In the year or so since Microsoft bounded into the next generation console race with its two pronged Xbox Series systems, the publisher's Game Pass subscription service has arguably gone from strength to strength. Even though the monthly or annual fee that players invest in has always provided mouth watering value in return, recent additions like Forza Horizon 5 and the upcoming Halo Infinite will no doubt sweeten the deal even further for fans of the Xbox ecosystem.
Around the time that Microsoft initially announced the Xbox Series X and S, the console manufacturer made a big deal about its plans to continue to support the aging Xbox One. For this reason, the fact that Game Pass is still actively supplying owners of the older console with new games to play isn't all that surprising. Considering the issues that it and Sony are both still battling against when it comes to next generation console manufacturing, it can be argued that this mantra is actually commendable from a moral perspective. Despite this, though, if Game Pass subscribers want to get the absolute most out of their investments, there's four games on the service that are available exclusively on the shiny new systems.
Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020)
Taking just one quick glance at the latest entry in the iconic Microsoft Flight Simulator series and its impressive list of technical features makes it readily apparent why Asobo Studio's game isn't on Xbox One, let alone the platform's subsequent Game Pass offerings. Released in 2020 to widespread critical plaudits on PC, the simply titled Microsoft Flight Simulator finally landed safely on the Xbox Series X and S consoles earlier this year. Like all of the publisher's internally incubated and owned IPs, the simulation game naturally debuted on Game Pass day-and-date for good measure.
Pulling in real-world map data from Microsoft's cloud-based Azure tech to generate its surprisingly accurate rendition of planet Earth, it stands to reason that the Xbox One and its 2014-based hardware would simply be unable to cope with the high performance requirements that the game needs to run smoothly. That's without even factoring in impressive elements like the games procedurally generated AI, volumetric lighting, or raymarching tech. As it stands right now, all of this ensures that Microsoft Flight SImulator is the only recent first party console title in the publisher's repertoire that's not on the Xbox One's version of Game Pass.
Released in August 2021, Recompile is a Metroidvania inspired indie game that puts players into the metaphorical shoes of a sentient computer program that's desperately trying to prevent itself from being deleted. Stylized as a hacking adventure, the existential horror of the game's premise forces players to grapple with the 3D world of the Mainframe, alongside some intense combat, platforming, and puzzle based gameplay loops. While the title does feature some admittedly impressive graphics and visual effects, the fact that developer Phigames is a micro studio is likely the reason why Recompile isn't playable on the Xbox One, or its Netflix-esque Game Pass library. When there's only limited resources available to create a game, it makes sense from a number of management reasons to focus on optimizing the platforms that are going to be around for the next decade.
At the time of its release back in January, The Medium was an important title in the history of the Xbox Series X and S for several intriguing reasons. Not only was the psychological horror game one of the first console exclusives for Microsoft's new next generation systems, it was also subsequently the first arrival on Game Pass that was inaccessible to Xbox One subscribers. While it's fair to say that Bloober Team's Silent Hill-inspired title has polarized opinions on the internet primarily for a few narrative-based design decisions, and has since made its way over to Sony's PS5, it still remains exclusive to the Xbox Series and PC incarnations of the subscription service.
Even though The Medium was first envisioned as a PS3, Wii U and Xbox 360 game back in 2012, the dimension-hopping antics that protagonist Marianne now undertakes during her adventure are likely the reason why Bloober Team has opted to forgo the Xbox One entirely. Based on the occasional technical hiccups that players ran into when the game initially launched, it's easy to imagine that the outgoing Xbox system would struggle to handle the simultaneous rendering of the 'real-world' and ghostly spirit dimension.
Released simultaneously on Xbox Series X, S, and Xbox Game Pass back in October of this year, The Riftbreaker is a base-building strategy game that blends together features like mech-based combat, hack and clash gameplay, and action-RPG elements. Aside from its addictive survival themed mechanics and unique visual identity, The Riftbreaker is also significant to Microsoft's gaming ecosystem thanks to the fact that it hasn't been released on the Xbox One yet. As it stands right now, the only way that subscribers can get access via Game Pass is if they've managed to tack down one of the publisher's still-supply constrained next generation consoles.
It should be noted that when the game was initially unveiled to the world, there was talk that The Riftbreaker would make its way to Xbox One and PS4 at an undetermined point in the future, after its release on PC and the next generation machines. Right now, one month after the initiation of that proposed staged release schedule, there's been no further mention of those last generation ports from its talented Poland-based creator, Exor Studio. If the ports do still come to fruition, it stands to reason that the game would arrive on the Xbox One's version of Game Pass at that time as well. By a similar token to the aforementioned Recompile, though, it would also make sense for a number of money, time, and resource reasons if this particular indie studio opted to concentrate its attention elsewhere, locking the game permanently to the Xbox Series version of Game Pass.
Xbox adding EA Play to its popular Xbox Game Pass service is a win for gamers, but making one tweak could take it to the next level.