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How much does it take to become Xbox's next Game Pass title?

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

September 19, 2023

2 Min Read
Key art for Larian Studios' Baldur's Gate 3 showing the game's playable characters/companions.

Xbox's recent leak has revealed much about Microsoft's plans for its flagship console, including how much it costs to bring big third-party games to Xbox Game Pass. The 2020 documents accidentally made public by Microsoft show that major publishers want their games on the service for anywhere between $100 million-$300 million. 

Specifics on how much Microsoft pays for Game Pass titles have always been elusive, which these documents help to clear up. They also provide an insight into how much Microsoft projects these titles will resonate with players in terms of playtime, which helps determine how worthwhile it is to pursue these deals. 

For example, it expected EA to want $300 million for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor (which released this past April), in turn translating to 100 million hours of overall playtime. But the pursuit was turned down since EA considers the Jedi games a "crown jewel."

Similarly, the newly released Mortal Kombat 1 (labeled "Mortal Kombat Next" in the document) was projected to go for $250 million and 100 million hours of play. Like Jedi Survivor, the fighting game was deemed a crown jewel for WB, and the then-recent shakeups from the Warner Bros. Discovery merger further made that a non-starter.

Xbox is always hunting for the next big Game Pass title

Plenty of third-party studios and games from the last several years or months are featured in the document. Some of these (like Red Dead Redemption II and Grand Theft Auto V) have come to Game Pass; those that didn't were replaced with titles earlier in their respective franchises (see: Mortal Kombat 11 and Assassin's Creed Origins). 

The most interesting of the bunch, though, is Larian's Baldur's Gate 3. Microsoft was prepared to bring it to Game Pass for $5 million, since it was originally revealed (and released in Early Access) for the now-defunct Google Stadia. 

By this point in time, Baldur's Gate 3 has ended up being one of the biggest games of 2023, and likely has made enough money that exceeds that $5 million asking price. No one could've predicted how this game would've shaken out back then, something Larian's publishing head Michael Douse acknowledged on Twitter.

"There just isn’t any existing data that could have told anyone how BG3 was going to perform," wrote Douse. "Same with Divinity Original Sin II. [...] We just had to take giant spooky leaps."

The full list of potential Game Pass candidates and how much Microsoft predicted they would be sold for can be read here. Other games in the list include Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League and Assassin's Creed Mirage

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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