At a time where Bethesda is putting out commercials to celebrate single player games, a new business model from Microsoft threatens to disrupt the industry as we know it today. The Redmond firm has announced an update to its Xbox Game Pass subscription service, which will see all of its first-party games available day and date for download at the low price of £7.99/$9.99 per month. It’s an insane value that’s unsurprisingly been met with enthusiasm from all corners of the Internet – but could such a plan even prosper on the PlayStation 4?
Sony’s commitment to big budget single player experiences has been lauded since the start of the generation, and with its upcoming portfolio spanning solo releases like God of War, The Last of Us: Part II, and Spider-Man, it’s clear that the company aims to stick with the status quo for the foreseeable future. But should Xbox Game Pass take off, it could be the final nail in the coffin for the old-school campaign; we’re moving into an era where engagement metrics are going to be more important than sales figures.
Microsoft has been heading down the services path for several years now. Virtually all of its major titles – the likes of Halo 5, Gears of War 4, and Forza 7 – have heavy online focuses, and plenty of monetisation models at play. A brief look at the lineup it’s promoting alongside today’s Xbox Game Pass announcements reveal a lot about its strategy moving forwards; Sea of Thieves and State of Decay 2 – two titles that will be available to download day and date for subscribers – scream service-based games.
The company’s clearly hoping that, by attracting a larger pool of potential players through the low-priced subscription, it’ll be able to more effectively monetise its games. More importantly, engagement is going to be more crucial than ever; one-and-done experiences like Horizon: Zero Dawn aren’t going to keep subscriptions renewed in quite the same way as, say, a Gran Turismo Sport which is constantly evolving with new content and features.
So could this model work on the PS4? Yes, and no. Our immediate reaction is that titles like God of War – which won’t even have a Season Pass, for the record – would struggle to make back their significant financial outlay in this kind of environment. With no post-release monetisation, Sony is banking on people buying copies of the game for $60 (and, perhaps, PlayStation consoles) to justify its existence. The same, we assume, will be true of Spider-Man, Days Gone, Death Stranding, et al.
That said, this is undoubtedly a disruptive model that, if successful, could change the very fabric of the industry as we know it today. It’s clear with PlayStation Now that Sony’s looking to a future where games are service-based too, but the streaming platform has never quite felt ready for primetime; the Japanese giant appears to be anticipating a subscription-focused future, but it probably hadn’t banked on it arriving so quickly. Microsoft, it seems, is accelerating those plans.
But with the backlash to Star Wars Battlefront 2, and the growing demand for single player games, will there be resistance to the transition to a service-based industry once the initial euphoria has worn off? We’ll need to wait and see how things transpire first, of course – perhaps we’re jumping to conclusions. But our guess is that you could one day see PlayStation follow in the path of Xbox Game Pass – but we’d expect Sony’s first-party output to be unrecognisable as a result.
What do you make of today’s Xbox Game Pass announcements? Are we jumping to conclusions by assuming it will change the way games are designed? Would you pay for a subscription to first-party PS4 games? Start a free trial in the comments section below.
Would you pay for an Xbox Games Pass-esque subscription on PS4? (201 votes)
Yes, this is the future of games consumption
Maybe, it'd depend on the lineup and small print
No, I still prefer to own my games outright
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