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Opinion Business Xbox Game Studios games made exclusively for GamePass?

smithg5

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Microsoft wants GamePass to be the Netflix of games (it basically already is). While making great XBox exclusives is very important in general, I think all of these studios they are acquiring/building are ultimately there to feed a steady stream of new content to GamePass, much like how Netflix operates.

With this in mind, it seems likely to me that many if not all of these first party games in the future could be GamePass exclusives. This would push a lot of people into a subscription, and price-wise it's not that painful of a proposition for the consumer. That same $60 gets you six months of GamePass.

The benefits of this to Microsoft are:
  • It increases the perceived value of GamePass. Microsoft is already in pretty good shape here relative to PSNow, but having games you can only experience on GamePass would really elevate its perceived value.
  • Individual game pricing for first party games becomes irrelevant, so conversations about game length and value don't spring up. Reviews will likely be a little gentler, even if it's subconscious.
  • Marketing is simplified. Every 1st party game commercial just becomes a GamePass commercial. The main selling point of a Gears 6 commercial is no longer "Gears 6 is actually good" but becomes simply "look at the breadth of experiences you can have, including this new shiny game". It's much easier to convince a consumer of this.
  • Microsoft becomes much more nimble with publishing their games. They no longer have to coordinate physical game distribution for their big launches and could hypothetically hold a title for a reactionary release.
  • It pushes people over the edge into GamePass. Xbox gamers that are on the fence about subscribing will have to jump over to play the new Halo and Forza. A more casual 1-2 game-buyer being pushed into a subscription is a huge win for Microsoft.
  • It hides game sales performance figures which minimizes Xbox's business performance scrutiny. If a game fails, it would be pretty easy to gloss over.
What does everyone think? Is this the way things are going?

EDIT:

This concept is proving to be a bit unpopular :)

Still, I think it makes business sense, so I will make a no-stakes bet that Microsoft will announce at least something exclusive for GamePass in the next year.
 
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-Arcadia-

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I don’t think this is a good idea, if an interesting one.

Gaming consumers don’t typically react well to having their purchasing decisions taken away. I can see some people, maybe even myself, upset at the impermanence and intangibility of a GamePass exclusive.

Right now, the unified fork approach they have to Physical/Downloads/GamePass/Streaming allows for all the benefits, with none of the drawbacks. I personally don’t think artificial restrictions would help that.
 

pr0cs

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Not sure what you mean "GamePass exclusives", you're suggesting that games will ONLY be playable if you're a GamePass subscriber? I don't believe so, doesn't make any financial sense. They just want you playing the game, if you choose to buy it or play it on GamePass they're making money. They want the money. They're putting all their 1st party titles on Gamepass to drum up subs, their thought is, one way or another they're making money off you.
 

Hendrick's

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I think this will happen eventually, at least a timed exclusive, but something like this is years away.
 

Stuart360

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I think its more than probable long term, long long term, when consoles have gone the way of the dodo, and streaming takes over (it will happen at some point, whether it sucks or not), but not at the moment, And they dont really need to as all the exclusives go on Gamepass day and date, and that should be more than enough hook for most people.
 

smithg5

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I think this will happen eventually, at least a timed exclusive, but something like this is years away.

I think it could start slowly at first - maybe Halo and Forza get traditional releases but some of the smaller games are GamePass-only to get some of the benefits I mentioned.
 

smithg5

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I don’t think this is a good idea, if an interesting one.

Gaming consumers don’t typically react well to having their purchasing decisions taken away. I can see some people, maybe even myself, upset at the impermanence and intangibility of a GamePass exclusive.

Right now, the unified fork approach they have to Physical/Downloads/GamePass/Streaming allows for all the benefits, with none of the drawbacks. I personally don’t think artificial restrictions would help that.

Arguably, most modern AAA games end up being essentially a download code after all the patching that occurs. Preserving these modern games seems like a losing battle to me (though I sympathize).
 
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Nikana

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As long as they debut the same time as the retail counter part there isn't much reason to do it. They already entice the consumer with the monetary savings. Trying to double down on that will only piss people off more than they would benefit.
 

smithg5

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Not a good idea at all.

In doing this they will just lose the extra money they would have gained from the people who also purchase games. Most people who purchase games will likely already be a subscriber as well.

