Phil Spencer Xbox 20 CelebrationSource: Microsoft

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.

Xbox Game PassSource: Matt Brown | Windows Central

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.

"... when I hear others doing things like Game Pass or coming to PC, it makes sense to me because I think that's the right answer."

"I don't really look at it as validation. I actually, when I'm talking to our teams, I talk about it as an inevitability. So for us, we should continue to innovate, continue to compete, because the things that we're doing might be advantages that we have in the market today, but they're just based on us going first, not that we've created something that no one else can go create.

"I like it because it feeds our energy on what are the next things that we should be working on as we continue to build out the things that we've done in the past. Because I think the right answer is to ship great games, ship them on PC, ship them on console, ship them on cloud, make them available Day 1 in the subscription. And I expect that's what our competitor will do."

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.