One does not simply compare Xbox Game Pass to Spotify or Netflix

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Dec 17, 2013
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Xbox Game Pass is different.
The UK's big pandemic lockdown finally lifted in England this past week, allowing me to see an old friend for the first time in years. A busy chap with three kids, my pal doesn't get a huge amount of time behind the joysticks anymore, but he does jump on for an occasional run at FIFA and Call of Duty. I asked if he had Xbox Game Pass, given that EA Play is now included as part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. Despite being an Xbox player, I was surprised when he said that he didn't even know what Xbox Game Pass is.
Indeed, the world still doesn't know about Xbox Game Pass, despite some pretty hefty marketing from Microsoft. To explain it simply, I've often fallen back on comparisons to Netflix or Spotify, as a way to very quickly elaborate on its "all you can eat" subscriptive nature. However, some of the discourse on social media uses the comparisons to put down Game Pass, hiding behind a veil of "think of the devs!" while drawing comparisons to how little musicians are paid on Spotify, or how streaming services have slaughtered CDs, DVD, and Bluray sales.
Spotify added a donation button to its service last year, as musicians felt the pinch from live shows being canceled across the world. The Guardian called it a "tacit admission" that Spotify wasn't paying musicians the royalties they deserve. Some think Xbox Game Pass could eventually go the same way, lowering the value of games by dissuading purchases at retail, while they wait for a title to appear on Game Pass. Is this a possible scenario? Is it a comparable situation?
Let's explore the experiment that is Xbox Game Pass, and why at least in 2021, the comparisons to the Netflix and Spotify business models don't really hold up.

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