Microsoft made a sweeping announcement this week that all first-party games will be available on their Xbox Game Pass subscription service, including new releases, on day one of their respective release dates. That includes future first-party releases such as Sea of Thieves, Crackdown 3, and State of Decay 2. Microsoft is teaming with several retailers and selling a six-month pass for $59.99. The idea is somewhat genius and actually cuts out retailers and allows gamers to try out games through the service. If they don’t like the game they don’t have to buy it and they could let their let their subscription expire if they don’t enjoy the games. It’s much more economical than paying $60 for one game. Some retailers aren’t happy about this though. An Austrian retailer is refusing to sell Xbox products as a result of the announcement. While their lineup of first-party games is small, the Xbox One does have a lot of good games. If Gears of War 5, Halo 6, or Forza Horizon 4 come out in the near future, watch out. Microsoft may be back. I have been critical of the Xbox in the past, especially due to their lack of exclusives. 2017 was not a good year for them. This seems like it’s being rectified though. “Moving forward, we plan to release all new Xbox One exclusive games from Microsoft Studios into Xbox Game Pass on the same date as their global release. This means that when Sea of Thieves launches on March 20, it will be included in Xbox Game Pass to all members. This plan to bring new games timed with their global release into Xbox Game Pass not only includes announced titles like Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2 and Crackdown 3 but future unannounced games from Microsoft Studios including new iterations of our biggest Xbox One exclusive franchises such as Halo, Forza and Gears of War, on the same day they launch.“ The mention from Microsoft’s announcement about Halo, Forza, and Gears of War may be a subtle hint that something new is on the horizon. If only Halo comes out, this subscription service will explode. I personally am hoping for Gears of War 5, as it’s one of my favorite franchises, but if Microsoft is holding these games close to the chest, it’s possible we could see at least two games from these franchises release this year. “Our fans have also asked for more choice in the subscription offerings available for Xbox Game Pass. As part of today’s library expansion, we are also pleased to announce that we are working closely with our retail partners, such as GameStop, to offer a 6-month Xbox Game Pass subscription card for those fans who look for a variety of ways to purchase and enjoy new games and services. The 6-month Xbox Game Pass subscription card will be available at select retail partners for $59.99 beginning March 20. By working closely with retail partners, Xbox Game Pass will have valuable ambassadors in popular destinations for gamers to discover new and exciting games and enjoy community.” This is a bold move by Microsoft. It will definitely cut into the used game market and even new game sales, which will alienate retailers. It’s gutsy, and it is exactly what the industry needs. When the Xbox One was first announced they had bold ideas such as this. Originally, the Xbox One was going to allow you to share games with 10 family members and could transfer a game to a friend for 30 days without a physical disc. Games were going to be bound to one’s Xbox Live account. You could access your games from any Xbox One using your Xbox Live account. Microsoft caved due to pressure though and reversed this policy, which in retrospect was a huge mistake. Bold risks are what this industry needs. Both Microsoft and gamers win here, while retailers are left in the dust. I love this move. Microsoft is definitely moving in the right direction in 2018. First-party games will be available starting on March 20, and hopefully they have more announcements regarding exclusives by that time. It wouldn’t make sense not to, as one of the selling points of this subscription service is access to new Microsoft Studio games on day one. Microsoft isn’t stupid. Last year was a down year, but this year has the potential to be their best year yet if they play their cards right. This Xbox Game Pass announcement is a fantastic first step, and it’s in the best interest of gamers, not greedy retailers.