Having now addressed some of Crackdown 3’s early issues and, in spite of them, recommended the game, it is important to understand why a game like this is worth recommending. The answer is simple: Game Pass. Microsoft’s “Netflix for games” service is cheaper than buying the game, which we do not recommend doing at anywhere close to the $60 price tag. You can play it on Xbox or PC for the same $10 and if you don’t like it then there are plenty of other games you probably will like available on the service. Crackdown 3 is something of a gateway, a big new release with a checkered past and a crowd of curious but reluctant onlookers who might only see the game for the negative reviews.
Regardless of the overall view of Crackdown 3, people will take a chance, maybe due to love for the original, or because it looks fun despite the criticisms. Microsoft would much rather have you pay $10 to try it than pay full price and rant about it on Twitter (though people, myself included, will still rant on Twitter after spending $10). Game Pass is a service that appeals to a wide variety of gamers, especially those looking to game on the cheap. Even on PC, where the selection is decidedly limited (for now?), there is value in subscribing to Game Pass to play new Microsoft published titles as they release day and date with their Xbox counterparts.
A game like Crackdown 3 might look like fodder for those still fighting the console war, but on the grander scheme, it is more akin to the bevy of Netflix originals coming to that service on a regular basis. Not everyone enjoys every movie or series the service makes, but there is always a group of people who do, who keep their subscription active to watch the next big thing. Microsoft is wisely utilizing a game like Crackdown 3 to add value to that service when it might have otherwise been seen as an impending commercial flop and canceled. Not every game on the service is going to wow everyone, but having more games, exclusive games and first party games makes the service more appealing. Hell, if enough people show interest in the game on the service, they might even make another Crackdown.
I realize that sounds crazy, but let’s say two million people play Crackdown 3 on Game Pass. Two million people is a large number, and I’d be willing to bet it is more than the game will sell at retail. Now you have two million people at least slightly invested in Crackdown, why not make another? You already have the tech established, you have the criticisms clearly available to address, and you have numbers to show that people are still interested in the series. You can make adjustments to the design, perhaps even make a series of smaller games that tell smaller, more focused stories, or even build co-op playgrounds for players to enjoy. The point is, there is an audience that would be interested, a group of subscribers that Microsoft wants to keep happy and, most importantly, paying their $10 a month for the service.
With a service like Game Pass, Microsoft doesn’t need every first-party game to be a AAA blockbuster that sells ten million units. That’s not to say they won’t make those games, but the goal isn’t to sell the games anymore, it is to sell the value of the service. Crackdown 3 adds value to the service, the same way Gears 5 and Halo: Infinite will, and the same way Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, and Forza Horizon 4 did in 2018. With all the talk of Project xCloud and bringing games to every device, it makes sense that Microsoft would want to bolster the strength of their service now to better showcase it later, especially as they plan to bring the service to more devices. Crackdown 3 is an important step in that direction and is exactly the kind of game I want to have Game Pass to play.