What you need to know
- In comments to IGN, Xbox lead Phil Spencer discussed the rumors "PlayStation Game Pass" service.
- Spencer noted that he sees it as inevitable for Sony to match Xbox Game Pass on its features and services.
- Sony is rumored to be building a similar service codenamed "Spartacus," but it has yet to be made official.
One of the biggest disruptions in gaming in recent years has been Xbox Game Pass, a service which offers hundreds of games on a relatively low monthly fee. Microsoft cuts deals with third-parties for their content, sometimes several months or years after launch. Occasionally, they also manage to nab someday one launched too, such as MLB The Show, Outriders, and the upcoming Rainbow Six Extraction.
The best part of Xbox Game Pass, potentially, is the fact Microsoft puts all its home-grown Xbox exclusives into the service on day one. That includes Forza Horizon, Halo, Gears of War, and upcoming ZeniMax games like Starfield, representing some truly absurd value for money.
Up until recently, none of Microsoft's primary competitors really competed with this, although rumors are swirling that PlayStation is gearing up for its own Xbox Game Pass competitor, codenamed Spartacus.
Speaking in comments to IGN, Xbox lead Phil Spencer said that he not only expects the rumors to be true, but inevitable, alongside the idea of Sony matching Xbox on day one game launches.
Spencer emphasized that he doesn't want to claim Xbox has everything figured out with subscription serivces, but that he believes allowing gamers to experience their content wherever they want, whenever they want, is the right approach.
As of writing, Xbox Game Pass has over 300 games in the service, with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers also getting access to EA Play games, alongside access to hundreds of games via cloud streaming. We expect that Microsoft will expand its Xbox Cloud Gaming service to smart TVs in the coming months, while also allowing gamers to play some or all of their digitally-purchased titles via the cloud too.
Xbox Game Pass has proven to be successful for Microsoft so far, although the service remains in a growth phase, with the bulk of profits being reinvested in content and growth. Services like Game Pass don't seem to cannibalize retail sales either, with Microsoft sharing its view that Game Pass can help stimulate retail sales, as gamers take advantage of exclusive discounts, and help virally market games via word of mouth.
Whether or not Sony will fully match the value being offered by Xbox Game Pass remains to be seen, but the passive income from subscribers cannot be understated. Sony has already begun porting games to PC such as God of War, much like Microsoft did in years past. Sony is exploring ways to monetize their legacy content in an era where it can't meet demand for its hardware. thanks to the ongoing semiconductor shortage. A full-blown PlayStation Game Pass subscription service does, indeed, seem inevitable. I suspect we'll find out the full details sooner, rather than later.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!