NeoGAFs Kent Brockman
Is Microsoft exploring a cheaper ad-supported Xbox Game Pass 'Lite'?
With Xbox Live Gold thrown in?
A recent confluence of events has led some (including me) to speculate that Microsoft could be exploring a cheaper tier of Xbox Game Pass, supported by ads.
Appears a recent survey that was sent out to some Xbox users, asking how they'd feel about an additional tier of Xbox Game Pass.
If real, the purported tier would cost $3 dollars per month, and provide access to a variety of Xbox Game Pass content with some fairly generous limitations. It would include an EA Access-like vault of past first-party Xbox games, with a similar 6-month delay on new Xbox games from hitting the service. Those who accessed these download-only Xbox games via this tier would be asked to view an ad before the game starts rolling.
Assuming the above table is real, this tier also includes online multiplayer access, which is currently $9.99 per month and offers no games beyond the severely-diminished Xbox Live Games with Gold program. Games with Gold now generally only includes two Xbox One indie titles per month, and has been the subject of criticism and derision for some time.
This supposed ad-supported tier would aggressively undercut the monthly tier of Xbox Live Gold, potentially becoming a head-scratcher in this equation. Would Microsoft really be willing to sacrifice the $10 per month Xbox Live Gold subscription for this far cheaper version which also includes vast amounts of the best Xbox games? Would ad revenues be able to make up for the potential shortfall here? I, for one, am skeptical. Microsoft does offer Xbox Live Gold at $60 per year as well, working out to $5 per month, but even at this price, there's still a deficit to account for when accounting for millions of users.
Whether or not the economics works in this scenario is up for debate, but it certainly seems as though Microsoft is exploring an ad-supported tier of Xbox Game Pass in some format. A recent patent filed by the company covers technology that predicts when in-game interactivity has decreased, perhaps due to a loading screen for example. Then, Xbox would serve up an ad based on the user's privacy settings and interests. Online ads have been a growing segment of Microsoft's Bing business for quite some time, and with other subscription services like Netflix exploring ad-supported tiers, it makes sense to see Microsoft explore the same route.