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Former Microsoft exec "nervous" about how Xbox Game Pass might shape the industry

"Game Pass scares me because there’s a somewhat analogous thing called Spotify that was created for the music business."

Chris Kerr, News Editor

May 23, 2022

2 Min Read
A visualisation of some of the titles available on Xbox Game Pass

Microsoft's former vice president of games publishing, Ed Fries, is "nervous" about the impact Xbox Game Pass might have on the games industry.

As spotted by VGC, Fries outlined his concerns during a recent interview with Xbox Expansion Pass in response to a question about what he'd do if he were still involved with Microsoft's video game business.

In reponse, the veteran exec, who spent almost 18 years at Microsoft between 1986 and 2004, suggested platform holders need to think carefully about which business models they utilize, and said subscription services like Game Pass could harm the games industry in the long-term.

"The one thing that they’re doing that makes me nervous is Game Pass. Game Pass scares me because there’s a somewhat analogous thing called Spotify that was created for the music business," said Fries. "When Spotify took off it destroyed the music business, it literally cut the annual revenue of the music business in half."

Fries claimed that people don't really buy songs on their smartphones anymore because they're all on subscriptions services, and said companies like Microsoft need to be careful they don't encourage similar habits with their own subscription offerings.

"These markets are more fragile than people realise. I saw the games industry destroy itself in the early 80s. I saw the educational software business destroy itself in the mid-90s… they literally destroyed a multi-billion dollar market in a few years," Fries continued.

"So Game Pass makes me nervous. As a customer, I love it. I love Spotify as a customer: I have all the songs I’d ever want -- it’s a great deal as a customer. But it isn’t necessarily great for the industry."

Fries did concede, however, that it might not be possible for options like Game Pass to monopolize the market in the same way as Spotify, and pointed out that the "percentage of all games that are on Game Pass is still tiny."

You can hear the full interview with Fries over on the Xbox Expansion Pass YouTube channel.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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