One Dev’s Xbox Struggles May Show How Game Pass Is Already Changing Games

Recently, developer The Game Bakers announced it would release an unexpected update to Furi, its stylish mashup from 2016 of action and bullet hell, where players fight a parade of demanding bosses. This update, featuring a new character and an upgraded version for PlayStation 5 players, would be released on PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, and Switch. Very specifically, it would not be released on Xbox, even though Furi originally released there. Which prompted some understandable frustration from folks who exclusively play on Xbox.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/4awzz3/one-devs-xbox-struggles-may-show-how-game-pass-is-already-changing-games

Wait a sec, looking at the Furi numbers, if you take out the PS+ share, aren’t sales on PS and Xbox roughly equal? 7% on PS versus 5% on Xbox? And, given the lower install base on Xbox, doesn’t that mean it’s over-performing there? I have to be missing something.

I mean, yes the PS share is much higher when you take into account PS+, but then that’s the same situation as Haven except on the Xbox side.

Not saying the devs don’t have a point, but the numbers don’t seem to back up the argument.

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There’s several arguments being made and many numbers thrown about. One is sales (for which absolute numbers likely matter more for them than relative to install base). Another is financial support. Third is Haven not doing great for sales on the Xbox, and fourth was the inability to secure a deal for this release to be on Gamepass. Hence this being their thoughts:

“We talked to the team at Xbox to see if there was a way to get some support, but Furi didn’t align with the Game Pass strategy focused on new titles,” said Leprince. “This is why we took the decision not to bring the DLC to Xbox at launch: the chances the investment was not going to recoup were high.”

Maybe they even feel like it’s harder to succeed without being on Gamepass now than five years ago? My own fear about these services is that they’re becoming such good deals that games not launching on them are put in a more difficult situation every year. In the end, this might be where The Game Bakers are finding themselves right now: not accepted onto the service and this becoming a possible liability.

Best wishes to the team. Perhaps as they hint at they can afford to do the Xbox release once things have cooled down for them.

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What’s odd is that Furi briefly had Xbox Exclusive content, I believe The Flame battle was Xbox-only for awhile.

I agree that these numbers don’t make Xbox seem like that small of a platform, especially when Game Pass is very different from being on PS+ for a month. However, the interesting takeaways for me are:

  1. It’s apparently difficult to release a game on both Xbox and Windows. I thought that Microsoft had done a lot of work to make it relatively easy to release a game on one platform if you were already targeting the other.
  2. The fact that they couldn’t secure a Game Pass deal when Haven apparently did well on Game Pass. Maybe this is because Game Pass versions of games usually don’t include DLC, but it sounds like this is a remake, so it would make sense for this to be an exception.

The DLC situation really diminishes Game Passes value for me. Every time a game I enjoyed has DLC content I want to play I’m rubbed the wrong way by how it’s handled. Having to buy the DLC only to lose the DLC if the game is removed from Game Pass or buy the game to keep the DLC for $50+ dollars.

It’s still a pretty good deal to be sure, but the rough edges are particularly rough IMO. If I didn’t get Ultimate at no cost by exploiting the MSFT Rewards and Game Pass quests I’m not sure I’d maintain a subscription outside of resubscribing when there’s a big release on there.

I’m growing skeptical the Netflix model for games will work in the long run and I’m pretty sure it it does it’ll be at the expense of the quantity of quality experiences.

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Personally I tend to utilise Game Pass as more of an easy no-risk demo platform, I can try out a number of games I’m not sure if I’ll like or not. I feel like potential royalty for Game Pass games is at least better than 0 interaction with the games at all.

That said most of all I wish GP games let you transfer progress and DLC ownership over to another store like Steam. I assume it’s fairly seamless on Xbox but on PC GP is just not a great platform for gaming in my experience; bare-bones options and integrated features such as controller and screenshot support, buggy and slow interface, poor handling of multiple install disks, unsortable store page, and more problems pile on.

As much as I like it it’s important that the devs who make their games available on the service gets their fair dues. I feel like it might be detrimental for new releases, but could possibly be a life-line for games who failed to capture a market, potentially affording them a second wind.

Of course we will have to see reports from more developers of their experiences with the platform to make final judgements there.

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I’ve heard secondhand that Microsoft’s Game Pass deal is simply “Here’s a pile of money; you are a Game Pass game now” and there’s no sort of secondary “You crossed 100k downloads; here’s a bonus” kind of thing. I don’t think this necessarily means Game Pass is collapsing, but it’s worth keeping an eye out to see if this turns into a trend.

What I’ve heard is there is no standard Game Pass deal. Like, a lot are like that, but Paradox has said they had deals that were based on engagement. It sounds like they’ve tried at least a few things out.

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If you train your audience to expect things to be free, you shouldn’t be surprised when they refuse to pay for things. Xbox is playing a dangerous game here. They’re using the Netflix playbook and we saw how that turned out for them. Unless they plan to make all of their money on GamePass Ultimate subscriptions in perpetuity, there’s a decent chance that Xbox will soon find itself unable to sell a retail product because every customer will demand for it to come free on GamePass. The party ends when Nadella turns off the money faucet, or the Xbox division goes broke, or GamePass triples in price like Netflix has.

I remember reading previously (I may have hallucinated this) that Game Pass actually had a better-than-you’d-expect conversion rate into actual purchases but I can’t imagine that being enough to bridge the gap. I’ve been wondering when the capitalism hammer’s going to drop on Game Pass. Before too long I imagine it’s going to get some combination of way more expensive and worse.

If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. See MoviePass, GamePass’s ill-fated namesake.

I think the big difference between Game Pass and all of the possible comparisons (Moviepass, Netflix, etc.), is that gaming is a tiny sliver of Microsoft’s revenue stream, not the biggest (or only) chunk of it. The entirety of Microsoft’s personal computing section — this includes Windows and all their devices in addition to Xbox — is only about a third of their revenue. I don’t think they’ll be content to operate at a loss forever, but Game Pass operating at a loss is like a paper cut compared to what happened to Movie Pass.

I think it probably will get more expensive eventually, but like, I would bet a lot on their internal assessments show that the risks of Game Pass are vanishingly small in the grand scheme of an old money (relatively speaking) tech giant, and as a result it’s going to have a really long leash.

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