Xbox Game Pass and Playstation Now are two game services that allow access to over a hundred games. On the surface they seem like simple bullet points to sell you on a console but behind the scenes both these services could very well be the future of how gaming will be delivered.
The Future of Gaming
Certain gamers reading that last sentence may have immediately discredited anything else in this article. “I’ll never play in that digital future!” a gamer would claim holding their physical copy of God of War or original Halo game. Believe me, I know how you feel. It’s hard to picture but a similar fate has happened to every other medium. Music is no longer dominated by CD’s and movies are enjoyed on Netflix instantly. Day one pre downloads are already pretty popular. Eventually it won’t be uncommon for gamers to just own a majority of their games digitally. The PC crowd already does this and it’s that digital library that will retain you to an Xbox and PS device.
It has been said with the release of Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft has created the Netflix of gaming. What isn’t set in stone is whether or not Microsoft will become the default choice of gaming like how Netflix is cemented as the must have video streaming service. Now that Sony has caught up with their download game option what was once hindered by slow internet connections has now become a viable option to play a huge library of Playstation games. So which will become the dominant service?
Right now I don’t believe either company is in a position to claim the throne. Both companies are still hesitant in going all in with their resources behind their subscription services.
History Repeats Itself
First of all, Microsoft doesn’t have the first party content to make Game Pass a competitive option against Sony’s first party support. This E3 we saw Microsoft finally investing on that front making it loud and clear that the company was fully supporting the Xbox brand.
Unfortunately for team Xbox, unless they acquire a company like Capcom or Ubisoft, those new investments are still in a cloud of uncertainty. We don’t know whether or not the acquired companies will put out good content and whether or not Microsoft will support them if they don’t.
Some may not remember but Microsoft made a similar play liked this before the Xbox One’s launch. They acquired studios like Press Play, Twisted Pixel, Big Park, and even set up studios like Team Dakota for new IP’s and shut them all down once their work wasn’t another Halo success.
"Wilson's Heart packs a narrative punch into a virtual reality experience like no other game before it."https://t.co/7TXe7F9pVa
— Twisted Pixel (@twisted_pixel) September 16, 2018
Twisted Pixel the studio that used to make fun small scale Xbox titles now makes exclusive VR content for Oculus.
The only true option Microsoft is yet to try is to skip the uncertainty phase by just acquiring a big studio instead of shutting down smaller ones after they don’t produce on the same scale as a Forza tittle.
Why Innovate when you have the Lead
Sony’s issue is that it is still not sure whether or not to go all in on PS Now. Unlike Game Pass, PS Now does not allow you to play the latest first party Playstation game like God of War 4 on the day of release. Sony is in the lead, they don’t need to sacrifice some of their sales to get more subscribers. Why put a new game in the service when they know the game will sell well on its own?
Not only that but if Microsoft puts Game Pass out on PC that would mean Sony would have to follow suit or risk a huge loss of a lead. But at that point they would lose another selling point of having their games exclusively on a console. Unlike Microsoft, Sony does not want to release games on the PC. It would be a stepping stone for a Playstation gamer to move onto a PC service like Steam.
Being the head of the pack means Sony is trying to make sure nothing changes that will challenge their position.
And the Winner Is?
If Sony were to put all of its games on PS Now the service would become a killer selling point. Not only would it have everything the Xbox Game Pass service has, it would also have some of the highest reviewed exclusive titles in the industry.
Currently as it stands all signs point towards Sony winning the subscription game service war. They have all the cards they need to win, they just don’t want to play them because they already won this generation with the PS4.
Spider-Man for the PS4 shows how Sony is making all the correct plays when it comes to gaming content.
Microsoft’s history of presenting new innovative products but losing the lead is all too well known. Windows Phone, Kinect, Tablets, A.I., Microsoft was ahead of the game in all of these areas but let their opportunity slip by. Sony could easily take advantage of their position as the front of the pack and just copy any innovations Microsoft pulls off. It worked for Google and Apple when Windows Phone was released.
On the other hand if things continue as they are with Sony dragging its feet then Microsoft has the opportunity to catch up in the first party department. Microsoft needs to acquire gaming content and quick. Having years in which only three games are released each with mediocre review scores is just not going to cut it.
The very next console generation may very well dictate which company is the must have service. Both companies will need to put their full resources behind their services to become the true Netflix of gaming.