Xbox owners who are part of the company’s Insiders program may have noticed something different about their consoles this week. Rolling out as a test of potential UI changes coming to the console next year, Xbox Insiders will see a new home screen that overhauls the user experience. Now, with videos of the potential new UI starting to surface, it seems one of the biggest changes it brings to the dashboard is an obsession with Game Pass.
The Insiders Program is a place that lets players check out in-progress content and features coming to Xbox consoles. You can register to participate in the community for free by downloading the Insider Hub on a Windows or Xbox device. While anyone can become an Insider, not everyone will get selected to preview the new dashboard. In fact, Xbox said in a blog post last week that “a random subset of Xbox Insiders in the Alpha Skip-Ahead ring” will see these experimental changes. So, lucky you if you get chosen. You get to be the guinea pig for changes that may or may not eventually make their way to the rest of us.
Anyway, Xbox detailed some of the changes being made to streamline the dashboard experience. This includes adding a row of quickly accessible games you can “jump back in” to play at the top. Right below that are apps like “My Games” and the store hovering in their own dedicated tiles to make them easier to get to. And finally, as you scroll through the revamped dashboard, you’ll see “curated categories and recommendations” tailored to your preferences, according to Xbox. Of course, these suggestions are swapped out regularly whenever your home screen gets refreshed.
But maybe the biggest change to the dashboard in this potential future overhaul is just how prominently Xbox Game Pass is featured. As shown in a video by game guide YouTuber Maka91Productions, the company’s subscription service basically dominates the home screen now. Next to the store icon in Maka’s video are several advertisements for Game Pass, either showing what’s currently available to play or what you can save money on with a subscription. When Maka scrolled under the top two bars on his dashboard, he was inundated with some “recently added” titles to Game Pass, the “most popular” Game Pass hits, a handful of the “most played” games, and other categories largely populated by or explicitly dedicated to Game Pass.
“This is very much centered around Game Pass now,” Maka said. “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.