Xbox’s Game Pass Struggles to Find Its Blockbuster
Xbox’s latest exclusive title, Redfall, did not live up to expectations, with many players unimpressed and questioning Xbox’s overall strategy when it comes to big exclusives. While Xbox Game Pass is currently the “Netflix of gaming,” boasting hundreds of games and millions of subscribers, it has struggled to find its bonafide hits, compared to streaming services like Netflix and Disney+. This lack of marquee titles has led some subscribers to wonder about the future of the service and its market share against hypothetical rivals.
The Blockbuster Woes of Xbox’s Game Pass
Xbox has faced criticism over the past few years regarding its shaky track record when it comes to big exclusives. While Game Pass has quality exclusives such as the Forza series and Psychonauts 2, they lack the scale and mass appeal of a Spider-Man or a God of War. Moreover, Halo Infinite is a prime example of Xbox’s blockbuster woes, with its ambitious live-service aspects falling flat, leading to layoffs and a lack of follow-through.
The Unique Value of Xbox Game Pass
Despite the criticisms, Xbox Game Pass remains a unique value proposition with its hundreds of games available for subscribers. However, the service’s biggest issue is that Xbox is not involved in the production of the vast majority of those games, and players can go elsewhere to experience them. While it has managed to garner millions of subscribers, it could face increased competition in the coming years and see a decrease in market share if it cannot find its blockbuster hit.
The Future of Game Pass Subscription Services
Paid subscription services like Game Pass could be the future of video games, especially with the emergence of cloud gaming technology. However, increased competition could come at the cost of Game Pass’s market share, which could eat into its quantity-over-quality approach. Currently, Game Pass is a “hidden gems” service, but if a competitive service moves in, players may look to the top-of-the-line blockbuster experiences on offer as a major point of comparison.
Xbox’s Great Hope: Starfield
Xbox’s great hope in terms of exclusives is Starfield, set to launch in 2023. However, it remains to be seen if it can live up to expectations and become a true blockbuster hit. Xbox’s current murky status of many first-party games, including the absence of another Gears title, also makes it difficult to see what will carry the service past Starfield.
The Importance of Communal Experiences
We live in an era dominated by communal experiences and FOMO. The truly successful cultural products of the streaming era have become experiences that people share with their friends, family, and coworkers. In contrast, Xbox’s lack of marquee titles could lead to it missing out on this communal aspect of games.
Xbox’s current strategy with Game Pass is quantity-over-quality, which has worked so far but could lead to issues down the line if it cannot find its blockbuster hit. While Xbox’s biggest title of the year is still to come in the form of Starfield, its track record with big exclusives has been shaky, leading to uncertainty about the future of the service. Xbox needs to find its Stranger Things or Wednesdays to remain competitive in the coming years.