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Phil Spencer: Games on Xbox Don't Need to be on Game Pass to be Viable

Phil Spencer: Games on Xbox Don't Need to be on Game Pass to be Viable - News

by William D'Angelo , posted on 01 April 2022 / 2,426 Views

Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer and Corporate Vice President at Xbox Sarah Bond speaking at GDC 2022 discussed Game Pass and how Xbox isn't focused on one business model.

"I also want to make clear to people that are out there that for us at Xbox, there's not one business model that we think is going to win," said Spencer via VideoGamesChronicle. "I often get asked by developers, 'if I'm not in the subscription am I just not viable on Xbox anymore?' and it’s absolutely not true.

"Like we look at retail of people selling games, buying games, it’s an important part of our P&L [profit and loss statement], you know that. And it’s something that we invest resources in to enable our developers to do great work there."

In another video Xbox has shared some stats on Xbox Game Pass. Subscribers play on average 40 percent more games after joining and play 30 percent more genres. There is an average of 8.3 times jump in players when a back catalog game is added to Game Pass.

Large publishers see a 3.5 times increase in players for new games compared to games not on Game Pass, while it is 15 times higher for new indie games. There is a 3.5 times boost for games launching on Game Pass compared to Steam.

Microsoft in January of this year announced Xbox Game Pass has surpassed 25 million subscribers.


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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23 Comments
gtotheunit91 (on 23 March 2022)

I have friends who play games only through Game Pass. I have friends who aren't subscribed and prefer to just buy their games when playing on Xbox. And I have friends that are subscribed to Game Pass but use it more as a way to try out a bunch of different games like demos and then buy the games they enjoyed the most.

That's the big differentiator when comparing Game Pass to the likes of Netflix. Choice. You have all the options listed above and that's a very pro-gamer deal. Xbox even threw in the nice touch of adding a small discount to game purchases if you're a Game Pass subscriber. Which is especially great when you have a game you really like that may be leaving the service soon, so at least you don't have to pay full price.

Does Xbox get everything right? No. Their DRM issues and the lack of their games actually being on a disc for example are other issues entirely lol but when it comes to how you get to play and experience games on the Xbox platform, they nailed it. Unifying PC, console, and mobile along with adding cloud streaming to PC, console, and web browsers was a smart move as well.

  • +11
Mr Puggsly (on 23 March 2022)

This seems really dumb. There are clearly games thriving outside of Gamepass and this has been happening for years.

I would guess considerably less than half of the Xbox userbase is subscribed to Gamepass. Which would suggest it's not for everybody.

  • +7
gtotheunit91 Mr Puggsly (on 23 March 2022)

It was really annoying when Playground was announcing player numbers in Forza Horizon 5 and many were thinking most, if not all, those player numbers were just from Game Pass.

  • -1
Mr Puggsly gtotheunit91 (on 24 March 2022)

People have always said that. It has died down now that its evident many are staying subscribed.

  • +2
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Jumpinbeans (on 24 March 2022)

So basically if you want to make it big....
Start off by making a decent game but include lots of little paid dlc
Do not go on gamepass - sell loads

but.....

When sales start to dry up, go on gamepass and rinse the remaining user base

  • +2
DonFerrari Jumpinbeans (on 24 March 2022)

Seems like a plan.

  • +3
gtotheunit91 Jumpinbeans (on 24 March 2022)

That’s basically Sony’s plan with their PC port endeavors lol. Can’t make extra revenue from their game sales once finalized. Well, not in GT7’s case lol, but make a ton of sales from first party games, then after a year or two, port the game to PC and make tons of money again on an older title

  • +1
DonFerrari gtotheunit91 (on 24 March 2022)

And plan of pubs that discount sales along the life of the title or in this case "give for free, but get more from MTX", which isn't the same thing he is talking about.

  • 0
Ashadelo (on 23 March 2022)

Let's not forget that gamepass itself discounts games on it's service. If you buy lots of games a year, gamepass ultimate might actually help someone save a lot of money if they were to buy the. games on gamepass.

  • +1
Dulfite Ashadelo (on 24 March 2022)

Doesn't have to even be Ultimate, Gamepass PC also allows discounts if I recall.

  • 0
scrapking Dulfite (on 04 April 2022)

You're right, Xbox Game Pass, PC Game Pass, and Game Pass Ultimate all offer discounts if you buy the game.

  • 0
DonFerrari (on 24 March 2022)

They see an increase in number of players but don't tell the increase in revenue or sales?
And of course a game don't need to be on GP to be viable, since well that have been the norm for over 40 years.

  • 0
gtotheunit91 DonFerrari (on 24 March 2022)

Revenue is a quarterly announcement, not something as small as this.

  • -1
The Fury gtotheunit91 (on 24 March 2022)

On a single game? not company. Elden Ring sold 12 million copies (more no doubt now). That's huge. Having a certain amount of players does not mean the same in sales revenue when most come from something like GamePass even if many of them do stay playing and/or paying

  • 0
gtotheunit91 The Fury (on 24 March 2022)

Does nobody know what GDC is for? Lol the event is for game developers in general with expos, networking events, awards shows, a variety of tutorials, lectures, and roundtables on game related topics like programming, design, audio, production. This isn’t a Microsoft conference for them to announce revenue and sales. Microsoft uses the conference to show to developers how viable game pass is and convince them to want to put their games on game pass

But, now that Microsoft Gaming is its own subsidiary with its own CEO in Phil Spencer, hopefully that means we’ll now get much more detailed sales and revenue information during those quarterly investor calls instead of Microsoft just announcing a few numbers and moving on to the next area of the company.

  • +2
DonFerrari gtotheunit91 (on 24 March 2022)

You wish... been like that for some time but we didn't get numbers did we?

  • +1
V-r0cK (on 23 March 2022)

What Phil is trying to say is "Call of Duty will not be on Game Pass" lol

  • 0
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AkimboCurly (on 23 March 2022)

Indeed. I do wonder whether there will one day be a best practice for publishers to make available a "game-pass" version of a new release and concurrently sell a paid day-one content pack.

That way xbox game pass can be viewed as a way for publishers to price discriminate more efficiently.

  • 0
Azzanation (on 24 March 2022)

Don't need to try to convince us. Those that understand buisness already know.

  • -1
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