How Much Does It Cost to Bring AAA Games to Subscription Services?

A massive Xbox leak has spilled the beans on all kinds of internal affairs at the organisation. The leak includes documents that detail the financial impact of bringing games to subscription services like Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus. While it has always been broadly assumed that companies like Microsoft and Sony must pay a fortune to secure select titles for their platforms, actually seeing the figures is eye-opening.

The leaked document reveals that it would take upwards of $300 million to nab Star Wars Jedi: Survivor — and apparently, that’s with the expectation of the deal falling through. A $250 million figure is mentioned in relation to Mortal Kombat 1 and Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, while $100 million would be appropriate for Assassin’s Creed Mirage. These numbers are obviously being considered by Microsoft — and we are specifically talking about AAA titles here — but it’s highly likely that Sony will be paying similar fees whenever it pulls something to PS Plus.

How Much Does It Cost to Bring AAA Games to Subscription Services?
How Much Does It Cost to Bring AAA Games to Subscription Services?

The Economics of Gaming Subscription Services

Gaming subscription services have become increasingly popular in recent years, as they offer gamers access to a large library of games for a monthly fee. However, these services also pose a challenge for the gaming industry, as they may cannibalise software sales and affect the profitability of game developers and publishers.

Microsoft has been investing heavily in its Xbox Game Pass service, which boasts over 18 million subscribers as of January 2023. The service offers over 100 games, including first-party titles from Microsoft Studios and third-party titles from various partners. Microsoft has also been acquiring game studios to bolster its exclusive content, such as Bethesda Softworks, Obsidian Entertainment, and Ninja Theory.

Sony, on the other hand, has been more selective in its approach to gaming subscription services. Its PlayStation Plus service offers two free games per month for PS4 and PS5 users, as well as online multiplayer access and cloud storage. Sony has also launched PlayStation Now, a cloud gaming service that allows users to stream or download over 800 games from PS2, PS3, PS4, and PS5. However, Sony has been reluctant to put its first-party titles on these services at launch, preferring to sell them at full price instead.

The leaked document suggests that Microsoft is willing to pay a hefty price to bring AAA games to Xbox Game Pass, even if it means losing money on each deal. The rationale behind this strategy is to attract more subscribers and create a loyal fan base that will stick with the Xbox ecosystem. However, this also means that Microsoft is taking a huge risk, as it may not be able to recoup its investment if the subscription numbers plateau or decline.

The Future of Gaming Subscription Services

The gaming industry is undergoing a major transformation, as subscription services are changing the way gamers consume and pay for games. While some gamers may prefer the convenience and variety of these services, others may still value owning their games and playing them at their own pace. Moreover, some game developers and publishers may be wary of putting their games on these services, as they may lose control over their pricing and revenue streams.

The leaked document shows that bringing AAA games to subscription services is not a simple or cheap process. It involves complex negotiations and calculations that take into account various factors such as game quality, popularity, release date, platform exclusivity, and expected sales. It also reveals that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for gaming subscription services, as different companies may have different goals and strategies.

The future of gaming subscription services will depend on how well they can balance the needs and expectations of gamers, developers, publishers, and platform holders. As the gaming industry evolves and innovates, subscription services will have to adapt and compete to stay relevant and profitable.

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