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Xbox Game Pass Subscriber Grew 37% Last Fiscal Year Missing Microsoft's Target

Xbox Game Pass Subscriber Grew 37% Last Fiscal Year Missing Microsoft's Target - News

by William D'Angelo , posted on 01 November 2021 / 2,214 Views

Xbox Game Pass subscriber growth for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021 missed Microsoft's target, according to a Microsoft financial document spotted by Axios.

Xbox Game Pass for the fiscal year saw growth of 37.48 percent, while Microsoft had a target of 47.79 percent. It should be noted Microsoft's target was set before Halo Infinite was delayed from 2020 to 2021.

For the previous fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, Xbox Game Pass subscriber count grew 85.75 percent beating Microsoft's target of 71 percent.

Xbox Game Pass Subscriber Grew 37% Last Fiscal Year Missing Microsoft Target

The subscriber growth target is tied to Microsoft executive's stock compensation. "For competitive reasons, targets and results are expressed in terms of year over year growth," reads Microsoft filing.

The last official Xbox Game Pass figure was over 18 million as of January 2021. 


A life-long and avid gamer, William D'Angelo was first introduced to VGChartz in 2007. After years of supporting the site, he was brought on in 2010 as a junior analyst, working his way up to lead analyst in 2012. He has expanded his involvement in the gaming community by producing content on his own YouTube channel and Twitch channel dedicated to gaming Let's Plays and tutorials. You can contact the author at wdangelo@vgchartz.com or on Twitter @TrunksWD.


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37 Comments
LittleCloud (on 19 October 2021)

In several gaming podcasts I listen to, GamePass is praised a lot. But the praise is more like "I've played this game. It's OK but not great. I would not have bought it but it's on GamePass and I got to play it for free. Amazing."

Comments like these alienate me. The podcast hosts are genuinely excited but to me it sounds more like a service with okayish games made for people who talk about video games each week for a living...

  • +18
gtotheunit91 LittleCloud (on 19 October 2021)

Check out Game Passes website. It’ll show every single game available on the service.

That is one of the biggest benefits I’ve seen from Game Pass though. Not only can I play some of my favorite games and find amazing games I would’ve never have even tried, but it also saves me money from games I would’ve bought, but turned out to be terrible.

  • +3
LittleCloud gtotheunit91 (on 20 October 2021)

I'm not the audience for GamePass anyway. I play a handful of games each year and I'm not interested into forcing myself to play games just to get my subscription money worth nor am I interested in feeling the pressure to finish a game because it leaves GamePass in a week.

My comment was merely meant as an outsider trying to explain why the subscriber numbers aren't to the roof as expected.

  • +6
DonFerrari LittleCloud (on 19 October 2021)

Yep, it seems like they are justifying it just as a kill time. Like, if I had money I would rather buy and play this game, but well on the sub I played this one that I wouldn't if I had to pay.

  • +6
trunkswd DonFerrari (on 19 October 2021)

For me with Game Pass I've played through dozens of games I wouldn't have bought and ended up really enjoying. Sure there are games I haven't enjoyed, but at least I didn't spend money on it. I've bought $60 games before and ended up not liking it and feeling like I wasted my money.

  • +9
DonFerrari trunkswd (on 19 October 2021)

Sure it is a good thing. But do you agree that if you had more money and less free time you would rather play what you really want even if you had to pay for it, while on GP you are more likely to play something you wasn't wanting as much just because you will save some bucks?

  • -1
trunkswd DonFerrari (on 19 October 2021)

If there was a game I really wanted to play and it wasn't on Game Pass I would just buy it. I like variety in the games I play and Game Pass provides that.

Bethesda and the ZeniMax studios released some of my favorite 3rd party games before they were acquired by Microsoft. So their games on Game Pass day one is a big plus to me.

I understand some people would rather own games and Game Pass isn't for everyone. TV, movies, and music have mainly shifted to subscription services like Netflix and Spotify. Why not games?

