Let me preface this by simply stating two things. I am primarily a PC gamer and have an 8700K and RTX 3080 OC, my PS5 Exists for exclusives, I have allegiance to no company, it is childish and naive. I ALSO WANT MICROSOFT TO SUCCEED, competition and a healthy industry is good for the consumer period. While the situation here is quite a bit different, a quick look at the AMD vs Intel war and it is clear what competition does for the end user. There are however major issues in the game pass, which are not good for the medium, or consumers in the long run. Everyone keeps on talking about the long term picture of Xbox and how game pass is the key part of it. Are they really thinking long-term though? I think not. Buckle down, because I think once you have read this, your opinion of game pass and MS’ strategy will be quite different. I hope the current plan changes as I have major reservations with it.
I will focus on negative aspects of Xbox and it’s long term plan, because I want them to succeed, and I feel once you see what I lay out, you can not argue a course shift is needed. This is also not to say Sony does not have negatives, my god they do, cross-play (extremely anti-consumer), the lack of cold storage at launch and so many other stupid decisions, but when it comes down to it, the key game plan of Sony is infinitely superior warts and all and the sales prove it.
Now this is going to be an incredibly long article, which I imagine a lot of people will say is a major Tl;dr, the fact of the matter is to actually give a real genuine analysis of the situation it is required.
Before getting into the of the reality of Xbox game pass, I need to touch on the 7.5 billion dollar Zenimax purchase and why it happened, and the dark realities of them buying a juggernaut publisher. I also need to reflect on the failure of the X1 generation, as these reasons lay out is why the game pass exists.
Take out all of the games that MS acquired in the Zenimax purchase out of E3 2021, what did they have? A mediocre looking Halo, where alarm bells should be ringing, given 343’s past games, the initial state the game was going to launch in and the lack of campaign footage. They also had Forza Horizon 5, which sure looks good, but there are still tons of visible grass pop in and using the same rendering techniques used in previous games for almost everything, nothing it is doing nothing different.
In fact, even raytracing is in its equivalent of photo mode. That and Flight Simulator, that was the internal studios showings for E3. Make no mistake without Zenimax, their E3 would have been pathetic, and even with it, it was not good. Fable was a no show and has been given to a racing game studio, a studio with 0 experience in this type of game, which is fundamentally different from a design perspective, because they have no one else to handle it.
The 2nd issue with this Zenimax purchase is this, Microsoft’s response to Sony’s well-oiled machine of internal developers and occasionally outsourcing IPs was this… To purchase games that have been multiplatform since the original Xbox days, and take them away from one type of consumer. The Sony consumer, the plan is to buy up as many third party titles that gamers of any ecosystem could enjoy, and force them into either PC, Xbox or XCloud (which has its own issues including ownership). Have you bought every Elder Scrolls and Fallout game on PS since the first one? WELL TOUGH, Phil and the failing Xbox department has MS to bail them out. Now it is PC or the Xbox ecosystem or get screwed.
This was solely a multi billion panic buy from MS, their consoles are being massively outsold in Ratio. 2:1 in favour of PS5 now, with no sign of changing for the better. If you do not think this was a panic buy, again look at E3 2021 and think of the first party offerings pre Zenimax and other buyouts that happened within the last year. There were no Gears of War, no mainline Forza, no Fable and no Perfect Dark. In fact, the producer of Sunset Overdrive who left to work with MS on perfect dark has now left MS, and re-joined Insomniac who are now owned by Sony. This is before the game is even out. He clearly realized the way he is treated on the other side and what he can achieve is better than where he was previously, there is no over reason while he would not see the project through.
Realistically all these first party titles which have only been seen in the form of CGI are 2022 to 2023 releases onwards. They literally had nothing in the Oven for next gen, even from a cross gen perspective. Sure, MS said 2 years, but they did not state there would be basically nothing bar halo cross gen wise be coming out during the wait. This is all Xbox had planned for the first 2 years. Phil got MS to bail him out and wave their money around, he knew MS were in major danger and had no actual focus in a next gen vision. This is all on Phil’s poor management, he had no real plan, while Sony got focused on making a well-oiled machine.
