Xbox’s Netflix-like service for games may cripple GameSpot
In something of an ironic twist, it appears that technology may end up being a bad thing for GameStop. Following the announcement that Xbox is preparing to introduce a new Netflix-like service for games, shares in the retail gaming giant fell 10-percent.
Microsoft’s new Game Pass will offer gamers access to over 100 games, both Xbox One titles and Xbox 360 games that are backwards compatible. A complete list hasn’t been provided yet, but the service will cost gamers $10 a month. A few of the titles mentioned include Halo 5: Guardians, Payday 2, NBA 2K16 and SoulCalibur II. Titles will frequently be rotated in and out.
Microsoft also went on to state that the service will allow subscribers to download the game rather than stream it, but it’s not clear how exactly that will work. It did go on to say that if the user wants to then purchase the game outright, they will have the option of doing so at a special price. A release date wasn’t given beyond Spring 2017, but it is being tested right now.
The service is similar to Sony’s PlayStation Now, although Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass will be half the price, offer downloads rather than streaming games, and introduce the option to buy the games digitally. While that clearly give Microsoft an advantage, don’t be surprised to see Sony change PlayStation Now to match Microsoft.
While this is all good news for gamers, it’s a blow to GameSpot, which relies on the sale of used games. In 2015, pre-owned game sales accounted for about 25-percent of the company’s revenue, and 47-percent of its gross profits. With services like the Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Now, and even to a degree rental service likes Redbox, there are more ways than ever for gamers to try out the games that in the past they would have had to buy.
Although you can argue that GameSpot and used game sales have been good for the industry, Microsoft and numerous publishers have made no secret of their disdain for the practice. Electronic Arts tried to curtail this by requiring a one-time use code to unlock the online features of a game, but it was almost universally hated by gamers.
Prior to the launch of the Xbox One, there was also talk that Microsoft was planning on including some sort of lock on games that would mean that they could only be played on one console. Not only would that have killed the used industry on the Xbox One, it would have also stopped rentals and the ability to loan out games to people.
Soon after Sony was quick to announce that its then-upcoming PlayStation 4 would never lock its games. It was a terrible look for Microsoft and a huge boost for Sony in the hype-wars leading up to the launch of the new generation of consoles. Microsoft soon scrapped the plan.
Microsoft, of course, didn’t confirm that the Game Pass was a response to used games – and they probably never will – but the results may be the same.
GameSpot’s stock will almost certainly recover, at least in the short term, but the writing may be on the wall.