As the acquisition deal proposed by Microsoft for Activision Blizzard continues to face obstacle after obstacle, a new finding has emerged from the UK Competition and Markets Authority’s provisional report on the deal that makes for interesting reading. Contrary to earlier claims, it seems that putting games onto the Game Pass subscription service actually adversely impacts the sales of those titles, as reported by GamesIndustry.biz.
“Microsoft also submitted that its internal analysis shows a [redacted]% decline in base game sales twelve months following their addition on Game Pass,” the CMA noted.
Of course, this messaging was notably rebuffed by Xbox head Phil Spencer when speaking to the same media, and stated that having games on the Game Pass service actually boosted sales instead.
“When you put a game like Forza Horizon 4 on Game Pass, you instantly have more players of the game, which is actually leading to more sales of the game,” Spencer shared back then. “You say, ‘Well isn’t everyone just going to subscribe for $10 and go play this thing?’ But no, gamers find things to play based on what everybody else is playing.”
Considering that a subscription allows players to access a variety of games, including first-party releases day and date, that statement always felt more like a marketing tactic than a true fact. Compared to a full-price purchase, a cheaper subscription fee made more sense, with money going to Microsoft instead of the studios making the game beyond the deal made for putting their game on Game Pass.
In addition, the CMA report also cited that Activision was not on board with putting its titles into multi-game subscription services on any platform, with the view that it would “severely cannibalise B2P [buy-to-play] sales, particularly in the case of newer releases.”
Whether this admission will cause any change in direction for the Xbox side of things when it comes to Game Pass remains to be seen. For now, it is advisable for players to get the best deal possible, so a Game Pass subscription is always going to be a good deal while it lasts.