Sony within the first 8 months has released Demon Souls, Destruction All Stars (which is average at best), the great new IP which is Returnal and finally Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart, the game which has delivered a truly Next Gen experience. In addition to cross-gen third party titles such as FF7 Remake, which is a substantial upgrade over the last gen version, Guilty Gear -Strive-, Sack boy which is a gem and the brilliant even if also cross-gen and finally Miles Morales. With Horizon 2 still planned for this year among other unannounced titles. I will, however, say this, I am not a fan of in this list is the fact FF7 and GG is PS consoles only.
No luck for Xbox or PC (well maybe in the future), again because of Sony paying money and lifelong relationships with the developers to keep it on their ecosystem, even if only for a limited time. This is still bad for the consumer, even if somewhat understandable, it is business good business even. However for the Xbox user, this is a very bad thing.
All these deals are bad for the consumer, it can be argued timed exclusives can make a game better adding to its budget. The comparison here however, with the FF7 and GG exclusivity issue aside is this plain and simple. Sony clearly had a plan for the PS5 from its day one launch until its final years. Meanwhile when you look at Xbox and take out the games they now have due to acquisitions, there is absolutely nothing there, next gen or current.
Now let us look at the X1 generation, early on they had Sunset Overdrive, an Insomniac title, which is ironic for multiple reasons. It is what I consider one of the best games of this generation personally, the game Insomniac “always wanted to make”, Phil burned that bridge with Insomniac. Insomniac owns that IP now, and Sony has purchased Insomniac for a mere 229 million dollars, and has produced 2 huge sellers since, the two bestselling PS5 games in fact. With much more in the oven. Sony is already guaranteed to make money from this acquisition without a doubt. What else did MS have this generation? The fantastic fighter that was KI, which had a solid foundation with Iron Galaxy and then passed on to an incompetent dev that drove the art down the toilet and the game on a downward slope. MS has now decided to just simply let KI die, no second attempt at an exclusive fighter that a lot of people liked, NOPE IT IS DEAD.
They also had Quantum break with Remedy, a flawed game but something you could only get on Xbox and eventually PC. MS had a great relationship with remedy, but what has happened since quantum break? Control is multi-platform, remedy is working on the SP component of crossfire X. Meanwhile Remedy has made big money deals with Epic and Sony. Another example of a strong relationship crumbled.
Ori is an exclusive, however, it can now be bought on the switch as well as PC. Putting it on the switch is a great, Idea do not get me wrong, it was a financially smart idea, which is why they done it, Cuphead also falls into this catergory. However, I do have to say the actual gameplay in both these titles is severely lacking personally, but opinion aside and even if you loved them, it is incredibly slim pickings. Then we have mainline Forza and afore mentioned Horizon, which are consistently great games and something to be proud of. However, they are just racing sims though, they are a good solid IP to own, and MS should be incredibly proud of it, but they do not drive up the player base significantly if at all.
Then we have Halo… I was a actual fan of Halo 5’s MPs for the most part and liked it more than most, the single player however, is terrible and lacked the fundamental screen shot co-op which is a huge part of Halo’s DNA, that is how much 343 and MS understood about Halo. Even the MP portion of the game still has artistic issues and hasn’t quite nailed the halo feel but it was enjoyable. Then you look at the MCC collection launch, IT WAS A DISAASTER, sure things have slowly been turned around, but look how long it has taken things like graphical bugs to be fixed in the modern visual package, it has only just been fixed. I do not think it can be argued that 343 have proven to be nothing but incompetent.
The quality Infinite was going to be shipped in was also mind-blowingly appalling, and it still is not much better now. The amount of time and help 343 has needed to fix the most basic things over the years and especially with infinite is astoundingly incompetent. All this time, and money and what they have to show for it is indefensible plain and simple, the game should be in a significantly better state than it is. 343 should have been able to handle it solo, instead, they needed help from studios like the co-aition. Let us not forget, Phil also hyped-up infinite and thought the shocking state it was in for its world debut was acceptable. If he had his way, it would have launched in that state, the PR backlash was too much. So, what did they do? HAHA LOOK AT CRAIG GUYS ISN’T HE SO FUNNY. When in reality they thought “Craig” looked fine, they hijacked the meme and lent into it to deviate from the fact they were happy with that garbage. Halo deserves so much more than 343 has given it.
