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Xbox Game Pass isn't good for sales, but is anyone really surprised?
Microsoft admits that Xbox Game Pass has led to a decline of overall game sales
Microsoft has told the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that Xbox Game Pass isn’t great for sales.
The publisher admitted that games that join its subscription service cannibalize future sales, which isn’t too surprising. It’s very unlikely that someone would choose to pay full price for a game when they can play it (and hundreds of other titles) for a lower monthly fee.
As reported by GamesIndustry.biz, the CMA noted: “Microsoft also submitted that its internal analysis shows a [redacted]% decline in base game sales twelve months following their addition on Game Pass.”
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Xbox Game Pass
Microsoft has told the CMA Xbox Game Pass isn’t good for sales
🍽️ The subscription service can cannibalize game sales
✋ The CMA is strongly opposed to Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard
🤝 Microsoft has said Activision games will join Xbox Game Pass once the deal is done
The CMA’s report also revealed that Microsoft said Activision – which Microsoft is in the process of acquiring for $69bn – has been opposed to putting its games onto subscription services on any platform in the past.
Activision believes that services such as Xbox Game Pass “severely cannibalize B2P [buy-to-play] sales, particularly in the case of newer releases”. It’s hard to see how Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 would have become the biggest Call of Duty launch of all time if people could access it on a subscription service, for example. It also wouldn’t be the most downloaded PS5 game of 2022.
The UK’s competition regulator is firmly against Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard and believes the deal will harm gamers. The CMA has proposed that Microsoft should omit Call of Duty from the acquisition if any deal is to go through or call off the merger altogether.
Microsoft has previously claimed that Xbox Game Pass is good for sales. In 2018, Microsoft CEO of Gaming Phil Spencer said: “When you put a game like Forza Horizon 4 on Game Pass, you instantly have more players of the game, which is actually leading to more sales of the game,” Spencer explained. “You say, ‘Well isn’t everyone just going to subscribe for $10 and go play this thing?’ But no, gamers find things to play based on what everybody else is playing.”
Personally, I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for an Xbox Series X game, as I’m more than happy to play whatever comes to Xbox Game Pass. However, the 10% discount on DLC for Xbox Game Pass titles has encouraged me to buy more in-game content than I ever had before, so publishers and developers can clearly benefit from other monetization options if they’re available.
Most of the best Xbox Series X games can be found on Microsoft’s subscription service, and those who subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate can also access additional perks such as PC Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming.
All first-party games from Xbox Game Studios also launch on day one on Game Pass, which isn’t the same approach adopted by Sony with its subscription service.
While you will find some of the best PS5 games on PlayStation Plus Premium and Extra, Sony only brings its first-party games to the service many months or even years later. That tactic has helped God of War Ragnarok sell over 11 million copies, but it hasn’t spurred PlayStation Plus subscriptions to increase significantly.
Read my God of War Ragnarok review to find out why I said Kratos’s PS5 debut was a sumptuous albeit familiar sequel and save yourself $17 with our Xbox Game Pass Ultimate 12-month discount code. PS5 owners can also save $13 with our PlayStation Plus discount code.
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