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Xbox Game Pass subscription growth fell short of Microsoft's target in FY21

Xbox Game Pass xCloud
Xbox Game Pass xCloud (Image credit: Jez Corden | Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft fell short of its target for Xbox Game Pass subscribers in its 2021 fiscal year.
  • The company targeted growth of 47.79% but achieved a growth of 37.45% from mid-2020 through mid-2021.
  • Microsoft has not shared the total number of Xbox Game Pass subscribers since January 2021.

Xbox Game Pass grew by 37.48% in Microsoft's 2021 fiscal year, but the gaming subscription's growth fell short of Microsoft's targets. According to a recent SEC filing, Microsoft had a target of 47.79% growth in FY21 (via Axios). Microsoft's 2021 fiscal year ended on June 30, 2021.

While Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass grew by 37.47% between mid-2020 and mid-2021, that growth rate falls significantly below the same metric between mid-2019 and mid-2020. Xbox Game Pass grew by 85.75% in FY2020. That difference is due in part to Xbox Game Pass being newer in the 2020 fiscal year, as reflected by Microsoft's lower FY21 target of 47.79%.

The growth rate of Xbox Game Pass subscribers is one of the only concrete metrics that Microsoft shares about its game subscription service. The last time Microsoft confirmed the total number of Xbox Game Pass subscribers was back in January 2021 (18 million).

The growth of Xbox Game Pass subscribers is one of the performance goals for top executives at Microsoft. If the company hits these targets over a three-year period, the executives receive additional stock.

Microsoft has added a steady stream of games to Xbox Game Pass since its launch, but many original titles are still on the horizon. Microsoft's game studio acquisitions will take time to bear fruit, which may bolster Xbox Game Pass' subscriber count.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at (opens in new tab).

  • It's their lack of vision on the store holding them back, lack of marketing on cloud gaming being included and the fact it's still hard to find a Series X/S anywhere (supply chain woes) (not to mention GPU... which is why they should be pushing xcloud like mad)
  • I don't get the store assertion, but I would argue they haven't had many exclusives yet. Once those start in earnest that should help. They also should sell new Consoles with a steep game pass discount as a bundle imo
  • People don't go to the store to look for stuff, thus the value is often lost and the xbox store being completely outside the windows store means only what is front and center in windows store can draw people into the game store.. the fans are already here, it's going to take alignment and obvous value proposition to catpure new marketshare and sustain the growth. My kid used my 3 year credit for Game Pass Ultimate because the Xbox Dashboard told her to.. she's 17 and has no idea the value or what games are on there and doesn't check because none of her friends do.. I'm pissed that Xbox told her to use the credit... i would have liked the 3 years myself but i couldn't apply it to my account because i was at some stupid limit and i was waiting until i could apply the credit. If kids who game all the time still don't know what Gamepass affords them - some messaging is lost - and they love steam/pc gaming
  • If she has a different account you can still convert your gold to GP, unless you are talking about some other credit I never heard of. Also, if it's the same console you can still use her GP on her account as it's the home console.
  • I bought the Series X with the 3 year plan.. i had 18 months of credit and they wouldn't allow me to redeem the 3 year extension until i was under 4 years total credit or something silly... The redemption notification i thought only showed up under my account since it was my account that bought the xbox but the stupid thing notifies ANYONE who logs into the xbox and instead of redeeming it on the primary gold account or game pass account, it converts whatever account redeems it to the game pass account. I realize I can hopefully leave her account logged into the xbox and mine will expire, but there is a wasted period of duplicate time. I think its just STUPID that the credit system works like that and there is no way to reverse it... Either way, there is a marketing gap of what people get with Game Pass that a lot of people simply don't really know about and if a market of 17-18 year old kids isn't oblivious something aint right.
  • I'm a good candidate for this who is not a subscriber. In my case, I'm hoping for a family plan. We have 3 gamers and 3 Xboxes (meaning we can't effectively share a 1-person subscription). I'm not buying 3 subscriptions and the MS has it set up, buying less than 3 would just create more strife between my kids than enjoyment. Microsoft could easily make me a customer. Hell, I want to be a customer based on what the service includes, but they don't offer a program that makes any sense for a family with more than 1 physical device. Imagine if Netflix or Disney+ required a separate subscription for each family member -- how well would they do? I find it mind-boggling that Microsoft doesn't offer this, especially because they have the whole Family pack for Office and MS Family Safety, which already includes Xbox gaming.
  • If you log into another console and set it to be the home console you can share subscriptions
  • Family plan is necessary for PCs that's for sure, you can login to multiple PCs and do it that way, but it's not very flexibile/intuitive. On the xbox, as long as it is marked your home xbox anyone can play the games, but they have to be downloaded from your account so its sloppy there too