Game Pass Core replaces Xbox Live Gold, a subscription service that has been around for more than 20 years, having been introduced in 2002.
If you are a current Xbox Live Gold subscriber, you will automatically be moved over to Game Pass Core.
What’s the difference? This new service offers a core library of games, rather than the monthly Games with Gold feature of Xbox Live Gold, which let you unlock a small handful of titles each month.
There are 36 titles in this initial roster, compared to 474 currently listed on the full Xbox Game Pass. Here’s the list:
DOOM Eternal Standard Edition
Forza Horizon 4 Standard Edition
Gears 5 Game of the Year Edition
Golf with your Friends
Halo 5: Guardians
Halo Wars 2
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Human Fall Flat
Ori & the Will of the Wisps
Payday 2: Crimewave Edition
Slay the Spire
Spiritfarer: Farewell Edition
State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition
The Elder Scrolls Online
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
Microsoft says this core game library will change “two to three times a year”. This is quite different to the standard Game Pass roster, which gets a drip-feed of new titles each month, while a handful leave the service at the end of the month.
Looking through this list of titles, the Game Pass Core library is clearly made up predominantly of “indie” games and higher-scale productions from first-party Xbox Studios. There’s arguably not a bad game among them — while Fallout 76 was widely criticised initially, though it is considered a “good” game in 2023.
However, you don’t get access to the latest and greatest of Xbox. Game Pass Core includes Forza Horizon 4, rather than Forza Horizon 5, for example. And you don’t get to play Starfield, the most talked-about Xbox exclusive of the year.
Microsoft says Game Pass Core will continue to cost the same amount as Xbox Live Gold, currently £6.99 a month or £49.99 for the year. Meanwhile, Sony recently increased the prices of its base PS Plus Essential subscription to £59.99 a year, although it also costs £6.99 monthly.
Not keen on the new model? At first glance, the base Game Pass Console service may seem a much better deal.
It costs £8.99 a month and grants access to hundreds more games, including Starfield. This subscription does not include online multiplayer access, though. For that, you’ll need either Xbox Game Pass Core or the £12.99 a month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which also adds PC game access and titles from publisher EA’s game library.