Xbox Game Pass is the best deal in gaming. You’ve probably heard this statement to the point of nausea, but honestly, it’s worth repeating. No other service offers anything close to the sheer value that Microsoft’s gaming extravaganza provides, and its success is basically why Sony would brace itself. his own response to Game Pass.
Still, some corners of the gaming community are still unconvinced. The most common criticism of Microsoft’s service – which has piled up more than 25 million subscribers – is that it’s “bad for developers”. After all, if you’re paying a monthly subscription to play a rotating selection of the most popular games available, why would you even need to spend a penny more?
It is this kind of rhetoric that many believe leads to Xbox Game Pass be a hindrance for developers, rather than a way to help them make money and grow their audience. But this is categorically false. Turns out Game Pass East good for developers and good for gamers as a whole.
here is the money
During a GDC 2022 presentation titled Game Pass: Maximize the total value of your game, Microsoft revealed that Xbox Game Pass subscribers spend 60% more on games, 45% more on add-ons, and 45% more on consumables than non-subscribers. Subscribers also tend to play 40% more games than non-subscribers, often discovering new genres they may have overlooked before.
As you might expect, players are buying games that aren’t already on Xbox Game Pass or picking up titles they’re currently enjoying at a discount. Every title on Microsoft’s service comes with a 20% discount and the DLC is also 10% off – this means you can own every title on Xbox Game Pass if you really want to, albeit digitally.
But what about the day one launch? Surely, aside from the fees Microsoft secretly incurs with a publisher to bring a title to Xbox Game Pass, there can’t be so many benefits for developers? Well, it turns out that games that launch day one on Game Pass see a 3.5x increase in player count, while games from indie developers see a 15x increase.
Xbox Game Pass has proven to be a boon for indie developers in particular. A simple glance at Game Pass’s comprehensive library shows a litany of independently developed games, and it’s helped shine a light on a good number of modern hits like Outer Wilds, Paradise Killer, and more recently Tunic. This led to a triple-digit increase in indie developer revenue, according to Microsoft.
We’ve also seen this effect occur in titles such as Forza Horizon 5Who knocked more than 10 million players within a week. We saw a million players are picking up the game before it’s even released, despite the fact that it was coming to Xbox Game Pass. Obviously, the money is made.
So is the skepticism surrounding Xbox Game Pass completely unwarranted? No, not really, partly because Game Pass is the antithesis of what gamers are used to. The video game industry has a bad habit of making money from players at every opportunity, whether through microtransactions, season passes, or soon to be NFT. The aversion to Xbox Game Pass is understandable, then, if it’s seen as just another subscription that rolls out of your bank account every month.
But Game Pass really is incredible value for money, and we now have the hard evidence that it doesn’t harm developers in any way, quite the contrary. You could even argue that several great Game Pass titles, such as sea of thieveshave only been able to develop and maintain healthy player bases because of their service.
While you might not be excited about all the games coming to the service, Microsoft reportedly added over $6,300 (around £4,780 / AU$8,823) of games to Game Pass in 2021, which is impressive no matter how you shake it. Its premium level offer, Xbox Game Pass Ultimateincludes Xbox Game Pass for console and PC, Xbox cloud gamingEA Play subscription, Xbox Live Gold membership and various benefits and monthly discounts.
Will the Game Pass bubble burst?
So the biggest and most viable concern about the future of Xbox Game Pass is not that it will negatively impact game developers or gamer spending habits, but whether or not Microsoft chooses to raise the price of its service – something Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer has vehemently denied.
In an interview with Stephen Totilo of AxiosSpencer said: “[People ask] when will the Game Pass price go up? “They buy all these studios. You know, it’s inevitable. Even if it’s been what, now, four years, we haven’t picked it up.
“But it’s like, ‘You know, it happens’ ‘When they get to number one, they’re gonna start doing all these exclusive deals that, like, you know, Xbox has a history’ and all I can do , it’s making the decisions that are before us and trying to be explicit about our goals.
Of course, there will be a time when the price of Xbox Game Pass increases – Sony’s first-party games are now $70 / £70 after being $60/£60 for decades, and Netflix slowly increased its subscription price overtime. If the same fate befalls Xbox Game Pass, it will be up to Microsoft to ensure that its service remains the attractive proposition it is today to keep gamers – and developers – happy.