The Potential Problem with Xbox Game Pass

The fact that we exist in a timeline where Xbox Game Pass exists is mind blowing. Hundreds of games are available at the subscriber’s fingertips, just waiting to be downloaded. But is this service secretly teaching us to not buy video games?

Awhile back, we did a poll on our Twitter account. We wanted to know how many people buy a game on Game Pass if they’re really enjoying it. The results were surprising.

At the time, I was playing 12 Minutes, an indie “Groundhog Day” style game. I was enjoying the game so much on Game Pass that I decided to buy it to support the devs. Also didn’t hurt that I got a discount for being a Game Pass subscriber. I was curious if anyone else had a similar mindset. However, out of 50 results, that does not appear to be the case.

I realize that 50 people is a very small sample size to pool from. But it does make me wonder how many others have a similar mindset towards Game Pass. As I began to think about this further, I arrived at the question that many people probably have: why bother buying games when I can just play them for “free” on Game Pass?

If you take that approach to it’s logical conclusion, it’s almost as if Xbox is training their consumers to not buy games anymore, albeit unintentionally. As of April 20, 2021, Xbox reported that Game Pass has 23 million subscribers. That’s a lot of people playing games for a small, monthly fee.

This may be a “tinfoil hat” scenario but it has me wondering how these developers are being compensated. Especially since Xbox is not making money off Game Pass, at least not profit-wise. If people are just playing the game on Game Pass and not buying the game, how are the devs getting support exactly?

Maybe someone out there more knowledgeable than me on this topic can chime in. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a Game Pass subscriber and enjoy the service (it’s definitely saved me from buying some truly rough games). But how Game Pass will affect game development and psychology, if it does at all, will be interesting to see.

3 thoughts on “The Potential Problem with Xbox Game Pass

  1. I don’t know exactly, but the devs are being compensated through Microsoft proper. Either through upfront payment to have their game on the service, or through a contract where the developer gets a certain dollar amount depending on the number of downloads the game receives in a given time period. Whether this can be sustainable by Microsoft long-term will be the real question.

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  2. I’m guessing Microsoft is more than happy for us to focus on all of the “benefits” of their subscription service and less on that fact that if we stop paying the monthly subscription fee, we don’t actually own any of these games. In my mind, that’s one of the real long-term concerns with subscription services like Game Pass. Are we okay with giving Microsoft our money on a monthly basis for only experiences (not products we can use whenever we want) in return? To this point, seems like the gaming community is cool with it, but I guess time will tell.

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