In an interview with German-language publication GameStar, Xbox boss Phil Spencer explained why fans shouldn’t expect to see Game Pass on PlayStation or Nintendo consoles.
The thing about other gaming console platforms is we’re not able to bring a full Xbox experience on those platforms. In places where we have brought Xbox – mobile phones like we’re doing now with Project xCloud with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate [and] what we’ve done with PC bringing our full Xbox experience there – we know when somebody is playing one of our Xbox games there is an expectation that they’ve got their Xbox Live community, they have their Achievements, Game Pass is an option, my first-party library is completely there.
Competing platforms “really aren’t interested in having a full Xbox experience on their hardware,” said Spencer. The Xbox team wants to be “where gamers want to be” though, comments which support the growth of Xbox services and not just hardware.
These comments stand in stark contrast to comments that Xbox team members made less than a year ago. In August 2019, Xbox head of gaming services Ben Decker told Gamereactor.eu that the team “would love to see Game Pass really go everywhere.”
It is laudable that the Xbox team wanted to enable the subscription service on every platform. The subscription service provides extraordinary good value for money, with over 10 million subscribers at the last count.
The service can be seen as another gamer-friendly move from the Xbox team. This is the same team that has also pushed for free upgrades for cross-generation games and will make thousands of games available on the Xbox Series X at launch with backward compatibility.
The Xbox team can’t strong-arm Sony, or Nintendo (which it has a good relationship with) into allowing Xbox features. Xbox Game Pass is a direct competitor to Sony’s own game streaming service, PlayStation Now. Nintendo doesn’t have a competing service but analysts have suggested that it will only be a matter of time.
If Xbox’s subscription service was available on PS5 or Nintendo Switch, the platform holder would be able to take their industry-standard 30% cut from each subscription made through their stores. It would also erode PlayStation and Nintendo brand loyalty, bolstering one of the biggest weapons the Xbox team has in the console war.