With the announcement that First-Party Xbox games will be added to Xbox Game Pass on launch date, the already fantastic subscription service value has just skyrocketed. As a physical collector, I’m not sure that I will be taking advantage of the new policy, but it’s an excellent deal for Xbox Game Pass subscribers that are on a budget, as well as players who prefer digital games over physical. While Xbox fans should be rejoicing over such a consumer-friendly decision, this doesn’t benefit everybody. In fact, I’m concerned that Microsoft’s first-party games heading to Xbox Game Pass will be detrimental to retail chains, and local mom and pop shops.
Near my house, there are a handful of department stores, Gamestop locations, and an independent video game shop that sell Xbox One titles. While stores like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart sell other things besides games, Gamestop profits primarily from this medium. Sure, Call of Duty, Madden, and Battlefield will sell like hot cakes on release date, but big-budget first-party games will also fly off of store shelves. When a new Forza Motorsport, Gears of War or Halo game releases, there are always midnight launches at my local Gamestop with many Xbox fans standing in line for the latest installment in a popular franchise. We drop $60 on a game without batting an eye. That’s just the way it goes. Gamestop and other local stores thrive off of big releases and expect fans to flock to brick and mortar locations.
The new Xbox Game Pass policy puts players in a bit of a conundrum; do they continue purchasing video games from retail outlets or do they subscribe to Xbox Game Pass and have access to these new games for $9.99 a month? Honestly, the subscription cost is an absolute steal. I mean, you get to play a full retail release, on release date, for a fraction of the cost. It’s a tempting deal that should be hard to pass up. I assume that Microsoft will be pushing this new policy heavily on social media, commercials during hit shows like The Walking Dead (which Microsoft has been known to do), and on the Xbox One dashboard. This is a way to get more games into the hands of Xbox Live Gold members. Why wouldn’t Microsoft continuously push the service?
In the announcement introducing the changes coming to Xbox Game Pass, Phil Spencer mentioned working with retail partners to promote the service.
Our fans have also asked for more choice in the subscription offerings available for Xbox Game Pass. As part of today’s library expansion, we are also pleased to announce that we are working closely with our retail partners, such as GameStop, to offer a 6-month Xbox Game Pass subscription card for those fans who look for a variety of ways to purchase and enjoy new games and services. The 6-month Xbox Game Pass subscription card will be available at select retail partners for $59.99 beginning March 20. By working closely with retail partners, Xbox Game Pass will have valuable ambassadors in popular destinations for gamers to discover new and exciting games and enjoy community.
I’ll be honest; this quote baffles me. Why would a retailer like Gamestop work with Microsoft to sell Xbox Game Pass subscription cards if customers will use the service to access high-profile, full priced games, that haven’t launched yet? The very essence of the new policy takes away from the business of the participating retailers. I don’t see this as a win/win situation for all businesses. Gamestop makes money mainly on used games and trade-ins. If people purchased physical copies from the store and then traded them in after playing through the game, that’s good for their business. If people are utilizing Xbox Game Pass to play these new games, how will people be trading things in? I think about the average consumer who goes into a store looking to buy a game for their child, nephew, niece, or grandchild. The chances are that they will be there to get a physical game. Well informed gamers will probably be smart enough to purchase a subscription card.
Xbox Game Pass continues to become a better service as the months go by. I’m permanently a fan, and I don’t think that I will be ending my subscription anytime soon. Microsoft wouldn’t announce an update to their program like this and not promote it nonstop. It goes without saying that the company has issues selling copies of some of their games like the flawed, but underrated ReCore. Xbox Game Pass is going to be a way to remedy lower sales. This means that games will be easy to access for all members.
Gamers benefit from this, but we have yet to see how retailers will be affected this new change. Beginning on the day that Sea Of Thieves launches, Xbox Game Pass subscription cards will be sold in stores. The test will begin to see how many people will take advantage of this awesome deal. I’m curious to see how many copies of first-party games will sell in retail stores. I wonder if low sales from Microsoft’s three big games of the year (Sea Of Thieves, State Of Decay 2, and Crackdown 3) will change how retailers feel about Xbox Game Pass. This is a win for consumers, but I, unfortunately, have a bad feeling that retailers will suffer. I hope that this great Microsoft decision doesn’t have a negative reaction store employees. There is a way for everybody to benefit from this situation, but for now, it remains to be seen.
Andrew Gonzalez is the Co-Editor-In-Chief of Xbox Enthusiast. When not writing about Xbox, he’s usually reading comics, talking about Taylor Swift, and dreaming of the perfect Jet Force Gemini Reboot. You can follow him on Twitter. @AJGVulture89