Xbox are very keen at the moment to encourage xbox gamers to migrate to its GamePass offerring.

Which in turn would reinforce the habit of downloading games rather than buying physical media.

Not sure if I'll ever get on board with it, indeed if I don't I suspect I'll end being pushed off the Xbox platform.

When Xbox One was launched, Microsoft wanted to tightly control and even prevent via DRM the resale of games. A move that was unpopular and they ended up backtracking on.

It seems to me the DRM issues when Xbox One was launched preventing sharing / resale of games is being replaced by trying to encourage everyone to use download only games rather than physical media. Meaning Microsoft / Xbox get to control (and kill) the resale market that way instead.

About GamePass

In case you've not come across it (unlikely if you're into Xbox or Windows gaming), Xbox game pass is a subscript that allows members access to a library of games to download and play as they feel like it. Without buying the physical media.

On the face of it Xbox GamePass seems like a good deal. Pay a monthly fee and get access to countless games to download directly to your Xbox.
At the time of writing (January 2022) prices for either (Windows) PC or Xbox membership are £7.99 a month. Or £10.99 a month to have access on both platforms.

Costs of downloaded games on Xbox vs physical media

Now Xbox would have you believe GamePass is a bargain based on price of buying the games seperately. This might be true of top titles in the first months of release and you spend A LOT of time playing.

£7.99 for a month of access to that new AAA game? Doesn't sound so bad compared to the new price of a game more like £50+. Of course physical media games don't hold those prices long. In the Xbox store however, they remain costly a lot longer.

Title Compare date Release date Xbox store
Ebay UK
(used disc)
Ebay UK sold
(new disc)
Amazon UK
(new disc)
Gears 5 19th Jan 2022 Sept 2019 £34.99 £2 - 12 £4-12 £20
Battlefield 2042 19th Jan 2022 Nov 2021 £59.99 £23 £33-40 £40.95
Jumangi: The Video Game 19th Jan 2022 Nov 2021 £34.99 £10-15 £10-22 £22
State of Decay 2 : Juggernaut edition 19th Jan 2022 May 2018 £24.99 £5-6 £6-7 £7
Gears of war 3 (360 game) 19th Jan 2022 Mar 2012 £6 £2.50-3.50 £5-7 £23 (!)
GTA 5 19th Jan 2022 Nov 2014 Not available £12 £18  n/a used only
GTA 5 premium edition 19th Jan 2022 Dec 2017 £24.99 £14 £19 £15-21
Fallout 4 19th Jan 2022 Nov 2015 £15.74 £2.20 £5 £5
Titanfall 2 19th Jan 2022 Oct 2016 £19.99 £3-4 £3-6  £7
Sunset Overdrive 19th Jan 2022 Oct 2014 £14.99 £3-4 £6  £7
These prices are all based on Xbox One versions & avoiding any special editions unless stated.
Ebay prices are for recent (at time of comparison) completed sales.
Ebay used prices must be for items 'very good' or 'like new'.
Ebay prices include postage to mainland UK.

So hopefully it's clear to see from the few samples in the table above how the download games don't seem to drop as much in price as their physical counterparts. It should also be clear that with physical media you always have the option of selling it or swapping with a mate so it still has some value. Once a download game is purchased it has zero onward value.

Why I've not subscribed to Xbox GamePass

First off, I don't play xbox games as much as I used to. Tends to be a few hours a week tops, unless I decide I want to attack the achievements of a particular game. I'm not generally a buyer of top AAA games as soon as they launch, I tend to wait a bit for the price to drop. Given older games can be had for a fraction the price of brand new releases, there's plenty out there to entertain me. So the would be savings agains the prices in Xbox store really aren't that great as prices there are artificially high. I do visit my older games from time to time, there's no guarantee the downloaded version will continue to work. It could be removed from GamePass at any minute (same problem with NowTV / Netflix etc). If you must have the latest titles now and play several big titles a month, yeah GamePass would probably work for you. For us more casual players, not so much.


I also feel for those kids that wouldn't be able to afford newest games all the time, for them the availablity of used physical media is essential to keep playing.