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The common wisdom surrounding Xbox Game Pass is that it’s great, but it will destroy game sales. And yet, we can definitely seen evidence to the contrary from this past year. That includes in the October game report from industry-tracking firm The NPD Group, which listed cooperative zombie shooter Back 4 Blood as the No. 2 best-selling game on both PlayStation and Xbox platforms.
That Xbox ranking is especially odd. According to the accepted wisdom, you would expect most people to play Back 4 Blood through Game Pass and then simply purchase another release, like Guardians of the Galaxy with that money. But that’s not what happened, and this isn’t even some fluke. This exact scenario played out before.
Back in April, Square Enix’s multiplayer online shooter Outriders debuted on Xbox and PlayStation. The game, like Back 4 Blood, was available on Game Pass on day one. Despite that availability, Outriders was the No. 3 best-selling game on both Xbox and PlayStation for the March NPD (which included the first days of Outriders’ April release).
Now, of course, the United States has more PlayStations than Xbox systems. So in terms of raw numbers, the PlayStation version outsold the Xbox version. That’s not what we’re talking about here. The point instead is that the Game Pass option is not immediately demolishing the sales potential of major third-party games hitting Game Pass on day one.
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That’s not to say Game Pass has no effect. In the April 2021 NPD, Outriders dropped to No. 6 on the Xbox chart while only dropping to No. 4 on PlayStation. And it was behind a new PlayStation exclusive launch in Returnal — so it seemed to have longer legs.
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