Game Pass is currently one of the best deals in gaming. For $US15 ($21) a month you get access to a rotating list of 100s of games, from small indies like Unpacking to big blockbusters like Halo: Infinite. You can play them on Xbox or PC, or stream them just about anywhere else. Valve CEO Gabe Newell now says he wouldn’t be opposed to having it come to Steam.
Newell was asked in a new interview by PC Gamer whether Valve has any plans to role out a competing subscription service of his own. Maybe even call it something like Steam Pass. The former Microsoft employee said no.
“I don’t think it’s something that we think we need to do ourselves, building a subscription service at this time,” Newell said. “But for their customers it’s clearly a popular option, and we’d be more than happy to work with them to get that on Steam.”
While it doesn’t sound like there are any current plans in the works to put Game Pass on Steam, both companies have spoken “quite a bit about the topic.” “If your customers want it, then you should figure out how to make it happen,” Newell told PC Gamer. “That’s where we’re at.”
Microsoft has made clear that one of its big goals is getting as many people to sign up for Game Pass as possible. It’s ongoing acquisition spree, including Bethesda and Activision Blizzard, is one big part of that. Having Game Pass available on competing storefronts could be another.
While the company used to hide PC versions of its games behind the Microsoft Store, it’s recently been bringing them day-and-date to Steam. It’s turned out to be a huge boon for live service games like Sea of Thieves which have seen their player numbers explode after becoming available on Valve’s storefront.
The newly launched Steam Deck portable console is technically already Game Pass capable. Though Microsoft’s subscription service doesn’t support the device’s native Linux-based SteamOS, the Steam Deck can, in theory at least, dual-boot Windows 10, allowing prospective owners to switch between Steam and PC Game Pass.
Of course, one big obstacle to Game Pass coming to Steam proper is revenue sharing. Microsoft gets 100% of what subscribers pay when they use it through the Xbox launcher, while Valve traditionally takes a 30% cut of everything sold through Steam. As The Verge points out, this is likely why only the base tier of EA’s subscription service is on Steam while EA Play Pro remains exclusive to its Origin launcher.
Still, it’s surprising that Valve seems so open to working through issues like that in the first place. The value proposition of Game Pass, supported by Microsoft’s deep pockets and increasing leverage in the games industry, has the potential to completely disrupt marketplaces like the PlayStation Store and Nintendo eShop were it ever allowed on those rival platforms. Valve doesn’t seem to feel the same way about its own.