Xbox boss says a PlayStation Game Pass-like service is inevitable

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,721   +1,171
Staff member
In context: As the video games industry continues to slip more toward digital sales, service provision will start taking the front seat. Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, says that Sony's apparent decision to offer a packaged services platform similar to Xbox Game Pass is "an inevitability." Spencer feels things have been moving in this direction for a while, and Sony is just reacting to market pressure.

Last month information leaked that Sony is prepped to consolidate its PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now subscriptions into a tiered service similar to Xbox Game Pass. Game Pass underwent a similar restructuring in 2020 when Microsoft combined Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Gold, and xCloud into a bundled package.

In a recent interview with IGN, Xbox head Phil Spencer indicated he was not surprised at Sony's rumored service packaging and that he felt it was "the right answer."

"I think the right answer is allowing your customers to play the games they wanna play, where they wanna play them and giving them choice about how they build their library," explained Spencer. "So when I hear others doing things like Game Pass or coming to PC, it makes sense to me because I think that's the right answer."

Spencer also feels that Sony is simply following a path the industry pre-ordained. He says that it's not a "validation" that what Xbox did was a smart decision, but more of an "inevitability;" that games as a service (GaaS) is just where the industry is gradually trending.

"I don't really look at it as validation. I actually, when I'm talking to our teams, I talk about it as an inevitability," said the Xbox boss. "So for us, we should continue to innovate, continue to compete, because the things that we're doing might be advantages that we have in the market today, but they're just based on us going first, not that we've created something that no one else can go create."

Whether Sony's move was inevitable or just an attempt to keep up with Xbox, the end result is the same—an expanded GaaS market that offers more options for where and how the consumer plays at the cost of not truly owning a game. According to what Spencer has to say about it, this is what the consumer at large wants, but plenty of players in the market don't wish to move to a total GaaS system.

As we have seen, with the closures of digital stores, the potential to lose access to legitimately purchased digital products is there. Large corporate buyouts like Microsoft's acquisition of Zenimax and, more recently, Activision Blizzard King proves how one company can use corporate buyout to change the landscape of an entire market. This potential is multiplied in a fully digital market where the consumer has no physical control of purchased media.

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Posts: 6,306   +7,249

Cause when I bought my $500 new console, all I could think about was playing old games from previous systems...
Just an average PC gamer here, and I subscribed for GamePass for 0.99 + 2 mo free with their holiday special. It's well worth the full subscription price for the selection they have at the moment IMO and I'm quite the penny pincher. A couple of years ago I wouldn't have bothered with it even at the discounted price.

Sony would be smart to team with Valve and allow PC where it's Windows or Linux as well as Steam Deck to sideload their ecosystem for an advantage, otherwise they will get left behind.


Posts: 1,285   +1,241
I honestly don't know how Microsoft is making any money on gamepass. I honestly think they're just trying to bait Sony into a money losing scheme. This is bad for developers and bad for gamers in the long run.


Posts: 4,699   +3,064
I don't like subscriptions it will just make them lazy and watch quality of games go down once they have the upper hand.
This is my issue with everything going subscription also. Game quality has already fallen off a cliff in the last 10 years.

I also like to "own" games (or lease indefinitely I guess is the correct term these days). I tend to come back to games after several years and what happens if it's not part of the subscription anymore? If everything goes subscription, how do I get hold of older titles? Or are we about to see Valves Steam and GoG be the last remaining stores you can buy games on?

I don't know Mr Spencer, I don't think subscription is the only choice.


Posts: 281   +353
Picked up a 3 month pass for £6.99 plus another month for £1 means for four months access I have paid £2 a month. This is a good way to try games (at the moment playing Aliens Fire team and Mass effect legendary edition). If I like them I'll purchase them after my subscription ends (though not through the Xbox app). At this level of pricing I get to try before I buy without the hassle of trying for a refund after only 2 hours (steam) of playing. I often go back to old games (e.g. over Christmas played some StarTrek Amanda from GOG) - and there are a lot of fun games I missed the first time around.


Posts: 3,957   +7,003
This is the same Phil spencer that wants cross platform bans for saying naughty words. It's pretty obvious what they are creating here: a sphere where MS controls a huge percentage of the game industry and if you do not do what they say you are just not allowed to play anymore.

And once they get that control the price is skyrocket. We've seen it countless times before.


Posts: 2,080   +1,292
I honestly don't know how Microsoft is making any money on gamepass. I honestly think they're just trying to bait Sony into a money losing scheme. This is bad for developers and bad for gamers in the long run.
I generally only buy 1-2 new games a year. So, $140/yr, we'll call it. Assuming the revenue split is the same for subscription downloads as it is for disc/digital downloads, all they need is for me to sub 10 months before they're making more on me than they would have otherwise.


Posts: 416   +224
I would gladly get the Sony game pass, but it must support Keyboard and Mouse! It's a deal-breaker for me.