Xbox Game Pass Could Destroy The Industry—If It Was Good

by Anastasia Deripaska

The future of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass is looking doubtful.
With a wave of public outcry over the lack of new content on Game Pass combined with concerns raised by former Microsoft executive Ed Fries, the subscription service may enter a rough patch soon.

Game Pass gives users access to a library of games, all of which they can play for one monthly subscription fee. Users pay $16.99 a month for the Xbox Ultimate Pass, a combination of the console and PC Game Pass.

As the gaming industry adjusts to the new world of digital downloads and subscription services, Game Pass may soon have to be overhauled to avoid disaster.

Former Microsoft Exec Worried Over Game Pass

Ed Fries led the team that made the first Xbox and served as vice president of game publishing at Microsoft for nearly two decades.
When he was a guest on the podcast Xbox Expansion Pass, he took the chance to voice his concerns about the Game Pass model.
“The one thing that [Microsoft] is doing that makes me nervous is Game Pass,” Fries says.
“These markets are more fragile than people realize... [Game Pass] is a great deal as a customer, but that isn’t necessarily great for the industry.
”The comments came after the podcast host Luke Lohr asked what Fries would change if he was still at Microsoft today.
Fries likens it to how music streaming services such as Spotify disrupted music sales, resulting in less money making it back to musicians.
For example, artists on Spotify need their songs to be streamed hundreds of thousands of times per month just to make minimum wage.
He now fears that services like Game Pass could similarly tank revenue for the gaming industry, meaning less money for development and therefore fewer games being created.

Subscribers Dropping Game Pass In Droves

There is one problem with Fries’ apocalyptic vision of the global gaming industry, and that’s the fact that Game Pass is dipping in popularity.
One of the original promises of Game Pass was that it would include new first-party games from Microsoft at least every three months. These have often failed to materialize, with Halo Infinite being the latest first-party game released on Game Pass all the way back in December 2021.

Now fans are upset and are opting to unsubscribe from Game Pass, saying it is not worth the price. Gene Park, games reporter for the Washington Post, led the charge as he publicly announced he was unsubscribing on Twitter.

The tipping point was Bethesda Softworks delaying two big upcoming titles—Redfall and Starfield—until 2023. Bethesda, one of the top gaming companies which is known for series like The Elder Scrolls and Dishonored, was acquired by Microsoft in 2021.

Xbox Game Pass subscribers are now facing a full year without any first-party games coming to the service.
While there are over 300 games available through Game Pass, many are older or from smaller studios—not much of a draw for hardcore gamers that invested in the powerful Xbox Series X.
Game Pass is being plagued with doubts from all sides and could see further loss of popularity in the near future.