Starting at $9.99/£7.99, Xbox Game Pass subscriptions offer access to a library of over 100 games, including all Xbox Game Studios titles at launch.
The service has been a hit with consumers, attracting over 15 million subscribers, according to Microsoft.
Discussing the reception to Game Pass from a development perspective during an appearance on the latest Dropped Frames podcast, Microsoft’s head of gaming admitted some creators are sceptical about the subscription service and its long-term goals.
“I’ll be honest, there are developers that have some concerns, and my inbox is there, and I have conversations with a lot of those developers asking what are our real long-term goals? You know we get questions about ’hey, is this just some kind of go secure a bunch of players and then rack the price up to a new level?’ I say there’s no plan for us to do anything like that. We like the value that Game Pass is today and from a business model it’s completely sustainable the way it is and I mean that.”
Spencer said “the biggest question” he usually gets concerns the long-term value of content in a subscription model. Is a game’s value diminished if people aren’t paying for it in the traditional retail sense? If Game Pass becomes the dominant model, how will developers get projects greenlit? Will the number of platforms that games get developed for be reduced?
“And you know, I’m right there with them, it’s not like I’ve got a crystal ball that I can tell somebody what Game Pass is going to look like in five years,” Spencer said. “What I can say is our motivation is not to turn everybody into a subscriber – we think it’s an option for people.”
“The upside is, we can take more creative chances than a pure retail model allows,” Spencer continued. “We can go and greenlight games because we know we’ll get millions of Game Pass players to engage and play the game, where if it was purely driven of greenlight based on how many units or revenue you might gain just from that title, it can be more challenging, and that’s I think the positive side of it. It allows us to take more creative risks and I think the portfolio shows that, but we have to prove that over time as well.”
While some developers are sceptical about Game Pass, Spencer said others are now pitching games to Microsoft “that really only kind of work in a Game Pass model”. And while he said Microsoft’s not creating Game Pass to take options away from people, he “wants to entertain” ideas that push the boundaries of what traditional games are, and how game distribution and revenue work.