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How Xbox Game Pass became a major hit

Bringing a Netflix style subscription to the world of gaming may have once seemed a little overzealous, but Xbox has found just the right formula for success. 

In the summer of 2017, Microsoft took a leap of faith by announcing a brand-new subscription service: Xbox Game Pass. And I remember being as sceptical a cynic as anyone about its chances of success. 

As someone who made the switch to Xbox with the 360 and never looked back, I’ve seen my fair share of gimmicks: Xbox Entertainment, HoloLens compatibility (demoed in 2015) that never came to be, and worst of all the God-awful Kinect sensor. And while Xbox Game Pass had more promise than all of those ventures combined, watching the announcement my glass was still half-empty. 

Sat here three years on, locked in my home amidst a global pandemic, boy am I glad to say I was wrong. The service hasn’t been a graveyard for AAA flops and dull indie titles as many expected, instead it’s proved an absolute coup for Phil Spencer and co.

I would be lying to suggest the 100+ library is full top to bottom with great games, but on the whole the service is more about quality than quantity. For many, the £7.99 monthly subscription offers a first chance to own stellar third-party titles like The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, and Red Dead Redemption 2, and every Microsoft exclusive at launch including Sea of Thieves, and all entries to the immensely popular Gears of War and Halo franchises. Suffice to say, it’s a big deal.  

Last week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed that Xbox Game Pass has amassed over 10 million paying subscribers in 41 countries around the globe, which contributes heavily to a now 90 million monthly player base on Xbox Live. Universally, gaming has seen a major upswing in revenue during the pandemic, and subscriptions that offer the chance to play multiple titles at the click of a button are only going to become more popular as the time passes. 

You’d best believe the launch of Halo Infinite will nigh-on double the number of Xbox Games Pass subscriptions later this year too. You heard it here first. 

It just goes to show, while marketing is obviously very important aspect of gaming, continued success is only possible if the product has genuine quality that meet the expectations of fans, and Xbox Games Pass will certainly get Microsoft to buck their ideas up with future endeavours. 


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