Phil Spencer on Xbox Game Pass Sustainability: ‘It’s Doing Very Well for Us and Developers’

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Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s Head of Gaming, appeared at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles earlier this month during The Game Awards 2019 to formally unveil Xbox Series X, the next-generation console scheduled to be available in Holiday 2020.

He’s now been featured in a fresh interview with fellow Microsoft Communications Manager Larry Hryb (also known as Major Nelson on Xbox Live). The chat is almost an hour long and touches multiple Xbox subjects; we’ve elected to highlight the segment where he discusses the present status of Xbox Game Pass, the Netflix-like subscription service.

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Even Xbox Game Pass, you and I have sat in leadership team meetings for five years. We called it Gameflix for a while. Internally, as we said, “Hey, we think there’s, we should allow people to build their library of games in multiple ways.” Arches was the code name for a while.

Now, to see Ashly and the team running this, it’s doing very, very well on PC, and I know we’re still kind of in preview, and there’s, we’re learning on that, but the success on PC has been incredible, and the catalog is building, and console is just blown the doors off.

The only concern I ever see is people saying, “Is it sustainable? Can you continue this?” I’ll say, Xbox Game Pass right now is doing very well for us and the people who are in it, and it’s something … I think it’s going to be really interesting, as Xbox launches next year, and it will be an interesting thing as people think about, “Wait a minute, I already have this library of games on this platform.” We’ve never had a console that’s launched with a library of games that people are going to have available day one.

It is a bit hard to gauge Xbox Game Pass subscribers as they are not revealed by Microsoft, though Phil Spencer did say at the X019 event in November that the figure more than doubled compared to last year. However, it should be noted there are regular promotions to entice new users, such as getting three months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription for just one dollar.

Clearly, at this point in time at least, Microsoft is more interested in expanding the Xbox Game Pass subscriber base than in maximizing revenue from the platform. Still, according to Spencer, there currently is no cause for worrying about its sustainability.

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