Image: Microsoft

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.

Image: Sony

“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.”

Source: GamesIndustry.biz

Don’t Miss Out on More FPS Review Content!

Our weekly newsletter includes a recap of our reviews and a run down of the most popular tech news that we published.

Join the Conversation

7 Comments

  1. The view that Gamepass is unsustainable at $15 a month only works if you assume the company backing it wants to make money, or h3ll even break even. MS doesn’t give a rats a$$ about losing billions of dollars on Gamepass, as long as the net effect is to hurt Sony. MS has infinite money… Sony has a lot of money, but not infinite.

    And yeah if you use actual math, it doesn’t look great on paper throwing expensive $100 million + AAA games at Gamepass constantly and from day 1. Once the momentum has reached critical mass, don’t be shocked if the new releases trickle down to indie shovelware or old titles only. Or prices go up.

  2. Yeah MS is using this as a loss leader to drive adoption of their ecosystem. If they can get back in the lead, I would expect big changes (to the detriment of the consumer) within 2 years. Same thing Sony did when the XB360 was kicking their butt… Sony multiplayer was free, XB required paid Gold subscription – that was a big deal. Until Sony got back in the lead, then all of a sudden more and more games required PS+ for multiplayer…

    The Ex-Sony guy is right, that is only sustainable so long as the MS shareholders believe it will eventually provide a return. They won’t let the company bleed that level of money forever before they demand changes be made.

    I do think hurting Sony isn’t inconsequential, but it isn’t a zero sum game. People can buy more than one console, and invest in more than one ecosystem. MS should be, and I think is, trying to make XB the best ecosystem they can, and that will earn them more customers than just the aim of “beating Sony”. I think that’s a lot of what Nintendo gets right – they don’t see the other consoles as existential competition – they just want to do the best they can, and it nets them a lot of customers.

  3. I’m one of the unimpressed.

    I will never transition to a subscription model for games.

    Just last night I considered buying BF1 on Steam. The multi-player is really not my style (listening to 12 year olds who just diacovered the word “gay” while playing an unrealistic run and gun game is not my idea of a good time), but I had heard the BF campaigns are – as opposed to the multiplayer game – actually pretty good, so I considered it for that. It tried to get me to subscribe to some sort of EA service. Thanks but no thanks. I don’t want any more services and I don’t do subscriptions. I get angry enough if all a game in steam does is to try to install its own launcher/store. I don’t want the 2k store or the Ubisoft store on my machine against my will…

    But disgregarding the awfulness of the subscription model of games for a while, I just have no interest in the random box concept of it all.

    Maybe I am just more picky than most, but I’m never just OK with whatever game I happen to get at random from a service. I buy very specific games and I like those games and I don’t like other games. I’m never like “sweet! A random game!”. I pick specific games that are right up my alley, and play only those games. Games are not fungible to me. They are either exactly my type of game, or I have no interest in them what so ever.

    That and there is absolutely no way I’m signing up for a Microsoft account. No way no how. Local accounts only! And Xbox? Just the name Xbox adds insult to injury. I’m on a proper computer, not some child’s console…

  4. Geezus if Xbox had 250million active subs at 10 bucks a month they would be making a gross of nearly 2.5 billion a month. You thi k they worry about spending 500 million a month on game licenses when they are pulling in nearly 5x that? No I don’t think so. Even if they only profit 20% a month that would still be 500 million or 6 billion a year.

  5. [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 38529, member: 203″]
    but I had heard the BF campaigns are – as opposed to the multiplayer game – actually pretty good,
    [/QUOTE]
    Funny, because I’ve been hearing the same thing, except I Actually went ahead and tried BF1 and BFV. It’s not true in the slightest. They both have awful single player campaigns. You can’t even call them campaigns, more like short stories. But the level designs are some of the worst I’ve seen, the environment looks totally awful, and the gunplay is awful too. I paid less than $15 for BF1, but it still had the worst buyer’s remorse. BFV was exactly the same game only difference is that it is set in WWII instead of the first. But the quality is the same.

    The experience actually made me question how the hell does the BF franchise still exist? I’m not a COD fan, but the COD campaigns I played are 100 times better.

    [QUOTE]But disgregarding the awfulness of the subscription model of games for a while, I just have no interest in the random box concept of it

    Maybe I am just more picky than most, but I’m never just OK with whatever game I happen to get at random from a service. I buy very specific games and I like those games and I don’t like other games. I’m never like “sweet! A random game!”. I pick specific games that are right up my alley, and play only those games. Games are not fungible to me. They are either exactly my type of game, or I have no interest in them what so ever.
    all.[/QUOTE]
    I tried games pass twice and twice passed on it. It’S nothing but a fomo generator. I got it for free for 3 months and all it did was made me waste time on games I’d never have paid money for.

    I don’t mind paying full price for good games, and getting a lot of bad and mediocre games for cheap does nothing for me. It is the same as the big “EGS free game” garbage. The games I wanted to play that they are giving away I already purchased, and the rest I’m not going to play just because it is free. I have a bunch of games I paid for that I still haven’t played, why would I need games I didn’t even consider buying?

    Subscription service = Live service It’s the same model, just at a higher level.

  6. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 38577, member: 1298″]
    Funny, because I’ve been hearing the same thing, except I Actually went ahead and tried BF1 and BFV. It’s not true in the slightest. They both have awful single player campaigns. You can’t even call them campaigns, more like short stories. But the level designs are some of the worst I’ve seen, the environment looks totally awful, and the gunplay is awful too. I paid less than $15 for BF1, but it still had the worst buyer’s remorse. BFV was exactly the same game only difference is that it is set in WWII instead of the first. But the quality is the same.

    The experience actually made me question how the hell does the BF franchise still exist? I’m not a COD fan, but the COD campaigns I played are 100 times better.
    [/QUOTE]

    Now I’m glad I wasn’t able to buy it!

Leave a comment