The launch of the Xbox One was a certified disaster. There was no way back then that I would recommend the One to anyone who was looking to make the leap to the next generation. That was, however, five years ago. And things done changed since then.
Xbox has switched places with PlayStation, going from arrogant market leader to the plucky underdog. Thanks to their Play Anywhere program those who are so inclined can effortlessly hop between playing on PC and Xbox One, without having to pay for the same game twice. Games like Forza Horizon 3 and Gears of War 4 even allow PC and Xbox One owners to play together across platforms. Xbox’s whole-hearted commitment to backwards compatibility offers to preserve straight-forward access to past classics like Red Dead Redemption and the Mass Effect trilogy. And who wouldn’t want a controller with your squad’s colours on it?
The Xbox One S includes a 4K Blu-ray player and costs £200, and the XBox One X is the most powerful console on the market today. These two points combined with those mentioned in the previous paragraph would have been enough for me to consider recommending the One to a certain subset of gamers (as opposed to absolutely no one previously) by themselves. Then they went and did this:
100’s of games. £7.99 a month. No. Goddamn. Streaming. The service has actually been available for a few months now but it was Xbox’s recent announcement that caught my attention: Going forward, all future Xbox exclusives will be available with Game Pass. On day one. For no extra charge.
Ignoring the fact that Xbox’s biggest problem right now is that they don’t have very many compelling exclusives (an issue that can be resolved in the short term with a few canny purchases), the Game Pass has the potential to be a pivotal, industry-wide game changer:
I grew up in the eras of VHS cassettes and peer to peer downloads, and so rarely ever paid for media. In my entire life, I’ve bought maybe a dozen albums. Maybe. Paying for music was completely foreign to me until I discovered Spotify some eight years ago. Now I pay £14.99 a month, every month (for the six user family plan). And unless they do something incredibly stupid and/or go out of business, I’ll most likely continue to pay them until I die. The same goes for Netflix and to a (much) lesser extent, Amazon Prime. Yes, I’m paying a monthly subscription fee, but I’m also getting a useful service in return.
So if you have a limited income or a limited interest in the exclusives that Sony and Nintendo offer, I would suggest having another look at the XBox One. As the Philadelphia Eagles just proved, being an underdog isn’t always a bad thing.
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