Pc game

Here’s what we think of the potential for Xbox PC Game Pass in Malaysia

If you’re a 90s kid, there’s a 99% chance you’ve skipped classes or curriculum activities to go to an internet cafe with your friends. It is one of our favorite pastimes to play various computer games like Counter-Strike 1.6 and StarCraft. However, most of us gave that up when we started working and “coming of age”.

Then 2020 came and the pandemic happened. For me, I managed to find my way back to PC gaming, but it’s not something every Malaysian can get into. In case you missed it, Microsoft officially launched the Xbox PC Game Pass recently in Southeast Asia. Not only Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines got it, but also Malaysia, which is very good news. But is it worth subscribing to PC Game Pass? Short answer – Heck yes. Long answer – read below!

Advantage #1- The annual subscription is more affordable than the price of an average video game

For real, the Xbox PC Game Pass membership price is well worth it (I did the math). For reference, a new triple A title can easily cost between RM200 and RM300. If you want to get your hands on Halo Infinite (Campaign), you’ll find that it’s currently priced at RM199 on Steam.

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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. It’s still cheaper than buying Halo Infinite or any other triple-A title game. Plus, you can play other popular games and many titles from 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 websitebut they are just the tip of the iceberg.

I also mentioned Bethesda and EA, which I think needs no introduction. But for the purposes of this editorial, here it is. Bethesda is known for producing many popular games like DOOM Eternal (one of my favorites), the Fallout series, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Wolfenstein series, and Ghostwire: Tokyo, which launched on the PlayStation 5. Then for EA, you have EA Sports titles, the Battlefield series, Dragon Age Inquisition, Mass Effect, Star Wars, The Sims and many more.

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Bethesda (left) and EA Play (right) 66games

Again, for just RM180 per year you can play all of these games and many new ones to come (hint: Blizzard Entertainment games since the company was recently acquired by Microsoft). Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that new game launches will be available on PC Game Pass from day one! Enough said.

Cons #1 – Most Malaysians prefer mobile games

While PC Game Pass sounds great so far (and it is), there’s still one problem: mobile gaming dominance. It’s no secret that mobile games in Malaysia are very popular and smartphone saturation is high. In reality, Malaysians spent over $673 million (~RM2.931 billion) on video games. In 2019 alone, 75% of sales came from the mobile segment. Since then, I can only imagine that the number and rate of adoption has increased during the pandemic over those two years.

Most mobile phones are affordable, and the mid-range models are more than enough to play several mobile games. Mobile games also don’t have such high requirements as some PC games. Additionally, the continued shortage of chipsets has made it difficult to get new gaming rigs, laptops, and consoles, especially the PS5 which is still up for pre-order till date since its debut in Malaysia.

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Popular mobile games on Apple App Store (left) and Google Play Store (right)

Although mobile games are not on the same playing field as PC or console games, the fact remains that most casual users are ok with it because it is more accessible. Additionally, they’re often free to play, but with in-game items and gacha purchases that might tempt mobile gamers to spend more than they should. Either way, Malaysians are likely to choose free games over PC and console games any day.

Cons #2 – PlayStation Plus, Nintendo Switch Online and Steam Competition

Mobile gaming aside, Xbox competes with Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Switch. Both consoles have been in the Malaysian market for so long that they have (sort of) held Microsoft back from taking action so far.

Additionally, PlayStation Plus recently got a facelift and now comes with a more attractive price tag. For the most affordable package – the PS Plus Essential, you pay either RM29 per month, RM69 per quarter or RM159 per year. It’s the same as the previous PS Plus package which offers two downloadable games per month, exclusive discounts, cloud storage for saved games and online multiplayer access.

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Here are the rest of the PS Plus packages

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Nintendo Switch Online Membership Pricing for Individuals

The Nintendo Switch Online is less appealing because it has no local price. But for context, Malaysian Switch gamers often use an online family subscription and pay an average of RM25 per year (per experience). There is also an expansion pack subscription for individual and family users which is very upsetting to fans (you can read comments on youtube video). However, the eShop will feature a one-of-a-kind winter sale that offers affordable prices. They can be cheaper than bargain prices, starting at an average price of RM150.

Last but not least, there is Steam. Valve’s platform has been the go-to PC gaming platform for many years. And it has quarterly sales with games at much more affordable prices than their console counterparts (for example, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Game of the Year Edition can go down to RM25.80). Not to mention that Steam also offers a lot more games than are available through the Xbox PC Game Pass. Steam veterans may find it difficult to settle in if they have already played many of the games available there. I guess it’s also worth mentioning the Epic Games Store which offers free games every week.

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The Witch 3: Wild Hunt – GoTY Edition (left) and weekly free games by Epic Games Store (right)

Conclusion – It depends on the platform you play on

Ultimately, every gaming platform has its pros and cons, and it really depends on which one suits your gaming lifestyle. If you love PC gaming, then PC Game Pass and Steam are the excellent choices. But if you’re just starting your PC gaming adventure, we highly recommend PC Game Pass.

Which gaming platform do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below and stay tuned for more TechNave.com opinions and tech editorials.