Xbox has changed a lot in terms of how we interact with video games in the last few years. Pushing for better accessibility and cross-play were both impactful but Xbox Game Pass has definitely made the biggest splash on the industry.
People love video games and paying for them in that order but consumption has always been done in the opposite order. It’s much more difficult to sell someone on a new idea or weird concept when you’re also asking them for twelve hours of their time and forty bucks, but being able to experience it first? Now, that changes everything.
Xbox Game Pass Makes It Easier to Take Things Slow - And That’s Good for Games
Xbox Game Pass isn’t just a large amount of games for a low monthly price. It’s also a curated library of games. You may not enjoy everything in the offerings but everything in there is at least reasonably good.
That already makes it easier to find games, but then this is where the service can shine the most. Since players aren’t paying per title or by the minute (remember those weird knockoff N64 controllers in hotel rooms?), it's easier to try new games. You don’t have to look for your next favorite game.
Instead of looking for something to fill the next three months of game time, you can just look for something weird or different. It’s good for players because outside of data caps and time, there’s no reason to play it safe.
And that goes for developers too. Double Fine Productions can experiment and get weird with stuff like Psychonauts and Brutal Legend because there’s a guaranteed audience.
Bethesda doesn’t have to convince people to purchase The Evil Within 3; players just need to hover over the icon long enough to click Download. That’s it. And it legitimately can change everything. It can get us out of this ‘Ubisoft-formula’ loop.
It isn’t just Ubisoft. The company’s games are just the easiest example because they’re usually pretty good, despite all their problems. Ubisoft knows the games have problems too. They just don’t want to cut anything. It’s a balancing act.
The executives know the game works like it is right now and sells. Developers are pushed to make games they know will sell, instead of games they know people will try. Art doesn’t just have to be driven by what people will purchase.
Patreon, OnlyFans, and similar services have shown that people will also pay for an experience or a consistent stream of content. And that’s what Microsoft is utilizing with its studios and Xbox Game Pass.
Bethesda had to sell copies of The Evil Within 2 at a profit and if it doesn’t do well enough it’s harder to justify a new game. Now that Microsoft owns Bethesda and Tango Gameworks though, Xbox can just say “Yeah, it doesn’t matter how The Evil Within 2 sells.
People paying us $15/month are playing it and want The Evil Within 3 and Dishonored 3.” And yeah, I’m just picking some examples of some Bethesda titles that don’t sell as well as Skyrim, but the point does stand.
A sequel to Prey is a lot more likely to happen under Microsoft, regardless of how well it sells, and that’s good for art and anyone that enjoys it. Xbox Game Pass is a good deal but that’s not what makes it so special. It’s also why Nintendo and PlayStation should consider similar services.
As an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriber, I’m not just paying for Microsoft published titles and a constant stream of curated indies. I’m also a monthly subscriber to whatever Microsoft’s twenty-ish studios decide to cook up next. And that’s good for games.