Speaking as part of a wide-ranging feature on Forbes, Microsoft exec Sarah Bond said that the many additional monetisation opportunities in gaming were a differentiator between Game Pass and on-demand video services like Netflix.
Unlike on video streaming platforms, Game Pass users continue spending money via in-game transactions, expansion content and the purchase of additional games, Bond said.
According to the exec, Game Pass subscribers spend on average 20% more time playing games, play 30% more games and play 40% more genres.
“When you subscribe to a channel that enables you to watch a video, like Netflix, that’s kind of the end of the monetization cycle that you have with that piece of content,” the exec said.
“In gaming it’s the opposite: there are items that you can buy in the game, there are extensions you can buy, there’s a next franchise you can purchase, there are other genres that you can leap to.”
Bond added: “There are 200 million people who buy a console, and there are 3 billion people who play games. Today, a lot of those people don’t have the option to play many of these amazing experiences and iconic games that you see.
“When you really look at what we’re doing with Game Pass is we’re making that possible by linking that to subscription, and putting our streaming into subscription. We’re able to make the economics of all that work”.
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 18 million subscribers, according to Microsoft.
Discussing the reception to Game Pass from a development perspective during an appearance on the Dropped Frames podcast last year, Microsoft’s head of gaming Phil Spencer admitted that some creators were sceptical about the subscription service and its long-term goals.
Spencer said “the biggest question” he usually gets concerns the long-term value of content in a subscription model.
“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.”
Microsoft recently added a large selection of Bethesda games to Game Pass, following the completion of its acquisition of the company. Next month, Square Enix’s Outriders will be added to the service on the day of its release.