Talking of the co-alition, they are competent but massively overrated. Gears 4 was a genuinely decent Title, Gears 5 however… The netcode is a mess, the story is a disaster and uses the pathetic multiple-choice option right at the end, where they do not have to commit to any players decision. Your decision is supposed to matter, but are they really going to make gears 6 and have it follow both choices? I highly doubt it, and if they do, it will not be significant changes to actual carry the weight of the decision. Then there’s gears 5’s campaign gameplay itself, big empty open worlds, gameplay that ultimate sucked compared to 4 because of the unnecessary changes that went against the core DNA of GoW. Again, an example of a Developer given a franchise they truly do not understand and a visual package that was worse than 4. 4 was pre-baked which allowed artistic visions to be met and make each scene look exactly as intended. Gears 5 swapped to real time, why? Real time is much less effort, plain and simple. Now some areas look good and some look poor due to use of real time over baking. The overall package is worse, and it was not an artistic choice, it was simply it takes less time, thus less budget and wait till release.
Sea Of Thieves from Rare, is actually a game now and a very competent one, but when it launched in 2018 it was a disaster. It was as shockingly bare bones as could be, what should have been an amazing new first party Exclusive was underwhelming garbage. It should have been kept in the oven for another 2 years, so why did It release? Because MS had nothing of note, while Sony were releasing juggernaut titles. It was another Panic decision by Phil and it showed clear as day.
Then there is crackdown 3, a game that was going to use the power of “the cloud” To do things not possible on a console. What happened the game was an absolute insult to the franchise, the man behind the franchise left the project, all the promises were thrown into the garbage, the destruction in MP was significantly worse than Red Faction guerrilla. They ended up relying on Terry crews to try and keep interest. We ended up with an extremely mediocre game after years of waiting that was nothing like what was promised. A Phil Spencer special.
There are also the random relationships with other developers, like the one with platinum, which went straight down the toilet. Dumping their strong COD partnership for Battlefield, which no one can deny could not have played out worse in the long run, even if these partnerships should not exist and are absolutely disgusting. You can not look back on the xbox one and not call it a disaster compared to the 360, which as a brilliant console, with brilliant exclusives and partnerships, and a playerbase reduction of just over 40% (I will get to that later). All thrown away once Phil took over.
For a quick contrast let us take a brief look at the PS4’s life cycle, and sure while not all these games are great or even good some are blockbuster franchises. GT Sport, Dreams, Bloodborne, Concrete Genie, Astro Bot, PSVR platform, infamous, TLOU Remastered, Tearaway Unfolded, Ratchet and Clank, Uncharted 4, Uncharted collection, Uncharted Lost Legacy, Ghost of Tsushima, TLOU2, death stranding, Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian, Persona 5, Horizon, Spider-Man, Spider-man Miles Morales, Sackboy and God of War. There is no way you can look at this comparison and not say Sony has done significantly better with their internal output and first party, even third party exclusives. This is why the PS5 is dominating in sales currently, despite both sides having major production issues. The PS4 has been an absolute juggernaut for AAA and First Party Output and Sony is not letting the ball drop, unlike Phil and Xbox.
Now we get into the new Xbox Strategy and the dark reality it hides.
First let us talk marketing… MS’ primary marketing has been the highly flawed TERAFLOPS number of 12 and advertising RAM speeds, (which it will never achieve due to design), in addition to ridiculous nothing burgers like 4x the computing power per pixel. It works for the tech illiterate, and they still believe that SX will have the best-looking games, which will not be the case when it comes to first party titles for multiple reasons and will even start to show in some third party titles, which I will get onto soon. The whole strategy is misrepresenting technical information, starving the competition of third-party titles, and pushing a subscription system which is reducing budgets and making a loss. Teraflops are far from an accurate margin of power, the PC space has proven this many times, plus there are so many architectural tweaks that can be made, that do not affect the TF number but means it can be much more efficient. There are so many reasons why the TF argument is flawed, but even if you humour it. The difference this gen is less than the last…Their SSD speed differential has also been underplayed; it is slower than my PCI-e 3 NVME SSD. Why? They took one X4 PCI-e 4 lane and split it in two. People have been downplaying this and the PS5 SSD without understanding fundamentals.
The PS5 SSD has custom architecture and is significantly faster, Rift Apart has started to show the possibilities. So why have we not seen big loading differences yet generally speaking? All engines since the PS3 and 360 have been designed around slow HDDs which have a theoretical max of 100MBps, all game engines’ IO Pipelines have been designed around that, some can use surer, but outside specialist industry specific software, nothing uses anywhere near the speed the PS5 drive or even the SX is capable of. Look at Demon souls, it takes significantly longer to load less than Rift Apart, because developers are still getting to grips with this monumental shift. Pipelines need to be re-written for this generation.
