The Xbox Game Pass has been a hit for Microsoft and left its opponent, Sony’s PS Plus service in the dust. PS Plus has been successful but has a long way to go until it matches its Xbox counterpart. The question is, does it even need to?
We’ve discussed a few times how services like the Xbox Game Pass could outlive the concept of games consoles. The service arrived on the Xbox One, where it gained its popularity, but it’s now poised to really reach its potential on the Xbox Series X.
In many ways, the smaller and less powerful Xbox Series S was built with the Games Pass in mind. The console is digital-only and lacks a disk drive. This shows Microsoft’s confidence in the platform’s future.
Expansion to other devices has already begun, with both PC and Android platforms now compatible with Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft also owns Windows, but Android’s addition to the Xbox Game Pass family was a significant move.
Xbox Game Pass On Third-Party Devices
That’s because Google owns Android, so this marks the first time the Xbox Games pass was exported to a third party. One who is often a partner of Microsoft but who is also a competitor just as frequently.
Google own their own gaming service, Stadia. So for them to invite Xbox Game Pass onto their Android operating system is a testament to their belief in it. However, both operate as separate divisions under the Google umbrella.
The move shows Microsoft’s willingness to allow its Xbox Game Pass to appear on third-party devices, even if those devices connect to a competitor.
But Sony and Nintendo represent much more robust competition. Sony wants to push their own service, and it may only be a matter of time until Nintendo launch something similar.
Microsoft knows their service appearing on a competitors’ platform could help spread their influence, as well as curtail the rise of a challenger. Naturally, Nintendo, Sony and even Google will be aware of this too, but they may accept it on strategic grounds.
While Microsoft may own and operate the service, it would still exist on their devices. Everybody stands to gain. It could even allow some gamers to have their cake and eat it.
For example, they could buy a PlayStation console, but also take advantage of Xbox exclusives by subscribing to the service. Then play these Xbox games on their Sony device.
It’s not out of the realms of possibility. Ask gamers from 20 years ago if they ever expected Sonic and Mario to share a platform, not to mention compete at the Winter Olympics together!
Future Possibilities For Xbox Game Pass
The Xbox One was a fantastic games console when judged on its own merit, but the PS4 and Nintendo Switch gave it a bloody nose. There’s a lot of love out there for the Xbox One, but also some disappointment too.
There are many reasons why this is the case (confusing marketing, lack of exclusives, controversial launch, etc.), but it’s not the aim of this article to go back over this well-trodden ground. We mention it only because we suspect it made Microsoft think outside the box – literally in this case.
They thought outside of the Xbox. Even outside of the concept of consoles altogether, and in doing so, came up with the Games Pass idea. Something that could represent the evolution of their entire brand, if not the industry on the whole.
If the Xbox Series X fails to become a commercial success (and we have every confidence it will succeed), could Microsoft scrap consoles and just stick with the Xbox Game Pass? Seeking to install it on competitor’s consoles?
At this point, Sony and Nintendo would cease to become competitors and could become something more akin to partners. But this is all speculation and not likely to happen anytime soon, if it ever does.
But Microsoft’s willingness to bring their Xbox Games Pass to PS5 and Nintendo Switch is telling. If things don’t go their way, it gives them another direction to go in. Much like Sega bowing out of console development and into publishing.
It also gives Sony and Nintendo access to Microsoft’s much-coveted exclusive franchises. This is a particularly exciting prospect for the Nintendo Switch, as it would allow portable Xbox games.
Could the fabled Switch Pro make this a reality? And yes, the use of the word Fable was deliberate.
Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Weighs In
Here’s what Xbox boss Phil Spencer had to say about the idea in a recent interview with Game Reactor, "I love the Switch, I love PlayStation; honestly, I think they've done an amazing job as being a part of this industry. I'm not sure that those are the next big set of users for us, but we could be open to those discussions."
And, "I think for us it's all about priority, and reaching more players. So we went to PC first after Xbox, because there's just so many players there, globally, that don't own an Xbox, that we could reach. We went to mobile next because there's a billion Android phones on the planet."
Finally, going on to say, "We still have iOS to go after; we will come to iOS at some point. We're still working on some of our technology on PC for larger screens in terms of streaming and getting to iOS, and I think once we get through that, we look at what the other options are."
Interesting words and a far cry (that one was also deliberate) from the tone of early Xbox One rhetoric. The Xbox Game Pass will be the jewel in the Microsoft crown as we cross from one gaming generation into another.
Microsoft has been keen to give the Xbox Series X/S the best start in life they can, not repeating the previous generation's mistakes. The Bethesda acquisition is further evidence of this as Xbox looks to consolidate and expand its exclusive library of titles.
Who knows, if Bethesda games do become Xbox exclusives (and some will), the Xbox Game Pass appearing on PS4 could offer a solution to disgruntled PS5 owners.
Here’s what we know about how well older Xbox games will play on the Xbox Series X at launch.
Finally, check out this exciting Xbox Series X unboxing video that’s taken the Internet by storm!