Microsoft's Xbox division is reportedly exploring the introduction of free game streaming on its xCloud service, supported by advertisements.
This strategy, reminiscent of mobile gaming models, aims to democratize access to gaming, particularly in regions where traditional console gaming has less presence.
"Microsoft had been surveying players about the possibility of introducing a cheaper, ad-supported tier of Xbox Game Pass."— ZANE WICKMAN (@ZANEJWICKMAN) December 11, 2023
This wouldn't alter what GAME PASS is. It would just be an added tier. Something cheap for those that wanna try the service or are on a strict budget.
Xbox gaming CFO Tim Stuart, speaking at the Wells Fargo TMT Summit, hinted at this potential shift.
"The vision I like to talk about is we have xCloud game streaming, so you can subscribe to Game Pass Ultimate and you can stream hundreds of games to any endpoint that has a browser experience," Stuart said.
He further illustrated the company's focus on emerging markets, mentioning that "for models like Africa, or India, Southeast Asia, maybe places that aren’t console-first, you can say, 'hey, do you want to watch 30 seconds of an ad and then get two hours of game streaming'?"
What Does This Mean For Your Wallet?
This approach by Xbox comes amidst the backdrop of rising subscription costs for gaming services.
Recently, Xbox increased the price of Game Pass Ultimate and discontinued its $1 introductory offer. Similarly, Sony adjusted its PlayStation Plus pricing, raising costs for certain tiers.
These changes position the potential ad-supported model as an innovative solution to make gaming more affordable, especially in markets with younger demographics and limited disposable income.
This is really gross. We pay for the console, pay for GamePass, and pay for any games we play on the thing. Full-screen intrusive ads would only be acceptable if a discounted ad-supported GP tier, or discounted console with ads existed. This is unacceptable #Xbox— Dan (@Sir_Danno) November 3, 2023
While the implementation details and timeline remain unclear, the concept of an ad-supported Game Pass tier could disrupt the traditional gaming business model, making premium content more accessible.
As the gaming world awaits further details, the prospect of Xbox's ad-supported streaming highlights a growing trend in the industry: Adapting business models to meet diverse consumer needs and economic realities globally.