’m saying “I’ll play it when it comes to Game Pass.”

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It’s becoming exceedingly easy to determine which games will likely end up on Game Pass these days. It seems like anything that has a positive critical reception but modest sales figures will eventually find its way onto the service. It’s a meme on TheGamer Podcast (plug) to say that everything looks like a great Game Pass game, but at this point I can pretty accurately guess which games are coming to Game Pass before they even launch. Aliens: Fireteam Elite, The Forgotten City, and Guardians of the Galaxy are very different games, but they all give off the same “perfect for Game Pass” vibe. They come out, they’re well liked by a small group of people, then a few months later they’re free on Game Pass.

guardians of the galaxy far changing tides game pass
via Square Enix/Xbox/Okomotive

This isn’t a bad thing; The developers and publishers behind these games are coming out financially ahead and more people who wouldn’t have ever bought them now have the opportunity to finally play some great games. My dad wouldn’t go see the Matrix in theaters because it looked like “nerd shit” but it ended up being one of his all time favorite movies after he rented it. Game Pass has that exact same power.

But I had to admit that it’s starting to influence the way I buy games. Before Game Pass, I wouldn’t have thought twice about buying Guardians of the Galaxy because, well, that would be the only way to play it. Nowadays, maybe I’d wait and see how well Guardians of the Galaxy was selling in the first week. If it wasn’t blowing up the Steam charts like Dying Light 2 or Elden Ring – which it didn’t – then there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to end up on Game Pass eventually.

I hope that Game Pass benefits indies, small studies, and overlooked gems like Guardians of the Galaxy, but I’m also afraid that games like that won’t have a chance any more without Game Pass. As Microsoft continues to gobble up studios and Game Pass gains more and more subscribers, will the non-Game Pass market shrivel up and die? Game Pass is certainly helping games find success now, but there’s a worry that people will stop taking the chance on smaller or less popular games all together. The knock-on effect being a monopolistic situation where games are doomed to fail unless they’re on Game Pass and Microsoft gets to exploit developers with unfair contracts. Competition is important, but there’s no alternative to Game Pass that offers anything even remotely close, at least not yet.

I wish I could tell you to support developers by buying new games so that they don’t have to wind up on Game Pass, but I’d be a hypocrite. I’m delighted to see big games like Guardians of the Galaxy on Game Pass so I can bug more people to play it, and I’m probably going to wait on more mid-sized games like Aliens: Fireteam Elite to see if they end up coming to Game Pass after a few months. If it looks like a Game Pass game, anymore, it probably is.

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