Xbox Game Pass is one of the most popular gaming subscription services, with a wide variety of games, including day-one releases of titles such as Lies of P, Forza Motorsport, and Starfield. The service has several tiers for individuals who want to invest in it.
There is the entry-level tier known as Game Pass Core, which offers multiplayer for consoles with a library of over 30 titles. Then, there is a console and a PC tier for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S consoles and PC, respectively. It offers all the benefits of the Core subscription but includes a library of over 460 titles. An ultimate subscription gives users access to the service on both PC and Console to users who want to play on both devices.
A rumor has now sparked that the service will offer an additional tier, which is most undoubtedly unconventional when pitted against its existing tiers and its rival, PlayStation Plus. The new tier will allegedly be founded on ads.
Microsoft to Experiment with Xbox Game Pass?
Per speculation on the popular website Windows Central, a new tier for Microsoft’s gaming subscription service for consoles and PCs is reportedly in the works. This began when Microsoft Gaming’s Chief Financial Officer, Tim Stuart, attended a Wells Fargo summit and shared insight on the subscription service’s possible future.
Stuart revealed that there may be a possibility of the Xbox Game Pass being available on non-Microsoft platforms like PlayStation and Nintendo Switch! Xbox Boss Phil Spencer quickly dismissed this and stated in an exclusive interview with Windows Central that there were no plans to do so. It makes sense that Spencer shared the infeasibility of the plan because no gaming platform owner would want to invite competition on their ground. Not to mention that direct rivals to Xbox, Nintendo, and PlayStation already have existing subscription services, PlayStation Plus and Nintendo Switch Online.
In addition to sharing the above, the Xbox Gaming CFO also shared that there might be plans to execute an ad-funded game streaming service and offer it to specific regions. TweakTown first reported this. Stuart had this to say on the topic:
For models like Africa, or India, Southeast Asia, maybe places that aren’t console-first, you can say, ‘hey, do you want to watch 30 seconds of an ad and then get two hours of game streaming?
He also backed up the proposition by sharing demographical statistics for the regions and how they would favor it. With such an expansion, Microsoft could penetrate a virtually untapped market. It is primarily unclear if Microsoft will go ahead and execute this or try it out as a pilot project to trash it completely. If the same or even a similar conversion rate is applied to the service, it could be of immense value to those intended for it.
However, there is one pitfall of this, and that is connectivity. While it could be a pathbreaking proposition on paper, ensuring that the connectivity standards for the regions that Stuart highlighted are met would be a more significant challenge. Cloud streaming requires an Internet connection of 10 megabits per second. While it sounds feasible in theory, the experience of Cloud Streaming at the network capacity is not very enjoyable.
Apart from the network capacity and speed, there is also an issue related to latency. Latency, perhaps the biggest weakness of Cloud Game Streaming, is related to physical distance and network capacity. The infrastructure cost of setting up nearby data centers would be substantial when the conversation is regarding the player base in a different continent.
Despite all this, if all these barricades were to be removed somehow, Microsoft has tried to gauge public sentiment regarding trading ad-viewing time with Game Streaming Time. As per reports, Surveys accessible to users on the Xbox Insider Program were carried out for the same. There were also code snippets shared by an Xbox OS programmer named Title_OS on the social media platform X.
It is unclear when and if Microsoft will roll out the pilot for the project, considering it never leaves the preliminary ideation state. This could very well backfire as Xbox is already considered a brand trying to use its financial prowess instead of product quality to win over the market share.