Microsoft has a lot of news for Xbox owners and Game Pass fans this morning. In an announcement post, the company shared its plans to expand the Xbox app directly to Samsung smart TVs, opening up the streaming platform to players in Argentina and New Zealand. There are also some new gaming-focused tweaks to the Edge browser. But the most interesting tidbit is that the Xbox Game Pass will allow players to stream games that they’ve already purchased, not just the Netflix-style library of games the service currently boasts.
Details are slim at the moment. Microsoft is planning to offer this functionality “later this year,” and it’ll include “select games [you] already own or have purchased outside the Xbox Game Pass library.” Whether that means Xbox console games, PC games, or both was not elucidated — Game Pass supports both for streaming. However it’s achieved, this functionality would likely be tied to a user’s digital library to provide licensing and ownership verification. That would mean only digital games purchased via the Xbox Games Store on consoles or the Microsoft Store on PCs would be eligible.
Expanding Xbox Game Pass to include both a subscription library and users’ already-purchased games would give it a leg up on other streaming platforms. Notably, GeForce Now includes zero games in its subscription offerings (unless you count free-to-play titles), instead relying on users’ existing libraries of purchased games on Steam and the Epic Games Store. Smaller services like Google Stadia allow players to purchase individual games, but they’re locked to the streaming service and there’s no way to add titles you’ve purchased elsewhere.
An unlikely but amazing feature would be the ability to link games purchased from outside platforms to Xbox Game Pass streaming, the way GeForce Now does with your Steam and Epic purchases. But we get ahead of ourselves. Streaming user-purchased games in addition to a pre-set library will already be enough of a technical and licensing challenge without adding cross-platform headaches. We’ll simply have to wait and see what this more capable Xbox Game Pass looks like later this year.