Former PlayStation boss Shawn Layden and his new comments about Xbox Game Pass and whether it's sustainable aren't sitting well with the Xbox community. During an interview with GamesIndustry, Layden questioned whether anyone in the industry will be able to recoup the investment of starting a subscription service, especially if they are also bankrolling $120 million games, which PlayStation was when under the leadership of Layden. While talking about this, Layden never brings up Xbox Game Pass by name, but as the leading subscription service in the industry, when you question the sustainability of subscription services in the game industry, you question Xbox Game Pass.
According to Layden, it's difficult to launch a $120 million game on a subscription service charging $10 a month. Of course, $120 million is only the start of costs. Marketing is often as much, if not double or more the cost of making the actual game. And of course, simply turning a profit isn't enough when you have investors, aka the profit margins need to be at least bigger than they would be if you were selling each and every game included the conventional way.
"It's very hard to launch a $120m game on a subscription service charging $9.99 a month," said Layden speaking about subscription services in gaming, including Xbox Game Pass. "You pencil it out, you're going to have to have 500 million subscribers before you start to recoup your investment. That's why right now you need to take a loss-leading position to try to grow that base. But still, if you have only 250 million consoles out there, you're not going to get to half a billion subscribers. So how do you circle that square? Nobody has figured that out yet."
As noted, many Xbox fans have taken umbrage with Layden's claim, though it's hard to refute what the former PlayStation executive is saying because Microsoft -- at best -- is hazy when it comes to disclosing the profit margins of Xbox Game Pass.
What Are You Talking About?
But Shawn, people are still buying games, and DLC, and micro transactions. I don't ever recall a game to be exclusive to a "subscription service" and not available on retail.
What are you talking about ?— Cassim Ketfi (@NotCassim) July 27, 2021
A Terrible Take
This is a terrible take from someone who should know better… especially when we’ve had literal examples of AAA games launching into #XboxGamePass and absolutely thriving. The diversity quip is also tone-deaf; last I checked Xbox had more diversity in their lineup than his 1/2 https://t.co/MNukmqnOSm— Knottian | XboxEra #BLM (@DigitalScientst) July 27, 2021
Hard for PlayStation Maybe
Leave it to Xbox to achieve that which you consider hard. pic.twitter.com/knDOQGgIva— JAYROCK👑♟️ (@_JaY_R0ck_) July 27, 2021
Microsoft Isn't Sony
its very hard for Sony obviously— 𝕋𝔼ℝℝ𝕆ℝ 𝔹𝕀𝕃𝕃𝕐 (@BJ_Terror_Billy) July 27, 2021
but Microsoft isnt Sony
Microsoft investors prolly wipe their ass with more money than Jim Ryan's salary
Lack of Diversity on Xbox? Don't Think So
I'm not worried about diversity with gamepass. Flight Sim, Forza, Redfall Starfield, Sea of Thieves, Battletoads, Gears Tactics, Halo. Feels diverse to me.
Nintendo has a ton of diversity too.
There's only one platform doubling down on ONE type of game and it's not Xbox or N.— Patrick Argonar (@Icepickdanza) July 27, 2021
What Is This a Quote From Pineapple Express?
Shawn Layden on #XboxGamePass: "It's very hard to launch a $120m game on a subscription service charging $9.99 a month. You pencil it out, you're going to have to have 500 million subscribers before you start to recoup your investment." pic.twitter.com/w8S5OcZy3m— Gaz (@Gazondaily) July 27, 2021
Is Shawn Layden Taking Swings at Xbox?
"Ex PlayStation exec takes a swing at Gamepass" should be the headline.
Gamepass brings diversity with the variety of games, it brings players to games that they might not have necessarily brought.— Revenator (@Revenator3) July 27, 2021
Gamepass makes gaming more affordable to people who are on low incomes. https://t.co/m3YHaLZkT8
Consumers Don't Need to Care
If you are worried about Game Pass' sustainability for some reason, remember you are the one paying $9.99, not $120m. https://t.co/WiVrZouiuo— Bruno Costa | XboxEra (@brunocosta1_) July 27, 2021
It remains to be seen whether or not Xbox Game Pass is sustainable and whether it can co-exist with massive AAA game development. Phil Spencer and co. sure seme to think so, while other industry veterans are less than convinced. As the cliche goes, only time will tell.prev