It will take years outside first party titles (particular from Sony) to show this. What this also means as the generation goes on, there will be more detail, which will require more IO throughput, as with any generation. Rift Apart loads, and unloads the entire available memory in less than 2 seconds and there are moments in the game that could not work without that. For SX to do the same, there would have to be visual compromises, it is the only way to achieve the same thing in the same amount of time, as it cannot process the data anywhere near as fast. (2.4GBps raw vs 5.5GBps). As the generation goes on this will become even more apparent. So yes, you can focus on resolution all you want, which the SX may actually have an advantage in, but you are talking a 10% resolution difference, and should absolutely have slightly better RT performance. The catch is this will be with worse quality assets, potentially draw distance and geometric detail and other things. This is why Xbox marketing has been silent and downplaying the PS5 comparisons. The SSDs will fundamentally have an effect on the visuals you see. Sony knew this, Cerny even alluded to the amount of throughput required late in the generation from the drive. Mark my words when this generation gets going in 2 years, the SSD differences and what they mean will become incredibly apparent. The SX fundamentally can not do Rift Apart 1:1, because of its SSD, it is factually impossible for it to look be completely identical without compromise. Even UE5s nanite is going to change the polygons based on IO capability and how fast data can be loaded in.
Now we get to game pass, why exists, the dark strategy that is anti-consumer and how its current model will have an undeniable negative effect on the industry.
Everything I have laid out above, the zenimax buyout, the lack of first party output, the console being outsold 2:1 all of these are why the game pass actually exists. There is also another big reason, user base. The last time I checked, the Xbox one sold just under 50 million units, compared to 84 million of the 360, meaning they have lost just over 40% of the users they had last gen.
That is how much Phil has dropped the ball since taking over. In a quick contrast. The PS4 which is still selling significantly given its age and has achieved over double the amount of Xbox ones and has sold 115.65 million. PS3 lifetime sales are 87.41 million, which is around 30% less than PS4. Sony has gained around 30% last gen, while Microsoft lost just over 40%. No way you slice this, it is a disaster. Nintendo lost about 35% going from the N64 to the gamecube for another comparison.
I can already hear the echoes, but Japan is Xbox’s biggest growing market (https://www.ign.com/articles/xbox-japan-fastest-growing-market)… The only numbers I can find is the PS5 outselling the SX and SS in Japan 4 to 1 (https://www.techradar.com/uk/news/ps5-outsells-xbox-series-x-by-more-than-four-timesin-japan), and even then both consoles are doing worse than their predecessors. Being outsold slightly more than 4:1, it is indeed better than it has been for Xbox, but are they that desperate they are phrasing Japan as their biggest growing market as some kind of huge sucess? Unfortunatley yes, that is exactly what the Xbox marketing department is doing. They are spinning that their biggest growing market, they are still lagging just over 4:1, they hemmoraged 40% of their user base last gen, and the one place they are growing they are still be outsold. It genuinely saddens me the state Xbox is in.
MS had no big exclusives in sight, no first party juggernauts, they had no real plan for next gen, bar Halo, a 10 year cross gen title that was shown in an atrocious state. Phil looked at this, looked at Sony’s output looked at the console sale numbers and saw a problem. What was his response? How did he look to resolve the issue? To go to Satya Nadella and ask MS who have many ventures making significantly more money to bail him out. He took the money and bought Zenimax and other smaller studios, simply to take franchises that have not been locked behind any platform and lock them behind the Xbox ecosystem. Starving the competition of third-party titles, they would have had previously. His response was not to change the first party internal structure, to change their output in any significant way, to make Xbox self-sufficient. Nope it was to starve Sony consumers of titles they would normally enjoy. The calculation for this? The simple undeniable truth, exclusives sell consoles.
As shown in the PS4 to X1 comparison something Sony is significantly better at first party output, they are entirely self sufficient and have over 30 titles in the oven including around 12 new IPs. Now in this situation, what is more pro-consumer? A console manufacturer setting up new studios and bolstering their current internal studios with a few third-party acquisitions or MS? A company buying up publishers and a lot of third-party studios to starve their rival of games they would normally enjoy?
