Microsoft Angers Game Retailers

Can Xbox Pass kill Retail?

It’s no secret, exclusives sell consoles. Nintendo’s Switch has Mario and Zelda, Microsoft’s Xbox has Halo. Despite Microsoft's very short list of truly exclusive titles, the company announced their new game pass program last week. 

The $10 per month subscription service will grant access to over 100 titles, and will include free access to all new Microsoft Studios games. Upcoming titles Sea of Thieves, Crackdown 3 and State of Decay 2 will be available to download free for subscribers. Also included will be any future Halo and Gears of War entries. The news is worrying retailers, as a $60 price tag will make the $10 download a much more attractive option. Several outlets are considering or already boycotting the move, by removing xbox consoles from their stores.

The blowback from this announcement is interesting, as Sony’s similar PlayStation Now Service has many of the same features, but was met with far less criticism. It might be that Sony’s streaming game solution is seen as less threatening than Microsoft’s full download option, or that their wider array of non-exclusive titles will still ensure a steady profit. 

“The ever growing digital marketplace has had retailers on the decline for years.”

The ever growing digital marketplace has had retailers on the decline for years. Less physical games mean less trade ins and used copies circulating, which are used games retailer’s biggest profit margins. PC as a platform has nearly become download only, with only a few of the biggest releases seeing a handful of copies on store shelves.

Rumors are circulating of Microsoft’s interest in acquiring EA and Valve, which if true, may solve the Xbox One’s biggest problem, their lack of exclusive titles. The continuing advent of on-demand services like Netflix has slowly accustomed consumers to getting more for their money, and a year of exclusives for the price of two games is hard to pass up. Larger electronics retailers will likely see a decline in new Xbox game profits, but I expect used games retailers to suffer much more.