The British Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is currently investigating Microsoft over the acquisition of Activision Blizzard. This research has unearthed some interesting details about Xbox Game Pass and its feasibility.
Game Pass is Xbox’s subscription service that allows subscribers to play a variety of games for as little as $10 / £10.99 / AUS$15.95 per month. As the debate rages on as to which gaming service is better, Game Pass or PS Plus, it’s safe to say that Xbox’s system isn’t anything to turn up your nose at.
With over 100 games available for a low monthly fee, more than 25 million gamers are taking advantage of Game Pass, whether on an Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One. This popular service, while great for gamers, is less suitable for businesses.
“Microsoft has also stated that its internal analysis shows that a [redacted]% decline in base game sales 12 months after their addition to Game Pass,” the CMA said in its report (opens in new tab).
Elsewhere in the same report, the CMA provides information about the shortcomings of a multi-game subscription service. Game Pass “severely cannibalizes buy-to-play sales, especially on newer releases,” the CMA said.
This CMA report contrasts previous comments from Xbox Games Studio CEO Phil Spencer. Back in 2018, Phil Spencer said in an interview with levelup.com that putting games on Game Pass actually boosted sales (opens in new tab).
Spencer equated Game Pass with free advertising, concluding that when people play a title on Game Pass, word of mouth will circulate and players will be more likely to buy it for themselves if they don’t subscribe to the Xbox service.
“Some people have questioned that,” Spencer said. “But if state of decay 2 If you’ve looked around the US, you’ve seen that this game sold really well in the month it was released on GamePass.
So what is the truth
While Spencer’s statement contradicts information released by the CMA, he’s not necessarily wrong.
For older games, Game Pass is a great utility that keeps titles alive. While people might not spend money on older games, they can still play them if they’re free on Xbox Game Pass.
Spencer even said on the Kinda Funny Gamescast (opens in new tab) Podcast that being able to see how popular old games are is a direct incentive to greenlight reboots. “We sit back as a creative organization and see what people care about; it gives us more data to think about things that we could take up and move forward,” Spencer said.
It may be true that new buy-to-play games might suffer thanks to the readily available and cheaper option that Game Pass offers. However, Game Pass also serves to preserve and revive older games. In doing so, it provides useful data that allows developers to get inspiration for reboots. Most importantly, Game Pass provides a valuable and affordable service for fans. However, it remains to be seen how the possibility of cannibalism will affect Game Pass in the future.