Microsoft has just announced their newest service. A so-called “Netflix for video games”, boasting over 100 games to start for only $10 per month. You can play big titles like Halo 5 and Bioshock, or indie titles like Terraria. I think this service will begin a shift in the way we pay for video games, going towards streaming services, rather than buying games standalone.
One thing you need to keep in mind is that this is not the first service to offer something like this. Jump is a similar thing for highly curated indie games. While it only has 75 indie titles, it is $4.99 per month. Game Pass just seems like it is finally reaching the AAA market and taking the next logical step. As movies and television is mid-transition from standard channels to subscription-based streaming services. The game’s industry is still a little bit behind, but I think that we will reach full streaming around the same time as the rest of the entertainment industry does. I definitely believe the entertainment industry will transition into subscription-based streaming just from a consumer perspective. People don’t want to drop $30-$60 on single games (they never have), and they also want to press a button to get a thing. Combining those two traits into one service will allow the money to flow.
If Game Pass is able to catch on, this is also going to potentially help the indie scene. Independent games can be a big risk, and you are essentially gambling your salary on the prediction that people like something in a year’s time. If an indie is able to get their game approved for one of these services, they can depend on a certain reliable income. This would be a great relief for indies, who now would have to rely on making a good game first, and making a profitable one second. I am still on the fence if this is universally good for the indie scene, but I think it will end up as a net positive.
Some retailers seem to be unhappy about this change. Many are even having doubts about selling Xbox consoles if people won’t come to them for the games. Microsoft has attempted to quell this by creating $60 six month passes, which they will give to retailers to sell. I honestly expected brick and mortar video game stores to be dead by now, but while they are still kicking it is good they are getting some deals out of this.
Game Pass seems so far to be nothing but good, and I expect to be disappointed. Microsoft has a certain way of messing great ideas up. However, for now, I will maintain optimism for the future of the medium. I would love to see games reach wider audiences, and hoping the indies can benefit. Microsoft will no doubt make money off of this endeavor, and they have the crowd of supporters. Now it is just time for Microsoft to deliver the goods.