Yesterday, Game Pass subscribers were not able to access Sea Of Thieves, Rare’s high seas adventure game. According to the Xbox Live Status page, specific Social and Gaming services were affected. Surprisingly enough, only Sea Of Thieves was having issues. This is unfortunate for players who subscribed to Game Pass specifically for Sea Of Thieves, but this issue has me concerned for all of the first-party games coming to the service.
When Microsoft announced that Xbox Game Pass would feature first-party titles added to the program on launch date, it excited me. As someone who purchases too many video games a year, the thought of saving some money by playing them through Xbox Game Pass seemed like a dream come true. Regardless of if I can afford a full-price video game at launch, Xbox Game Pass provides a way to play all of the upcoming first-party exclusives. The announcement made me think of State of Decay 2, Crackdown 3, Ori and The Will of the Wisps, as well as future Halo, Forza, and Gears of War games. Xbox Game Pass players could experience all of these games. Why it excites me is that more people will have the option to play games that they might have skipped if they were required to buy them. Xbox Game Pass is a stellar service full of fantastic value, but today, we’ve witnessed the first downside; what happens when these games don’t work?
Today’s Sea of Thieves issue is something I didn’t think would happen. I’ve been using Xbox Game Pass for a few months now and haven’t experienced anything like this before. Unfortunately, players being locked out of a game that’s on Xbox Game Pass is a damaging blow for the service as a whole. What if this happens when State of Decay 2 or Crackdown 3 launches? People are paying to use a service and being locked out of games you want to play is terrible. What if this is the next Halo game? Halo is undoubtedly Microsoft’s most significant franchise. Since the launch of the original Xbox, Halo has been a console seller, and the next installment in the popular series will no doubt sell units. With Xbox Game Pass, all subscribers will be able to play the next Halo at launch. The game will sell well (just look at Sea of Thieves topping the UK charts) despite being in Xbox Game Pass. Imagine if all of these people (who chose the subscription over buying Halo at launch) get locked out of the game because of an issue with Xbox Game Pass?
This could drastically change how people perceive the service. Why would you pay for Xbox Game Pass if titles you want to play may be locked if there is a service issue? One of the many reasons I prefer physical copies instead of digital is because my games work even if there is a “Purchase and Content Usage” issue on Xbox Live. When that service is affected, players will occasionally be unable to use apps and games that they’ve bought. With physical copies, you don’t have to worry about being locked out of a game you purchased, unless there is a server issue.
Xbox Game Pass is a service that I won’t stop using anytime soon. I’ve played excellent games and discovered titles I would have normally skipped. The issues that plagued Sea of Thieves are unfortunate, but they also highlight an unexpected problem that can hinder the experiences of all subscribers when other first-party games launch. Microsoft has been making so many consumer-friendly choices lately, that an issue with Xbox Game Pass is the last thing the company needs right now. While I genuinely enjoy the service, if issues like this persist for upcoming games, it’ll be tough to recommend Xbox Game Pass. In an industry where Microsoft is continually fighting an uphill battle, mishaps like this only send the company a few steps backward.