If you look at Insomniac’s output, Sony buying them makes sense, almost everything they made was PS only, Xbox gamers have not been robbed of anything from this aquisition, and it only cost Sony 229 Miillion dollars. They are a single developer, an absurdly talented developer who are leaders in some fields. Nowhere near scale of the Zenimax buyout, a huge publisher with multiple developers under them, who produced games on everything, unlike Insomniac who was a Sony dev in all but name. Buying Insomniac did not take away anything from the Xbox consumer, even the Sunset Overdrive IP went to Insomniac, Phil did not even see the value in one of the Xbox one’s best games.
One company is actively robbing consumers not on their ecosystem of titles they would have previously enjoyed, while the other is bolstering their own internal output by buying a developer that 90% of their product was exclusively for their consumer. Whereas, If you enjoy Doom, Fallout, Elder scrolls, or looking forward to the previously multi-plat starfield or anything by Arkane or the numerous other devs under Zenimax’s belt, you must go to Xbox or PC now. Not just the first year or 6 months (which is still bad), FOREVER. Phil has put a gun to your gamer head and said your move. How much do you love fallout or elder scrolls? Are you a one console person for personal reasons? If so, can you afford to say goodbye to your beloved franchises? This is not even debatable; it is factually what he has done. That is the cold dark truth, this is his way of trying to recover the lost user base.
In fact, it does not even have to be you personally, do you have a kid who loves fallout and elder scrolls and always owned a PS? The gun is now at their gamer head too, and if you can only afford one console or only want them to have one, that is another dilemma… Do they want to lose out on all the PS exclusives they love? Or do they keep those and miss out on the Bethesda franchises they have enjoyed since the PS3 era and a bunch of their PS friends? Phil now has that to your and your child’s gamer heads. Although Sony bares blame on the latter bet for their ludicrous anti cross-play approach.
look at the Sony acquisitions here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_acquisitions_by_Sony, they have not robbed the Xbox consumer of anything that they have had access to before. So, if your kid or you are an Xbox gamer, Sony has stolen nothing from you. Meanwhile if you or your child is a PS gamer and a lover of Bethesda or anything under Zenimax, you have lost some huge franchises. Sure, you can argue at least the Series S is cheap, but that has 2 irrebuttable counter points. 1, you will not be getting the best game experience possible, 2, you still must buy a console you would not be purchasing otherwise. Still think Phil is pro consumer?
Now here is another huge issue with game pass. Games are a product, designed to make money, the scale of the game, the type of game, the size of the team and so on are all things that decide budget. However, one of the biggest if not the biggest factor when it comes games, regardless of its tier be it C or AAA, is how much money it is expected to make, you never spend more money than you project to make back. Unless you are part of a huge company that can and is willing to constantly absorb the financial damage of your failures. Having one part of their business constantly bring down profits.
This is where the conundrums of game pass begins. Now for indie developers, especially double fine, the acquisitions and the funding they get for game pass, will more than likely be greatly beneficial. However, it is undeniable and basic business that any big titles on game pass will have significantly smaller budgets because of it. Look at Age of Empires 4, it looks like a mobile game. Forza Horizon 5 has RT only in photo mode, and is only 4k60 in performance mode, which means there will be cutbacks, as the fidelity 30fps mode is also 4k. There is nothing happening in Horizon 5 that an X1 outside of it’s photo mode equivalent.
MS will be prepared to make a loss on some like Gears of War 6, if necessary, but the scope of the game will be inherently affected by budget. Game pass does not make a profit, it is only sustainable in its current state if MS is prepared to eat that loss. You will not get a game anywhere near the quality of Rift Apart on game pass. The budget required for that, for a game that is being provided at £4 a month to cover the 1000s of games on it and does not turn a profit is not financially sound or logical. It is bad business in every form. No matter how you want to spin it, It cannot be argued that budgets will not change, and thus the scope and quality will. Budgets must make sense in the frame of game pass. Sure, MS can take the loss, but how long can the Xbox apartment afford to do that? At some point the price of the pass rises (like many subscription services), or there will be nothing AAA tier or even AA tier on the game pass. You will not get Exclusives anything like the quality Sony produces on a game pass budget, this may not matter to you, but it is the undeniable truth.
