Ed Fries speaks out against Xbox Game Pass model

I’m pretty happy with Xbox Game Pass. It’s an incredible value. However, former Xbox executive Ed Fries worries that it could destroy the game industry.

Kotaku reports:

“Game Pass scares me,” explained Fries. “Because there’s a somewhat analogous thing called Spotify that was created for the music business. And uh…when Spotify took off it destroyed the music business. I mean, it literally cut the annual revenue of the music business in half and it’s made it so people just don’t buy songs anymore.”

“So we have to be careful we don’t create the same system in the game business. I mean, these markets are more fragile than people realize,” continued Fries. “I saw the games industry destroy itself in the early ‘80s. I saw the educational software business destroy itself in the mid-’90s. So Game Pass makes me nervous. As a customer, I love it. I love Spotify as a customer: I have all the songs I’d ever want…it’s a great deal as a customer. But it isn’t necessarily great for the industry."

What do y’all think?

I can see where his concern stems from. This allows a lot of people to try before they buy, and it leads to decrease revenue because sales will be down. Game Pass costs about what two or three games cost, and it allows you to try a ton of new indie games, expand horizons in gaming, and save money.

The model may need to be reworked to compensate companies and the games better, so it could be more beneficial and not create such a vacuum effect on the industry.

There are many companies like Spotify, Netflix, Uber, and more that have followed this business model of losing money by getting a lot of users using their products. Game Pass is more of the same, but in this case, Xbox does not want gamers to play Game Pass titles, but to be part of the Xbox ecosystem.

It’s true that it’s a model that developers don’t like very much. But, the thought that more and more people can easily play many of these developers’ games without spending a shit ton of money is always a good thing. Positive for Xbox, for the console war, and for the industry.

He’s right, as a customer it’s brilliant. The fact you can get day 1 releases for what is effectively free, is amazing. Game pass does make sense to me though, especially for older games that you may never would have had the chance to play. Having these in the library is great but for newer games, maybe there is something to be said for holding off so that people buy them before releasing them on game pass? (For the benefit of the industry itself of course) Or maybe have an option to have a premium game pass for extra a month and that pass includes the newest releases where as the standard edition only contains slightly older releases?