Microsoft announced the acquisition of a bunch of new studios at E3 a few months ago, and now the company has started to reeal that it’s all part of a master plan.
It’s no secret that Microsoft’s own gaming department has fallen off in recent years. Many projects, such as Crackdown 3, have been delayed over and over, while others, like Scalebound, were outright cancelled. In terms of first-party games, Microsoft has been lacking recently. However, as Microsoft has now revealed, the company’s long-term plan actually doesn’t revolve around Xbox exclusives in the conventional sense.
Instead, it relies on Game Pass.
“When we start to think about Game Pass, what really is the driver for that is content,” Matt Booty, head of Microsoft Studios, told GamesIndustry.biz. “When you think about our existing content as it relates to Game Pass… You can see that we’re fortunate to have some really large franchises, with Halo, Gears of War, Forza, Minecraft, Age of Empires… At the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got the ID@Xbox program, which is bringing in hundreds of new games from smaller indies. We’ve had a lot of success there. But both of those leave a little bit of a gap in terms of variety and also cadence of content.”
Booty explained that the studios Microsoft snapped up recently, including Ninja Theory, Playground games, Compulsion Games, and Undead Labs, are all mid-sized businesses, with Playground Games being the only one classed as a AAA studio.
What’s most interesting, though, is that these studios weren’t brought on in order to bring more to the Xbox One as a whole. Instead, they’ve been specifically brought on to support Game Pass, creating smaller games to fill in the gaps between big AAA games and keeping players subscribed.
“I don’t want to seem like we’re going out to fill a quota,” Booty said. “It’s not about filling a spreadsheet by any means. We will, however, have an interest in studios right now that fit this criteria… and have content that we think will be of interest to our Game Pass subscribers.”
In his closing remark, Booty added that “we will be looking to new games and new IP from the studios, particularly as it relates to building up our content pipeline into Game Pass,” confirming that bringing more people over to the subscription is Microsoft’s true end goal.
We’ll have to see how the numbers shake out, but from Microsoft’s insistence on building up Game Pass, it seems likely that getting players to drop $9.99 every month is more profitable than asking players to buy individual games. We’ll keep an eye on any other future Game Pass developments Microsoft brings to the table.