Xbox GamePass Is Under Fire From Gaming Developers

Gaming developers are complaining that the Xbox GamePass subscription service is hurting their bottom line.

By Jason Collins | Updated

xbox game pass

Let’s be honest; Xbox GamePass is a pretty great deal for any gamer. For just $10 a month, gamers get unlimited access to Xbox’s gaming library, with many huge titles arriving to the subscription model on day one. However, a good deal for gamers doesn’t necessarily mean a good deal for third-party developers, as some have stated that the Xbox GamePass is hurting game sales.

According to GameSpot, the co-founder of Playdead and Jumpship, Dino Patti, has revealed that Xbox GamePass hurt the studios’ sales for 2022’s Somerville. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard game developers complain that one of the best deals in gaming has hurt the sales of a particular gaming title. In fact, Xbox GamePass hurting gaming sales is a well-known fact across the industry, which somehow hasn’t stopped developers from working with Microsoft.

While many tend to side with the developers, this could be an issue with the modern gaming industry as a whole.

Before the internet and all the subscription models like Xbox GamePass, game developers actually had to develop their gaming titles, make them actually good, and deliver them in a finished and polished state. Day-one patches were basically non-existent some 10-15 years ago. Thus, if you, as a developer, wanted your game to sell, you had to catch the public attention with a flashy trailer and a promise of a good narrative and gameplay, which you subsequently had to deliver for approx. $60.

If you failed to deliver, the initial bad reviews of your game would lead to poor sales because you couldn’t patch a game that was released on physical media. However, with the advent of the internet, game developers got lazy, and they started delivering half-baked games, like Cyberpunk 2077, or big disappointments, such as Redfall, while charging a premium price for a gaming title that’s basically worthless. Xbox GamePass solved that problem; it allowed gamers to test out and play as many games as they wanted for a price of a single monthly subscription.

xbox gamepass
Somerville, a game whose sales have reportedly been hurt by Xbox GamePass

Gamers now have the opportunity to get a game for a price of a single subscription, play it for 10 minutes, and quit it forever in case they dislike the game without having to spend $30-$70 on a gaming title. This adversely affects the sales of gaming titles, especially since developers now can’t charge individually sold copies. Unfortunately, this might also be a contributing factor in the diminishing quality of games we’re faced in the past decade since developers are losing their incentive to make better games for less money.

We’ll call Xbox GamePass a double-edged sword for the developers. The fact that Sony tried restructuring its PlayStation subscription to mimic Xbox GamePass only attests to the success of the latter. Unfortunately for Sony, the PlayStation Plus model failed to beat Xbox’s subscription, which still remains one of the best deals in gaming, despite the lack of first-party gaming titles and a pretty short list of good releases. Halo Infinite has been in trouble since the release, and Starfield suffered a crushing delay, which ultimately led to troubling Xbox sales.

The good side of Xbox GamePass is that it prevents developers from charging us money for a game that’s really not worth our time.