While plenty of companies in the video game industry claim subscription services are the wave of the future, others strongly disagree. Heck, one of the biggest detractors is, ironically, a company that offers several subscriptions.
According to GamesIndustry.biz, Microsoft believes the future will not be dominated by subscription services that give gamers access to gargantuan libraries of games. This belief comes from the head of gaming services Ben Decker, who claims gamers prefer quality over quantity.
“When we launched [Game Pass], we thought an ever-increasing number of titles might be something that was really important to gamers,” explained Decker. “But as it turns out, that’s not really what they’re asking for. What we get from our customers isn’t, ‘I want a subscription that has thousands and thousands of games.’ What we heard from them is, ‘I want a subscription with 100, or a little more than 100, games. But I want them to be really good games. And I want a curated portfolio where I know what’s in there is going to be really great to play.'”
While subscription services are fine on paper, Decker understands they’re worthless if they don’t provide meaningful content. Few if any gamers would buy the Xbox Game Pass if most of its library consisted of games like Ride to Hell: Retribution and Bomberman: Act Zero.
“We don’t have a goal of being the subscription where you get all your content,” continued Decker. “This is meant to be additive to the ecosystem. We don’t see a future where subscriptions are dominant. We see a future where customers have a choice between a subscription and purchase-to-own, where there’s a mixed ecosystem because that’s what customers want, and that’s what developers want.”
While Decker doesn’t think subscriptions will dominate the future of gaming, he admits they help boost playerbases. Most of the 5 million gamers who play Sea of Thieves didn’t buy the game but instead got it through Game Pass, and the same can be said for State of Decay’s 3 million players.
This news comes one day after Microsoft announced Xbox All Access, a pay-as-you-go plan that lets gamers pay for an Xbox One S or X, Xbox Live Gold, and Xbox Game Pass in monthly chunks. But again, Decker only views these kinds of services as an additive. He acknowledges that many gamers would rather just pay a one-time fee to own a product rather than just rent it.