  • +8
DonFerrari trunkswd (on 20 October 2021)

Sure having the Bethesda games on it will be a plus for you, that wasnt what I was talking about. What I was talking was regarding what most people use as argument with "I wouldnt play this game if it wasn`t on GP".
I have already talked in the past my only real concern with GP is shifting the type of games that is made to be more GAAS and MP heavy.

  • -3
LudicrousSpeed LittleCloud (on 19 October 2021)

“people who talk about video games each week”

So uh, gamers? And yeah GamePass does have a bunch of okayish games. Just like Netflix or Hulu has a ton of okayish movies or series. But they all also have some very good gems.

  • -6
Libara LudicrousSpeed (on 20 October 2021)

Still trying to work out what part of this comment triggered so many...

  • +4
LudicrousSpeed Libara (on 20 October 2021)

Good luck

  • +1
Tridrakious Libara (on 21 October 2021)

It's a "pro" stance on Xbox Game Pass.

  • +2
smroadkill15 LittleCloud (on 20 October 2021)

That's only a handful of the games on the service. Then we have excellent titles like Psychonauts 2, Octopath traveler, Yakuza series, and many more. You should actually look at what games are on the service, and you would see that the vast majority of them are good-excellent games.

  • +9
LittleCloud smroadkill15 (on 21 October 2021)

I was merely paraphrasing what those genuinely excited podcasters said (from different shows). I'm not the target audience anyway. I don't chew through many games in short order (as I understand it, 3rd party games leave GamePass after a while) and I preordered a Steam Deck.

  • +1
rapsuperstar31 LittleCloud (on 20 October 2021)

I was injured and couldn't do much for a few months so I signed up for 3 months of gamepass for $1. Had a great 3 months plowing through the Yakuza games I hadn't played 3-5 and 7 plus a few other smaller games. When 3 months passed and it came time to pay full price I dropped it down to regular gamepass for a month to finish up a few games I didn't finish in the 3 months. After that I cancelled it. I'll probably sign up for it again at some point down the line but after I finished the games I wanted to I didn't see a lot there left to keep paying for it.

  • 0
scrapking rapsuperstar31 (on 24 October 2021)

Just get three years of Xbox Live Gold (you can buy 12 month cards in stores), and load them up on your account. Then buy one month of Game Pass Ultimate and it'll offer to convert your 3 years of Gold to 3 years of Game Pass. Problem solved. Currently this works even if you'd done the $1 Ultimate promo.

  • 0
bretonf LittleCloud (on 25 October 2021)

Don't forget the effect "I bought this game so I have to justify the expense" which happens often but you don't realize it. People will always feel like games are better if they have bought it.

  • +4
DonFerrari bretonf (on 25 October 2021)

That is very true. When I was a Jack Sparrow (there was no official PS1 and PS2 support in Brazil, and well I also didn't had real revenue) I likely bought 10 games at once like every month or so, more than half I didn`t finish and a good amount I didn't even played. On PS3 and PS4 that changed a lot, because I started looking more for the game before purchase and all.

  • 0
gtotheunit91 (on 19 October 2021)

The real test to see if subscriber numbers will dramatically rise is when the big first-party titles start hitting the service. Right now it's a lot of legacy stuff, which is cool, along with the occasional big third-party title, but I mean first-party titles like the Halo Infinite campaign, Starfield, Avowed, Hellblade 2, Forza Horizon 5, Redfall, Fable, and Perfect Dark. Some of these titles, many would consider to be seen as "system sellers" so when titles like those start to drop, will be very telling as to what kind of longevity the service has.

Unfortunately, we're still talking 2-3 years before we start seeing those kinds of results.

