This decade has been absolutely massive for everyone in terms of finally making the jump to digital media. With the spread of better internet connectivity around the globe, streaming and downloading media has become so much more viable than it was ten years ago. As a result, most people have started stepping away from physical media and services like Netflix and Xbox Game Pass have only sped up that process.
The convenience of downloading and playing games digitally has reached an unprecedented level. In some cases, you can even start downloading the game remotely through your phone so by the time you get back home, the game is ready for you to play. As a result digital sales for games have skyrocketed as compared to physical copies. For example, 2019 was the first year in which digital sales were actually higher than physical ones, at least on the PlayStation.
However, earlier in this generation, Microsoft decided to make another step forward with its games subscription service, Xbox Game Pass. Dubbed as Netflix for games, the service brought forth some interesting ideas with the ability to pay a monthly fee and have access to hundreds of games, old and new. Furthermore, the inclusion of all Xbox exclusive games into Game Pass on release date made it an absolute steal for consumers.
Xbox Game Pass launched over 2 years ago and has come a very long way since then. The service now has a massive library full of multiple exclusive and third-party games from all genres on both PC and Xbox. For instance, the Witcher 3, which is one of the best games of this generation, also got added recently. In addition to that, Microsoft has also decided to incorporate Xbox Game Pass with its cloud-based game streaming service, Project xCloud.
While others like Sony and Google are also developing their own services like PlayStation Now and Google Stadia, their libraries are much smaller than what Game Pass has to offer. And, as those two are trying to catch up to Game Pass, Microsoft continues to add dozens of games to the service every single month making it virtually impossible for others to compete.
Is Xbox Game Pass sustainable?
Despite the great value that Game Pass offers, there have been some genuine concerns lately regarding the sustainability of the service.
Firstly, with so many games in the service, does Microsoft even have enough subscribers for it to be profitable? From what we’ve heard, developers usually get an up front payment for their games to be included in the service, However, the deals vary a lot and many different types of arrangements are made with the developers.
In addition to that, it seems like there is a deal on Xbox Game Pass almost every other month with the service being reduced to even less than $1 per month in some cases. If people keep turning off their auto-renewal and keep using these deals, wouldn’t Microsoft suffer?
Another big question being raised against the service is that the game developers suffer because services like Game Pass. Why? Well because apparently, having games on the service would result in less people buying those games as they already have access to them through Game Pass. This would obviously lead to lesser sales and thus, lower revenue for game developers.
However, the Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer was quick to deny these accusations against Game Pass. When asked about the sustainability of the service on Major Nelson Radio, the Xbox Boss said that Game Pass is “doing very well for us and for the people who are in it.” He then went on to say that the upcoming Xbox Series X will already have a massive library of games at launch thanks to Game Pass, something that we have never really seen before with a console launch.
In addition to Phil Spencer saying that Game Pass is doing well, the developers have had the same feeling as well. Recently, a lead developer from Night School Studio, the developers of Afterparty and Oxenfree was also asked about the whole spiel with Game Pass in an interview. According to him, having Oxenfree and Afterparty on the service actually increased the sales for their games contrary to what people had been saying.
Games are not on Xbox Game Pass for eternity and they do rotate around. However, subscribers to the service have the option to purchase those games at a discount in order to keep them forever. So, a lot of people end up doing that ultimately increasing the actual sales for the games. Additionally, a lot of games which would have been ignored otherwise also get some much-needed exposure as according to Microsoft, Game Pass subscribers tend to try out new games more often.
Finally, Microsoft also doesn’t suffer as the result of deals on Game Pass. As you have to manually turn off the auto-renewal and wait for your subscription to expire to avail those deals, most people just end up not doing that. However, the additional influx of new subscribers that Microsoft gets from these deals is actually quite high and those tend to stick around for a longer time as well.
So, all in all, Xbox Game Pass is good for the consumers, the developers and Microsoft alike. The service has completely changed the landscape of the gaming industry and it is only a matter of time until others start to follow in Microsoft’s footsteps as well. Game Pass is, without any doubt, one of the best deals in gaming right now and a few years from now, we’ll probably be thinking back to the fact that how crazy it was that not everyone was doing this at some point.