Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s Netflix-like subscription service, has expanded into a service that could change the way games are released across all platforms.
Yesterday, Microsoft announced that Xbox Game Pass will expand to include new releases from Microsoft Studios the same day those same games hit the shelves of your favorite game store or the digital queue of the Xbox Marketplace. This subscription service, which comes at the reasonable price of $9.99 a month was already well worth the money spent. With Xbox Game Pass, you get access to a library of hundreds of games, including big titles like Halo 5 and Gears of War 4. Not only do you have access to this library, but rather than having to stream these titles–looking at you PS Now–you’re able to download them straight to your Xbox as if you purchased them outright digitally.
It’s a great service for gamers and an especially great service for gamers who keep themselves on a strict budget and/or don’t mind playing a game later than its release date. Toss in this new announcement, which essentially means you don’t need to shell out $60 for Sea of Thieves or State of Decay 2 because they will be available on Xbox Game Pass on day one, and you’ve got yourself an incredibly well-spent $10 a month.
What does this mean for the industry as a whole, though?
If you find yourself playing games on Xbox, you’re no longer shelling out hundreds to play every Xbox exclusive. Let’s say you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass for an entire year. That would cost you $120. That’s the average price of two video games. Assuming you plan to purchase every Xbox exclusive, you’re almost guaranteed to save money. If Microsoft releases two exclusives, you’ve broken even–not to mention the hundreds of other games you have access to via the service. If Microsoft releases three exclusives, you’re saving money.
When I think about what this means for the wider video game industry, I feel two things: 1. Worry. 2. Doubt.
Let’s begin with my worries.
Fast-forward years into the future. You’re an avid gamer who has been using Xbox Game Pass for quite a while. You no longer spend $60 on each Xbox exclusive that you wish to buy. Instead, you load up said exclusive on your system via Xbox Game Pass and dive into Halo 8 or Forza Event Horizon. Imagine if this subscription service, for whatever reason, was shut down. Now, instead of spending $10 the month Halo 9 comes out, which yields you access to the full game, you have to shell out $60 for that game.
You’re not going to feel good about doing this–which is a little sad considering how much work goes into each and every video games (yes, even the ones you hate). Because you don’t feel good about this, you might not buy that game or you might buy fewer games, which overall, hurts the video game marketplace–I know you’re just one person but if thousands and thousands of users feel the same way you do, that’s a lot of sales missed for the team behind the game.
I fear this future.
A future where players feel like $60 per game is too much, especially considering how due I think the industry is for an increase in prices–I, for one, would happily shell out $100 or more for CD Projekt Red’s next game, Cyberpunk 2077.
Moving onto my second point: doubt.
I’m seeing a lot of people talking about how Sony or Nintendo are next to make this move. I doubt this is going to happen.
Without being too blunt, PlayStation is downright dominating the video game industry and with the release of the Switch–the fastest selling console of all-time in the US–Nintendo seems prime to get back into the ring with the big-hitters. Simply put, they don’t need a service that attracts players to spend money. Players are already spending plenty of money on this platform. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild originally sold more copies than Nintendo Switches.
I love Xbox and I’m really loving this turnaround they’ve been making since its disastrous launch in 2013. Phil Spencer is doing a great job leading the charge of this new direction for Xbox. Frankly put, though, they are fighting an uphill battle. They need more people on their platform. Xbox Game Pass is a great way to make that happen.
Sony and Nintendo don’t need more people on their platform. They’re businesses so obviously they want more people playing their games on their systems, but unlike Microsoft, they aren’t struggling as much to get people on their platform.
We are less than one year into the operation of Xbox Game Pass and literally one day into the new expanded version of this subscription service so it’s a tad too early to read the tea leaves. But, if I’m a betting man, which I am, I’d bet that this service will continue to propel Microsoft up the hill it has been climbing since 2013. I’d also bet that Sony and Nintendo don’t launch a service like this that gives players access to exclusives on release day for a price as low as $10 a month.
Let me know what you think! Am I right on the money? Could I not be farther from the truth?
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