So why would Xbox pour tons of money into blockbuster titles that will likely be obtained via game pass? The answer? They will not, apart from when the loss vs the calculated potential gain in users is worth the risk. There has been statements that game sales increase due to game pass, but not verifiable data has ever been provided. What are the metrics? Previous titles? Is marketing considered? What price are they bought at? There are more metrics I have not mentioned too, they simply have not disclosed any of them. You are just supposed to believe it unquestionably.
The whole argument of the value of game pass is also a perfect counter point, if it is such good value why would you purchase the game when you can keep your tiny sub fee and play it like that? There is no way the game sold more than it would have if it were not on game pass. The only way I see this as a possibility, is if the game is an Indy and relatively low cost and the consumer wants to give them more support.
First Party titles never leave the service, there is no real reason to purchase the game, unless you like to own your games, which I firmly belong in the camp of personally. There will undoubtedly be a portion of the userbase that fall into the category of buying the game regardless of game pass, which I am one.
Hellblade 2 will not be AAA as much as people make it out to be. AAA encompasses so much more than flashy graphics, and NT are currently incapable of doing that, especially on a game pass budget. That is not a bad thing, just the reality. Not even Insomniac can do what Insomniac does under the same constraints.
Xbox consoles do not ever turn a profit according to MS, meanwhile Sony has already made a profit on disc based PS5s (https://www.cnet.com/news/xbox-consoles-have-never-turned-a-profit-for-microsoft/, https://screenrant.com/ps5-sales-profit-sony-break-even-june-2021/), game pass does not turn a profit either.
Sony is turning a hardware profit and a software profit even at £70$ (which I will get to later), I will say though Sony should consider tiering their games based on budget as returnal did not cost as much as Rift Apart. Getting back on track though, Sony can afford to make big budgets because everything turns a profit. Sure, the games they have just obtained in the buyout will be quite high quality, because they were not made without a game pass budget. In the future the quality is going to dip on game pass, unless the price increases significantly.
Now does all this mean that all games on game pass will not be good. ABSOLUTELY NOT. AAA does not mean the game is GOOD. A low budget game can be infinitely more fun to play, and the AAA sphere has its own set of major issues (Sony excluded for the most part). Do not for one minute think that I am saying if a game is AAA it is good and if it is not it is bad. The gaming industry has been churning out some absolute gigantic turds in the pursuit of money. The point I am making is that plain and simple, while game pass exists in its current form you will not have anything of quality of Rift Apart anymore than once in a blue moon when MS calculates absorb the loss for the projected gain, whether that be users or some other metric, but certainly not financially.
A big budget game a good game does not make, however, give a bunch of incredibly talented people like Insomniac a huge budget and all the time they need, and my god will they deliver. They will deliver something that simply could not be done without the time and especially the budget. If a games core gameplay is solid, the budget has minor relevance, but it is undeniable that the experience is not elevated if it has a bigger budget and a talented team, Rift Apart is a perfect undeniable example of that. The artists were allowed to go crazy, so were the sound designers and so many other departments, all of those increases the enjoyment of the game. I also ask the question how long will these devs exist before Microsoft closes them? At some point, Microsoft is going to have to look at the numbers and make some cuts with their internal studios, and the deals they make with indies and other developers. The scale of which this will happen can not be said, but it will happen, fat will need to be trimmed.
Then there is the content on game pass. Yes, there are thousands of games, but in there lies a problem. Majority of them are either not good, old, or only there for a limited time. This presents multiple issues, the games are seen merely as a number, 1000s of games sounds better than 10 games, even if those 10 are amazing, the focus is quantity not quality. If I buy chocolate I don’t buy cadburys which I can get a lot of for £4, I go for something smaller in quantity much higher quality, something I will savour and remember and want to revisit. Game pass’ marketing is simply look at all this mediocre garbage, its worth thousands of pounds and its yours for £4 a month. It is the opposite spin. In fact, it is not even really a spin, it is simply 2 sides of the same coin, and neither are wrong. Yes, there are 1000s of games, and yes, the quality of majority of them is low.
There is not one game the quality of Rift Apart, TLOU, Uncharted or Horizon on the game pass, you may not like those games due to preference, which is perfectly fine. It is however a fact, nothing of that overall quality exists. Then you have the other issue, what do you choose to play, what do you decide to play, how long do you have before it disappears? There will be gems people will not experience on the game pass because of the sheer amount of shovel ware it is buried under. All so marketing can make good sounding sales pitches.
