My biggest concern regarding Game Pass

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thej6m

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So as an Xbox fan boy, a couple of years ago when Microsoft launched Game Pass and went on that studio acquisition spree I got super excited. I was convinced that Microsoft was ready to really compete with Sony for market dominance this coming generation.

Now that we’ve seen what most of these studios are working on I’m much less enthusiastic because most of these games look more like “AA” games that come out of a THQNordic then the masterpieces developed by Sony’s studios. So my question is, given that Microsoft is no longer courting consumers willing to spend $60+ on a new title, is anyone else growing concern that their first party studios won’t be given the budgets that Sony gives theirs? I was convinced that Microsoft was working on their answer to Last of Us and God of War but now I’m just not convinced that, given their business model, they can justify giving their first party studios 5 years and hundreds of millions of dollars in order to make games that rival what Sony offers.

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LucidDreams117

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Many have called Game Pass the Netflix of games and I think that this comparison may answer your question. Look at the unbelievable money Netflix spends on series and movies. Look at The Witcher for a good example. Or Altered Carbon. Or Stranger Things. All shows that showcase that just because it's a streaming service, doesn't mean they don't spend the money to attract people.

And their movies are getting better too. Look at The Irishman. Obviously we all have different opinions when it comes to films but you can't deny that they let Scorsese run away with the budget.

I'm pretty sure Microsoft will do the same with Game Pass. Yes I'm sure they won't all be winners, but the last thing they want is a service known as "there's nothing good though"

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Efesell

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I mean if I'm being honest I don't feel like Microsoft has competed in the realm of big first party blockbusters in ages, well before Game Pass has risen to ascendancy.

So like I still have those concerns but I'm not sure that it has anything to do with it.

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navster15

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I’ve gotten extremely skeptical of top line AAA game development in recent years. From the reporting done on The Last of Us Part II’s development, to the nightmare that was Red Dead Redemption 2’s, or even the ongoing Ubisoft mess, I’m finding the top end production in the industry increasingly ethically dubious. Furthermore, these big, often open world titles increasingly feel exhausting for me to engage in. Like, I didn’t feel like anything in Horizon Zero Dawn was all that different than a Ubisoft open world, or that opening every single drawer in RDR2 added anything to the experience. But to craft these games require an army of people working crazy hours to make. And for what? To accurately render the brutality Ellie commits to show us that violence and revenge are bad?

I’m finding myself increasingly drawn to the mid-to-low end of game development as a consequence. I just played the demo for Cristales and that game has so much more interesting ideas than the last several prestige titles I played. If Gamepass supports those types of experiences going forward, then that’s a future I’m actually looking forward to. Add to that Microsoft first party devs finally feeling financial stability (see Tim Shafer’s comments to that effect), and it feels like a win-win all over.

Of course, I’m sure The Initiative is going to produce some Expensive Thing that will check off the prestige box, so it’s not like this will be completely missed. The demand for developer blood continues unabated it seems.

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bigsocrates

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I think that it's way too early to judge Microsoft's acquisitions. We're seeing the "AA" level stuff first because that takes less time. The huge AAA spectaculars you are talking about take a very long time these days. Look at Ghost of Tsushima. Sucker Punch put out 2 Infamous games in 2014...and then nothing until 2020. That's 6 years to make one game! And by a studio that was used to making AAA games. Microsoft made a bunch of acquisitions literally last year. Whatever huge big budget titles are in the works are not ready to be shown. Meanwhile smaller projects come out quicker so we see those first.

Microsoft is rumored to be trying to buy WB games' studios, including Monolith, Rocksteady, and Netherrealm. You don't buy those studios if you're not planning on making huge AAA polished games, because that's what they make. The Gamepass model definitely needs smaller games to continue drip feeding content throughout the year, but it needs big games too to get people excited. I think Phil Spencer is smart enough to know that Gears, Halo, Forza and now Fable are not enough to keep people subscribed indefinitely and he plans to produce more (I don't know if you consider The Outer Worlds to be AAA or AA, but I expect that to become a big franchise for them and the next game to have a higher budget.)

I wouldn't worry about this long term. In the short term...well there's not a ton, but as I said this stuff takes a long time to make. Even Naughty Dog only made 3 games this generation, and one of them was a short spin-off.

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disco_drew22

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It’s hard to say what the future holds for MS’s first-party lineup, but I will say that if you consider God of War and The Last of Us “masterpieces” then the Xbox may not be the right console for you.

