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Every publisher dislikes Game Pass because it’s ‘destructive’ to value, according to PlayStation boss

Meanwhile, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said the subscription offering was “very, very sustainable” in 2022.

Microsoft’s Game Pass is “unanimously” disliked by publishers, according to the head of PlayStation.

Jim Ryan’s shot at its biggest rival’s subscription offering - which competes directly with Sony’s own PlayStation Plus programme - came during pre-recorded testimony given during the latest Federal Trade Commission hearing to scrutinise the proposed Microsoft-Activision acquisition. (Thanks, IGN.)

Ryan claimed that the “Game Pass business model appears to have some challenges, and Microsoft appears to be losing a lot of money on it”, adding that the service that offers free games across Xbox and PC is widely disliked by publishers.

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That directly clashes with Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s assurance to Axios last year that Game Pass is “very, very sustainable”, along with his insistence that the service wasn’t “burning cash”.

“I talked to all the publishers, and they unanimously do not like Game Pass because it’s value-destructive,” Ryan said, in what feels very much like the corporate equivalent of telling someone at school that somebody else has no friends.

In response, Xbox apparently just highlighted that every Game Pass announcement from the recent Xbox Games Showcase was from a creator that had previously launched a game via Game Pass.

Four-way split image between Redfall's vampire, FIFA's Mbappe, Age Of Empires, a Forza Horizon Car, and blocky person from Minecraft. The Game Pass logo is in the foreground.
Image credit: Microsoft

While Microsoft’s immediate release of brand new first-party games on Game Pass has become somewhat of a selling point among customers, PlayStation has explicitly said that it won’t launch its own games on PlayStation Plus right away due to the impact on sales, especially for story-driven, single-player titles. Of course, PlayStation Plus is also locked to Sony’s consoles, leaving Game Pass as the predominant subscription platform on PC.

Only a few days ago, Microsoft announced it was raising the price of Xbox Game Pass by a few dollars/pounds from July 6th onward, but the cost of its PC offering (excluding the cross-PC/console Ultimate tier required for cloud gaming) would remain unchanged for now. That followed an acknowledgement from Spencer in later 2022 that while PC had seen “incredible growth” in Game Pass subscribers over the previous year, console subscriptions had slowed.

Ryan’s comments come amidst a slew of fascinating insights to emerge from Microsoft’s battle with the FTC over its ridiculous-dollar proposal to buy Activision, ranging from other studios that the Xbox maker had considered buying to its own unflinching analysis of competitors’ products.

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