Let’s Talk… Game Pass Again

game pass

We all know I’m a lover of Game Pass and what I feel it’s changed within the game industry along with what it means for the future of the way games will be delivered   Lately though I have been pondering it again.  This may sound strange, but it’s actually stopped me buying games to some extent.  I know that if I want a Sony first party title e.g., The Last of Us, Gran Turismo, or Ratchet & Clank that I won’t have to worry about it landing on Game Pass, and it’s the same with Nintendo games.  Everything else though I keep feeling it’s a matter of when.  I previously had plans to buy Back 4 Blood on PS5 so I could join the Codec Moments crew, but Game Pass stopped that for me as it landed there on day one.  The Ascent was another I had plans to buy, Game Pass made sure I didn’t need to. And Scarlett Nexus I was about to click buy yesterday but thought to myself, I’ll just check… and that’s now there.  As these are all 3rd party titles, it then got me thinking to the last 3rd party title game I bought, which was Aliens: Fireteam Elite, and as you may have seen, certainly on PC its player base is dropping quickly.  I feel Game Pass would give it a boost and save it from what’s looking like a flash in a pan despite it being enjoyable.

My worry is the trend.  It’s certainly feeling that 3rd party title buys for a Game Pass subscriber are becoming a bit pointless.  I just cannot shake this feeling of it will land on there at some stage.  In fact when most games come out, the developer gets asked the question now.  Normally I’d buy FIFA and Football Manager, and we know in advance FM22 is coming on day one.  FIFA 22 hasn’t, but like FIFA 21 I’m convinced it will be there within 6 months [Editor – or be there as part of the rolled in EA Access].  If you’re a gamer who needs to have it day one this likely won’t matter at all, but is this damaging to the developers long term?  If people are waiting it out for a while it becomes lost sales, or if the person does buy the game 6 months later it’s not likely to be at full price.  As an example, I have a friend who is wanting Resident Evil Village, but due to RE7 being on Game Pass he isn’t buying it as feels the latest game will land there at some stage.  If he did buy it now it would be half price it was at launch, or he could buy it used and Capcom get nothing.  This issue won’t impact first party titles for Microsoft as they’re going to be there at launch regardless, and I suspect there will be financial deals ensuring there is no impact to the devs.  Plus it will only help boost subscribers, the likes of which I expect to come when Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite release.

Of course if a person only has a PS4/PS5 this is a none issue for them, as if they want something like Back 4 Blood they only have one option, but there are a few people out there with both console, which makes me think, long term is this going to create more services like Game Pass, and I still don’t think there is any competition.  Any subscription service needs to ensure it keeps new subscribers coming in, and in Microsoft’s case we have the pull of the first party titles.  That alone is enough for most people, and in my case and perhaps others it’s now all games in general.  People talk about digital being the way forward and discs will be gone, and whilst I think in part that’s true, I actually believe it’s the subscription model that’s the future.  Download the game and go… there’s no streaming issues like you get with Stadia, and it also means people on lower internet connections can have the benefit as stable streaming still rules out far too many people.

I do fear this will have a hit on the traditional stores as I see most Xbox bundles include a Game Pass subscription too.  It’s Microsoft’s long term aim to get this service to the forefront after all, and for it to bring in more revenue.  Let’s look at it this way – you can buy an Xbox Series Console + Game Pass sub and have Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon, etc.; or buy a bundle that has them physically, which might cost at least £100 more, assuming the store sells the games at RRP.  Retail stores make next to nothing from any digital sale, and the overall long term effects of this are huge in my view to developers, store fronts and how games will be consumed in the future.  To answer my own question, will this likely change for me?  I don’t think so.  Am I happy about that?  Yes, providing Game Pass keeps delivering the way it is.  It might mean playing 3rd party titles later than planned, but I’ll have saved £30-£60 depending on the title, and I’d call that a win.

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Mark

The newest member of the Codec Moments team… you can find me on nearly every gaming platform there is.

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