Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft's Netflix-style game subscription service for Xbox One and Windows 10 PC for select Xbox Play Anywhere titles. Now it seems that the tech giant wants to bring the service to a wider range of devices. At Barclays Global Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference in San Francisco, Xbox boss Phil Spencer discussed what we could expect from Xbox Game Pass. It appears that Microsoft wants Xbox Game Pass to be as widespread and prevalent as the company's massive subscription-based breadwinner, Office 365.
"When you think about reaching a customer with this content where their only compute device could be an Android phone, you think about, 'What are all the ways that person pays for content today'?" Spencer said (via Gamesindustry.biz). "So we need to make sure that we're world-class at free-to-play content, but we also look at subscription as a much lower barrier way for a customer to build a library of content.
"So we built Xbox Game Pass -- it started on console, it will come to PC, and eventually it will come to every device -- we use the flywheel that we have with customers on an Xbox to start the growth in Xbox Game Pass. But as somebody sitting back and taking a longer-term view of where our business is going, you should look at that as a business model that we think scales to billions of people not hundreds of millions of people like retail does."
It will be interesting to see if Xbox Game Pass becomes as prevalent as Spencer hopes it does. The service has already seen significant blowback from game makers such as Ubisoft.
"I actually view subscription gaming as inhibiting our progress, and I'll give you two examples. One is with PS Now. I think that's a great technology for getting streaming content to people, but we don't make the money as a publisher — we don't make the same amount of money as we would even just putting stuff on sale. So why bother, from a publisher's standpoint?," asked Ubisoft's Chris Early in conversation with GamesBeat.
"The technology is great for a player. I can play anything anywhere instantly! It's awesome technology, which is inhibited by the business model. So charge a PlayStation Plus add-on to be able to stream any game you own to any device you own. That's a great service for the player. It's going to start people adopting that streaming concept in more places. You'll be able to get to a place where you have more people focused on streaming.
There's a similar challenge with your business model. We see it works. We're believers. You've capped it with a subscription plan, where publishers aren't able to make money. On the other hand, you could just sell the game and let people have the five-minute experience while it downloads, or pay you an add-on price to be able to continue to have fast access in many more places. With subscription it's just giving it away."
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