Microsoft Doesn’t Think Xbox Game Pass-Style Subscription Services Will Dominate Gaming’s Future

Is subscription-based gaming the future of the industry? Microsoft doesn’t think so, even after the massive success of its Xbox Game Pass may have proven otherwise. Consumers have Netflix, Spotify and other services to meet all their media entertainment needs, most of which require a subscription. However, Microsoft insists that the Xbox Game Pass was never meant to replace the traditional process of purchasing games by becoming a Netflix of sorts for games. The company has always had a different plan in mind.

Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz, Microsoft Head of Gaming Services Ben Decker and Xbox Game Pass Head of Planning Matt Percy explained the main purpose behind the company’s subscription service. Decker affirms that the goal of the Xbox Game Pass is to serve as an “additive” to the existing ecosystem, not to supplant it. Microsoft doesn’t “see a future where subscriptions are dominant.”

Instead, it is looking to build a future where gamers will have the option to choose between subscribing to a service or purchasing and owning games traditionally. Decker adds that a “mixed ecosystem” is what both the consumers and developers want. Additionally, Decker said that feedback from the gaming community reveals that gamers prefer having access to 100 great games rather than 1000 mediocre games that they wouldn’t want to play. Quality over quantity is what gamers want from the Xbox Game Pass.

Decker cites the “diversity of business models” in the games industry that differentiates it from other forms of media. For example, Sea of Thieves was one of the first exclusives to be available on the Xbox Game Pass at launch, and it still managed to debut at the top of the UK sales chart back in March 2018. Decker also reveals that over five million people have played Sea of Thieves, which he attributes to its availability on the Xbox Game Pass.