When it was revealed that MLB The Show 21 would be releasing for all consoles rather than being a PlayStation exclusive, baseball-loving Xbox owners were ecstatic.
Now that Microsoft has announced the game will be available for free for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members, it begs the question: is this how video games will be released in the future?
For context, MLB The Show 21’s standard editionis $60 USD while, on next-gen consoles, it will cost $70. There are also other Collector’s Editions but, for simplicity’s sake, we will only focus on the standard edition of the game.
A few days ago, the official Xbox YouTube channel released a trailer showcasing how MLB The Show 21 looked on next-gen consoles. While a PlayStation Studios-developed game on an Xbox is a big deal, Microsoft announcing that the standard version of The Show will be available for free on release date for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members is an even bigger deal.
Not only will it be available for the Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One, The Show will also be available on Android phones and tables through Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming, which is still in Beta. Ultimately, this means that gamers who have an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription will be getting a full-priced game for only $15 USD a month.
With Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media – the parent company of Bethesda and seven other developers – and the recent news that future Bethesda games will be released on Game Pass, this could very well be the future of game releases.
As it stands, there are more than 100 games available on Game Pass from a variety of developers, including the aforementioned Bethesda. New games are being included every so often and, more often than not, they are critically-acclaimed games such as the Yakuza series.
Not only that, but a Game Pass Ultimate subscription includes EA Play – a selection of EA’s top titles including various Need for Speed and sports games – and an Xbox Live Gold membership, which retails for $9.99 USD monthly and has its own selection of two-to-four free games every month.
If anything, this is laying the foundation for what video game releases will be in the future; instead of just being sold for retail at a traditional video game store, games will be available on a subscription service that same day. Soon, traditional game sales could be phased out entirely in favor of a release on a subscription service.
With The Show and some future Bethesda games following the former model currently, it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility to see the latter business model become the norm within the next five years. As streaming becomes more popular due to the pandemic, more video game companies could take advantage of the new “normal” of staying indoors and provide an alternative to getting their games, albeit at a cheaper price.
By all accounts, getting a game at $15 is considerably more enticing than paying full price, especially as the price of video games continue to increase. Additionally, Microsoft’s decision to release The Show on Game Pass could also bring in new subscribers to the service.
Objectively speaking, Microsoft’s $15-a-month deal for Game Pass Ultimate is a good deal, all things considered. For a yearly subscription of Game Pass Ultimate – which, mind you, has over 100 games along with select EA and Xbox Live Gold games – a consumer could get only three full-priced current-gen games and even fewer next-gen games.
In the long run, not only is a subscription service like Game Pass Ultimate more monetarily viable, but it is also a way for players to try out games they may not know and potentially find a series they like, all for no additional cost. If none of the 100+ games available on the service tickles said players’ fancy, they can just cancel the subscription and not have to worry about the relatively low cost.
In all, as more marquee games and franchises release on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and other subscription services, it will only be a matter of time before the foundation that was laid will be solidified. At that point, the end of full-priced releases would be just around the corner.
Until then, it’s time to enjoy MLB The Show 21 and the present of video games before the future comes.