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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Saqib Shah

Microsoft slashes Game Pass trial period before Starfield lands

It’s hard to keep up with all the changes Microsoft is making to its popular Game Pass service.

Already this year, the tech titan has caused confusion by upping the price of a monthly subscription, introducing a basic tier as a replacement for Xbox Live Gold, and diluting a discount used by canny gamers.

If all that wasn’t enough, Microsoft is now reducing the amount of time you can play Game Pass for super cheap. The move pre-empts the launch of a blockbuster Xbox exclusive called Starfield that has the gaming world in a frenzy.

As part of the latest change, Microsoft has halved the duration of its Game Pass introductory offer from one month to 14 days.

The option basically allows new members to sample any of the service’s three subscription plans for £1, instead of the regular price of £7.99 to £12.99. Due to recurring billing, players who forget to cancel before the trial period ends are then on the hook for a higher subscription cost.

Microsoft has taken a haphazard approach to the introductory offer. The fact that the trial wasn’t completely free was already a bit odd, but then the company removed it altogether in March. It was then reinstated earlier this month.

Despite the recent chaos, Game Pass is still one of the best deals in gaming.

The Netflix-style service offers more than 300 playable titles, with new games added every month, including exclusives the same day they release. That applies to Starfield, an upcoming Space adventure that is locked to Xbox.

The game will land on Game Pass when it launches on September 6, allowing players to jump into the action straightaway. Forget buying or downloading a copy, eager gamers will even be able to instantly stream Starfield on Game Pass’s priciest Ultimate subscription.

Bethesda, the iconic studio behind the new game, is known for making mammoth solo adventures like Skyrim that can take hundreds of hours to fully complete. Therefore, a mere two weeks probably won’t get you very far in Starfield, unless you’re unemployed or have no life.

The game is said to have one million lines of dialogue and more than 1,000 planets to explore.

Yet, even in its reduced form, the Game Pass trial is a shrewd way for players to try-before-they-buy at a time when major titles are being released with bugs, or falling short of expectations.

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