Co-founder of Playdead and Jumpship, Dino Patti, has disclosed that Xbox Game Pass could have detrimentally affected the sales of their newest game, Somerville.
Details of the Interview
In a recent interview conducted by Video Games SI, Patti divulged that the studio pitched the game to Google Stadia. However, they ended up partnering with Microsoft to launch the game on Xbox Game Pass. Despite considering the deal good, he expressed concern about the negative impact it could have on sales. He stated:
“I also think it hurts sales. Because a lot of people just go in and try it, and they don’t invest. If they don’t like the first 10 minutes? That’s it. Also, if you don’t make the first 10 minutes amazing, maybe it’s also a problem. I think [Game Pass] is okay. It’s not my favorite. My favorite is the old premium model, where I sell you on some video, on big images, and earn your $30. And then after that, I have to deliver. I don’t need to get money out of you later.”
This sentiment states that the value proposition of Game Pass is problematic. Since users can enjoy unlimited access to the game library for a flat monthly fee, they tend not to invest more into the titles they play, and the lack of financial commitment makes it easy to stop playing the title if it fails to hook them from the outset.
Xbox Game Pass: A Quick Overview
Game Pass is a subscription-based service created by Microsoft that allows users to have unlimited access to a vast collection of games, including some of the newest releases. Members can play these games on Xbox consoles, PCs, and, recently, mobile devices via cloud gaming. Game Pass Ultimate bundles the Game Pass for both consoles and PC versions and includes Xbox Live Gold, Microsoft’s online subscription service that unlocks multiplayer modes and free monthly games. Customers can also choose to receive limited-time access to games for an additional fee.
The Pros and Cons of Xbox Game Pass for Developers
Game Pass has received mixed reactions from game developers. For one thing, Game Pass encourages more people to play games – impressive figures show that the platform has garnered over 18 million subscribers since its launch. However, the more casual nature of the service means that players tend to move on to the next game rather than invest time into a particular title.
For small studios with an established fan base, Game Pass can be an excellent option for attracting new players who might not have heard of their game before. Nevertheless, it could be problematic for larger studios that rely heavily on early sales figures to keep afloat. Game Pass not only decreases the price, but it often replaces the purchase of the game altogether for users who might have ponied up the cash to own a single title previously.
What are Other Developers Saying?
This sentiment was echoed by another developer, Timur Gagiev, the founder of Frostwood Interactive, who created Rainswept. According to him, “Getting a game on Game Pass is primarily beneficial for niche indie game developers.” However, he does not believe that Game Pass is detrimental to sales since “Gamers are more likely to try out a game that’s on Game Pass and then decide to buy it if they like it.”
On the other hand, Xbox steps up by offering a per-user basis revenue guarantee for select titles available on Game Pass. This guarantees developers a predictable payout for offering their game available, independent of subscription revenue generated by the platform. This revenue share model traverses the risk created for game developers by encouraging users to move on to new titles and helped encouraged studios otherwise hesitant to sign up for this service.
Although Game Pass is a relatively new service, it has undoubtedly disrupted the traditional model of game sales. With the fate of gaming sales models in transition, it is uncertain how game studios will adapt to the changing landscape, but it is essential that developers not only consider the short-term benefits but also assess how it will impact the long-term sales of their titles.