Gamers have enjoyed being able to take advantage of titles on Xbox Game Pass for a low monthly cost. Because of the nature of the service, however, that hasn’t always translated to game sales.
The recent report from the UK Competition and Markets Authority sheds light on how Game Pass affects the full retail sales for video games. In a nutshell, titles on Game Pass see a drop in sales.
“Microsoft also submitted that its internal analysis shows a [redacted]% decline in base game sales twelve months following their addition on Game Pass,” the CMA says in their report. This goes against what Phil Spencer said in 2018. When speaking with levelup.com, Spencer said, “When you put a game like Forza Horizon 4 on Game Pass, you instantly have more players of the game, which is actually leading to more sales of the game.”
One thing to consider is that the CMA report regarding Game Pass sales data affects larger-scale first-party titles. These are games that are AAA releases and, in the case of anything developed by a Microsoft-owned studio, will always be on Game Pass. So when games like Redfall and Starfield are released from Bethesda, they’ll be available Day One on Game Pass and stay on Game Pass forever. So why would you buy them unless you really want to own the physical edition?
Smaller-scale indie games that may fly under the radar, however, are likely to see a boon from their time on Game Pass. Positive word of mouth from Game Pass subscribers can lead to more people checking the game out or purchasing it on Xbox or other consoles.
It was reported last year that Xbox Game Pass paid indie studios over $2.5 billion in royalties. So in the case of these games, while there may be a decline in sales, it seems that the smaller studios are still making money.