Here's what we think about the Xbox PC Game Pass potential in Malaysia
If you're a 90's kid, there's a 99% chance you may have skipped class or curriculum activities to go to a cybercafe with your friends. It's one of our favourite pastimes to play various computer games like Counter-Strike 1.6 and StarCraft. However, most of us dropped that when we started working and "adulting".
Then 2020 came and the pandemic happened. For me, I managed to find my way back to PC gaming but it's not an activity that every Malaysian can get into. In case you missed it, Microsoft officially launched the Xbox PC Game Pass in Southeast Asia recently. Not only did Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines get it but also Malaysia, which is super great news. But is it worth subscribing to PC Game Pass? Short answer - Heck yes. Long answer - read on below!
Pro #1- The yearly subscription fee is more affordable than the price of an average video game
For real, the subscription price for Xbox PC Game Pass is totally worth it (I did the math). For reference, a new triple-A title can easily cost between RM200-RM300. If you want to get your hands on Halo Infinite (campaign), you'll find that it's currently priced at RM199 on Steam.
Only RM5 for 3 months?!
In comparison, the monthly subscription for the PC Game Pass is RM15 (after the three-month promo for new users at RM5/month). Even if you pay it annually, it's only RM180 per year. That's still cheaper than buying Halo Infinite or any other triple-A title game. What's more, you get to play other popular games and numerous titles under Bethesda and EA.
Pro #2 - So many games you can play without buying
Besides Halo Infinite, there are tons of other games you can play (besides the Halo series). This includes Minecraft, Forza Horizon 5, and Age of Empires IV. These games are currently advertised on the Xbox SEA website, but they're just the tip of the iceberg.
I also mentioned Bethesda and EA, which I believe don't need any introduction. But for the sake of this editorial, here it goes. Bethesda is known for producing many popular games with the likes of DOOM Eternal (one of my favourites), the Fallout series, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Wolfenstein series, and Ghostwire: Tokyo, which was launched on the PlayStation 5. Then for EA, you have EA Sports titles, Battlefield series, Dragon Age Inquisition, Mass Effect, Star Wars, The Sims and many others.
Bethesda (left) and EA Play (right) 66games
Again, for just RM180 per year, you can play all these games and many upcoming new ones (hint: Blizzard Entertainment games since the company got acquired by Microsoft recently). Also, it's worth mentioning that new game launches will be available on the PC Game Pass on day one! Enough said.
Con #1 - Most Malaysians prefer mobile gaming
While the PC Game Pass sounds great so far (and it is), there is still one problem - mobile gaming dominance. It's no secret that mobile gaming in Malaysia is super popular, and the smartphone saturation rate is high. In fact, Malaysians spent over $673 million (~RM2.931 billion) on video games. In 2019 alone, 75% of sales were from the mobile segment. Since then, I can only imagine that the numbers and adoption rate have increased during the pandemic over these two years.
Most mobile phones are affordable, and the mid-range models are more than good enough to play several mobile games. Mobile games also don't have requirements as high as some PC games. Furthermore, the ongoing chipset shortage has made it hard to get new gaming rigs, laptops and consoles, especially the PS5 which is still on pre-order until this day since its debut in Malaysia.
Popular mobile games on the Apple App Store (left) and Google Play Store (right)
While mobile games aren't on the same playing field as PC or console games, the fact remains that most casual users are okay with this because they're more accessible. Furthermore, they're often free to play, albeit with in-game items and gacha purchases that could make mobile gamers spend more than they should. Anyway, Malaysians will probably choose free games over PC and console games any given day.
Con #2 - PlayStation Plus, Nintendo Switch Online and Steam competition
Putting mobile gaming aside, Xbox has some competition from Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Switch. Both consoles have been in the Malaysian market for so long that they have (kind of) hindered Microsoft from taking action until now.
Moreover, PlayStation Plus was recently revamped, and it now offers a more attractive price. For the most affordable package - the PS Plus Essential, you pay either RM29 per month, RM69 quarterly or RM159 yearly. It's the same as the previous PS Plus package that offers two monthly downloadable games, exclusive discounts, cloud storage for saved games and online multiplayer access.
Nintendo Switch Online Membership pricing for individuals
The Nintendo Switch Online is less appealing because it doesn't have a local price. But for context, Malaysian Switch gamers often use an Online Family Membership and pay RM25 per year on average (speaking from experience). There's also an Expansion Pack membership for both individual and family users that fans were pretty upset about (you can read the comments on the YouTube video). However, the eShop will have a once in a blue moon Winter Sale that offers affordable prices. They can get cheaper than secondhand prices, starting from an average price of RM150.
Last but not least, there's Steam. Valve's platform has been the go-to PC gaming platform for many years. And it has quarterly sales with games at way more affordable prices than their console counterparts (e.g. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Game of the Year Edition can go as low as RM25.80). Not to mention, Steam also has much more games than available via the Xbox PC Game Pass. Steam veterans may have a tough time moving there if they have already played plenty of games available in the latter. I guess it's also worth mentioning the Epic Games Store that gives free games weekly.
The Witch 3: Wild Hunt - GoTY Edition (left) and weekly free games by Epic Games Store (right)
Conclusion - It depends on which platform you play
At the end of the day, each gaming platform has its pros and cons, and it really depends on which one suits your gaming lifestyle. If you're into PC gaming, then the PC Game Pass and Steam are great choices. But if you have only just begun your PC gaming journey, we highly recommend the PC Game Pass.
Which gaming platform do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below, and do stay tuned for more trending tech opinions and editorials at TechNave.com.