The decision to launch Outriders on Xbox Game Pass worked in Square Enix’s favor. That’s according to a statement by Square Enix president Yosuka Matsuda at the company’s full year financial results briefing on May 13, which have only recently been translated into English.
Outriders is a cooperative action RPG that launched on April 1 for PC, Google Stadia, PlayStation and Xbox, and was made available to all subscribers of Xbox Game Pass on day one. It was one of the boldest additions to the Game Pass service, combining the allure of a high-profile third party title with the amazing value of launch day availability.
“In regards to the response to “Outriders,” […] we believe it has gotten off to a good start as a new IP. In addition, we have been pleasantly surprised as the digital sales ratio for the title have been very high, and the number of active users has also beaten our expectations,” said Matsuda.
“We believe that our decision to make “Outriders” available with Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass as soon as the title launched also worked in our favor,” he added.
According to internal data from Square Enix, Outriders drew over 3.5 million unique players between its April launch and May 1, though no break down was provided regarding the number or percentage of players who have come to the game through Microsoft’s subscription service, so we still don’t know to what extent the game’s huge active player base have come in through Xbox Game Pass.
That being said, this either means that good word of mouth from players of Outriders on Xbox Game Pass translated into higher than expected sales of the game on other platforms, or the boost to its online player count is helping to guarantee online engagement. While not a live service game or a subscription MMO, any boost to Outriders’ player numbers may lead to a more active co-op scene.
Despite this success, Outriders has faced some troubles in the months since, major bugs have plagued the game and while developer People Can Fly has been quick to nip these problems in the bud, some of them — such as one that leads to an inventory wipe — have left player saves in shambles and have yet to be fully addressed.
Still, the game has been received well by fans and critics have been generally warm. While it may not exactly rank as a transformative, genre-defining game, the success its had presents enormous opportunities whether in DLC or in future paths of development as a franchise.
That being said, one can’t help but wonder what this means for the future of Xbox Game Pass and its relationship with ambitious multiplayer games. It is already home to games like No Man’s Sky, Destiny 2 and Rainbow Six Siege. Any upcoming multiplayer release should consider whether the potential gains to be had from Game Pass fits into their launch plans.