Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass subscription service has been winning the hearts of many gamers with its relatively cheap pricing and revolving catalog of notable titles that include day-one exclusives, but not everyone is impressed. One such skeptic is Shawn Layden, who previously served as the CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment and president of SCE Japan, among other PlayStation-centric positions.
Layden told GamesIndustry.biz in a recent interview that he didn’t think Xbox Game Pass could possibly succeed due to a few reasons, with a major one relating to the costs of game development: “It’s very hard to launch a $120m game on a subscription service charging $9.99 a month,” he explained, pointing out that the install base of Xbox consoles doesn’t match up with Microsoft’s ambitious subscriptions goals.
While Layden seems aware that Xbox Game Pass is technically accessible to smartphones and countless other devices thanks to Xbox Cloud Gaming, the executive remains pessimistic and suggested that a better business venture would be finding new ways of getting otherwise uninterested parties into gaming. Layden also suggested that the need for a high-speed internet connection could also pose a problem for services like Xbox Game Pass.
“It’s very hard to launch a $120m game on a subscription service charging $9.99 a month. You pencil it out, you’re going to have to have 500 million subscribers before you start to recoup your investment. That’s why right now you need to take a loss-leading position to try to grow that base. But still, if you have only 250 million consoles out there, you’re not going to get to half a billion subscribers. So how do you circle that square? Nobody has figured that out yet.”