E3 2021 is just around the corner. And while there are many conferences waiting for us in the next few days, one of them draws particular attention. I'm talking about the joint Microsoft and Bethesda show scheduled for Sunday. The former decided to reveal some of its cards a bit earlier, thanks to which we learned a lot about the future of gaming through Xbox Game Pass.
Microsoft's subscription is currently very popular, but given what the company announces, it's safe to assume that interest in Game Pass will only grow. Because what about the option to use the service directly on your TVs? No console, no PC, just a controller and an internet connection? This is one of the many moves Microsoft wants to make to provide almost unlimited access to digital entertainment to people around the world.
The company assured that it has partnered with global TV manufacturers to integrate the "Xbox experience" into network-compatible sets. What's more, the company has also begun work on its own dedicated streaming devices - as well as new consoles - which will enable us to play in the cloud on any monitor or TV. News of these devices is not expected in the coming months, but the message sent by Microsoft is clear - the company wants to encourage as many people as possible at least to try video games, removing any potential barriers (including financial) that may stand in their way.
A step in that direction is to be the availability of Xbox Cloud Gaming to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription holders in the next few weeks. They will be able to play many titles exclusively through browsers (Edge, Chrome, and Safari) on both PC, phones, and tablets. In addition, later this year Xbox Cloud Gaming is expected to be implemented directly into the Xbox app on PC and thus adapted to the level of the "console experience". This will enable us to try out certain titles before downloading them.
Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox brand, commented on all this as follows:
“We believe that games, that interactive entertainment, aren’t really about hardware and software. It’s not about pixels. It’s about people. Games bring people togethe. Games build bridges and forge bonds, generating mutual empathy among people all over the world. Joy and community – that’s why we’re here.”
Spencer's words were seconded by Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, who also said that gaming is the fastest-growing segment of the entertainment industry.
“We believe that Microsoft can play a leading role in democratizing gaming and defining the future of interactive entertainment.?There are really three key areas where we believe we have an incredible competitive advantage:?First, our?leadership?in cloud computing. Second, the resources?we?have?to?build our subscription service, Xbox Game Pass. And third, our overall focus on empowering creators.”
The desire to develop the service and everything associated with it can not be surprising - the data shows that Xbox Game Pass subscribers play 40% more titles than people without the subscription; they also play 30% more game genres. What's particularly interesting - and something most of us can probably attest to - is that more than 90% of XGP users said they checked out games they wouldn't have tried without the Game Pass.
Developers whose games are available on the service also benefit from its existence. Individual studios were said to have seen up to an eightfold increase in interest in their titles. This is shown not only by the examples of games such as Outriders or MLB: The Show 21 - which, despite their availability Xbox Game Pass from day one, were among the best-selling titles on Microsoft consoles in April - but also the integration of Microsoft's subscription with EA Play. The games signed with the logo of Electronic Arts, which are available in Game Pass on consoles since November 10, (on PC since March 18), were said to have attracted Xbox users for more than twice as many hours than before the merge of both subscriptions.
In addition, the company has plans to introduce new variants of their gaming subscription - both in terms of content and price - so that gamers from around the world can find the right offer for themselves. We should have more information soon - Microsoft and Bethesda's conference will take place on June 13.