There is also another huge issue with the amount of content on game pass, a flaw a lot of people either do not see or do not want to talk about when singing game pass praises. 70% of gamers in the US are 18 or over, at this age you either have a lot of studies, family, work or a mixture of them. This means you only have time for one to three games a year in their life, and maybe for only a few hours a week to play them. Suddenly the 1000s of games is overwhelming and not a positive, plus as previously mentioned the quality of the experience is lower, due to the cold hard undeniable financial reality I have laid out.
I am coming to a close now, but before I conclude, I need to make one more comparison, as I see so many so-called journalists making ABSOLUTELY FLAWED comparisons. Which I believe is entirely intentional. Given the average age of the US gamer is in the 30s, in this scenario when they only play a few games a year, and a few hours a week, do they care about a 70$ price tag? Nope! If the experience is unrivalled and can not be experienced anywhere else it is all inconsequential, these anti 70$ comparisons when talking about Sony is extremely flawed.
Sony have the big names, God of War, Tsushima, Horizon, TLOU, Ratchet & Clank, Spider-Man and many more. At this point with the time, they really want to enjoy the game they have as much as possible. They want the best experience they can get with the little time they have, and PS has that in spades, my PS4 vs X1 comparison proved that. Sony has significantly more bestselling long running franchises that people thirst for more of because EXCLUSIVES SELL CONSOLES. They always have and always will. Sony are undeniably better than MS on this front.
1000s of games at a small monthly fee becomes completely irrelevant to average gamers age group.
The 70$ price tag has not detoured people from the PS ecosystem and has not had any proven negative effect, in fact it is the opposite if anything, I can prove it too. If 70$ price tag has as big as a negative effect as so called “Journalists” claim, then why is Rift Apart is the bestselling R&C game in the UK? The 2nd bestselling PS5 title in boxed sales? I am yet to see US data, but I doubt the picture will be significantly different. The PS5 is outselling the XSX and XSS 2:1 globally with major supply issues on both sides. Clearly the 70$ price tag has put off so many gamers, right? Nope! Exclusives sell consoles, the average gamer does not have much game time, they want the exclusives they love, and if they can get them at blockbuster quality they absolutely will, the entry tag becomes irrelevant.
The only time it does not, and this is a big plus to MS, if you have a very limited budget, are lower class or barely struggle to make ends meet. Which is quite a lot of people, the game pass may be your only option, what it does give you if you are in that situation is undeniably brilliant. I praise MS and the game pass for this, it has given poor kids and families an entry point they would never have. I know that struggle all too well, and I think what MS doing here is necessary and required, even Nintendo has become overpriced at this point, someone needs to provide the low financial barrier entry point. It is jsut the way they are going about it is inherently wrong and not for the greater good.
There are two sides to every coin, and the cons of game pass are not good for the industry as a whole, even if it does create a needed low-price barrier to gaming. Now Nintendo, Sony, MS are all doing their own thing, they are not really competing in the grand scheme of things. In a way this is a good, in others it is not, neither are keeping each other in check. Sony and MS are pushing cloud, but that is not an ideal solution for people, for multiple reasons, ownership, experience and do they have the internet speed and the bandwidth allowances to make it viable. Cloud gaming is no great solution, at least not yet. The future of cloud gaming is still some ways of.
As I clearly laid out the X1 generation was an undeniable disaster, and they were unprepared for next gen. So, the response was to buyout a huge publisher and developers that produced big franchises and titles that many Sony gamers have enjoyed since the PS3 Era and even before that in some occasions, simply to starve PlayStation users of those titles. All to try and bring back the user base it enjoyed from the 360 and then some, ideally drawing people away from PS if they can only afford to game on one platform.
Make no mistake that was Phil’s true motivation, it was not to drive up value to the consumer, he is not your friend, he is a businessman. it was to starve the PS consumer of products they already had in a desperate attempt to put a gun to their gamer heads and hold those franchises to ransom behind the Xbox ecosystem all in the name of dollars. Xbox needed some huge budget titles as soon as possible; they did not have the internal resources to do it their self, it was the only option left. Again, look at E3 2021 and take away the games they achieved with the recent buyouts.
