Microsoft is asking many Game Pass subscribers to pay more for less

Zoom in / Artist’s impression of Microsoft executives after today’s Game Pass pricing announcements.

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For years, Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass has been known for offering subscribers access to new titles from its own production company as well as a large library of older games on launch day. Now, that important feature is set to disappear “on day one” for all but the highest-tier Game Pass subscribers, even as Microsoft demands more money for Game Pass across the board.

Let’s start with the price increases for the current Game Pass tiers, which are relatively straightforward:

  • Game Pass Ultimate will increase from $16.99 to $19.99 per month.
  • The cost of Game Pass for PC will increase from $9.99 to $11.99 per month.
  • Game Pass Core (formerly known as Xbox Live Gold) will go from $59.99 to $74.99 for annual subscriptions (and remain at $9.99 for monthly subscriptions).

Things get a little more complicated for $10.99/month Xbox Game Pass for Consoles Microsoft has announced that it will no longer accept new subscriptions for this category, although existing subscribers will be able to keep it (for now) if they automatically renew their subscriptions.

In contrast, Microsoft will introduce a new tier of Xbox Game Pass Standard “in the coming months” for $14.99. This new tier will combine regular access to “hundreds of high-quality games across devices” with the “online multiplayer across devices” features that previously required a separate Xbox Game Pass Core subscription (Core will still be available separately and include access to a smaller library of “25+ games”).

But while the current Xbox Game Pass console option promises access to Xbox Game Studios games “the same day they launch,” these “Day One Editions” Notably absent as an additional feature to the alternative Xbox Game Pass Standard subscription..

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“Some games available with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on day one will not be immediately available with Xbox Game Pass Standard and may be added to the library at a future date,” according to Microsoft. Write in FAQ Explain the changes.

Players who want guaranteed access to all “day one” releases will have to subscribe to Game Pass Ultimate for $19.99 per month. That’s an 81 percent increase over the $10.99 per month console gamers currently pay to get similar “day one” access on the disappearing Game Pass Console tier.

To be fair, the extra subscription money comes with some additional benefits. Upgrading from Game Pass Console/Standard to Game Pass Ultimate gets you access to Microsoft’s cloud gaming service, access to downloadable PC games, EA Play LibraryBut access to first-party titles that Microsoft sells on launch day is what sets the Ultimate tier apart now, and that will likely necessitate a pricey upgrade for many Xbox Game Pass subscribers.

More problems, more money

When Game Pass first launched in 2017, it focused on older games, not day one titles.
Zoom in / When Game Pass first launched in 2017, it focused on older games, not day one titles.

Despite Xbox Game Pass launching in 2017, subscribers weren’t promised access to all of Microsoft’s new first-party games on launch day. Until the beginning of 2018Since then, loyal Game Pass subscribers have been able to play dozens of new first-party titles at launch, from major franchises like aura, ForzaAnd War equipment For fans of indie music like Hi-Fi Rush, Sea of ​​ThievesAnd Ori and the Will of Ghosts And much more.

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Sure, access to hundreds of older games was great. But the promise of brand new major titles was instrumental in pushing Xbox Game Pass to 34 million subscribers as of FebruarySony found itself unwilling to match the “day one” feature of its similar PlayStation Plus service, which only includes a handful of older PlayStation Studios titles.

in 2022 Interview with GamesIndustry.bizPlayStation CEO Jim Ryan said that introducing new in-house games to its subscription service would break a “virtuous cycle” where purchases of new full games (priced at up to $70) help fund the next round of game development. “The level of investment we need to make in our studios is not going to be feasible, and we believe the impact on the quality of the games we make is not going to be something that gamers want.”

Microsoft may come to a similar conclusion. Including first-party titles with cheaper, console-focused Game Pass subscriptions may have seemed like a good idea when Microsoft was still trying to attract subscribers to the service. But Game Pass subscriber growth is starting to slow down With the potential customer market saturated, Microsoft now needs to extract more value from these subscribers to justify Game Pass reducing direct sales of its first-party games.

Microsoft paid a significant amount of money to add Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 to its Game Pass subscription.
Zoom in / Microsoft paid a lot of money to add value. Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 To Game Pass subscription.

Activision

Let’s also remember Activision, which Microsoft recently spent a whopping $69 billion to acquire after lengthy legal and regulatory battles. Recovering this cost, it offered Game Pass to subscribers. Launch day access to huge sellers like Call of dutyMicrosoft will likely have to maximize revenue generation opportunities through its Game Pass service.

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“Let’s put it this way: If 7 million Xbox Game Pass subscribers were planning to buy Call of Duty for $70 but now have no reason to (because it’s part of their subscription), that leaves nearly half a billion dollars in revenue on the table,” MIDia analyst Rhys Elliott said. He told the Daily Upside, By clarifying the large numbers involved.

For gamers who enjoy a variety of games and are likely to buy all or most of Microsoft’s original titles at launch anyway, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is still a good deal at its increased price. But gamers who subscribed to the console’s relatively cheap Game Pass option years ago may want to reevaluate whether maintaining access through launch day is now worth the $240 per year.

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