Microsoft sees its future as a platform and services company, and nothing is a better example of that on the Xbox One console than the Xbox Game Pass subscription service. The company introduced its Netflix-like all-you-can-play program a year ago, and now it is reflecting on the first 12 months as well as looking at what Game Pass means for its future.
In a blog post, Xbox Game Pass engineering boss Ashley Speicher recapped some of the improvements that have come to platform. It is now available in more than 40 countries, and Microsoft brings all of its first-party games to the service the same day they hit retail. Speicher says the company made this change to serve more big-budget blockbuster games to subscribers. Thanks to Game Pass, Sea of Thieves surged to 2 million players in its first few weeks and State of Decay 2 had 1 million after a single week. Microsoft reiterated that it is commitment to do the same with Halo, Forza, Gears of War, and more.
But Game Pass is so important to Microsoft that it is positioning it as a benefit to both consumers and developers, and it explained how that’s working
“In its first year, Xbox Game Pass has proven to be great for both gamers and game developers as an additive means to drive discovery and engagement of games,” reads Speicher’s blog. “The freedom to explore and play more great games is changing gaming habits in incredibly positive ways.”
The engineer notes that Game Pass members play more games than they did before their subscription. And they actually play more games outside of the Game Pass library as well. The reasons for that are because people end up connecting with friends online who may go to other games, and people are more willing to spend money on something new if they have a built-in crew to play with.
“We’re seeing more active players for games across the board,” Speicher explained. “That is having a notable positive impact for our publishers and developers, including increased sales for games in Xbox Game Pass.”
Indie publisher TinyBuild has embraced the platform and released its first-person platforming game ClusterTruck on Game Pass, and TinyBuild chief executive officer Alex Nichiporchik said the company is satisfied with the service.
“We love Game Pass,” Nichiporchik said in an email to GamesBeat. “It’s a great program, and it provides value to gamers and game developers.”
This model is working for Microsoft, and it makes sense. The Spotify and Netflix models have taken over the music and film markets. Many people don’t want to build up their own libraries — they want to subscribe to one that is constantly getting new stuff.
Netflix is so successful that everyone is copying that model, and we’re already seeing dedicated competitors from CBS, HBO, and Disney. We’ll probably get to that point in gaming as well. Every publisher will probably want their own subscription model, but the question is who will establish themselves as the Netflix that everyone is chasing to copy. Well, Microsoft seems to think it can fill that role for gaming.
“We have a long-term commitment and belief in making subscriptions a model that benefits gamers with more choice and game creators with more opportunity,” Speicher explained. “We will continue to invest in this space. We look forward to further evolving Xbox Game Pass by bringing even more great games in the year ahead to continue to meet the needs of gamers and game developers.”