As I have also mentioned it is undeniable that financially that the titles made now, with game pass in mind, will have smaller budgets, it is basic economics, there is no way in hell their budgets will not be smaller. This will lead to compromises to original visions which will now have to be made to fit the game pass model. Whether this bothers you is an entirely personal preference and will vary person to person, everyone is looking for different things.
The reality cannot be denied however, titles like Rift Apart simply will simply not exist on the Xbox ecosystem, with potential outliers like the titles just purchased in the buyouts.
The game pass service does not make a profit, the hardware does not make a profit, they have lost 40% of the player base they had from the 360 era and are now in third place.
The Path game pass and Phil is on is going in one direction right now. More buyouts of third-party developers to starve the PS consumer (again look at Sony’s acquisitions, they have not taken anything away from the Xbox gamer), because Phil has not spent this last generation building up their own internal output, unlike Sony. He dropped the ball plain and simple, it’s undeniable a hemmorage of 40% of your user base is a disgrace. The business plan is to grow your consumer base, not shrink it!
The game pass is going to either significantly increase in price once they hit their magic number or divide into tiers.
The alternative to a price increase is this, every game developed my Xbox game studios is going to have a fraction of the budget Sony is going to throw at its big-name franchises and new IPs that it sees as their next big series. There will be devs that get shut down before the end of this new generation, because the financial numbers and player statistics are not there. Developers will have a strict limited budget which will impact their visions. These are all things that are guaranteed to happen because of the basic rule of business. Any business will end up doing the same thing in this situation.
The game pass gives people who would otherwise be left to dry an entry into gaming, and that is a good thing, but the way it is being achieved now and what will happen in the future is very bleak. Game pass and Phil are a sheep in wolves clothing, they pretend to be your friend, but the long scheme they have planned is specifically engineered to rob non Xbox console only owners of big titles they enjoyed, with the likely goal of suddenly chipping away at the proposition value to keep the service alive.
All of this is because they are desperate, the X1 generation was a failure for MS sales and first party output wise, they have lost an absolute massive chunk of their player base, the hardware is not making a profit and neither is game pass, all their previously huge franchises do not have the status they used to. They are in a corner of their own making; Phil has made consistently bad business decisions and the Xbox division has never been handled worse. The figures do not lie.
So, does the game pass have a place in the industry? Absolutely, however, I am sorry to say, the spin being put on it in the mainstream media is straight up nonsense. All this game pass beats 70$, 70$ beats game pass nonsense is just foolish. Both have their place and neither counter each other, they offer significantly different experiences. Although Phil foolishly thinks it does, which is the standard delusion I expect from him. The PS Exclusives and game pass offer to completely different experiences, Sony exclusives could not exist under the game pass model in any quantity, and game pass cannot exist in its current form and provide Sony tier quality games.
Game pass has a dark reality, do not be fooled. The game pass and Phil are not your friend, no one in the industry is, they are all businessmen. They all have one focus Money, and they will do anything to achieve that, and they will craft the narrative that best suits them, the narrative that they are the force of good and your friend. It is childish to fool for it, NO ONE IS, regardless of what “team” they are on. I love gaming, but gaming is a business, money talks plain and simple, it is all about money.
Look behind the words, look at the actions. Phil is part of the unclean machine that is Microsoft, not to say Sony is pure, spoiler alert, THEY ARE NOT EITHER. It’s just the grand scheme that he has planned ultimately ends up bad for the consumer, but great for MS. This is the opposite of Sony. Everyone expected them to counter the zenimax buyout they did not, they do not need to rob Xbox users of games they enjoyed, they are more than capable of outdoing MS with their own internal output.
So, to conclude, the Dark reality of game pass is this. Game pass was born, because Phil has simply mishandled Xbox, he has lost 40% of the user base and are now in third place. Halo has not had the 360-era status it enjoyed since, neither has GoW. They have no other big exclusives outside of Forza, which is a substantial title, but it does not bring in the masses. The hardware is not turning a profit and they have no way of providing a Sony big first party tier experience.
Phil needed a solution, that solution is to starve the PS consumer of big titles they have enjoyed for over a decade, rather than organically improve first party output. With the goal of either raising subscription prices or providing significantly lower tier first party games at a much lower output than Sony. Phil has crafted the typical corporate façade of being a good guy; who is going to argue with the surface level making games cheaper for everyone right? All of this is to give you a false sense of security. The grand plan is not good for the consumer in the long term and the whole industry will be hurt because of it.