A GameStop tweet promoting a demo day when folks can come in and play some games on Xbox consoles using “Microsoft Game Pass” has injected more chaos and controversy into the ongoing, apocalyptic Xbox drama—set off by reports of exclusive games like Starfield coming to PS5—currently affecting console warriors and devoted fans. And while the tweet and its promo image likely mean nothing, the reaction shows how jumpy some Xbox fans currently are.
For those who might be out there in the real world, living their lives, blissfully unaware of the Church of Xbox apocalypse currently happening online, let me catch you up. Over the February 3 weekend, reports and rumors began to circulate that Xbox was planning (or at least talking about) bringing some of its big exclusives to PlayStation. This included Starfield, Halo, and Gears of War. The reaction online from some of the more…let’s say, “passionate” Xbox fans was initially to dismiss the reports. But as more folks corroborated the info, Xbox insiders began hearing similar whispers, and Xbox boss Phil Spencer vaguely responded to the rumors and promised more information next week, the tone shifted and some began yelling, crying, and mourning the (still not confirmed, very unlikely) death of Microsoft’s console brand. This has since grown into a general sense of “What is happening at Xbox?” online. That might explain why a fairly innocuous GameStop promo image has set off a whole bunch of people.
On February 7, the official GameStop Twitter/X/whatever account posted a promo image for an Xbox demo day. Seems fine enough. But when referring to Game Pass, the company used the term “Microsoft Game Pass.” This is odd. Normally, I don’t think anyone would really care. However, we ain’t in normal times right now.
A retweet from Wario64 pointing out the phrase “Microsoft Game Pass” went viral online and theories were quickly spun up, with many pointing to this as more evidence that Microsoft was planning to kill the Xbox brand or use it for hardware only. Others suggested that it was Microsoft rebranding the subscription service— which grants you access to hundreds of games for a monthly fee—so it could be used on Switch or PlayStation.
There were also people who were like, “Hey, this is probably just a weird mistake.” They were mostly ignored as console warriors on both sides used this as evidence of…something! Something bad. Windows Central reporter Jez Corden claimed that he was told this was all GameStop’s doing and has no connection to Xbox plans. And yeah, that’s probably the case.
Kotaku has reached out to GameStop for more information.
The story would have ended here, folks, but then GameStop went and deleted the tweet as I was writing up this post. This, as you might expect, convinced some that it was a mistake. It also convinced some “passionate” gamers that it was actually evidence that GameStop let the cat out of the bag too early and the death of Xbox as a brand really is coming soon. The end is nigh and all that.
Anyway, the reality is that GameStop likey made a mistake. Or, someone realized that using the term “Microsoft Game Pass” right now would set off a firestorm of speculation that would lead to more coverage and online discussion of an event that, let’s be real here, would never have been covered by most places or talked about online by gamers if this whole thing hadn’t spiraled out of control.
All I can say is: I’m not sure Xbox believers and console fanboys can wait until next week to learn what, if anything, is happening.