CEO of Microsoft Gaming Phil Spencer spoke about the possibility of price increases for consoles, games and Game Pass at the Wall Street Journal’s annual Tech Live conference (thanks to The Verge for transcribing.) “We’ve held price on our console, we’ve held price on games and our subscription. I don’t think we’ll be able to do that forever,” Spencer admits. “I do think at some point we’ll have to raise some prices on certain things.” He was quick to point out, though, that these changes wouldn’t come into effect this holiday season, as Microsoft wants to “maintain the prices that we have.”
A potential price hike for Game Pass isn’t too unexpected. Similar subscriptions in the entertainment industry, like Netflix and Disney+, have recently increased their monthly prices over ballooning user retention costs and an expected global recession. But, this news comes amidst what Spencer calls “incredible growth on PC.” Microsoft’s most recent quarterly report reveals that PC Game Pass subscribers grew by 159% year-over-year. However, Spencer does admit that he’s seen “growth slow down” on console subscriptions. This is likely due to a growing install base, or perhaps first-party delays for Starfield and Redfall – both of which were planned for a 2022 release on Game Pass.
Spencer also reiterated his plans for Call Of Duty when and if Microsoft’s proposed Activision Blizzard acquisition closes. “Call Of Duty specifically will be available on PlayStation. I’d love to see it on the Switch… Our intent is to treat CoD like Minecraft.” This news is important as UK regulators are currently investigating the deal over “competition concerns,” citing Call Of Duty exclusivity as one potential problem.
While Spencer seems to be playing nice with rival console manufacturers, he wasn’t shy about Microsoft’s other competitors, Google and Apple. “It’s definitely true today that the largest gaming platform on the planet, which is a mobile phone, is controlled by two companies: Google and Apple,” says Spencer. “We have to break that duology of only two storefronts available on the largest platforms.” Microsoft had previously supported Epic Games in their fight to keep Fortnite on mobile storefronts. Since then, Fortnite has become playable on smartphones and Steam Deck via Microsoft’s streaming tech. Apple doesn’t currently allow rival storefronts on their devices, but streaming could be a way around the issue. For example, many Game Pass titles are already playable on smartphones through Xbox Cloud Gaming.
We likely won’t hear about any Xbox price hikes, mobile storefronts, or CoD plans for a while. But, in the meantime, Game Pass subscribers have a lot to look forward to – while the service is still nice and affordable. Persona 5, the JRPG King, just launched onto the service and it should keep players occupied through the holiday months. And on November 15th we’ll be getting Obsidian’s medieval adventure game Pentiment, alongside the dystopian sci-fi game Somerville. Lots to look forward to for now.