Xbox Game Pass has clearly become central to Microsoft’s strategy. Contrary to what many believe, Microsoft believes the Game Pass model is a sustainable one, and to keep feeding content into the service, they’ve been driven to keep looking for more potential studio acquisitions. In fact, the subscription service has even changed the way they develop games- or even which games they develop.
Speaking in a recent interview with The Guardian, head of Xbox Phil Spencer gave examples of a few recent Xbox Game Studios releases that would not have been greenlit to begin with if Microsoft hadn’t been confident in the success of Game Pass, and that the subscription’s userbase would be willing to give these games a try. The likes of Microsoft Flight Simulator (which enjoyed the biggest launch so far in Game Pass PC history), Dontnod’s episodic adventure Tell Me Why, and Rare and Dlala Studio’s Battletoads revival, would not have existed if not for Game Pass.
“I honestly don’t think we’d greenlight Tell Me Why if not for Game Pass,” Spencer said. “It’s an episodic, story-driven game – you don’t see a lot of them getting made. We knew with the 15 million subscribers we have now, that it would get played, and that people would engage in it more than they would if there was a $30 price point in front of it. Even Flight Simulator is a game we would not have green-lit if we did not see Game Pass growing. We had a million players of Battletoads! These are all examples of games that in an exclusively retail model would be more challenged.”
This isn’t the first we’ve heard Microsoft or its studios talking about how Game Pass has changed their approach to development, and how it’s made them more willing to take risks and work on more experimental games. For instance, The Coalition has explicitly said that the subscription service was a big factor in why they went ahead with the development of Gears Tactics.