Xbox Game Pass subscriber numbers aren’t as high as Microsoft had expected

Game Pass growth had exceeded expectations last year during the beginning of the pandemic

Xbox Game Pass is regularly cited as one of the best deals in gaming, but it appears that the service has not attracted as many subscribers as Microsoft had hoped.

According to a filing for the financial year ending June 30, 2021 (thanks,, Microsoft had aimed to grow Game Pass’ subscriber base by 47.79 per cent. The results show that it missed its target, with only growth of 37.48 per cent.

While a growth is still better than a loss, by comparison, the growth of Game Pass subscribers for the previous financial year had exceeded Microsoft’s expectations of 71 per cent, when the number of subscribers actually grew by 85.75 per cent.


Xbox Game Pass
Xbox Game Pass. Credit: Microsoft

The huge growth in 2020 can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic as many people were staying indoors and looking to connect with family and friends online. As the world has opened back up, it appears Microsoft had also adjusted its target for 2021 accordingly.

While Game Pass regularly updates its library with new games and has become a great way for discovering indie releases, the slow growth could also be attributed to the lack of a major first-party blockbuster title for Xbox.

This may change soon as Forza Horizon 5 launches in November, while Halo Infinite finally releases in December. The latter however also comes with a free multiplayer mode that doesn’t require Xbox Game Pass or Xbox Gold Live subscription to access.

To appeal to nostalgia, a recent data mine suggests more original Xbox games could also be coming to Game Pass via the backwards compatibility programme, which would neatly coincide with the 20th anniversary of Xbox.


Elsewhere, Sea Of Thieves is celebrating reaching 25million players by giving free gold to everyone who logs in, with a special prize for one lucky player.