Someone wanting to buy the new Halo getting a $10/mo subscription instead is likely going to end up being more money for Microsoft.
 

-Arcadia-

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Arguably, most modern AAA games end up being essentially a download code after all the patching that occurs. Preserving these modern games seems like a losing battle to me (though I sympathize).

Agreed, but streaming would be one step beyond even that. A GamePass exclusive probably wouldn’t get delisted, but that it feels even more impermanent than a download, would probably be a turnoff to consumers.
 

Aion002

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I think that they will always give the option to buy the games.... However I also think that they might have less discount deals, to push more subscriptions.

I think it's complicated.... I like owning games, but I get the appeal of "renting".... I don't think I would ever be able to "rent" a game like Dark Souls or Final Fantasy, so removing the option to buy those, in my opinion, would be a deal breaker.
 
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smithg5

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I think its more than probable long term, long long term, when consoles have gone the way of the dodo, and streaming takes over (it will happen at some point, whether it sucks or not), but not at the moment, And they dont really need to as all the exclusives go on Gamepass day and date, and that should be more than enough hook for most people.

Netflix started with a bunch of TV shows and movies you could watch elsewhere. It was a great value but was weighed against different ways of getting that same content.

I think the tipping-point for Netflix was when it began to feel essential. When shows like House of Cards started to appear and the only way to watch them was to subscribe to Netflix, I think it drove a lot of new people to the platform. Microsoft wants GamePass to be essential for Xbox owners, maybe even synonymous with Xbox.
 

Mr Hyde

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I want physical copies of my games so I can play them at my leisure, without fear of them being removed by licensing issues, therefore I reject all subscription based models. Netflix for example, adds and remove content on a weekly basis it seems and I wouldn't want that to happen for games. If the future is digital I will start embracing the past.
 
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GHG

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Someone wanting to buy the new Halo getting a $10/mo subscription instead is likely going to end up being more money for Microsoft.

Those people will subscribe anyway.

The better way to do it would be to possibly have exclusive features/skins/(or whatever other crap kids care about these days) that are exclusive for gamepass subscribers.

That way the people who want to purchase the game are not penalised in any way and everybody is incentivised to be a gamepass subscriber regardless of their preferred access method.
 

Vawn

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Locking games behind a monthly fee rental service is a horrible idea.

I don't subscribe to GamePass or PS Now, because I understand the goal is to have people pay for games they otherwise wouldn't.

I also realize that these services start of affordable and keep raising rates while hoping people don't go through the trouble of unsubscribing as they've become accustomed to paying anyway.

I'm not saying there isn't value in GP. It lets you play more games, cheaper, even if most of the games aren't your first (or second or third) choices.

But, denying those of us that have the means to buy the games we want, and ONLY the games we want, is a poor business decision.
 

smithg5

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Those people will subscribe anyway.

Why would someone that subscribes to GamePass buy a disc of a game they already have access to?

The better way to do it would be to possibly have exclusive features/skins/(or whatever other crap kids care about these days) that are exclusive for gamepass subscribers.

That way the people who want to purchase the game are not penalised in any way and everybody is incentivised to be a gamepass subscriber regardless of their preferred access method.

This is an interesting idea. I think this definitely lines up with my general idea that at least some Microsoft developed games or content would be made exclusive to GamePass to incentivize subscription and add unique value to the service.
 

smithg5

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But, denying those of us that have the means to buy the games we want, and ONLY the games we want, is a poor business decision.

HBO seems to have lots of fans :) Some of their content is on DVD or Amazon, but not nearly all of it.

It's all about value - if customers get value they will be happy. I don't think the collectors-edition crowd of NeoGAF represents the potential addressable market that Microsoft is thinking about.
 

wolffy71

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I really dont think we will ever see this. It goes from a great option to subscribe to a forced membership fee to play certain games. Just not gonna happen.
 

the_master

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One day, it will happen. They will make game pass great. And once it is great and has milions of consumers, they will start making it worse bit by bit, because they will have no rush to improve the service. Unless, there is some fierce competition with others.
 

Vawn

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HBO seems to have lots of fans :) Some of their content is on DVD or Amazon, but not nearly all of it.

It's all about value - if customers get value they will be happy. I don't think the collectors-edition crowd of NeoGAF represents the potential addressable market that Microsoft is thinking about.

