Hot off the heels of the 20th anniversary of the original Xbox console, it's the last Xbox on console, PC and cloud streaming thread of 2021! That's right, I said it! It's where we talk about backwards compatibility, absurd demand for limited-run controllers, the inescapable subscription-dominated future, Xbox Game Streaming still
not being on the Switch, and the mental gymnastics necessary to explain how "exclusive" doesn't really mean "exclusive" when Bethesda Studios says it. It surely doesn't!Games with Gold
The original unified network for consoles is still alive (and still required for most
online multiplayer)! Since the beginning of time, users with an "Xbox Live Gold" paid membership will have four free titles made available for download for a limited time--two on Xbox One (which require continued membership) and two on Xbox 360 or original Xbox (which are yours in perpetuity). As with the previous generation, all four are playable Xbox Series consoles. Yes, you do need to actually obtain them within the overlapping four-week opportunity window. Yes, you can get Xbox Live Gold through a normal subscription fee, buying discounted months of membership through vendors, or ab
using Xbox's overly-generous reward program. While original Xbox titles are not playable on original hardware (for obvious reasons), all Xbox 360 titles are (more on that below
).Xbox and PC Game Pass or "The Best Value in Gaming!"
Xbox Game Pass (for consoles) is Microsoft's own subscription gaming catalog service ("Netflix for video games") with hundreds of periodically rotating first and third-party titles across four generations of console hardware, making it attractive for digital-only libraries and people who want to try first party new exclusives (which will make the rounds on the service at the time of their launch). Likewise, the renamed PC Game Pass (for Windows 10 and 11) features an overlapping but different library with a number of PC-only titles that can be installed through the Windows Store App or
Xbox App, or in the case of EA titles, the separate installation service EA Play. However, both services come with their own separate fees--If you want them both, you may wish to consider the Cadillac of Netflix for Games, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate: for less than the combined cost of both services, you can have your Game Pass and
Xbox Live Gold subscriptions in a single plan! Because nothing bad ever came from bundling services! For the time being, it remains possible to extend your Game Pass subscription based on unrelated services "credit" (for example, one year of EA Access translates to four months of Game Pass Ultimate), so make sure you do your research when you're stocking up. Oh yeah, it's complicated
In either service, there is no limit on how many games you can download and install from it, and access is for as long as the subscription holds--permanent purchases made from the catalog are discounted 20%, and DLC by 10%. It still does not
require Xbox Live Gold (though that is part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate). Since 2020, Game Pass Ultimate comes with an additional perk you may be familiar with...Xbox Game Streaming
Like Google's Stadia that everyone's been talking
used to talk about about and the Playstation Now service that Sony never talks about, Xbox Game Streaming (formerly "Project Xcloud") replaces your grandparents' Xbox game from the ancient era of streaming a console over your home network to the sexy future of piping your game in from The Cloud onto not just your mobile devices (so long as they're not made by Nintendo), but also Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles! No longer in free beta, it is now available as a benefit from the Game Pass Ultimate. Play console-quality games on mobile! Take advantage of all the normal Xbox Live services! Drain your phone battery before you know it! Still probably not coming to your favorite non-Xbox console no matter how hard you ask!
Streaming available in the following regions, courtesy of XDA-Developers
- Czech Republic
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States
A full list of current Xbox Game Streaming titles
is available courtesy of the excellent Windows Central website, alongside a full list of touch-compatible titles which are playable without the prerequisite compatible controller.Xbox Backwards Compatibility Library
Say hello to the most extensive backwards compatibility library since Sony left the Playstation 3 unconscious in a bathtub full of ice! Since early in the Project Scarlett reveal, Xbox has committed to bringing the whole of the Xbox One library forward to the Xbox Series consoles, alongside the existing Xbox One-era software backwards compatibilty libraries on all previous Xbox consoles since 2001 excluding Kinect-based titles on Xbox 360 and Xbox One
. Yes, we are as shocked as you. After capping the 20th Anniversary Showcase with more than seventy additions from the original Xbox and Xbox 360
, the powers that be have sorrowfully turned the page on further additions from 2012 and earlier (at least for now), though all new Xbox One releases are playable. In the meantime, pour one out for those games who couldn't be here with us.
Curious if your favorite Xbox 360 or original Xbox game is playable? Check it out!Xbox Series S and Series X joining Xbox One
Yes, both of the new consoles are still frequently sold out. For the luckier among us, here's some of what we're looking forward to in 2022. Watch out for spoilers!Xbox 20th Anniversary ShowcaseOh, god, we're all so old!2021 Xbox Summer Games Showcase (ft. Bethesda and a bunch of other companies)!
(Captioned Audio and ASL versions available on Xbox's Youtube Channel.
)Penny Arcade Forums' Game ClubsPax ArcadiaArcade Squad
(Gears of War
series)The Bees Knees
Additionally, you can find the forums Xbox Live gamertag list here
, and the form to sign up here