An organic move
The news that Microsoft will be bringing its Xbox Game Pass download-based subscription service to PC has been expected but has taken on more significance in recent months following the collection of announcements centred on cloud gaming.
Mirroring a similar move by EA when it launched its own PC game subscription service Origin Access, extending Xbox Game Pass to the PC audience is an organic move for Microsoft having already launched Game Pass on Xbox One and taking into consideration the potential synergies, at this point largely unfulfilled, between Xbox and the Windows platform.
All recent first party exclusives are already available to Xbox One owners that subscribe to Xbox Game Pass to play on PC through the Play Anywhere initiative. What makes Xbox Game Pass for PC different is that it extends the Xbox Game Pass value proposition to PC gamers that do not own an Xbox One and that the content will be PC-focused.
Managing the transition
A download service such as Xbox Game Pass provides Microsoft with distribution flexibility as it, alongside a collection of other companies, gear up their cloud gaming services. Microsoft’s ambition is to extend its Xbox Live platform, content and services to all major types of connected device with cloud gaming technology, but there will continue to be demand for downloads during this transitional phase over the next five to ten years. Eventually, Microsoft will be able to drive more value into Xbox Game Pass by enabling access to console and PC games from any suitable connected device through streaming.
The concept of an aggregated PC game subscription service is relatively untested. IHS Markit does not believe that enthusiast PC gamers that own the necessary PC gaming hardware, and that are used to buying large amounts of games through Valve’s Steam platform at low prices, will be that interested in this sort of aggregated subscription offer. These gamers may be driven to subscribe to get access to a new release, but perhaps only for short cycles. As this proposition starts to shift towards a cloud gaming offer with access to both console and PC content, the addressable audience will broaden substantially.