Game pass

Phil Spencer pushed hard for Xbox Game Pass despite internal doubts: ‘I wouldn’t take no for an answer’

One of the biggest changes to the Xbox business over the past five years has been the introduction of Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft Games CEO Phil Spencer has been its biggest champion and, according to a new profile, a key reason Microsoft took a chance on the experimental game service in the first place.

In a Wall Street Journal profile, Xbox Game Pass — a service where, for a monthly fee, gamers can download and play from a library of games, including first-party Xbox titles — was born out of Microsoft’s success with its cloud services business. But that was never a guarantee that Microsoft would accept the proposal.

“In meetings, Mr. Spencer’s staff would present arguments as to why Game Pass wouldn’t work – publishers wouldn’t participate or it would cut into profits,” said former Xbox veteran Richard Irving.

“'[Phil Spencer] wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Irving added, saying Spencer was central to progressing with Xbox Game Pass. “He was always trying to find a way to make it work.”

While Xbox Game Pass was touted as a hit with around 25 million subscribers. There are reports that PlayStation is working on a similar service named Project Spartacus.

Unlike Netflix which streams movies and TV shows to devices, Game Pass subscribers can download games to their PC or consoles locally, although Xbox also offers Cloud Streaming. Another feature of Xbox Game Pass is the ability to access first-party Xbox titles on day one of release.

Spencer is set to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 25th Annual DICE Awards for her work at Microsoft, which includes introducing services like Game Pass. He also oversaw major Xbox acquisitions, including last year’s Activision Blizzard and ZeniMax Media.

Matt TM Kim is IGN’s Managing Editor. You can join it @lawoftd.

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