In a move that looks familiar to cell phone providers, Microsoft is looking to give subscribers hardware for a monthly fee. That’s right, there might soon come a day when those who want an Xbox can get one for very little up front and start playing tons of games right away. This style has worked well for phone carriers, so it was only a matter of time before another industry tried it on for size.
Free Xbox? No Way
Okay, free might be a strong word. Customers will pay for the Xbox monthly over a two-year period. The cool thing is that it is going to include an Xbox Live subscription and access to Xbox’s Game Pass service. The Game Pass is pretty awesome, allowing players to access tons of games (and all first-party Microsoft games) right out of the gate. That’s a pretty unprecedented set up in gaming, but it makes sense. Microsoft has stated they want to be the Netflix of games. Well, this is certainly a way to do that very thing.
Sony has been killing Microsoft in hardware sales with the PS4. It’s been no contest for years, as Microsoft lagged further and further behind. When Nintendo launched the Switch to critical and commercial acclaim, it’s pretty clear Microsoft had to switch tactics. The decision to go to a game-streaming, console-lending business model is drastic, but it makes total sense. They were very far behind Sony, and without a clear niche like Nintendo, they needed a way to stand out.
Early reports say there will be two pricing tiers for the service. The first will include the standard Xbox One S and run at $22 per month. The second would include the beefier Xbox One X and cost $35 per month. In either event, after paying the monthly fees for two years, the hardware is yours. You’re able to keep your subscriptions to Xbox Live and Game Pass after that point, of course. All said, those prices are actually quite reasonable when you consider the sheer number of games on the Game Pass service.
If the future of gaming follows the track of music and video, streaming services will rule the day. Microsoft, at least, seems to think so. After all, the internet provides unique opportunities for content distribution. Without the market saturation and hardware base of Sony, Microsoft needed a way to get their games into households. Really, what better method is there to do that other than just giving the system away? Well, sort of.