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ToughShed

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#8  Edited By ToughShed

@thej6m said:

Now that we’ve seen what most of these studios are working on I’m much less enthusiastic because most of these games look more like “AA” games that come out of a THQNordic then the masterpieces developed by Sony’s studios.

You lost me extremely hard here.

Sony's first party was better last gen but not by that much and it was all very samey as well. If you want grim games about raising a kid and how hard it is to murder people they have you covered. Personally almost none of those games really hit for me.

There was another wave of Xbox exclusives to come that I feel like Microsoft just punted on until next gen. So we'll see how all that turns out.

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tp0p

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Halo Infinite is rumored to have a 500 million dollar budget. Also, the new Forza looks like they spent a pretty penny on it. And the coalition makes very high production value gears of war games.

Also microsoft is still selling these games at full price at retail. It's not completely netflix. Gamepass is just another option.

Ok top of that, it's not like they are stopping AAA third party development of any games either, for the system.

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ThePanzini

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I don't think it was ever MS intention to go toe to toe with Sony. Game Pass needs regular content and MS acquired studio's for that purpose, beyond one maybe two big games a year it'll mostly be smaller AA stuff.

Netflix has a vast subscriber base yet doesn't release Marvel blockbusters.

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cikame

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I don't tend to play many first party exclusives these days, but i'd probably enjoy Halo Infinite more than The Last of Us 2 so there's that... if i was to choose sides it would be Xbox because i'm a PC player and they're making Flight Simulator.
Game Pass obviously has more than exclusives in it, so the conversations is more like "what do you think about 3rd party + MS exclusives at this price VS Sony?".
It's a time and place thing, if someones play time is limited paying a subscription might be worse value, i keep hearing how Game Pass is phenominal but i don't like subscriptions so it's not for me, i spent most of this month playing games that aren't on Game Pass anyway so i'd feel like it was wasted if i did have it.

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mellotronrules

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while i'd agree with the notion it's way too early to know if games designed and developed with the explicit intention of being released on gamepass are of the highest quality- i do wonder how the subscription/business model will affect the end product.

'netflix of games' is an outstanding value proposition for consumers- but if i'm being honest, the 'netflix' brand has become synonymous to me with 'pretty decent but never truly outstanding' content. i don't know if that's a function of my personal taste, production budgets or other factors- but if you look at the way HBO vs. netflix spent their money- they're different approaches with different results.

it's probably wrong to draw direct comparisons between film and game production- but it is something i'm curious to see play out.

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TheRealTurk

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while i'd agree with the notion it's way too early to know if games designed and developed with the explicit intention of being released on gamepass are of the highest quality- i do wonder how the subscription/business model will affect the end product.

'netflix of games' is an outstanding value proposition for consumers- but if i'm being honest, the 'netflix' brand has become synonymous to me with 'pretty decent but never truly outstanding' content. i don't know if that's a function of my personal taste, production budgets or other factors- but if you look at the way HBO vs. netflix spent their money- they're different approaches with different results.

it's probably wrong to draw direct comparisons between film and game production- but it is something i'm curious to see play out.

I had tried (badly) to explain my thoughts on this in another thread, but I think your post will help. I agree that the Game Pass model will mean a lot of, as you put it, "pretty decent" games. My worry is that it isn't the type of thing that drives mechanical design forward because devs are having to design for so many potential systems that are part of that ecosystem.

Part of the reason I was excited with the PS5 Ratchet & Clank reveal was that the dimension hopping mechanic is being used is the type of thing that looked specifically designed with next gen in mind. You couldn't get something like that to work on a PS4. While that isn't to say that the Series X wouldn't be equally capable of doing something like that, with Game Pass it's going to have to exist alongside older systems. Games might take advantage of the extra power to push better graphics or faster framerates on the Series X, but from a gameplay perspective the versions are going to have to be comparable. I can't see Microsoft letting the same game have different mechanics for people playing on a Series X vs. those still on current gen systems.

All of which is to say that developers will likely design for the lowest common-denominator, so although the Series X games might end up looking real nice, the graphics are probably going to be married to pretty standard gameplay.

And there's nothing inherently wrong with that. I think there's a huge market for a "Netflix of games," but I'm personally someone who much prefers the HBO "prestige" model. I'd rather have a few games a year that are the equivalent of a "Chernobyl" than a constant churn of "pretty good" stuff with an occasional gem you have to pick out of the muck.

