PUBG Effect: Microsoft Tries to Counter The Sony PlayStation with stronger Xbox Game Pass Titles
Just as Sony's PlayStation 4 built its generation-leading momentum on top of a generous PlayStation Plus subscription service, Microsoft's $9.99 monthly Xbox Game Pass is being strengthened ahead of Holiday 2018's commercial rush.
Gift Guide: Five of 2018's Best Xbox One Console Exclusives (Image: Microsoft)
The Xbox range's top-tier Xbox One X might be the most expensive of current consoles, at $499, but Microsoft's Xbox division is also campaigning on value with its Xbox Game Pass subscription -- from today, including "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" -- and naming several franchises that were once high-profile PlayStation exclusives during its November 10 Xbox FanFest event.
Just as Sony's PlayStation 4 built its generation-leading momentum on top of a generous PlayStation Plus subscription service, Microsoft's $9.99 monthly Xbox Game Pass is being strengthened ahead of Holiday 2018's commercial rush. Last-person-standing action game "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" drove a whole new genre into the mainstream in 2017, making its console debut exclusively on Xbox One towards the end of the year.
If it is arriving on PlayStation 4 in December, as expected, Xbox is still protecting a console advantage by introducing "PUBG" to the Xbox Game Pass games library from November 12. Some 15 other games were also announced as upcoming XGP titles, from the acclaimed "Ori and the Blind Forest" and "Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice" in December, to a clutch of new indie studio games as they launch (including the "Ori" sequel, and atmospheric sci-fi shooter "Void Bastards," which made a big impression at FanFest).
At the start of the year, Xbox Game Pass had been redefined as the day-and-date home for big releases from Microsoft's internal studios -- "Halo," "Sea of Thieves," "Forza Horizon 4" and so on -- and one of those big names, superpowered law enforcement joint "Crackdown 3," originally due November 2017, received a long-awaited final release date of February 15, 2019.
In addition, there was a preview of "Crackdown 3" multiplayer mode, while 2007's Xbox 360 "Crackdown" is being given away as a free download until November 30. Among its other announcements, Xbox also began reclaiming two franchises traditionally associated with PlayStation: "Kingdom Hearts" and "Final Fantasy." Winnie the Pooh, increasing in popularity thanks to a recent movie adaptation, will be part of the Disney character roster appearing in "Kingdom Hearts III," a franchise whose previous two core entries were PlayStation-only.
Similarly, the "Final Fantasy" franchise -- well-associated with PlayStation -- was given its own FanFest spot: Xbox 360 copies of "Final Fantasy XIII," "XIII-2," and "Lightning Returns" will work on Xbox One from this week; franchise entries "VII," "IX," "X," "X-2," and "XII" will arrive on XBO in some form or another in 2019.
As for Sony, its usual end-of-year PlayStation Experience fan event will not take place in 2018, attributed to a lack of big game announcements. The omission raises expectations of a PlayStation 5 announcement in 2019, while PlayStation can present its combined subscription and online access service, PlayStation Plus, as even more wallet-friendly than Xbox Game Pass.
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