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With much of Xbox' playerbase already converted to Game Pass, Microsoft has dreams of taking the service to its distinguished console competitors.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

November 30, 2023

2 Min Read
Key art for Xbox Game Pass, featuring 1st and 3rd-party titles such as Redfall and Age of Empires IV: Anniversary Edition.
Image via Microsoft.

Microsoft's ultimate endgame for Xbox Game Pass? Bring everywhere possible, including to its rival console competitors. 

Xbox's chief financial officer Tim Stuart said as much during a recent Wells Fargo summit. The tech company wants to bring the subscription-based service "to every screen that can play a game. That means smart TVs [and] mobile devices, that means what we would have thought of as competitors in the past like PlayStation and Nintendo."

In the past, Microsoft has made clear it wants Game Pass to bring in more subscribers, in turn building on the larger Xbox ecosystem. But with the service now growing into a larger arm of its revenue plans alongside ads and its first-party lineup, Microsoft has decided to enact a "change of strategy." 

Stuart was quick to say that this isn't part of some larger announcement, just a broad thesis overall. Still, he highlighted Xbox's new relationship with Nvidia GeForce Now as an example of how it wants to expand its margins and operating leverage. 

"You go from what was a lower margin third-party entity that we sold on our store to a high margin first-party business," he continued. "When you think about the Xbox component of Call of Duty, you go from that low margin business to a high margin business. Then what you do is you also expand and say, we’re now driving high margin sales on PlayStation, on Nintendo."

Getting that higher margin business was part of the reasoning behind acquiring Activision Blizzard, which he said provided a faster way to get there versus building out a new end point organically.

Is Game Pass on non-Xbox consoles possible?

Whether or not the other two platform holders will play ball with Microsoft's desires is another matter entirely. Microsoft had no trouble bringing the two Ori games to the Nintendo Switch and ensuring it'll get Call of Duty games for the next decade. But things with Sony are considerably more complicated, largely thanks to the shooter series. 

Sony actively did whatever it could to try and prevent Microsoft from snatching up Activision Blizzard. Call of Duty is a large third-party revenue driver for PlayStation and has been for years, but Sony believed (fairly or not) that the franchise and the subsequent revenue would be lost to it forever, at least until it and Microsoft struck a similar 10-year deal.

The idea of a single system that can play Xbox, Nintendo, and Sony games has long been discussed and hoped for. While Game Pass being allowed on the next PlayStation or Nintendo system isn't quite that, it would be interesting to see Microsoft pull off (or try to), if only because of the path taken to get there.

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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