Perks and responsibilities of making games for Game Pass

During Inside Xbox, Microsoft announced the upcoming expansion of the lineup of games on Game Pass. Matt Booty, head of Xbox Game Studios, explains how the subscription will change the way games are developed.

As Matt Booty told Gamesindustry.biz, Xbox Game Pass comes with a bunch of benefits for developers.

First, Xbox Game Pass makes games more accessible, which translates into a wider player base.

  • It’s easier for a subscriber to try new games, even if they belong to a genre that the player was not previously interested in. Once on Xbox Game Pass, players are no longer constrained financially, so they can check out unusual titles.
  • Greater accessibility, though, means greater responsibility. Players might approach your game who haven’t played games like this before. So developers have to prioritize improving the first time user experience. This is what the player is exposed to over the first half hour into a game. Tutorials and other means of introduction have to provide a lower entry threshold for a new audience. This is especially relevant for games that are parts of franchises (such as Age of Empires), which many players are trying for the first time.

Secondly, game developers on Game Pass do not have to worry about choosing a business model.

  • Creators of titles priced at $60 and above are often concerned whether there is enough content in the game to justify the price. Many developers feel forced to develop a complex system of microtransactions to allow their game to monetize. None of it is a problem for the studios on Game Pass, according to Booty.

Thirdly, developers get more creative freedom.

  • With Game Pass, devs don’t have to create game as services to keep afloat. No need to roll out new content every three weeks. Developers are less exhausted by the post-release support for the game.

“Game Pass itself takes care of being the service and the platform so when we go to design a game, we don’t need to be thinking about what our plan is to sustain this for three or four years. We don’t need to think about how we come up with a set of content updates so that this thing can run as a service, or whether we’re going to be doing Fortnite-style updates every three weeks. It frees us from having to think about that. It allows our game creators to do what they do best, which is make a game.

Matt Booty, Head of Xbox Game Studios

To that we may add that according to Agostino Simonetta, Head of ID@Xbox, the Game Pass subscription also stimulates spending on games.

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