Former Xbox executive “nervous” about industry impact of Game Pass

The long-term impact of video game subscription services on the industry is still unknown

A former Xbox executive has expressed his opinion of the potential negative industry impact that Xbox Game Pass could have.

Ed Fries, who worked at Microsoft between 1986 and 2004, appeared on the Xbox Expansion Pass podcast yesterday (May 22) and gave his thoughts on Xbox Game Pass as a service and what he thinks it could mean for the industry as a whole (from Reddit via transcriptions from VGC).

“The one thing that [Microsoft is] doing that makes me nervous is Game Pass. Game Pass scares me because there’s a somewhat analogous thing called Spotify that was created for the music business,” explained Fries.

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“So we have to be careful we don’t create the same system in the game business. These markets are more fragile than people realise.”

Xbox
Xbox Game Pass. Credit: Microsoft

Xbox Game Pass launched in June of 2017, with reports from the start of this year showing that the service has already grown to at least 25million monthly subscribers.

“So Game Pass makes me nervous. As a customer, I love it. I love Spotify as a customer: I have all the songs I’d ever want… it’s a great deal as a customer. But it isn’t necessarily great for the industry,” Fries added.

As video game subscription services are still a fairly new concept, their long term impact on the industry, like if they’ll put major dents in yearly game sales, remains to be seen. VGC notes the comments of ReedPop’s head of games B2B Christopher Dring.

Xbox 20/20
Xbox Series X. Credit: Microsoft

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“There is industry concern about what might happen if subscriptions become dominant, like they have in music and TV,” said Dring. “The subscription model doesn’t necessarily generate the revenue needed by AAA games, particularly single-player games with no microtransactions… you can see why Sony is reluctant to put its latest releases into PS Plus.

“If you’re someone who only plays a couple of games a year — like FIFA and Call Of Duty — how likely are you to subscribe to a service with hundreds of options? It remains to be seen just how big games subscription services will become.”

Statistics shared by Microsoft at this year’s GDC also showed that Game Pass subscribers both play more games and spend more money on add-ons and extras. Indie developers usually see triple-digit growth for their pay-to-play titles, with subscribers spending 50 per cent more on average, according to the statistics.

In other news, multiple classic games have been added to the PlayStation store alongside details of new screen filters.

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