The upcoming Xbox Game Pass is potentially going to drastically change the digital landscape of how people consume Xbox games on Microsoft's home consoles. In particular, though, Xbox head honcho Phil Spencer thinks that a certain kind of game genre could benefit most from the Xbox Game Pass.
According to a report from The Guardian, Phil Spencer thinks that the best games to benefit from the Xbox Game Pass are single-player, single playthrough titles like point-and-click adventure games, and choose-your-own-adventure franchises like the ones produced by Telltale Games, such as The Walking Dead or Batman: The Telltale Series.
In Spencer's mind, episodic content could become a lot more lucrative under a subscription based content delivery model from a distributor and game maker perspective. Spencer explains...
While that sounds good on paper, and would absolutely work in theory, the problem is that the model already exists. You can subscribe and play games at your leisure with Gamefly right now. It hasn't necessarily convinced developers to jump in on the single-player adventure game genre.
The reality is that people are going to buy and play whatever pleases them, whether it's through a subscription service or through season passes -- which already exist for Telltale's games, by the way.
However, there is one big difference between standard season passes, what Gamefly offers, and what Spencer is talking about. Spencer explains that using the infrastructure of Microsoft's Azure cloud networking the Xbox Live network, developers already have a networking platform on which to build their game. Spencer mentions that they plan on talking more about this feature (likely at E3).
This could actually drastically change the landscape of how games are delivered, but it would ultimately tie developers to Microsoft's platform. In this regard, one could see how single-player games could be a lucrative option as episodic content. If there's a game that hooks gamers like HBO's Game of Thrones, or Westworld, it's entirely possible that providing it piecemeal through episodes on a service like Xbox Game Pass could increase interest in both the product and the subscription service, which is exactly what's happened with services like Netflix and Amazon TV.
Of course, it's a pretty big gamble on Microsoft's part to try to get developers to tie their games to Microsoft's service. What happens if it turns out like Games For Windows Live? Or what happens if the uptake is slow? What happens if the subscription numbers are only moderate but the content is exclusive?
Spencer is aware of the struggles Microsoft is facing in terms of capturing and retaining an audience with exclusive content, and it sounds like they're gearing up to make a bunch of big announcements at E3. Spencer reiterates that they're committed to growing their first-party library. It now makes you wonder if this might include more point-and-click games similar to Telltale's The Walking Dead or Tales from the Borderlands, featuring compelling content spread across multiple episodes, but exclusive to the Xbox Game Pass service. It would be a bold move, but maybe a bold move is what Microsoft needs to catch up to Sony in the first-party department.