“I believe the customer wants a choice,” says head of Xbox Phil Spencer.
Microsoft have been pushing Game Pass a great deal ever since they launched it. They’ve spoken multiple times about wanting to become the “Netflix of gaming”, and it’s clear that the subscription service is a huge part of their plans to do so, alongside xCloud.
But that does present some interesting questions. For instance, similar to Netflix, will Game Pass eventually become a platform in and of itself, one that hosts exclusive content that cannot be found elsewhere? Head of Xbox Phil Spencer was recently posed the idea and asked about his thoughts on it in an interview with Polygon, and he doesn’t seem to keen on it.
Spencer says choice is an important thing for customers, and having games that are exclusive to Game Pass would automatically take choice out of the equation. As such, in his own words, he’s “a little reticent” on the idea.
“We’ve had teams already come and pitch the idea,” he said. “Certainly you’ll have teams come and say, ‘Hey, don’t you want to just put something exclusive in Game Pass because you can?’ And I’m a little reticent on that because I believe the customer wants a choice. Gaming has a history of people buying their games and, frankly, having a local place to download those games so they can play them when they’re offline or whatever. And I think that’s an important point.”
That said, Spencer believes Game Pass can push the medium forward in other ways, with games making use of the service’s unique subscription model and delivering experiences that are tailor made to that.
“We’re starting to see teams bring ideas [that factor Game Pass into] the actual creative of the game,” he said. “The easy one to go to is episodic games. I’m not saying episodic is new, but this isn’t an online service-based game. It’s actually a single-player narrative game where we want time to be one of the things that builds drama across the game’s arc. And we want to use a subscription model so that we always know that we have more and more people ready to engage every time [we release a new episode].
“[Game Pass] is a new tool. It’s not just how many teraflops of GPU, how fast is my bandwidth connection. We now have a business model that allows for a new kind of content creation and delivery of that content.”