Microsoft Doesn’t Deny That Xbox Game Pass Inclusion Impacts Sales

Microsoft has attempted to clarify mixed messaging regarding whether a title coming to Xbox Game Pass affects its overall sales.

The confusion arose from two different statements made about how a game joining the subscription service sees its base sales affected.

Back in 2018, Xbox head Phil Spencer claimed that a title released on Xbox Game Pass lead to “more sales of that game” as players noticed others jumping in and wanted to follow suit.

As reported by yesterday, however, Microsoft recently noted that a game released on Xbox Game Pass actually led to a decrease in base game sales. 

The conflicting message came as part of the UK Competition and Markets Authority’s provisional report into the impacts of Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard. 

“Microsoft also submitted that its internal analysis shows a [redacted]% decline in base game sales 12 months following their addition on Game Pass,” the CMA stated in its report.

Noting the discrepancy, Eurogamer reached out to Microsoft for clarification. The response from the gaming giant didn’t quite address the question head-on, though.

“Xbox Game Pass offers gamers and game creators more choice and opportunity in how they discover, experience, and deliver games,” an Xbox spokesperson replied. “For gamers, that means providing another option for them to discover games and play with friends at a great value. For developers, that means creating another option for how they monetise their games.”

Notably, Microsoft doesn’t deny the more recent statement that a game coming to Xbox Game Pass sees reduced sales for the following year. That isn’t a huge deal for older titles joining the subscription’s library, but it could concern new releases worried about recording lower-than-expected sales numbers.

Microsoft’s planned purchase of Activision Blizzard may have run into trouble in passing the world’s anti-competition agencies. The UK CMA’s preliminary report concluded that the deal would be “to the detriment of gamers”, though opportunities for remedial measures were available.

For more Insider Gaming news, read about the final days of Medal of Honor multiplayer before the servers go down.

  1. Things not discussed in the article that are basic economics and business:
    – Developers get paid to put games on GamePass. This lowers their risk and provides guaranteed revenue and is an implicit marketing opportunity and greater awareness of their game. If the game is really good, they may also encourage more players, who are not GP subscribers, to buy that might not have bought it. They don’t “lose money” by putting games on GamePass. They make a choice: guaranteed revenue and less risk OR higher risk, higher potential revenue.
    – Xbox 1st Party games are placed in GamePass because they want people to subscribed to GamePass producing ongoing monthly revenue less dependent on individual game releases. It’s a different business model that wants to capture more monthly average users and longterm customer retention.

    Sales of individual copies are not their focus anymore. Several indie developers have commented how GamePass has resulted in greater than expected sales (Descenders, High On Life).

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