I hate to open this way, but I feel that I must establish a baseline by reiterating that I am “not a console person”. I say I am reticent to state this because I am tired of the constant “us versus them” rhetoric that envelops our platforms of choice, whether it’s PS versus Xbox, or console versus PC. It’s bullshit, and it’s getting even more bullshit as time goes on, especially when it comes to what Microsoft is doing.
Even though I spend the bulk of my time in front of a PC for work and gaming, I enthusiastically subscribe to the Game Pass Ultimate program because it has benefits for PC gamers as well as for Xbox gamers. I consider this to be a bonus as the source of such a program is firmly rooted in the Xbox console domain: first there was Xbox live, then Microsoft “gave away” free games each month for Game Pass subscribers, and now they’re offering a much wider array of titles “on demand” bundled with Game Pass Ultimate. They’ve enhanced this to include PC games as well (sans the XBL access, which is not necessary for the platform) so now I can sub to GPU and get access to a wide library of great games where I usually play.
The “free game” mentality has been creeping right along these past few years on the XB platform, but also through Playstation+, Epic’s free games of the month, and through online retailers like Fanatical, GOG, and even Steam, who is slowly thawing to the idea (*flags down a speeding Nintendo*). While I think this leads to “hoarding a backlog” for the majority of folks I know, it also lowers the barrier to new worlds. Through GPU I have tried games in genres I wouldn’t otherwise have paid direct money for, and while I haven’t really found this to change my mind towards a lot of genres in that regard, the service has broadened my experiences by allowing my curiosity to lead me in new directions.
Now I find myself wanting an Xbox Series upgrade. I half-assed attempts to secure one during the initial pre-order rush, and got close to claiming one but wasn’t 110% serious about it, though I can say that as someone who loves technology and especially gaming technology, I’d say my actual interest was about 100%. Thing is, I didn’t use my Xbox One X that much. It was sitting in the other room next to the PS4 which, in relatedly unrelated news, I only use occasionally for PSVR.
After the insanity of the XBS pre-orders, I moved the XB1X to my computer desk and hooked it up via the Elgato HD60S so I could get audio and video through my PC. I played a fair amount of Grounded (available through Game Pass Ultimate) with a friend during this time, and then started looking at the console-specific offerings in the subscription. Since then, I have moved the XB1X to the upstairs TV, and have downloaded several “free” games that I am looking forward to playing. This move was also to supplement our Smart TV’s app offerings, because we sub to HBO Max and the Roku TV we have in the living room doesn’t offer a native app, which the XB1X does.
My interest in obtaining an XBS console is stronger than ever, but because of the shortage and lack of funds it is more or less a pipe-dream at the moment. It’s not a desire driven by a specific passion for the Xbox console or experience, but rather the insane value that the Game Pass Ultimate subscription brings to the Microsoft Gaming Platform — both Xbox and Windows. More than FOMO on the next iteration of consoles, it’s FOMO of not being able to play 75% the games made available to me through the subscription, coupled with my love of new tech. I know that it is specifically the Game Pass Ultimate service that is driving this desire because I haven’t even really considered looking at the PS5, which I cannot justify trying to get in any way as the PS4 is doing right by me still at this point.
I hope that once the availability of new XBS consoles rises to meet the demand of those who missed out on the pre-order frenzy that I’ll be able to acquire one, even the smaller, slimmer XB Series S model which I think for my purposes would be just fine.