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Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass will end your free time forever

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor

Microsoft (MSFT) wants you to play video games until you become one with your couch. And to do that, the company is rolling out its new Xbox Game Pass subscription service.

Available Friday for Xbox Live Gold members and coming June 1 for everyone else, Game Pass is a kind of Netflix for gaming that gives you unlimited access to more than 100 Xbox 360 and Xbox One titles via your Xbox One and One S consoles.

At $10 per month, Game Pass sounds like a heck of a deal. Out of the gate, Microsoft is offering games like “Halo 5: Guardians,” “BioShock Infinite” and “WWE 2K16,” as well as a host of Xbox 360 games.

But while that’s a good deal for gamers, it could be a huge problem for the world’s largest games retailer: GameStop (GME). But I’m still not exactly sold on the idea for gamers with limited time on their hands.

Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass service will let you download Xbox 360 and Xbox One games on your Xbox One.Son

Sony’s streaming service

Microsoft isn’t the only company offering an online gaming service, though. Sony (SNE), Microsoft’s chief rival in the home gaming console market, has its own service called PS Now.

That service, which costs $45 for a 3-month subscription, allows you to stream games rather than download them to your device, which can be a problem if your internet connectivity is on the slower side. Sony, however, not only lets you stream games on your PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro, but on Windows 10 computers, as well.

Sony, though, doesn’t currently allow you to stream PS4 games, instead, limiting you to PlayStation 3 games. That’s expected to change this summer when Sony finally adds PS4 games to its portfolio.

GameStop’s sorrows

Download and streaming services like Xbox Game Pass and PS Now are great for gamers, but problematic for the likes of the world’s largest games retailer, GameStop.

The company, which recently posted better than expected Q1 results, thanks in part to Nintendo’s new Switch console, has been suffering as gamers increasingly purchase their games via downloads.

In fact, GameStop recently reported that it saw an 8% decline in game sales. That has forced the retailer to spread out to new options like smartphone and collectible sales.

With Microsoft and Sony getting in on the game streaming and downloads service for older games GameStop looks to be in even greater trouble.

Like Netflix, but not exactly

Microsoft and Sony’s offerings sound like they’re essentially a version of Netflix for gamers, but that’s not exactly the case. See, Netflix (NFLX) is a service that you continually go back to in order to watch entire series of shows and movies, as well as an increasing number of original offerings.

Microsoft and Sony’s services rely on older games that you’re unlikely to use on a daily basis. See, if you get a new game that takes 60 hours to complete, chances are you’re not going to go looking for an old game to play on Games Pass or PS Now.

That’s because games require more attention than following a TV series or movie franchise. If you’ve got limited time to game, like most adult gamers, you’re likely to find that you don’t need a service like Game Pass or PS Now.

But if you’re a gamer with a lot of free time and want to catch up on some great older releases, Game Pass and PS Now are great places to start.

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Email Daniel at
dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.