Microsoft has high hopes for Xbox Game Pass and growing it into the future.
by Eddie Makuch, GameSpot
Xbox Game Pass has been one of Microsoft’s biggest success stories this generation, and the company is not slowing down. Microsoft on Thursday announced major plans to grow and evolve the service over time, while it also released new statistics that speak to its popularity.
Microsoft is working with TV manufacturers around the world to “embed the Xbox experience directly into” internet-connected TVs. The idea is you’ll be able to play Xbox games with no additional hardware, except for a controller. This is a very big deal because it opens up a potentially much larger audience for Xbox: people who don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars for a console but still want to play games on their TV.
Additionally, Microsoft announced that it is “exploring new subscription offerings” for Game Pass that will allow “more players around the world can experience the most immersive and fun games across devices, geographies, and financial realities.” The company did not share any specifics about this, however, but clearly the aim is to get more subscribers.
In another effort to expand Xbox, Microsoft is working with telecom providers on “new purchasing models” like Xbox All Access that allow users to get a console (with Game Pass) for a monthly price instead of paying more up front. This is the model that has been popular and widespread for smartphones for many years.
Additionally, Microsoft announced that new Xbox-branded “streaming devices” to push Xbox cloud gaming on “any TV” without the need for a console. Again, no specifics or images were provided for this.
Another way Xbox is expanding is by launching Game Pass in more regions. The service will come to Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and Japan later in 2021.
Additionally, Microsoft announced that cloud gaming through PC browsers will open for all Game Pass Ultimate members “in the next few weeks” across Chrome, Safari, and Edge. What’s more, Microsoft is in the “final stages” of adding Xbox Series X server racks to its data centers around the world so games streamed to the cloud look and run better. Players can expect faster loading times, better frame rates, and better graphics.
And later in 2021, cloud gaming will be added directly to the Xbox app on PC, while it will also be integrated into Xbox consoles themselves so players can try games before they download.
In terms of the new stats, Microsoft announced that Game Pass users play 30% more genres and 40% more games overall. 90% of subscribers told Microsoft they played a game they otherwise would have overlooked. Microsoft also said that “engagement” with Xbox Game Pass titles, on average, is up by more than 8x when they go on Game Pass.
Subscribers are spending more, too, as Microsoft said members spend 50% more on content than non-subscribers.
EA Play is now included on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and this has been a big hit, it seems. Microsoft said EA Play hours played on Microsoft platforms was up 200%, which has helped EA’s games on Game Pass reach “millions” of new players.
Square Enix’s Outriders launched on Game Pass day one, and this seemingly didn’t stop it from having strong sales. Microsoft said Outriders was the No. 1 best-selling digital Xbox game on the Xbox platform during its launch week and it stayed in the top 10 for the first month.
MLB The Show 21 also came to Xbox Game Pass on day one, and during its launch week, the game became the “biggest sports game of the past year” on Xbox. It was also the second biggest sports game of all time on Xbox, though the No. 1 title was no revealed. Direct sales of MLB The Show 21 on Xbox were strong too, becoming the No. 1 overall best-selling paid game on Xbox for April 2021.
This was just one of Microsoft’s big announcements today. The company also announced plans to release at least one new first-party game every three months. We might begin to hear more about Microsoft’s plans at the joint Xbox/Bethesda E3 2021 showcase on June 13.