Is that what people want for gaming? First it was Netflix. Then you needed Hulu for other shows. Now Disney, HBO, Amazon Prime. There is no end in sight.

TV doesn't bother me as much, as I don't care if I see every major program.

But when games head down a similar road, we will HAVE to ignore certain games. Microsoft and PlayStation subscriptions only get you a small subset of the games. Xbox fans constantly say 99% of games they want are third-party.

Well, eventually all of these third-party publishers will want their own monthly subscription services.

In the near future, this is a very likely scenario if we allow it:

Want to play the new Assassin's Creed game? You'll need a monthly subscription to Ubisoft. That new Star Wars game, you'll need an EA membership. Halo is covered under GamePass. Tomb Raider? I hope your SquareEnix account is up to date. Borderlands, Gear Box - GTA 6, TakeTwo now wants in on this and is offering their own service.

It will get out of control. And likely half the games you want to play are still outside this and you will need to buy for regular MSRP prices on top of all your memberships.

Likely, most people won't do that and will just opt at playing 20% of the games they want and the rest stuff that's "good enough" since they're already paying for it under their current memberships.
 

Torrent of Pork

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If you mean studios focusing on AA and Indy tier games to keep a steady stream of content coming to Gamepass then I think it's a viable strategy.

If you mean games only available to subscribers, without the option of digital retail purchase then hell no. Not only is it incredibly consumer unfriendly, it's also leaving money on the table.
 

martino

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I want physical copies of my games so I can play them at my leisure, without fear of them being removed by licensing issues, therefore I reject all subscription based models. Netflix for example, adds and remove content on a weekly basis it seems and I wouldn't want that to happen for games. If the future is digital I will start embracing the past.
video media is not my main passion so netflix is fine in this case but for video game i'm with you.
 
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Dory16

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Locking games behind a monthly fee rental service is a horrible idea.

I don't subscribe to GamePass or PS Now, because I understand the goal is to have people pay for games they otherwise wouldn't.

I also realize that these services start of affordable and keep raising rates while hoping people don't go through the trouble of unsubscribing as they've become accustomed to paying anyway.

I'm not saying there isn't value in GP. It lets you play more games, cheaper, even if most of the games aren't your first (or second or third) choices.

But, denying those of us that have the means to buy the games we want, and ONLY the games we want, is a poor business decision.
How exactly does GP deny you anything? It's not like GP games aren't available for sale on the MS store or in every gamestop. Find a more rational argument to discredit GP please.
 

jaysius

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I've been saying this forever, that there are "DIRECT TO GAMEPASS GAMES" that lack a certain level of quality/polish because theyh're just for gamepass, so it doesn't really matter if they're buggy or low quality. Also some are just husks of games ready to be filled with DLC which of course is NOT included in Gamepass, but they give you a "discount" of 10% for having Gamepass.

For example, Gears 5 was OK, I LOVED the Gears series, I feel like 1-3 were superior in story quality, writing, definately optimizations(Playing it on a Xbox One OLD AF was ROUGH), fighting awful bosses that required another HUMAN because the AI was braindead was a bad time, hell there were sequences where you needed to break ice to resolve them, but the AI didn't have a clue how to do it, these things weren't issues in past Gears games.

Also MS recently added GAME PASS game to ALL the games that are from GAME PASS... even in the Gamepass menu, it looks just awful, they should have taken a minute to design that icon better.
 
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Dory16

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Is that what people want for gaming? First it was Netflix. Then you needed Hulu for other shows. Now Disney, HBO, Amazon Prime. There is no end in sight.

TV doesn't bother me as much, as I don't care if I see every major program.

But when games head down a similar road, we will HAVE to ignore certain games. Microsoft and PlayStation subscriptions only get you a small subset of the games. Xbox fans constantly say 99% of games they want are third-party.

Well, eventually all of these third-party publishers will want their own monthly subscription services.

In the near future, this is a very likely scenario if we allow it:

Want to play the new Assassin's Creed game? You'll need a monthly subscription to Ubisoft. That new Star Wars game, you'll need an EA membership. Halo is covered under GamePass. Tomb Raider? I hope your SquareEnix account is up to date. Borderlands, Gear Box - GTA 6, TakeTwo now wants in on this and is offering their own service.

It will get out of control. And likely half the games you want to play are still outside this and you will need to buy for regular MSRP prices on top of all your memberships.

