How Will Subscriptions Work Now?
Before we dive into all of our questions, let’s recap exactly what the rumored Xbox Scarlett actually is. According to Thurrott, Xbox Scarlett is a “family of devices,” which will include “a traditional console” alongside “a streaming box” called Scarlett Cloud that is designed to work with the company’s upcoming game streaming platform.”
That spells a big shift in the way Microsoft will handle its gaming division moving forward, pushing revenue streams further toward digital and attempting to swing the weight of the market to its favor by providing a more accessible and affordable gaming solution. But it also raises some big questions.
First and foremost, what is the subscription service you’ll inevitably need to sign up for going to look like, and how much will it cost?
Chances are, if you’ve got an Xbox One (or a PS4 for that matter), you’re already paying for your online subscription in the form of Xbox Live or PS Plus. Additionally, on Xbox, you have the option for additional stuff like Xbox Game Pass and EA Access, all of which can add up to quite a costly annual expenditure if you’re signed up to them all (not that you have to be, of course). Presumably, Scarlett Cloud will need to undercut its rival services to stay competitive, and how does it then do that by incorporating Xbox Games with Gold features at a price point that isn’t going to be a put-off for customers?
While we’re simply speculating at this point, we see it going one of two ways. First, Microsoft incorporates the streaming service into Game Pass or Xbox Live, and as a result, your subscription costs for these respective services presumably rise. Considering $10 a month for Game Pass’ first-party offerings alone is a bargain, it doesn’t seem unreasonable that this could happen.
Alternatively, an entirely new subscription service is born, creating the three pillars of Microsoft’s subscription revenue. Xbox Live offers the online multiplayer services we’ve come to know, Game Pass offers a library of downloadable games, while Scarlett’s streaming service offers the immediate, cloud-based alternative.
Exactly how Microsoft will approach maintaining and funding its rumored streaming service remains to be seen but it’s likely that something is going to be different with how Xbox handles subscriptions come next-generation.