Microsoft's Xbox Plan Could Change Everything

— 2 minute read

I like the direction Microsoft has chosen to go when the next generation of video game consoles hits the market late this year: follow the path blazed by Netflix and build a library of games so compelling that users don't really blink an eye at subscribing to your Game Pass.

Chris Plante, writing for Polygon, thinks Game Pass is what will enable Microsoft to have an edge over it's Sony Playstation 5 rival:

Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass is a service akin to Netflix that allows customers to download as many games as they want from an enormous collection for $9.99 per month. In April, the service surpassed 10 million subscribers. For context, Sony sold more than 4 million copies of The Last of Us Part 2 in its debut weekend last month, and that was the company’s second biggest video game launch ever.

Later this fall, Microsoft plans to launch xCloud which will be their way of streaming games being run on their servers in the cloud to your tablet or phone.

Rather than lining up a mega hit game, they'll just bundle a bunch of great games and give you access to them wherever you can access your Microsoft Xbox account:

It needs people locked into the ecosystem, not any individual game. So the company needs to provide lots of new things, not just one mega-game. For that reason, we’re likely to see a bunch of shorter games with lots of variety of play, diversifying the subscriber base and diversifying subscribers’ interests, making it hard for them to leave. The hits will be different, and they’ll be judged differently, but there will be more of them, and you’ll pay less to access them all.

Google is having some success with their Stadia cloud gaming platform, Sony has Playstation Now, and Apple has Apple Arcade - I have a video game podcast about all that you can subscribe to called 25¢) - but much like buying into the Apple ecosystem for your music and movies, it'll be difficult to convince folks invested in the Microsoft gaming ecosystem to break away once Microsoft has them hooked.