The future of video games and how we play them is once again in the spotlight. Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, offered his own thoughts on the subject and how Xbox Game Pass has a big role to play, when speaking at Barclays Global Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Conference in San Francisco.
Spencer spoke about ideas and a vision that will likely come as little surprise to a gaming public growing ever more accustomed to a video game playground with fewer actual physical games involved. However, what Microsoft is looking at is a future where Xbox Game Pass is not only rolled out to PC but also to every device out there in a model not dissimilar to that used by Netflix.
“We’ll have multiple business models that will work with streaming, but the connection of streaming with the subscription model makes a ton of sense,” said Spencer. “You see it in music. You see it in video. So you can look at Project xCloud and you can look at something like Game Pass, and you can see there’s natural synergies.
“For us, it’s all about how we reach 2 billion gamers. If you build the market around a couple hundred million people who are going to own a game console or a high-end gaming PC, then your business-model diversity can actually narrow because your customers are narrow. But when you think about reaching a customer with this content where their only compute device could be an Android phone, you think about, well, what are all the ways that person pays for content if they do at all today?
“So we need to make sure that we’re world-class at free-to-play content, but we also look at subscription as a much lower barrier way for a customer to build a library of content.”
With Xbox passing $10 billion in yearly revenue, the people with the key to the safe up at Microsoft Towers have sat up and taken notice of where the company could go next.
Spencer continued, “We’ve acquired and started seven new first-party studios in the last year. We understand content is a critical component of what we’re trying to build, and the support from the company has been tremendous.”
These acquisitions point to Microsoft looking to expand their game streaming reach from solid foundations and, potentially, Xbox Game Pass could land on mobile devices through Microsoft’s Project xCloud service, currently undergoing internal testing.
Xbox Game Pass currently cost subscribers $10 per month and delivers access to a wealth of current Xbox One titles alongside some classic Xbox 360 games and even a legendary game or two from the original Xbox console. It can already boast subscriber numbers in the millions and allows players to try games that might otherwise have flown under the radar, something that may appeal to smaller games development companies as a way to get their game out there.
What do you think about the shift in the way we play? Are you embracing a subscription-based future, or do you still prefer to own a physical copy of your games? What are your thoughts on the Xbox Game Pass? Let us know in the comments below.
Neil is mostly a joystick twiddling, first-person shooting, double-jumping, coin collecting, bullet spraying, medic calling, lag complaining, button mashing, video game devotee. However, sometimes life calls for us to become the adult our age demands, and it’s at these times that Neil ignores the call and instead becomes a dice rolling, card drafting, traitor spotting, backstabbing, dungeon crawling, table flipping, coffee drinking board game fanatic. Life is short, play more games.