Microsoft: Just before its 2021 E3 conference, Microsoft shared its vision of what it believes is the next step for Xbox gaming and services. In a virtual press briefing, Phil Spencer and Satya Nadella talked a bit about the company’s view of the gaming industry and its current importance, citing how they believe games shouldn’t be tied to a platform or hardware.
According to the duo, with Xbox, the company’s mission is to really bring the games and their community to everyone around the world, letting us play how we want, with whoever and wherever we want. Of course some might enjoy playing on PC, console or mobile device better, as they mentioned at the digital event, but the key would be to get rid of restrictions and let these parameters be mere preferences.
Breaking barriers with Game Pass and xCloud
Microsoft is currently committed to achieving that goal with Xbox-branded services, including Game Pass and xCloud. Best known, Xbox Game Pass is a subscription service that provides a vast library of new and old games for anyone who owns an Xbox console or a PC capable of running the games. xCloud is newer and is focused on offering streaming games to Game Pass Ultimate subscribers, their most expensive and complete plan today.
Although still in the testing phase, xCloud is already available on PC, on Android devices via a mobile app, and on iPhones and iPads via web browsers including Chrome, Edge and Safari. In Brazil, you can test the service (if you are selected) only on Android and you don’t need to be a Game Pass Ultimate subscriber. The tests of the PC versions and Apple devices are currently out of our country, in addition to requiring a Game Pass subscription.
With these two services, Microsoft is already able to bring the gaming world to a much larger audience, which normally would not be able to spend their money on buying several games each month. At the moment, there are more than 18 million subscribers who can enjoy the games from the diverse catalog that the company offers and which is always being updated with news.
A good deal for both sides
If before, gamers had to think about which new games they would have to prioritize in their purchases, now it’s enough to know if they’re available on the Game Pass, as subscribers tend to play 30% more genres and 40% more games. According to Microsoft, 90% of members admitted that they played a game they wouldn’t have tried if they didn’t have access to the service.
The cool thing is that this isn’t just good for gamers, as service partners see eight times more engagement than before entering their titles into the Game Pass. Fortunately, it’s not because a title is available with subscription that it hinders sales, after all, its members tend to spend 50% more on added content for games in the catalog compared to non-subscribers.
Another point remembered by the company led by Satya Nadella is that the Game Pass turns out to be a great discovery mechanism for many of its subscribers, which can boost the direct sale of games. Some examples are Outriders and MLB: The Show 21, both present in the service’s library. While Square Enix’s RPG was the best-selling digital game on Xbox in its launch week and was in the top ten for April, the baseball simulator was the biggest sports game last year on Xbox and the second biggest game of the story genre of the platform.
With the promise of xCloud, this can develop in an even more interesting way, being possible to play any title without worrying if your console, smartphone, tablet or PC is capable of running the game you are interested in. As Phil Spencer himself mentioned in his conversation with Nadella, his team believes that “Games are not about hardware and software. They are about people. Games bring people together, build bridges and form bonds, generating mutual empathy between people around the world.”
Considering that this industry is one of the fastest growing each year, services like this can make it more accessible to interested parties. As it is still seen as a niche and quite exclusive area, there is no denying that this would be an excellent change.
What’s next for the Xbox Game Pass?
Knowing the focus and purpose that Microsoft has with its latest services is great, but you can’t help wondering what the company’s next step will be in relation to the Xbox Game Pass. According to the company, Xbox is currently working with TV makers to bring its platform experience directly to Internet-connected televisions, which would eliminate the need for extra hardware beyond a controller.
Keeping in mind the different financial realities around the world, Xbox is also exploring new Game Pass subscription offers, in order to provide more attractive and accessible plans for everyone. Also along this line, the company is forming partnerships with telecommunications providers to offer new purchase models with Xbox All Access, which would allow buying a Game Pass console for a lower monthly price. These are measures that would be very welcome in Brazil!
And how is xCloud?
We’re sure a lot of people are interested and have some doubts about xCloud, the service that allows you to play titles without relying on powerful hardware. The first good news is that Microsoft has confirmed that it will officially make cloud games available via the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate in Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Japan later this year.
Other than that, they’re working on their own streaming devices for these cloud games, aiming to reach gamers on any TV or monitor without them needing a console. In the coming weeks, cloud games will be made available in browsers to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members. At the moment, support will be for Edge, Chrome and Safari on almost all devices with access to them.
Finally, Microsoft promises to add games in the cloud directly to the Xbox app on the PC, something that is highly anticipated for those who want to try everything on their computer and not worry about whether they can run something from the library or not.
See more of Xbox at E3 2021
Until we learned a lot before Microsoft’s E3 conference in 2021, didn’t we? Fortunately, we expect to see even more news on Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase on June 13th at 2pm GMT!