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cubbielover

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I will be purchasing a PS5 since I am a fan of their first party content, but game pass is a HUGE benefit for XBOX. I think MS is doing an amazing thing by creating this service, and I really had to think hard about how I was going to dive into next gen (I don't have a gaming PC, so consoles are the way to go for me). All in all, I think MS will have some good first party content available for game pass, and down the road, I will be very tempted to purchase a Series X. The next two years will be very interesting to see how game pass shapes up.

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navster15

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@therealturk: I’m still curious as to how the Ratchet dimension hopping changes the gameplay experience though. Like, it’s a cool gee-whiz new tech feature, but the trailer just showed it married to pretty standard Ratchet gameplay. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing! I’ve played and loved most Ratchet games, and this new one looks really good. But as a selling feature for a $500 console? I’m just not seeing it.

I mentioned this on another thread, but I have not seen a radically new genre emerge in the past 15 years that required anything beyond the capability of an Xbox 360 or PS3. Sure, there have been quality of life improvements in that time and devs have gotten more skilled in their use of tools, but I saw very little this last gen that justified the power of the current consoles, let alone these new beefy bois. I just think Microsoft is being more realistic about the generation change this time around and a lot of people just don’t want to hear it.

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mellotronrules

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All of which is to say that developers will likely design for the lowest common-denominator, so although the Series X games might end up looking real nice, the graphics are probably going to be married to pretty standard gameplay.

And there's nothing inherently wrong with that. I think there's a huge market for a "Netflix of games," but I'm personally someone who much prefers the HBO "prestige" model. I'd rather have a few games a year that are the equivalent of a "Chernobyl" than a constant churn of "pretty good" stuff with an occasional gem you have to pick out of the muck.

yeah, i'm with you on that (and you've reminded me i need to finish chernobyl; god that show is good). i think as i age i'm admittedly becoming pickier (and have less available free time), so the notion of a gamepass-style buffet of games isn't immediately appealing. i tend to make big time investments in a very small pool of titles- so i naturally pick and choose. but you're right, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the inverse and i get the appeal.

and just cuz it's on my brain (but i'm sure it's been noted ad nauseam)- but there is something that feels slightly antithetical about microsoft launching an almost-platform-agnostic-service with a console (that is, a specific configuration of hardware designed to be optimized against in software). your point about 'next-gen mechanics' is well taken- it is strange to think of the paradigm shifting from devs developing for a service rather than a specific hardware config- but maybe that makes it more akin to pc development?

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NameRedacted

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Microsoft / Xbox hasn't produced AAA bangers even remotely close to what we've seen this past generation with the PS4, since the 360 (and even then, the PS4's output puts the 360 to shame).

Microsoft wants to be Netflix, and Netflix doesn't spend anywhere near what Hollywood does on big-budget movies, like the Avengers or other Marvel platforms. Netflix makes LOTS of deals for foreign content (which is MUCH cheaper) as well as produce their own stuff, but they aren't spending the kind of money Disney does (nowhere close) to make even a b-tier Marvel movie. Netflix couldn't remain profitable if it did.

Sony is spending the Disney money, because that's their model, what they've become known for, and what sells their consoles.

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sombre

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Don't call yourself a "fan boy" for a nameless, faceless company. You're better than that

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csl316

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#20  Edited By csl316

I'm not concerned about smaller budgets, because I hope they lead to smaller games and AAA moves away from these open world Homer-esque monstrosities that want to be your only game.

Personally, I'd take 4 games at 10 hours a piece that I can replay, over 1 game at 40 hours that feels like a grind for the back quarter. If I need that long game fix, a good JRPG or adventure game can fill the void and I'd happily spend $60 outside of the Game Pass eco system for it.

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plan6

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Honestly, I’ve had more fun with State of Decay 2 than LoU2. I don’t regret playing either, but I know I would like more weird games that don’t cost infinity dollars to make.

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Pnutz83

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Lets go back like 3 years we have Spiderman, God of War 2018, Ghos tof Tsushima, Tlou2, HZD and Persona 5. What do Xbox have in the same time span? I totally agree that it seems to be more AA- games from these Xbox studios and that worries me a lot. I want big beautiful AAA games as exclusives not 15 hours AA-games. The biggest problem with games like Outer Worlds was game length. To me games with rpg-elements should always strive for around 50 hours of game play, and that is hard to do with AA-games.

