Crazy shooter High on lifejust a week after its initial release on PC and Xbox Game Pass, is currently the most popular game on the service, beating out major Xbox titles and long-running games such as Minecraft. It’s a sign that the shooter has a lot of fans, but also an indication of how sparse Xbox’s big first-party offerings have been in 2022.
Released December 13 on Game Pass, High on life received mixed reviews from critics and was initially a mess at launch. Shortly after its release, an update arrived that fixes some of the worst performance issues, and it the game is more playable now (if you don’t mind Rick and Morty-like humor.) And it seems that many have decided to give High on life once, according to the limited data we have via Xbox.com and the Game Pass app.
On the official Xbox websiteyou can see a general list of the “most popular” Game Pass games, and according to this site – from 5:20 PM EST on December 19 –High on life is the most popular title of the entire Game Pass collection. A glance at the Game Pass app on Android and iOS reveals a similar story, although the list on the app is slightly different, with Lego Star Wars not on second but sixth. (My guess for the small discrepancy: the app and website pull from the same data, but at different times.) Meanwhile, on the PC Game Pass app, High on life is also at the top, in front Polar Night and Microsoft Solitaire.
So on the one hand this is a great thing for High on life developer Squanch Games and Justin Roiland. Many people are playing the new shooter on Xbox and PC. It’s great for all the people (and AI algorithms) who worked hard on the game, and it’s nice to see a new IP doing well in an era of gaming where it seems like everything is a remake, sequel, or reboot. But on the other hand, this also seems like a slight indictment of Game Pass’s current state and lack of strong, fresh first-party releases. While Sony and Nintendo put out big exclusives like god of war and PokémonIn 2022, Microsoft has not been able to ship its own similar big name titles.
This year, Microsoft has only released one new game for Xbox and PC which was developed by one of its own in-house studios: the historical narrative game Penitentiary by Obsidian. No matter what you think of that game, it’s not a great score compared to Sony or Nintendo.
In comparison, Xbox Game Studios was released in 2021 Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, Psychonauts 2, and Age of Empires IV. Wanted High on life have done nearly as well and been as popular on Game Pass in 2021, against these titles? I do not know. I can’t see alternate dimensions. But I think lack of big games from Xbox (and in general this year) has helped smaller and medium-sized titles, such as Wicked West and High on life, doing better than usual. Which in the long run is a good thing. But how much longer will a large portion of Game Pass subscribers continue to pay for the service if the biggest games coming on it come elsewhere and Xbox’s big hitters, such as Gears and Hellois nowhere to be seen?