As players look to get more value from their gaming, Microsoft’s Game Pass is taking on new significance as player behaviour adapts to new economic realities. Player incentives are more important than ever as the company challenges Sony’s new PlayStation subscription plan.
More gamers using Game Pass
The Microsoft Game Pass is more popular than ever, reaching over 25 million subscribers this year. An impressive figure comes just five years after the pass launch. It represents an increase of over 7 million subscribers since 2021. In comparison, PlayStation has 47.4 million members of its PlayStation Plus subscription service, with the company launching a new look PlayStation Plus, which incorporates PlayStation Now.
Subscription packages are highly popular with gamers as they make financial sense due to the rising costs of paying for video games outright. As players increasingly base their gaming purchases on value for money, the ability to access a wide range of games for a flat fee is influencing how players experience Xbox games. Microsoft’s Ultimate, PC and Console Game Pass options give players access to a game library consisting of hundreds of games, while Xbox Live Gold, which is included in the Ultimate subscription package, adds extra value to subscribers with access to online multiplayer games.
The value of customer incentives
Customer incentives are prevalent throughout the highly competitive entertainment industry and we can draw upon several examples to show the value of customer incentives.
For instance, streaming services are engaged in a battle for subscribers. Free trials, such as the seven-day trial offered by Apple TV+, allow consumers to watch popular shows in the hope that they will enjoy it so much that they continue to subscribe when the trial ends. A similar approach has been taken in the iGaming sector, where online casinos allow new players to try out their games. The boom of online casinos throughout Europe has led to a regulated market especially in the German-speaking regions. No deposit bonuses in Switzerland are particularly popular because the offer can easily be tested in advance. Such incentives give players the chance to try out slot and casino games for free and if they are impressed by the games on offer, they are more likely to use their own money after the initial experience. The fact that such incentives continue to be offered shows they benefit the companies behind them.
The types of incentives offered by Xbox Game Pass work in much the same way for Microsoft as they give players the opportunity to try before they buy. The company has introduced a promotion for the Ultimate and PC subscriptions, which offers new players access to the full benefits of these packages for £1 for the first month, including the Xbox cult classic Slime Rancher 2 developed by the American indie studio Monomi Park. The objective is to ensure that players are so impressed by the depth and quality of the library of games they continue to subscribe when the package reverts to the full price.
In comparison, the rival PlayStation subscription plans, PlayStation Plus Premium and PlayStation Plus Extra, offer players a free trial which lasts just seven days, with no offer available on the PlayStation Plus Essential subscription package. Microsoft is not resting on their laurels regarding the quality of the games on offer, either. Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has been added to Xbox Game Pass along with a range of bonus games.
Aaron Greenberg, Vice President of Xbox Games Marketing at Microsoft, highlighted the long-term value of the Game Pass to the company, which has acquired several developers, including the Canadian video game developer The Coalition. The subscription service also benefits from word-of-mouth marketing as a must-have amongst gamers. This strategy is also helped by “over-delivering on value”, which drives subscriber numbers and creates brand loyalty.
Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass is an important part of the company’s long-term strategy, and with gamers looking for more bang for their buck, the subscription service is likely to see more members joining to take advantage of the huge back catalogue of games. As the cost of living crisis continues to bite around the world subscribers’ numbers are likely to continue to increase.