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Former PlayStation CEO Calls Xbox Game Pass ‘Unsustainable’

Sony Interactive Entertainment | Microsoft

Written by 

Tom Chapman

Posted 

29th Jul 2021 13:49

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Shots have been fired from camp Sony, as the former PlayStation CEO has hurled a mortar bomb at Microsoft and called out the rival company for having an "unsustainable" Xbox Game Pass model. As both sides continue to gather their troops in the console wars of the next generation, the battle lines have been drawn.

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During his time at Sony, Shawn Layden held some impressive positions, including being CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, Vice President of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, and President of SCE Japan.

When he left in 2019, he was Chairman of Worldwide Studios. Safe to say, Layden is a pretty big deal who has some serious sway in the industry.

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What did the former PlayStation CEO say about the Xbox Game Pass?

In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Layden discussed the business model of the Xbox Game pass and whether Sony should be concerned. "It’s very hard to launch a $120m game on a subscription service charging $9.99 a month,” said Layden. “You pencil it out, you’re going to have to have 500 million subscribers before you start to recoup your investment".

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Giving his thoughts on the way Microsoft should move forward, Layden concluded, "That’s why right now you need to take a loss-leading position to try to grow that base. But still, if you have only 250 million consoles out there, you’re not going to get to half a billion subscribers. So how do you circle that square? Nobody has figured that out yet". 

Layden's words echoed Sony's previous stance on the Xbox Game Pass. In a similar interview with GamesIndustry.biz, current CEO Jim Ryan said much of the same. In September, Ryan reiterated that Sony would focus on new games.

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Ryan added, "We have had this conversation before -- we are not going to go down the road of putting new releases titles into a subscription model. These games cost many millions of dollars, well over $100 million, to develop. We just don't see that as sustainable". 

Is the former PlayStation CEO right about the Xbox Game Pass?

So who is right? Microsoft is paving the way with day-one releases on Game Pass, while Sony is adamant it will continue to release its AAA titles at full price and potentially add them to PlayStation Plus or PlayStation Now further down the line.

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Then again, the Xbox Game Pass has seen Microsoft soar to success. Although the Xbox Series X/S is behind the PlayStation 5 in terms of sales, the player base of the Game Pass is massive. At last check (in January 2021), the Game Pass has lured over 18 million subscribers to part with their cash. According to Layden and Ryan though, even these gigantic figures aren't enough.

Even if there are some Sony sceptics, the Xbox Game Pass business model is particularly tempting. The Xbox Game Pass Ultimate service cost $15/£11 and adds the ability to play from the cloud. Added to this, a PC and iOS rollout of Xbox Cloud Gaming in July added over a billion potential devices to the "Xbox ecosystem".

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We doubt Microsoft is too fussed about what the Sony bigwigs have to say. Phil Spencer has already confirmed at least one first-party Xbox game will be coming to Game Pass every quarter, while the acquisition of ZeniMax Media means the long-awaited Starfield will launch as an Xbox exclusive. Meanwhile, Ryan has promised Sony is working on expanding its own first-party catalogue to play catch up.

Whether you're an Xbox fan, are loyal to Sony, or don't really care, we say let them argue among themselves.

 

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Valve Is Working On Games That Play While They Download

Valve | Microsoft

Written by 

Joseph Kime

Posted 

26th Sep 2021 11:30

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