One of Microsoft’s secret weapons for next-gen is Xbox Game Pass, the company’s subscription service that already has 15 million members. It could be a big deal in the future, as the subscription model shakes things up in terms of the business of how people consume games.
Todd Howard, a veteran Bethesda executive who recently joined Xbox with ZeniMax’s sale to Microsoft, has offered some thoughts on Game Pass–and he is optimistic about its ability to positively impact gaming.
He told GI.biz that Game Pass has the potential to help games succeed where they might not have otherwise.
“Game Pass and things like it allow titles to be successful where the economics of the business, and having to sell things at retail to sell X amount of copies… That works against some games. Just like in other avenues–let’s take television or movies. Certain types of comedies or big budget dramas went away,” Howard said. “TV went to the cheapest thing they could make for a long time, reality television, which I could equate to a free-to-play match-three game. What brings eyeballs? What’s cheap? Right, let’s get it out.”
When subscription services in the film/TV industries came onto the scene, there was a renewed investment from the companies in quality content, and Howard said the same could happen in gaming.
“Subscriptions came along and now you see the quality and investment in dramas or historical fiction series,” he said. “That’s where creators are able to go and create these things people want and it makes sense for everybody: the people paying the bills, the people creating it and the people consuming it. That’s what we see happening with games with things like Game Pass.”
As an example, Howard said the classic adventure game genre could see a resurgence in popularity through platforms like Game Pass. “Those are games that really don’t make a lot of economic sense at $60, or maybe even at $30 if someone’s going to play it for five or six hours, but in a system like that it makes complete sense,” Howard said. “It drives a lot of people saying ‘Hey, I got to experience that and I wouldn’t have any other way,’ and the creators got to make it without the burden of ‘Will this be successful? Will we get to make another one?'”
Overall, Howard said he feels “extremely optimistic” about the potential for Game Pass. “Not just to people playing it but to creators being unbridled in terms of what they can create,” he said.
Howard had more to say about Game Pass and other subjects, so be sure to read the full interview at GI.biz.
Microsoft acquired ZeniMax as part of a $7.5 billion buyout. Many questions remain, like if The Elder Scrolls 6 will be exclusive to Xbox, and we may not get answers until the deal actually closes. Xbox boss Phil Spencer recently said he can’t say much about the future because that would be breaking the law.
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