Microsoft has big plans for its Xbox Game Pass subscription service. Speaking at an event today, Xbox boss Phil Spencer talked about how Microsoft not only wants to bring Xbox Game Pass to PC, which Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella first revealed earlier this year, but also to "every device" out there. Speaking at a Barclays conference in San Francisco, Spencer talked about how Xbox Game Pass--when it eventually comes to more platforms like mobile through streaming--will help Xbox reach billions of gamers worldwide instead of millions.
"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'? 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," Spencer said.
"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."
Xbox Game Pass could come to mobile through Microsoft's new game-streaming service Project xCloud. Microsoft is already testing this service internally, and Spencer mentioned that he was using the service during his recent travels. Right now, the service streams from a data center in Washington, but eventually, it will roll out in other places around the world. Spencer said Microsoft is uniquely positioned for success in streaming because it has Azure data centers around the world already, which would in theory help cut down on latency issues.
Also during the Q&A, Spencer talked about how Microsoft's recent acquisition spree--it's acquired or established seven new studios in the past six months--is all about the company building a bigger network of studios to help support its efforts for Xbox Game Pass and the wider Xbox catalog.
Xbox Game Pass costs $10 USD per month on Xbox One, and for that fee you can play more than 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 games. Microsoft sweetened the deal further this year by announcing that all first-party games will launch into Xbox Game Pass, meaning subscribers this year got Forza Horizon 4, State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves, and others at no extra cost. Next year, subscribers will get Gears 5 for nothing extra, while Halo Infinite will also eventually come to the service. While Xbox Game Pass is similar in structure to Netflix, games are downloaded, not streamed. However, Spencer is suggesting that Xbox Game Pass may eventually include support for streaming through xCloud (which is a working title), and that's an exciting prospect to think about.
Xbox Game Pass already has "millions" of subscribers, so it does indeed seem to be off to a good start. According to Spencer, another benefit of Xbox Game Pass is that it introduces players to genres they might not otherwise check out. Developers theoretically stand to benefit from putting their games in Xbox Game Pass, too, as it might help bring in new players potentially years after release in a similar way to how you might check out an old show on Netflix, enjoy it, and watch more.
What are your thoughts on Xbox Game Pass and subscription services for games in general? Let us know in the comments below!