  • +7
method114 gtotheunit91 (on 19 October 2021)

Agreed. Good to finally get some sort of information on how game pass is doing at least. I think another thing they need to look into is giving people who sign up for a year a discount. Right now it cost the same per month or per year. So I just buy it to play a few games then I cancel and I'll rejoin when I have more to play. If there was a yearly discount I would buy it. Not sure it's financially viable for them though so that's probably why they don't do it.

  • +1
trunkswd method114 (on 19 October 2021)

A discount for a year subscription would be smart. Say $100/year compared to $10/month for regular Game Pass or $150/year for Ultimate.

  • +8
Manlytears (on 20 October 2021)

imho, it's more about Consistency than peak numbers. Sure, they will likely reach 25-30M subs at Halo/Forza time, but what happens after this? Even an absurd numbers like 50M subs is meaningless if there is no consistency in the number of subscribers paying throughout the year! Ms needs people paying $180 a year, not people who pay $15-45 (or perhaps even less) to play every new release "seasonally", only that way the "gamepass math" will make sense (let's put MTX shenanigans aside)
All that said, I come to the conclusion that these "peak" numbers are of little use, what really matters is consistency, and unfortunately MS won't talk about it... they're going to focus on "big numbers" to please investors.

  • +6
SKMBlake Manlytears (on 20 October 2021)

The thing is, how many people will suscribe to the service for 1$ just to play one game ?
I'm waiting for Starfield, I'll buy a 1$ subscription for a month, and then cancel it right after finishing the game. And since I didn't invent the wheel, I am pretty sure a great amount of people will do the same.

  • 0
Manlytears SKMBlake (on 20 October 2021)

The $1 deal still a thing!? Damn, if true that's one more thing that makes these peake numbers almost irrelevant. And yeah, people will do this, subs. for 1-3 months, play all the games, then say "goodbye, see you when the next big game releases".

  • -4
AkimboCurly Manlytears (on 20 October 2021)

but of course the $1 is only once per user and will only appear once on each console.

  • +3
method114 AkimboCurly (on 20 October 2021)

I was able to do it twice. One month for ultimate and for regular GP on my PC.

  • +2
TheLegendaryBigBoss method114 (on 20 October 2021)

I did it three times! Haha!

  • -3
Blood_Tears (on 19 October 2021)

So around 20M subs at the end of June. A 2 million gain in the first 6 months of the year. Jez was saying 23M back in April and people ran with it. He even said it was close to 30M recently after Strauss randomly blurted out that number. Jez is so pathetic, just like the rest of the "Twitter insiders".

  • +6
DonFerrari Blood_Tears (on 20 October 2021)

Nowadays I hardly believe insiders and rumors. Only kinda believe rumors with direct source, like that Irish singer.

  • +4
DonFerrari (on 19 October 2021)

that was a big target.

  • +6
trunkswd (on 19 October 2021)

Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 should provide a decent boost in subscriber count this holiday season. Next year will see Starfield and Redfall as two of the bigger first-party games.

  • +6
SKMBlake trunkswd (on 20 October 2021)

But Halo Infinite multiplayer will be free, right ?

  • +14
AkimboCurly SKMBlake (on 20 October 2021)

There's lots of hype for the campaign

  • +3
Dante9 (on 20 October 2021)

I'm curious to know exactly how third parties are compensated for missing sales when their games are put on the pass for free.

  • +2
DonFerrari Dante9 (on 20 October 2021)

Someway similar to PS+ and Gold. The companies agree on one amount that should correlate to what they truly expect be lost profits (less of course marketing that is gained), because there is ad for the next game, revenue from DLCs, and other compensations. If they though they would be losing more by being on GP than not being they wouldn`t allow the game to show there.

  • 0
LudicrousSpeed (on 19 October 2021)

Not terribly surprising that they’d miss their projection considering so many games got delayed out of or to the end of 2021.

  • +1
DonFerrari LudicrousSpeed (on 20 October 2021)

Not sure why you were downvoted here, even more considering they had a massive increase, just didn`t reach their very high target.

  • +6