Sea Of Thieves was one of the best selling video games in March. It debuted at the number two spot on last month’s NPD Group’s statistics. While we don’t know the exact number of copies that Sea of Thieves sold, the game’s success proves one thing; first-party exclusives will still sell well even if they’re included in Xbox Game Pass.
When Microsoft announced that first-party games would be coming to Xbox Game Pass on launch date, I canceled every pre-order I placed on Amazon. I didn’t find the need to purchase Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, and Crackdown 3. Why would I want to buy these games if I could get them as part of a $10 subscription service? As someone who buys a lot of video games each year, I’ll take any chance I get to save money.
Truth be told, when Microsoft made the initial Xbox Game Pass announcement, I thought the company was crazy. It was a fantastic deal for fans, but surely, sales wouldn’t be great for these games. In an industry where companies want to be on top, Microsoft sacrificing sales to include its games on the service was a bold move. One that I thought wouldn’t pay off at all.
While it looks like I’m trashing Xbox Game Pass, that is not the case. In fact, I love Xbox Game Pass. It’s a surprisingly excellent service, full of hidden gems, AAA games, and the library grows each month. Occasionally, indie games debut on the program as well. As someone who writes for Xbox Enthusiast, I feel like I should be telling people that they should be supporting exclusives. While I do, I actually find myself being an advocate for Xbox Game Pass. It gives players the opportunity to play full games, but it also helps to discover what you like to play.
I doubt I will be a subscriber to Xbox Game Pass every month. Surely, there will be times when the service isn’t feasible for me. This means that when I decide to take a break from Xbox Game Pass, I’ll lose access to Sea of Thieves and the other exclusives that will come to the program. That’ll suck when friends want to play with me, and I can’t join them. Because of Xbox Game Pass, I decided that when it goes on sale, I’ll purchase Sea of Thieves. It’s not something I would pay full price for, but as a fan of the brand and the game itself, I should support the developer. I plan on doing the same thing for future exclusives if I end up liking the games.
The fact that Sea of Thieves sold well despite being part of Xbox Game Pass genuinely surprises me. Months ago, I thought that Sea of Thieves wouldn’t have great sales and that Xbox Game Pass would be the reason for its success. It turns out; I was wrong. The reason I’m excited about future exclusives is the fact that State of Decay 2 and Crackdown 3 won’t be online only games. Sea of Thieves limited its audience by being online only. Games that require Internet access are usually risks. Because of their always online nature, these games only thrive when there is an active community. Overwatch has been a success story while the first Titanfall suffered from a lack of content at launch. That cause players to drop out of the excellent first-person shooter fairly quickly. Respawn added DLC down the line, but unfortunately, the damage was already done. While content is scarce in Sea of Thieves at the moment, Rare recently released a roadmap for upcoming updates. Sea of Thieves is almost an anomaly in the console market. It’s a game that most people didn’t seem to talk about, yet, it sold incredibly well.
State of Decay 2 will feature traditional single-player gameplay in addition to cooperative modes. While not much is known about Crackdown 3, it’s safe to assume that it’ll include single-player and multiplayer gameplay just like previous installments. I feel like both of these games will be more mainstream and easier to market compared to Sea of Thieves. Crackdown is a well-known brand and State of Decay has a cult following among the Xbox community. It seems crazy to think that these games won’t sell more copies than Sea of Thieves.
With Xbox Game Pass, more people have access to first-party exclusives. Maybe the service isn’t as enticing as I thought it would be. I assumed that many Xbox Live Gold members would sign up so that they wouldn’t have to pay full-price for exclusives. It turns out; people are willing to pay the entry fee for physical and digital copies. Those worried that Xbox Game Pass would ruin sales for first-party games shouldn’t be concerned anymore. It’s clear that fans will go out and support the games that interest them. What does the success of Sea of Thieves mean for the future of Xbox’s first-party situation? I think it bodes well for the company. People will flock out and buy new games if they are unique and provide a quality experience. I’m excited to see how other first-party exclusives will sell in the future. Xbox Game Pass is a great stepping stone for subscribers to try out new games, but I think people fans will support what comes out either way, and that’s a win-win situation for Microsoft.
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