Xbox Game Pass Passes It’s Next Hurdle

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Posted by triznoy (17 posts) -

When Xbox Game Pass was announced in early 2017, the concept was easy to understand. With the likes of Netflix having been around for several years as a digital platter of watchable media, everyone knew how Game Pass would work. For a monthly fee, a varied veritable buffet of Xbox One and Xbox 360 (and apparently a few Original Xbox games too) would be open for you to download and play, as long as you keep your monthly fee going. The problem at the time of the announcement and of its initial launch in June of 2017 was there was little to moderate assurance or trust that the program would get the games it needed to get to prove itself to the greater game-playing public. Though it feels as if certain walls are breaking down and more people are more open to trying different and more games, the number of people that own a modern console and only buy a few games each year is still a high number. Even the people that play a ton of different games, big and small, could look at Xbox Game Pass as interesting but not catering to their needs. These folks are usually playing big new releases on release day and able to tell you what independent games have made an impression on the market before or shortly after release.

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These were always the two different ends of the gaming spectrum I wasn’t sure Game Pass would be able to entice. The people only buying a few games probably already know what those games are, whether it be the new Call of Duty, Madden or NBA 2K game and every so often the big new release from Rockstar or Naughty Dog, a Game Pass/Netflix like service would never carry the few games they wanted to spend their time playing. The people ingrained in the industry, playing new releases as soon as they release and following smaller indie titles didn’t seem like they would be served by a Game Pass system either because they didn’t want to wait until it hits the service to experience the project they were interested in. Not to mention not knowing how the compensation works for developers having games in the Game Pass service (something that is still unknown to this day) could also be a sticking point for some of these people too as people ingrained in this industry often do want developers to be awarded for their good work.

Xbox rammed through one of these hurdles early this year by revealing all Microsoft first-party games from that point (January 2018) forward would be included day-in-date with Game Pass. So Forza games, new Halo and Gears of War titles, etc. would be there to download on release day for people subscribed to Game Pass. Insert Xbox has no first-party games to speak of during the Xbox One era joke here… Yes the Xbox first-party offerings have been few and far between, and the few have been a mixed bag during the tumultuous tenure of the Xbox One, but this could be construed as something that elevates the value of Game Pass even more. Instead of spending full price or any price on a game that you weren’t interested in or was receiving mixed reviews, Game Pass allowed people to just download the game and give it a go for themselves. Much like rummaging around Netflix and clicking on a movie or show you wouldn’t have sought out or gone to the trouble of buying or renting, it doesn’t cost anything extra to explore the vast library provided to you.

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Passing this hurdle made a big splash early in the year for Team Xbox, and it built up even more the ever-growing case to subscribe to Game Pass. But, it wasn’t quite totally and unabashedly there yet, at least for me. It was a big move allowing people to pay for one month of Game Pass to essentially rent the new big Microsoft first-party game and give the player a decision on if it was worth keeping for several months. In my mind, they needed to do something I didn’t think they would or could do. They needed to find the middle ground of games, the indie darlings or triple ‘i’ games that were gaining traction within the industry and give them the first-party treatment for Game Pass. They needed the Journey’s or Dead Cell’s or Celeste’s or Gone Home’s of the world to be included with Game Pass day-in-date to fill out the gaps that first-party can’t always fill. So instead of every few months being reminded that, hey, Sea of Thieves is included with Game Pass or Forza Horizon 4 is included with Game Pass, it’s every month or so that hey Forza Horizon 4 is included with Game Pass, oh, and Mutant Year Zero, Ashen and Below, those indie games that you have been or are now really starting to hear about are all on Game Pass too. Including these three games in the same month provided a huge win for Xbox and for Game Pass. Without a shadow of a doubt, Xbox Game Pass passed the next hurdle standing in its way. The 3rd party / ID @ Xbox / Game Pass teams were able to identify upcoming independent games that looked cool to them / were starting to create some buzz and make deals to get them on Game Pass on release day. It not only potentially takes away players from competing consoles but gives people who would play these types of games on PC an opportunity to turn on their Xbox Ones and give it a go there. Even if only paying for one month it gives players a more financially friendly opportunity to try not only one of these December games but all three.

The ever-evolving and improving Game Pass isn’t going to save the Xbox One, but it is going a long way on people not instantly pre-ordering a PlayStation 5 in a few years. The Xbox team is going full force on at least giving players an interesting option by the time new consoles come around and 2018 has hopefully shown what they want to do with Game Pass in the future.

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#1 Posted by ThePanzini (744 posts) -

Netflix for games is an obvious and fantastic idea but beyond that you can't say anything else as both Sony/MS have released no real data. The only information we have is "game pass player are generally playing more games" which in itself can be very misleading for instance is checking out the first 5min from a lot of titles then returning to COD would that be considered a success especially if the spend less afterwards.

Its also highly likely Game Pass is in its loss leading phase atm and won't be making any more for awhile yet.

