It is no secret that streaming seems to be the future of entertainment consumption. What started out as a mailed DVD packet has now become an instantaneous method by which we consume our products. This goes beyond movies and shows. While this is incredible news for gaming as a whole, I find it crucial to remain vigilant when it comes to subscription-based services. Xbox Game Pass is an archetype that, even while performing strongly and turning heads, still has yet to fully take off.
As an early adopter and current user of Xbox Game Pass, I find myself already loving the vast selection of first-party games like Halo: The Master Chief Collection. What still lacks, however, is third-party support and a collection of games that go beyond the Xbox sigil. Going beyond console iterations and game announcements, Microsoft has made it very clear that they seek to modernize and prioritize gaming in our increasingly on-the-go society.
In fact, they continue to focus on future big-picture ideas like Project xCloud. This is where the rubber has yet to meet the road, and more specifically why the majority of gamers I’ve spoken with have dabbled with Xbox Game Pass monthly trials, but have yet to commit to an ongoing monthly expense. In my opinion, this subscription model is exceptional and does a great job drawing people in. Keeping them there seems to be a different story.
“Get It While It’s Hot!”
Where streaming is the future of entertainment, promotional deals look to be the method of transportation. Across the board, there are bundles and deals. Taking a look at Hulu’s success, it’s no leap to assume that partnering with Spotify and offering student discounts have had an impact. So it comes as no surprise to expect Microsoft to push Xbox Game Pass deals for new adopters. What makes Xbox Game Pass unique for better and for worse, however, is the capacity at which it unveils these promotional pushes.
This offer is one of several I’ve happened to come across that prove to me the library cannot quite speak for itself just yet. This isn’t a dig at Microsoft but rather a theory that until a regular influx of third-party content has been established, it will only be the hardcore Xbox fans that commit.
We Need “The Netflix” of Gaming!
Using Netflix as an example, if it was only comprised of Netflix originals I think 85% of my friends and family would end their subscription. Apparently, the key to success is distracting your audience from ending their membership. Think about it! With new and diverse content rolling in, streaming becomes similar to both shopping and exploring. People rarely ask themselves, “should I cancel Netflix?” and spend time asking “I wonder what’s on Netflix?” instead. For Xbox Game Pass, this has yet to be true. There is a bright side though! I feel that it’s going to be true very soon with the launch of Project xCloud, new consoles, and the “play anywhere” mantra that seems to be an embraced vision and an incoming reality.
Not only do I see Xbox Game Pass succeeding in the near future, but I believe the irony of its success will be its availability across numerous devices. With Microsoft being the leading software company in the gaming industry, there exists a two-fold advantage. One, Microsoft has the resources to bring gaming to devices not particularly designed for it. This is important because the behemoth of PlayStation is very much console-locked and hardware-specific. Effectively, Xbox’s success may come from leaving the Xbox itself! This will bring with it the prosperity of streaming because this monthly games subscription will be accessible across many of your devices – just like Netflix, Hulu, etc. This speaks directly to the ecosystem Microsoft has always dreamed of.
The games-as-a-service model is merely starting to take shape. There is extraordinary evidence that when it does, Xbox will be proactive and others will respond. As it stands, the Xbox is the only gaming console prepared for an all-access future of gaming.
While I’m confident in Microsoft’s abilities, it’s hard to gauge the timing and logistics of cloud-based gaming. Movies and shows require just a screen and a speaker to be utilized. This begs the question of the functionality and design of future game controllers and accessories. For example, if and when Halo is playable on a tablet or phone, will it be designed with a Bluetooth controller in mind? Some might suggest the game itself will adapt to the device.
This would mean, if we stayed on the example here, Halo on an iPhone would simply be “dumbed-down” to touch and motion controls. Which begs another question of would we even want that! That’s what makes this whole process extraordinarily interesting! There are a lot of unknown variables at play and risks to take. Despite that, Microsoft has found their tool to deliver – it just so happens to still be locked in the box.
What are your thoughts on Xbox Game Pass? Whether you have it or not, what are your standards for viable streaming services and what would you like to see in the future? Let us know in the comments! Keep it real and keep it right here at The Nerd Stash.
Much love, and keep on gaming!