Subscription services have a clear advantage. Offering a large catalog at a lower cost is a boon for a large number of players. As a player and a supporter of the service from the very beginning, I use it every month with each new series of games that are added. It would certainly be difficult for me to go back to a pre-Game Pass video game consumption mode. From the point of view of developers, too, this sales channel is an enormous opportunity. However, the question of the range of the service arises. That is the point that interests us today.
A catalog almost doubled
Before we go into detail, let’s see how the Xbox service offering has evolved over the past few years. The enterprise Ampere Analysis, specializing in market research in the industry, has taken on the matter. She notes that between September 2020 and August 2022, the Game Pass catalog grew from 294 to 550 games offered. An 87% increase and stronger player presence. In fact, the Seattle giant claimed nearly 25 million subscribers to its service last January. This is therefore a sign of the formula’s success at $10-13/month at Microsoft’s level.
At the same time, all genres have expanded their representatives. Especially for gaming services or GaaS. The share, which made up 6% of the catalog in 2020, has grown over the years — in part due to the addition of EA Play and the acquisition of Zenimax Media — reaching 9% last month.
A rise that is not due to chance. In fact, this just paints a basic trend in the industry. Monetization is shifting from a one-time purchase model to an in-game spending model. The shift also reflects the importance of game longevity in building player loyalty and combating service dissatisfaction. Essentially, of course, they lend themselves to the subscription service model. So yes, titles like destiny 2, Apex Legends, FIFA 23 manage to fund future developments via in-app purchases, DLC, etc. But what about single player games? What percentage of Game Pass subscribers played specific titles, GaaS or not?
Incredible range that the Game Pass offers
It was the GameDiscoverCo team that spent several months creating initial estimates. They relied on publicly available information such as sales r ankings, unlocked achievements, and account ratings. From this they were able to determine orders of magnitude for the titles of the service. As an example, here is an estimate of the number of owners for a selection of Game Pass Day 1 games in 2022:
While these are only estimates, the data is still interesting. However, to fully understand these numbers, some clarifications are needed:
- Numbers represent all account holders who played the game on any Xbox media including cloud and mobile devices.
- The average number of owners of all 50+ Game Pass Day 1 titles in 2022 is 230,000. A simply amazing range that convinces more and more developers to turn to this channel.
The example of Pac-Man Museum+ is particularly impressive. Bandai Namco’s game has sold around 10,000 copies on Steam. This compares to 96 times more players through Game Pass. And it’s not the only one to achieve such success compared to the median in the list. tunic (4x), Nobody saves the world (2.5x) or PowerWash simulator (9x) clearly hit the Game Pass audience.
Critics will tell me the issue of commitment remains. It’s hard to say which Xbox puts more emphasis on. A million players on Pac-Man Museum+
Nine out of 10 gamers have tried games through Game Pass that they would not otherwise have tried.
Spoken again to developers and young studios at the Play U Sorbonne Festival yesterday, their main difficulties lie in the financing and visibility of their productions. Steam is a must-have on PC, but more importantly, it’s a standard solution. Finding yourself on the players’ screen is extremely difficult and the platform offers no assistance. The Epic Game Store has an intensive validation process while offering economic initiatives to attract developers (reduced commission rate). Offering visibility and a multi-support user base, the Game Pass proposal fills a need across the industry and not just the big names.
Three key takeaways from these estimates are:
- The service seems to be establishing itself as a privileged channel for developers of all sizes by offering them an appetizing audience.
- Although we can see releases of the service every month, the catalog only expands from year to year to offer players more and more variety and choice.
- Whether visibility will be as assured in the future as it is today as the catalog continues to grow is hard to say.
An editorial suggested by Yucky.