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plan6

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#23  Edited By plan6

@pnutz83: there is nothing less exciting for than all RPGs artificially being 50 hour slogs. Let your medium breath, my man. Let the 30 hour RPG exist. Or the 10 hour RPG with a lot of variety in how the game could go because of the limited time and scope. Disco Elysium is very much an RPG and would be poorly served by being 50 hours.

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Pnutz83

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@plan6: Sorry I have to be the asshole here but my answer to your point is: no. I wholeheartedly think that all rpgs, and I mean all of them, would be better as a 50 hour game. I hate these almost long rpgs in the range between 15-30 hours. Such a disappointment in my world. Disco Elysium to me was a super boring game so of course 50 hours of that would be super annoying.

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Efesell

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@pnutz83: Setting a bar for game length is a pretty bad idea for any genre. It only encourages ending up with what would have been a great game at 30 (or whatever) turning into something that has overstayed its welcome at 50.

Besides, there are tons of powerhouse RPGs that do not crack 50 hours on average.

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navster15

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@pnutz83: Sounds like Sony is meeting you where you are, and you should probably get a PS5. Microsoft is going a different way, and that’s totally cool. Doesn’t change what Sony is doing, and for people that prefer Microsoft’s approach there’s always the Series X (or Xbox One if they don’t want to buy new hardware).

I don’t get the reasoning behind having Microsoft emulate Sony’s output. Be honest, if Microsoft studios started churning out nothing but expensive open worlds and 30 hour cinematic stealth games, would you really switch consoles? To me, that just seems like a quick way for Microsoft to lose a whole lot of money with very little to show for it.

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Efesell

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@pnutz83: What about 50 hours makes a better game though? It's just time. Time does not improve anything on its own. If a game has 50 hours of meaningful content then that's great but it also means that it has everything it needs in that moment to be trimmed back as well.

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Pnutz83

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Just so I'm clear it is rpgs that should be 50 hours. Dmc5 was great at 10 hours but big rpgs like Dragon Age and such should strive for 50 hours (in my opinion of course).

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Pnutz83

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@efesell: To me I have found that 50 hours (for a rpg) is the perfect sweet spot. More than 50h and the game gets tedious and between 15-30 hours is not enough in my book. I don't get to know the world and I don't feel like I'm on this big expansive quest. But again that is just how i feel and it actually has nothing to do with the original topic so I think we should leave it and not derail the thread.

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plan6

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@pnutz83: people understand that. The problem is that strict limits on hour counts is just that, a limitation. It limits RPGs. We can’t have a nice, tight 15 hour murder mystery RPG in the dragon age world now, because it isn’t 50 hours. There are entire forms of narrative(murder mystery being a prime example) that cannot be maintained for protracted stories. You are asking that RPGs be relegated to one type of game, the epic sweeping heroes journey. And folks are telling you “Nah, I like my variety RPGs. Give me all the flavors people can come up with.”

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deactivated-5f8907c9ada33

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I have been fairly optimistic about Microsoft for the last year and a bit as they’ve been talking up Xbox Series X and have committed to improving their first party software, which I think is easily the biggest negative against them. I think they have some great feature sets like backwards compatibility, Xbox Game Pass and Smart Delivery, plus I think some of their acquisitions like Obsidian, Double Fine and Ninja Theory have been great.

I gave them the benefit of the doubt going into their Xbox Games Showcase because I really thought they would deliver on all fronts, but it fell totally flat for me. I came away thinking Halo Infinite was super underwhelming, and most of their titles look to be 2-3 years off, and without any gameplay to show for it. Everwild and Avowed look interesting but I have no idea what either of those two games are going to be.

I have the Xbox One S and PS4, but I think ultimately my gaming preferences reside on PlayStation. I simply just enjoy Sony’s first party content more, and I think Microsoft’s going into next generation focusing on games that keep you engaged for years, which isn’t really appealing to me.

I’m also going into next generation with the mindset of only picking up one console, so between the two PS5 is more appealing to me because of the first party content, Japanese titles and because I really don’t care for the subscription based model. Xbox Game Pass is great in theory, but as someone who has seen his video game playtime drop dramatically as I become older, I don’t really think paying $16.99 CAD monthly makes much sense, I’d rather buy the games I want when they go on sale.

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FrodoBaggins

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Fan boys still exist in 2020?