Xbox owners participating in the company’s Insider program may have noticed something different about their console this week. Launched as a testbed of potential UI changes coming to consoles next year, Xbox Insiders will see a new home screen that improves the user experience. Now, with potential new UI videos starting to emerge, it seems like one of the biggest changes it’s bringing to the console is the obsession with Game Pass.
The Insider Program is a place for players to see the content and features in development on the Xbox console. You can Register to join the community for free by downloading the Insider Hub on a Windows or Xbox device. While anyone can become an Insider, not everyone is selected to preview the new dashboard. In fact, Xbox said a blog post last week that “a random subset of Xbox Insiders within Alpha Skip-Ahead” will see these experimental changes. So good luck to you if you get selected. You become a guinea pig for changes that may or may not affect the rest of us.
Anyway, Xbox has detailed some of the changes that are being made to streamline the console experience. This includes adding a row of quick-access games that you can “go back” to play at the top. Directly below are apps like “My Games” and the store housed in their own dedicated tiles to make it easier for them to access. And finally, as you scroll through the revamped dashboard, you’ll see “curated categories and recommendations” tailored to your interests, according to Xbox. Of course, these suggestions are swapped out regularly whenever your home screen is refreshed.
But perhaps the biggest change to the console in this potential future overhaul is how prominent Xbox Game Pass is. As shown in a video by YouTuber Maka91Production’s game guide, the company’s subscription service essentially dominates the home screen right now. Next to the store icon in Maka’s video are some promos for Game Pass, showing what’s available to play or what you can save money on by subscribing. As Maka scrolls below the top two bars on his console, he’s flooded with some of the “recently added” titles to Game Pass, the “most popular” games in Game Pass, a number of “most played” games and other categories that are widely available. by or exclusively for Game Pass.
“This focuses a lot on Game Pass,” says Maka. “You really can’t deny that.”
In the Xbox blog post, the company said that in addition to these new changes, it’s also exploring options for channels and collections curated around topics like “how to make the most out of your Game Pass subscription.” The company also indicated plans to feature results for games you have ready to install or already own as part of your paid subscriptions, including EA Access and, of course, Xbox Game Pass.
In short, it seems that if this new dashboard makes its way to the rest of us in its current form, it will shove Xbox Game Pass down our throats. Game Pass is an excellent service that gives you the chance to discover great games you might’ve missed, and it makes sense that Xbox would promote the hell out of it considering how successful it’s been. Still, this really looks like a bit much, and not a change that will result in a better user experience. However, for now it remains just a test. We’ll presumably have to wait until next year to find out if the company reins in the Game Pass fever that’s on display in this UI.