The Xbox Game Pass has only been available for a short while now, but it seems to be having a greater positive effect on smaller indie game developers than expected. Currently, users can subscribe for $10 per month for the PC version or link with an Xbox Game Pass for the Xbox One for $15 a month, gaining access to a large library of games.
This allows players to experience a little bit of everything without necessarily committing to a single game at full price. This is great for players who are simply too busy to play longer games all the way through, and would prefer to weave in various titles over a longer period of time. Not only is the service popular with consumers, it also appears that developers are benefiting as well by providing an additional level of unexpected advertising.
In a recent interview with GamesIndustry, creator Mike Rose spoke about how the service affected sale for Descenders, which has now been played by 600,000 consumers:
“It surprised me. Being on Xbox Game Pass means that you basically have constant featuring on Xbox. Your game is on the dashboard all the time... People are seeing our game every day. And because of that, during launch month, our Xbox sales — we didn't do any discounts on it or anything — quadrupled, and have now settled to about three times as much as before. It's essentially an advert; a straight-up advert.”
This is one of the first times that a developer has spoken directly about the positive secondary effects of being included in the new subscription service offered by Microsoft. Normally, the statements of how good the partnership comes directly from Microsoft, but without any data to back up the claim.
In this way, the subscription may be utilized as a sort of try before you buy service. While some users will certainly appreciate a broad selection of games, others may simply view the price point as a great way to sample many games and then make their purchasing decision. With indie games, the boost in sales may be a combination of having consumers test the game first, then be swayed by the price point - often far lower than AAA titles.
In any case, the unexpected benefit is simply one more reason to expect video game subscription services to grow in number and popularity. It may also be a gateway for smaller indie developers to have their games reach more consumers than they would otherwise do on their own.