Ex-boss of PlayStation Studios says Xbox Game Pass is not yet a “business model that works”

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Microsoft is all-in Xbox Game Pass and the service is steadily growing thanks to a solid stream of big games and new features like cloud gaming, but not everyone is impressed. In a recent interview with GamesIndustry.bizFormer PlayStation Studios boss Shawn Layden doubted that the kind of big $100 million blockbusters Sony makes will ever be compatible with a Game-Pass-like service…

People don’t buy consoles because they want more steel and plastic in the living room. People buy consoles because they want access to the content. If you can find a way to get the contents into people’s homes without a box, then yes, yes. Everyone has a streaming solution in one form or another. Most of it is limited by whether you have a decent internet connection. And they haven’t yet constructed the business model that works for that.

It’s very hard to launch a $120 million game with a subscription service that charges $9.99 per month. If you figure it out, you need to have 500 million subscribers before you can recoup your investment. That’s why you need to be in a leadership position right now to try to grow that base. Still, if you only have 250 million consoles, you won’t get half a billion subscribers. So how do you circle that square? No one has figured that out yet.

Not sure about Layden’s math there. Even if you factor in the cost, you’d be making billions a month if you had 500 million subscribers. I really don’t think you need that many subscribers to try it. That said, the last we heard Xbox Game Pass had about 23 million subscribers – is that enough to pay for big blockbuster productions? Probably not yet. Maybe Game Pass will get there, but I don’t think Sony is interested in a real bet on PS Now or any similar subscription service. But you know who does have a lot of subscribers? Netflix (about 207 million at last count), and there are hints that PlayStation may be partnering with them – why build your own service when you can piggyback on an already successful one?

So what do you think? Will the big Xbox Game Pass gamble pay off? Or are guys like Layden rightly skeptical?

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