Xbox Game Pass has been a blessing to legions of players over the past few years, but it looks like not everyone is so positive about the service. Former Xbox Vice President of Game Publishing Ed Fries recently sat down with the Xbox Expansion Pass podcast to give his thoughts on the impact Game Pass could have on the industry as a whole. When asked what he would do if he were still a part of Microsoft’s gaming team in 2022, Fries mentioned the possibility of Game Pass becoming to games what Spotify became to the music industry.
“When Spotify took off it destroyed the music business, it literally cut the annual revenue of the music business in half. It’s made it so people just don’t buy songs anymore,” Fries claimed. “People don’t buy songs on iPhone for example, because why would you? They’re all on your subscription service app. Apple’s said they’re going to take away buying songs because no one’s buying them anymore. So we have to be careful we don’t create the same system in the game business.”
Music industry journalist Tim Ingham has refuted Fries’ claims about streaming’s impact on the music industry.
“Spotify didn’t cut the music business in half – piracy did. Spotify, and the cloud-based technology on which it relies, actually gave music fans a more convenient, legal, and monetized alternative to piracy,” he countered.
Microsoft and PlayStation have both gone on the record claiming that they don’t believe that subscriptions will ever become the dominant model in the gaming industry.
“These markets are more fragile than people realize. I saw the games industry destroy itself in the early 80s. I saw the educational software business destroy itself in the mid-90s… they literally destroyed a multi-billion dollar market in a few years. “So Game Pass makes me nervous. As a customer, I love it. I love Spotify as a customer: I have all the songs I’d ever want… it’s a great deal as a customer. But it isn’t necessarily great for the industry,” Fries said.
Xbox Game Pass was originally launched in 2017. The service offers members access to over 100 titles for a monthly fee.