After one year with Xbox Game Pass, I'm never giving it up

Articles: Gaming
Dec 17, 2022 Written by:Whitson Gordon

A mosaic of video game characters, overlayed with the text

I've been a gamer since before I could even read. As a kid, I had a precious collection of cartridges and CD-ROMs, each one treasured for the new worlds it opened up to me — and because of the hard-earned cash I spent on each one. I dreamed of a day I could play any game I wanted, whenever I wanted, with the push of a button. Xbox Game Pass made that childhood dream a reality, and after a year with the service, it’s hard to imagine gaming without it. 

Game Pass is frequently cited as the best deal in gaming, and with good reason. For $10 a month, PC Game Pass gets you instant access to a huge library of PC games spanning multiple generations and dozens of genres. For $15 a month, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate adds Xbox Live Gold for Xbox owners, Xbox Cloud Gaming for streaming games to your PC or phone, and monthly perks like free in-game content. 

Remember the days before streaming video, when you'd have to buy individual DVDs to get your weekly entertainment fix? Those days seem so quaint now — and Xbox Game Pass does for gaming what streaming did for video. With hundreds of games constantly at my beck and call for one monthly fee, I never want to go back to buying games separately. Here’s why I’m a convert. 

I got hundreds of games at my disposal — often on day one

A video game screenshot of two cars racing on an open road at nighttime.

You can’t stop the hype machine. Every year, there are plenty of big releases that everyone is talking about that I start itching to check out — plus a couple games that I’m so excited for, I count down the days to release. With Game Pass, many of these games are at my instant beck and call. After Guardians of the Galaxy surprised everyone with its excellent story and gorgeous visuals, I thought it might be worth adding to my list — and not a week later, it came to Game Pass, giving me the perfect excuse to dive back into the Marvel universe. 

And that’s not even to mention the titles that come to Game Pass on day one. When Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge dropped in June, I dropped everything else I was playing to relive my childhood nostalgia. When Warhammer 40,000: Darktide released, it was ready for the Warhammer nerd in me to go wild right at release. And when Starfield debuts next year, you can bet I’ll be first in line to download my copy and explore the far reaches of space. 

With Game Pass, I’m never wondering what I’m going to play next, because the constant influx of games keeps my backlog well stocked. And with so many new releases coming to the service, I rarely have to debate whether a title is worth a day-one download or waiting for a sale. AAA blockbusters and indie favorites alike are at my beck and call for a single, low monthly price.

I actually saved money on games

A soldier pointing his gun at enemy lines in the snow.

Some gamers dive into one game and play it obsessively, nonstop, for years. And while I've certainly been there (just check my World of Warcraft or Skyrim playtime), there is a vast world of different genres, stories, and gameplay experiences out there, and I've found my tastes becoming more eclectic over time. Some days I'm in the mood to gun down enemy forces in a game of Battlefield, and other days I want to get lost in an epic fantasy tale where my choices create a unique narrative. And other days still I just want to drive my custom-tuned Corvette into the Mexican sunset, leaving racers in my dust. 

When I first subscribed to Game Pass, I hoped to at least break even on the cost of the service. At $100-150 per year, you can easily come out ahead if you play a few day-one AAA titles. But I'm a compulsive deal hunter, constantly seeking out yearly discounts, sales on older games, and cheap indies to save space in my wallet. Could I really play enough games in one year to break even? 

In fact, I did it within the first five months. 

I had so much fun discovering games on Game Pass that I blew through title after title, easily playing more than $150 games by June — even taking into account the deepest possible discounts on other storefronts. Sure, I'll buy a game here and there when necessary, but between Microsoft's ever-growing stable of publishers, vast collection of indie games, and the bundled EA Play subscription, I found more than enough to keep me busy — with still more games in my backlog I haven't gotten to yet. Now that the year has come to an end, I've easily saved myself a bundle without scouring the usual summer sales. 

I fell in love new games I hadn't discovered yet

Two pirate ships sailing on the open ocean.

Game Pass is more about the raw numbers, though. There’s something freeing about being able to play whatever game you want, without having to set aside money for it. When I spend hard-earned cash on every game, I agonize over every decision. A game can get rave reviews, but what if that genre isn't for me? What if the difficulty doesn't match my skill level? What if I'm just not "feeling it," and I'll have wasted $50 on something I'll ditch after a couple hours? 

But with a massive library of games at my disposal, all those fears melt away. Always shied away from racing games? Heck, I'll give Forza Horizon 5 a try anyway. Will an old-school dogfighter like Star Wars: Squadrons keep me entertained? Who cares, it's only a free download away. All my friends want to jump into a co-op session of Sea of Thieves? Sure, why not?

Without Game Pass, I probably never would have tried any of those games — yet they ended up being three of my favorites I played all year. In fact, Forza Horizon 5 has become such a staple of my library that I come back to it every few weeks, just to hunt down new races and try out new cars. 

And that's not even to mention the lesser-known gems I discovered. I had never even heard of The Forgotten City, but the premise intrigued me so much that I downloaded it on a whim, finished it in a day, and have been thinking about it for months ever since. 

That's not to say every game has become a new favorite of mine. There are also a few that just weren't my thing — but it cost me nothing to try them out, and now I'll never wonder what I might be missing. 

I can play anywhere

A top-down view of a heavily armored medieval kingdom.

I'm a PC purist at heart, so I play most games at my custom-built rig with overclocked hardware and a stunning display. But when I'm feeling lazy in bed, or on vacation, and feeling the itch for some Overcooked, Xbox Cloud Gaming is ready for an instant session — no large downloads required. With the rock-solid Wi-Fi connection of my ROG Phone and the Kunai detachable gamepad, I'm up and playing in seconds. Or, if I want a larger screen, I can pull out an Xbox controller and stream to my work-issued ZenBook in a pinch. (Shh, don't tell my boss.) 

Some games even have touch controls built-in, allowing me to kick back with some Vampire Survivors or farm some cells in Dead Cells when I have some unexpected free time. With next-gen graphics and all my save data intact, I can pick up any game right where I left off, even if I’m nowhere near my beloved PC. 

Every PC gamer deserves a pass

Whether you're a diehard gamer on the hunt for new titles or giving one of our premium gaming laptops to a loved one, a subscription to Game Pass is the perfect stocking stuffer to go with the latest hardware. Every ROG laptop comes with a free trial of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, but you can grab 1-month and 3-month codes to stack on top for a year full of new games. And be sure to check out our guide on making the most of your Game Pass subscription. Trust me, once you try it, you'll never want to go back.