Likely, most people won't do that and will just opt at playing 20% of the games they want and the rest stuff that's "good enough" since they're already paying for it under their current memberships.
So far I'm unaware of a game subscription service that is the exclusive access door to a game. All of EA, Ubisoft, XC=GS games are also on the shelves. I don't get why more options is somehow bad.
 

DaGwaphics

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I think its more than probable long term, long long term, when consoles have gone the way of the dodo, and streaming takes over (it will happen at some point, whether it sucks or not), but not at the moment, And they dont really need to as all the exclusives go on Gamepass day and date, and that should be more than enough hook for most people.

Agreed. I can see this happening at some point, but not just yet.
 
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smithg5

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Is that what people want for gaming? First it was Netflix. Then you needed Hulu for other shows. Now Disney, HBO, Amazon Prime. There is no end in sight.

TV doesn't bother me as much, as I don't care if I see every major program.

But when games head down a similar road, we will HAVE to ignore certain games. Microsoft and PlayStation subscriptions only get you a small subset of the games. Xbox fans constantly say 99% of games they want are third-party.

Well, eventually all of these third-party publishers will want their own monthly subscription services.

In the near future, this is a very likely scenario if we allow it:

Want to play the new Assassin's Creed game? You'll need a monthly subscription to Ubisoft. That new Star Wars game, you'll need an EA membership. Halo is covered under GamePass. Tomb Raider? I hope your SquareEnix account is up to date. Borderlands, Gear Box - GTA 6, TakeTwo now wants in on this and is offering their own service.

It will get out of control. And likely half the games you want to play are still outside this and you will need to buy for regular MSRP prices on top of all your memberships.

Likely, most people won't do that and will just opt at playing 20% of the games they want and the rest stuff that's "good enough" since they're already paying for it under their current memberships.


I think you can split the gaming market into a few different segments:

10% that's very vocal and passionate about gaming.
70% that represents the semi-casual sometimes-gamer (CoD, FIFA, etc)
20% super casual (they bought a Wii 12 years ago and now mostly play mobile games)

I just made those numbers up, but only that 10% really cares about these issues. Me and you are in that 10%, but Microsoft/EA/Activision wants to get as much money out of that other 90% as they can. That's also the segment where they can most realistically add new customers.

Because that 10% can be very influential in shaping public perception and successful marketing, they can't truly piss them off, but that's not really where they make all of their money. GamePass exclusives will likely upset that vocal crowd but really attract most others, so who knows what they will do.
 
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IntentionalPun

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Hell no; it's about providing options to consumers not forcing them one way or the other.
 
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The Alien

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It's been awhile since there's been "concern" threads about Microsoft's business model. Its an option. Play it if interested. Dont if your not.

Dreadfully awaiting the "GamePass" not financially sustainable thread.
 
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smithg5

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It's been awhile since there's been "concern" threads about Microsoft's business model. Its an option. Play it if interested. Dont if your not.

Dreadfully awaiting the "GamePass" not financially sustainable thread.

How is this a concern thread? This might be an unpopular idea with NeoGAF but I'm suggesting this is a good business/marketing move for Microsoft.

I'm personally a fan of GamePass.
 

01011001

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a perfect GamePass exclusive would be a game that would usually be free 2 play with microtransactions to finance it.

take out the microtransactions, make it gamepass exclusive, have regular updates and events

that's how a GamePass exclusive could be done
 
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Dick Jones

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Would Microsoft be better off going the route of releasing just one Forza and one Forza Horizon next gen and keep including episodic DLC and events to keep fans of the series resubbing than to make a new game every 2 years? If it is now subscription based model for Xbox, it would make more sense to work on DLC add ons rather than the extra work of a newer game as you can keep sending out newer content and keep the game in people's minds.
 
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smithg5

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a perfect GamePass exclusive would be a game that would usually be free 2 play with microtransactions to finance it.

take out the microtransactions, make it gamepass exclusive, have regular updates and events

that's how a GamePass exclusive could be done

This is a great point. Online games in general make good candidates for this kind of move since they're already somewhat ephemeral.
 
