In a recent interview with Xbox boss Phil Spencer revealed that the soon-to-be-launched Xbox Games Pass has the potential to be a place for Xbox to release new first-party games.
Announced earlier this year and set to officially launch in Spring, Xbox Games Pass is a subscription service for Xbox owners that will give access to a library of over 100 games for a monthly fee of £7.99/$9.99/AU$10.95.
Though on launch the games available through Games Pass will largely be a back-catalog of existing Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles, Spencer said that it could potentially be used as a platform to release more original episodic story-based games like those we've seen from Telltale or Square Enix's Hitman.
In the interview Spencer admits that from a business standpoint it's increasingly difficult and more risky to commit to creating these narrative-heavy titles as their audiences are less consistent than those who commit to ongoing online-based games like The Division.
With a subscription model providing reliable financial flow, however, Xbox would be able to take more risks, developing and delivering these games over time.
This would mean that as well as having access to older games, Xbox Games Pass subscribers would also have access to new content arguably giving subscribers more incentive to retain their subscription.
This is similar to the way Netflix started, featuring older titles that people were guaranteed to want to access and using this as a way to start producing successful Netflix originals once the user-base was established and subscription money was rolling in. It's a financial model that's revolutionized television and it's certainly got fascinating potential for games.
Before Xbox can make this happen, though, it has to strengthen its first-party studios and get the content to do it. “I don’t want to go and pre-announce a bunch of things,” said Spencer “but we are upping our investment, there’s no doubt about that.”
Of course, it's not certain Xbox Games Pass will ever go in this direction, but it seems that Microsoft is seriously considering it as a viable approach.
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