Game pass

Xbox Game Pass subscriptions miss Microsoft target

Growth in subscribers to Microsoft’s signature game service, Xbox Game Pass, has been slower than the company expected last year, according to a new financial report.

Why is this important: Xbox Game Pass is often touted as the best gaming deal, and its subscriber count is an abbreviated measure of Microsoft’s gaming success.

In numbers : For the 12 months that ended June 30, Xbox Game Pass subscriber growth increased 37%, but the company had set itself a growth target of 48%.

  • In the company’s previous fiscal year, which ran from mid-2019 to mid-2020, Game Pass subscriptions increased 86%, exceeding the target of 71%.

For those who just want to see the actual number of subscribers, that’s the catch. Microsoft hasn’t shared them lately.

  • The most recent confirmed figure is 18 million, as of January.
  • The service costs $ 10 / month for console or PC players, or $ 15 / month for a combo.

Between the lines: While it’s worth noting that Microsoft missed a target, it’s also interesting that Game Pass subscribers are a target at all.

  • In 2019, the company added Game Pass membership growth to a short list of performance goals for senior executives, including CEO Satya Nadella.
  • It’s the only pure gaming metric listed in the executive pay plan, and it sits alongside other priority targets, including a number of LinkedIn sessions and the use of Microsoft Teams.
  • Achieving certain goals over a three-year period earns more action for these leaders.

The big picture: Game Pass is at the heart of Microsoft’s future gaming model, in which gamers subscribe to the all-you-can-eat service and play its games on Xbox consoles, PCs, phones, and eventually smart TVs, via streaming if necessary.

  • Xbox management has spent the past two years flooding Game Pass with a remarkable lineup of high-quality games, including its own branded releases and plenty of great indies.
  • As of today, it announced 11 other notable versions of the service for this month alone.
  • But if Microsoft struggles to get Game Pass where it wants, it’ll have a solid sales hook 13 months from now with the release of Bethesda’s highly anticipated exclusive “Starfield”.

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