High On Life is now the most popular game in Game Pass

A spooky alien gun stares at the camera while the player holds a wide-eyed red alien in the other hand.

screenshot: squanch games

Crazy shooter high in lifejust a week after its initial release on PC and Xbox Game Pass, is currently the service’s most popular game, beating out well-known Xbox titles and long-running games like Minecraft. It’s a sign that the shooter has plenty of fans, but also an indication of how sparse Xbox’s big first-party offerings have been in 2022.

Released December 13th on Game Pass, high in life received mixed reviews by critics and was initially a mess at launch. Shortly after release, a patch fixing some of the worst performance issues and the Game is now better playable (if you do not mind Rick and Morty-like humor.) And it seems that a lot of people decided to give high in life go, according to the limited data we have across Xbox.com and the Game Pass app.

On the official Xbox websiteyou can see a general list of “Most Popular” Game Pass games, and according to this page — as of 5:20 p.m. EST on December 19 —high in life is the most popular title from the entire Game Pass collection. A look at the Game Pass app on Android and iOS reveals a similar story, although the list in the app is slightly different, with Lego Star Wars not second, but sixth. (My guess for the slight discrepancy: the app and website pull the same data, but at different times.) Meanwhile, on the PC Game Pass app, high in life is also at the top, before dark tide and Microsoft Solitaire.

A collage of screenshots shows High On Life as the most popular game in all of Game Pass.

screenshot: Xbox / Kotaku

So, on the one hand, that’s a great thing high in life Developers Squanch Games and Justin Roiland. Many people play the new shooter on Xbox and PC. This is great for all 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 everything seems like a remake, sequel, or reboot. But on the other hand, that also seems like a small indictment of the current state of Game Pass and its lack of strong, newer first-party releases. While Sony and Nintendo are releasing big exclusives such as God of War and PokemonMicrosoft hasn’t been able to ship its own similar big-name titles in 2022.

This year, Microsoft just released one new game for Xbox and PC developed by one of the in-house studios: the historical storytelling game Buses from obsidian. Regardless of what you think of this game, that’s not a great achievement 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. Would high in life performed almost as well and were just as popular in Game Pass in 2021 compared to these titles? I do not know. I can’t see into alternate dimensions. But I think a lack of big games from Xbox (and in general this year) has helped smaller and medium-sized titles, such as Bad West and high in life, do better than usual. Which is also good in the long run. But how long will a large portion of Game Pass subscribers continue to pay for the service if the The biggest games that matter, matter elsewhere and Xbox big hitters, like transmission and glorioleare nowhere to be seen?

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