The FTC appealed their case vs Microsoft, which they lost in a rapid decision from District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley. That appeal is being heard at the 9th appeals court, and it is in these unlikeliest of situations that indie devs made their defense of Game Pass.
A group of indie devs, including Curve Digital, iam8bit, Finji, Strange Scaffold and Studio Wildcard, came together to file an amicus brief to the 9th appeals court. Among the reasons that they share in their brief that they support Microsoft’s deal is the merits they have found in Game Pass.
As reported by Stephen Totilo, these are the key passages in the brief that specifically talked about Game Pass:
“Subscription services like Game Pass are crucial to the success of indie games. They increase the odds that players will discover indie games, and lower the cost for players to try them when they do, since players would otherwise have to buy indie games outright.
By lowering the barrier to trying new games, subscription services like Game Pass increase the odds that indie games can break through into a viable, revenue-generating level of players and viewership.
Moreover, visibility for an indie game on one platform – like appearing among the most popular games on Game Pass – frequently translated to greater visibility and awareness (and therefore more players, and more revenue) for that game on other platforms where it is available, like Steam or PlayStation.
In these ways, Game Pass is actually an important mechanism for increasing competition in gaming, because it promotes a market where indie games can achieve and increase financial viability for their current and future games, across all platforms where they appear.”
So as these devs argue, Game Pass provides an alternative path for indies to become visible, than having to make it on Steam or PlayStation. Those platforms do have their own visibility tools and tricks, and they also have indies that they can say are loyal to their respective platform.
But the nature of how Game Pass works means the potential visibility an unknown indie can get, has that much less friction to get Xbox users to try their games.
While many critics raise questions about Xbox’s viability, and particularly if they make enough money to justify their costs, Microsoft has been consistently reporting that Game Pass has been doing well from them. As these indies say, they feel they are doing better working with Microsoft to get their games on Game Pass. That’s one more to add in favor of Game Pass. We suspect that there are even more devs who are quietly benefiting from Game Pass and want to see it keep soldering on, even if they don’t attest to it in court.