Speculation around Xbox Game Pass pricing is natural, especially after Microsoft’s massive Bethesda acquisition and its potential with game streaming. But even though the cost of Game Pass on PC has risen this year, Xbox head Phil Spencer has allayed any fears that Xbox Game Pass pricing will change.
The comments were made on the Dropped Frames show, a weekly gaming Twitch podcast. Spencer spoke about how developers felt about Game Pass. The Xbox head explained how the model worked for some developers, while others had voiced “concerns” about the long-term goals of Xbox Game Pass.
Amongst that, however, Spencer said that he’d received concerns about Xbox Game Pass subscriptions becoming more expensive over time. “My inbox is there and I have conversations with a lot of those developers asking, what are our real long-term goals? We get questions about, hey, is this just some ‘go secure a bunch of players’ and then rack the price up to a new level?”
“There’s no plan for us to do anything like that; we like the value that Game Pass is today, and from a business model it’s completely sustainable the way it is,” Spencer added.
Spencer noted, however, that the industry debate publicly and privately was healthy for everyone. “It’s not like I’ve got a crystal ball and I can tell everybody what Game Pass is going to look like in 5 years,” he said. “Our motivation is not to turn everyone into a subscriber. We think it’s an option for people. We’re not pulling our games out of retail. In fact, we’ve expanded — we put them in Steam, we have some games in [Epic Games Store]. We’re giving people more options to buy our games.”
But Spencer implied that the long-term value of Game Pass, however, remains the largest concern. But because Microsoft’s Game Pass model had diversify the company away from pure retail units sold, Microsoft could take more gambles on games that might not otherwise have mass market success.
“The upside is we can take more creative chances than a pure retail model allows,” he said. “We can go and greenlight games because we know we’ll get millions of Game Pass players to engage and play the game, whereas if it was purely driven at greenlight based on how many units of revenue you might gain just from that title, it can be more challenging. And that’s, I think, the positive side of that.”
Interestingly, Spencer said that some developers and studios had begun pitching games precisely around the Xbox Game Pass model. “Some of the ideas that come in are almost very specific to a subscription,” he said.