The 20th anniversary celebration for Xbox was a fun watch. It even ended with an early holiday present: the free multiplayer beta for Halo Infinite. It was an exciting piece of promo about how folks got into Xbox and the connections they’ve made through it and gaming in general. Me? I’m a recent convert as my good friend and editor Matthew gave me a 14-day free trial for Xbox Game Pass.
I’m definitely hooked. This Netflix-style service honestly had me skeptical, but in just a week I can see its advantages. I got to play around with Xbox exclusives I’d previously missed out on, dabble in genres I’d been hesitant towards and try out new games made suddenly available by the bounty of a single all you can game service. From a consumer standpoint, Xbox Game Pass is incredibly generous for what it costs to subscribe.
I’ve honestly begun to wonder whether Xbox Game Pass is too good to be sustainable. Can this service could really last considering that at the end of the day, game developers need to make a profit to be able to keep making games? Would having their games come out on Game Pass undercut sales?
In a 2020 interview with gamesindustry.biz, PlayStation chief Jim Ryan said, “We have had this conversation before — we are not going to go down the road of putting new release titles into a subscription model. These games cost many millions of dollars, well over $100 million, to develop. We just don’t see that as sustainable.”
So how is Xbox able to do this? Are game developers getting enough with Xbox Game Pass alone? Or more importantly, can they keep it up? Xbox boss Phil Spencer spoke on the matter in a recent interview with Axios:
“I know there’s a lot of people that like to write [that] we’re burning cash right now for some future pot of gold at the end,” Spencer said. “No. Game Pass is very, very sustainable right now as it sits. And it continues to grow.”
And it does feel like it’s growing with each year. More and more people are adopting Game Pass as a means to get into games that they would otherwise never buy or play, let alone give any thought into. It’s a way for folks like me to get into the Xbox ecosystem without investing hundreds of cash just to buy games for it. It caters very well to adopting more and more newcomers into gaming and accommodates the plethora of tastes that come with it, and for that I’m grateful.
So, is Xbox Game Pass sustainable? I’m still not sure myself. We only have Phil Spencer’s word to go by. But what I can say for sure is that it’s coming along nicely.