We don't know the type of people subbing to GP, for how long they stay subbed, how many games they played before and after or how much they spend on average. We don't even know why people sub in the first place is it MS first party games, indies or third party AAA or a combination of the three.

The only real data we have is from Superdata which suggests PS Now is somehow massive and outpacing GP without much first party content or push from Sony, which would beg the question who are using the service. There is one thing we can say for certain that GP has been around for awhile and had little to no impact on hardware sales the people using GP are already invested in the eco-system, it stands to reason GP will have no impact on the PS5.

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#2 Edited by Deathstriker (1177 posts) -

@thepanzini: I'm not sure why you'd need that data. MS keeping it around and 3rd parties allowing their games on the service is proof enough that it must be paying off or MS thinks it will payoff soon. Game Pass has failed when/if MS shuts it down. I like the service well enough; it's cheap and there certain games I've played that I liked but weren't worth buying (State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves, Vermintide 2, etc). I doubt this service or anything MS does would affect someone getting a PS5. Also, I think a lot of people who are getting a console day one have enough money and interest in video games to get more than one console. MS just needs to make a compelling case to get this console or the next one, which isn't Game Pass, them investing in their first party was that move.

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#3 Edited by ThePanzini (744 posts) -

@deathstriker: I've not doubt Game Pass is or will be a success for MS the studio acquisitions are proof enough, but many claims in the OP about who is using the service and why we simply don't know.

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#4 Posted by ATastySlurpee (679 posts) -

Maybe I'm ignorant, but I just don't understand how the devs make any money on their games, especially the ones that drop day and date with release. Does M$ give them a % upfront?

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#5 Posted by triznoy (17 posts) -

@atastyslurpee: I'm also extremely curious about this... I believe I have heard tangentially that they get a lump sum up front that covers a certain amount of potential downloads of the game, i.e. Mutant Year Zero may have gotten a lump sum akin to 100,000 purchases and then I assume get some sort of percentage for how many people on Game Pass download their game. Take this with a grain of salt though.

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#6 Posted by Superharman (306 posts) -

@atastyslurpee: Like the questions around day and date PS Plus games, Rocket League being the big example of this, we'll likely never know. If you watch the No Clip doco on Rocket League, you "could" read body/facial language to suggest they're ultimately a little torn on it (given that you could argue the game was mainly a big success because of PS+) but they can't comment on it.

From a perspective of being a subscriber, I personally love the service for a couple of reasons. A game like Forza Horizon 4 I probably would have thought about buying but likely would have second guessed myself, I love that game and it's going to get a lot of play while listening to Game of the Year stuff and hell, I'm probably going to buy the Bond car pack. I played through Super Lucky's Tale and really enjoyed it but I wouldn't have paid money for it...of course I actually did because I ended up buying the DLC. The best example is the last two weeks though, three seemingly great games came out all on the service (Ashen/Below/Mutant Year Zero), all games I want to play but, at this time of year, I'm not going to really want to put down the cash to buy all three, I would have had to decide on one, maybe two, instead, I have all three.

To sum up, I wasn't planning on buying Crackdown 3, but I'll play it now.

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#7 Posted by TheFlamingo352 (377 posts) -

I don't have an Xbox but would definitely be more interested if the PC catalogue for game pass was expanded. Like people are saying, I'm much more likely to try Crackdown for ten bucks than throw down 60 for every new exclusive Microsoft gets.

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#8 Posted by Superharman (306 posts) -

Just something interesting I noticed, the achievements on Ashen are all pretty rare after about the first boss which only 21% have finished. After that the drops are pretty drastic, fast travel is around 11% and the second major boss/dungeon is under 5%. A very basic and unscientific analysis of that suggests that a lot of people are trying the game on Game Pass but falling off it pretty quickly.

Not sure if this should be seen as a success or not for the service but the game probably got a lot more eyes on it because of Game Pass at the very least.

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#9 Posted by cyberbloke (178 posts) -

I have always been a PlayStation gamer, never had an Xbox.

This year I got a gaming PC after not playing on PC for many year.

I liked the look of Forza Horizon 4, because I'm British and driving around my homeland appealed to me, so I got Game Pass to play it, figuring I'd get to play some other games too.

As it turns out there isn't much on Game Pass for PC (so far). But it did soon lead me to getting an Xbox One X... and I love it.

I love the idea of Game Pass, as it's nice to be able to play whatever I fancy. I don't get heaps of gaming time and a typical game will take me a month or two to work through. If it's not to my taste I feel I am stuck playing it to the finish to get my money's worth.

With Game Pass I can just play and enjoy myself.

I've since signed up for Origin Access Premiere too.

If Sony and or Ubisoft launches a similar service I will have to start choosing what one's games appeal to me more, because two of these services may be my limit, but I do love the concept.

And it was directly responsible for me getting an Xbox at last, and when the next Xbox comes along I'll be right there with it if Game Pass continues.