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01011001

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This is a great point. Online games in general make good candidates for this kind of move since they're already somewhat ephemeral.

exactly, and honestly, Sea of Thieves already almost works like this.
the game has a massive GamePass presence IMO, every time I saw someone stream the game (like Summit) he and his chat always brought up how it's in gamepass.

the game wouldn't be nearly as successful without it and I also think many got into gamepass because of the game at first.
 
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Nikana

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a perfect GamePass exclusive would be a game that would usually be free 2 play with microtransactions to finance it.

take out the microtransactions, make it gamepass exclusive, have regular updates and events

that's how a GamePass exclusive could be done

Thats just a regular game at that point? If you take out the MT then you might as well put it out on the store as well?
 

smithg5

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Thats just a regular game at that point? If you take out the MT then you might as well put it out on the store as well?

I think his point is that all of the consumer downsides of a GamePass exclusives are largely shared by free-to-play games, so nothing would really be lost in shifting the strategy of such a game to GamePass exclusive.
 
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Nikana

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I think his point is that all of the consumer downsides of a GamePass exclusives are largely shared by free-to-play games, so nothing would really be lost in shifting the strategy of such a game to GamePass exclusive.

Except market penetration. I feel like you would need a massive amount of subs to justify this. Talking 80 mil or higher.
 

smithg5

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Except market penetration. I feel like you would need a massive amount of subs to justify this. Talking 80 mil or higher.

We're talking about Microsoft doing this, so the whole point of creating a game like this is to draw in new subs and get re-subs.
 

Nikana

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We're talking about Microsoft doing this, so the whole point of creating a game like this is to draw in new subs and get re-subs.

Maybe I am not understanding then. If the same negatives are there then it doesn't make any sense to make something game pass exclusive when their other titles with a more "traditional"to profitability is on the service and thats not going to change as of right now. Trying to sell a people on a FTP model game thats held up by GP doesn't make much sense to me as it will immediately be an outlier and be seen as inferior the same way FTP games are right now in the market.
 

Vawn

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How exactly does GP deny you anything? It's not like GP games aren't available for sale on the MS store or in every gamestop. Find a more rational argument to discredit GP please.

Isn't that the entire premise of this thread? Making games that would ONLY be available through a GamePass rental subscription?
 

smithg5

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Maybe I am not understanding then. If the same negatives are there then it doesn't make any sense to make something game pass exclusive when their other titles with a more "traditional"to profitability is on the service and thats not going to change as of right now. Trying to sell a people on a FTP model game thats held up by GP doesn't make much sense to me as it will immediately be an outlier and be seen as inferior the same way FTP games are right now in the market.

The point is to make GamePass seem highly desirable from the outside with exclusives. How do you make a game exclusive to GamePass without angering fans? It would be hard to do that with Gears 6 or Forza 8, but some new battle royale game being exclusive to GamePass isn't going to stir up a pitchfork mob, and it might attract enough people to sub/resub (especially when added to a growing list of games and other exclusives).
 
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Vawn

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a perfect GamePass exclusive would be a game that would usually be free 2 play with microtransactions to finance it.

take out the microtransactions, make it gamepass exclusive, have regular updates and events

that's how a GamePass exclusive could be done

So basically putting Free to Play games behind a monthly paywall and then looking to heavily monetize it further from there?

I'm sure that might be profitable, but I don't want to hear "consumer friendly" associated with that nonsense.
 

Nikana

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The point is to make GamePass seem highly desirable from the outside with exclusives. How do you make a game exclusive to GamePass without angering fans? It would be hard to do that with Gears 6 or Forza 8, but some new battle royale game being exclusive to GamePass isn't going to stir up a pitchfork mob, and it might attract enough people to sub/resub (especially when added to a growing list of games and other exclusives).
Gtocha, wasnt clicking with me. That makes sense.
 

NickFire

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I don't know about this idea. But I'm not going to dismiss it outright. If they have a stellar MMO that would normally require a subscription, I think it might work, attract a lot of attention to game pass, and possibly be accepted as a great deal since you get everything else gamepass has to offer and save the start up cost. Outside of that, I'm not as confident. It might leave a lot of money on the table while alienating loyal spenders who just don't care for subs.
 

01011001

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So basically putting Free to Play games behind a monthly paywall and then looking to heavily monetize it further from there?

I'm sure that might be profitable, but I don't want to hear "consumer friendly" associated with that nonsense.

what about "take out microtransactions" did you not undertake here?