The Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft's attempt to take the digital marketplace by storm. They plan on rolling out a Netflix-style service where gamers can play a catalog of games for a monthly fee with no additional strings attached. Well, some further progress has been made and the service is due to launch soon.
According to Gamespot, the free alpha testing period for the Xbox Game Pass is prepping to come to an end on April 28th, and Microsoft will begin the next phase of the service, which is likely the full paid-for launch that will see gamers required to pay $10 a month. A notice that was sent out to testers gives gamers an idea of just how soon the new streaming service will launch. The message states...
Thank you for participating in the Xbox Game Pass Alpha Preview[...] feedback has been invaluable and will make the service better for all gamers....We're getting close to launch and Xbox Game Pass will be available for all gamers later this Spring.
So, we know that the service will launch this spring for everyone. Those who managed to alpha test the service helped iron out some of the basics so that Microsoft could then move forward in providing gamers on Xbox Live with the full version, or at least, something close to it.
Given that the alpha preview ends on April 28th, this likely means that there will be a public beta test, which makes sense. Typically most MMO games do the same thing. They usually have closed alpha tests to work out all the serious kinks and then they move forward with a either a closed beta test for those who pre-ordered special packs for the game or an open beta test for everyone in order to start making money on the cash shop.
In this case, it sounds like the open beta for the Xbox Game Pass will generally be available to the public. The alpha preview only contained 20 playable games, but the launch of the service this spring will feature 100 playable games.
The full list of titles haven't been confirmed yet, but Microsoft is whipping out some of their big guns for the service, including Halo 5: Guardians, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and Payday 2 to name a few. Other AAA titles like Mad Max and Lego Batman will also make the cut, along with the eighth gen re-release of Saints Row IV and Fable III.
They seem to want to go for a mix of games, giving gamers a little bit of something from various genres in order to help lure more gamers into the fold.
And, even though an official release date for the service hasn't been set yet, Gamespot notes that the final day of spring is June 20th, so late spring could be at some point just beyond E3.
Given how close "late spring" is to E3, I wouldn't put it past Microsoft to have the service go live during their annual E3 press conference.
So far the feedback for the Xbox Game Pass has been positive, as a lot of gamers see it as a way to play test titles they've never played before without any sort of major expenditure commitments. We'll see how well the new service does when it launches later this spring.