Microsoft unveils new titles as Xbox Game Pass builds momentum

During a dazzling 90-minute presentation filled with game trailers, Microsoft Corp. The company has announced dozens of new titles for its subscription service, Xbox Game Pass, including many from the major publishers it has purchased in recent years.

The presentation kicked off Sunday in Los Angeles and ended with two big games next year from publisher Bethesda, which Microsoft bought in 2020: Redfall, a first-person shooter in which players battle vampires, and Starfield, a role-playing game in in the space. Microsoft also highlighted Overwatch 2 from Activision Blizzard Inc. , which will enter early access in October with its free competitive multiplayer mode, and Diablo IV, which will arrive in 2023.

All four games will be on Xbox Game Pass, which is the core of Microsoft’s gaming strategy and the reason it paid $7.5 billion for Bethesda and bought Activision Blizzard for $69 billion. Game Pass allows users to pay monthly for unlimited access to a growing list of hundreds of games. Microsoft has made a big bet on Game Pass, which said in January it had 25 million subscribers, who pay at least $10 a month.

Instead of entering into a hardware duel with its competitors Sony Group Corp. , the manufacturer of PlayStation, and Nintendo Co. Microsoft is making Netflix for gaming — and by many accounts it’s already close to doing so. Almost every game on the front ends with chyron saying, “Play it on day one with a Game Pass,” a constant reminder of the company’s strategy.

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The Microsoft Show is an annual tradition that usually takes place during the E3 trade show, where the largest video game publishers gather to showcase new and upcoming projects. But this year’s E3 was canceled, and other publishers like Ubisoft and Sony skipped their annual presentations, giving Microsoft a solo spot on Sunday.

During the presentation, Microsoft also announced a new Minecraft game called Minecraft Legends as well as several colorful indie titles such as the action game called Ravenlok and the adventure game called Cocoon, all of which will be available on Game Pass on the day they launch.

One of the highlights of the show was Pentiment, a medieval narrative adventure game with a unique art style, from developer Obsidian Entertainment Inc. Owned by Microsoft, although the game has no combat and is likely to have a special appeal, it may well be suitable for Game Pass. , where demo games can flesh out the lineup without necessarily having to sell huge numbers.

Microsoft has also put Game Pass as a service that will come in handy for otherwise free games. During the show, Riot Games Inc. It will partner with Xbox to give Game Pass subscribers access to paid content for its games, which include League of Legends and Valorant. Anyone who subscribes to Game Pass will have access to all the heroes of these games, which are usually sold separately, for free.

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