Xbox Game Pass for Families and Homes: Where’s the Family Membership?

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Source: Matt Brown / Windows Central

I often get this question. Where exactly is a family plan for Xbox Game Pass? Is this something that could realistically happen? And what could potentially hold him back?

Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft’s all-you-can-eat gaming service, inspired by Netflix and Spotify. For a relatively low monthly fee, you have access to hundreds of the best Xbox games to play whenever you want. With Xbox Game Pass Ultimate’s cloud gaming tier, you can even stream these games to an Android smartphone, with a web version for iOS and PC coming later.

Xbox Game Pass may look similar to Spotify and Netflix on the surface, but the similarities are only superficial. Unlike Netflix, native versions of games purchased at retail remain popular, and Xbox Game Pass can even help boost game retail sales, unlike Netflix and Spotify, which are potentially killing retail sales in their communities. respective sectors. In any case, Netflix, Spotify and others have a major advantage over Xbox Game Pass: the inclusion of a family plan, to share the subscription within the same household.

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Why doesn’t Xbox Game Pass have this? And are we likely to see it in the future?

Why Xbox Game Pass for Households is Needed

Xbox Game Pass xCloudSource: Windows Central

Xbox Game Pass aims to improve access to games, lowering the traditional barrier that comes with buying a gaming console or PC. For many, spending hundreds on a video game console isn’t everything. just not something to consider, which is why mobile gaming has become such a popular industry. People are willing and interested in gambling, as long as the barrier to entry is low enough. If they can play on their existing devices, at low cost, the friction around the Xbox ecosystem is reduced. This is where the whole ideology of Xbox Game Pass and its cloud streaming component lies.

For parents who have multiple children, the cost of Xbox Game Pass increases exponentially.

It falters a bit when you consider families. Xbox Game Pass has the ability to lock down the next generation of young gamers and set expectations for what should be the standard going forward. Nintendo has probably captured a whole generation of young people with its portable form factor already, and I’ve argued that Xbox Game Pass should have an official portable device, although that’s an entirely separate topic. For parents who have multiple children, the cost of Xbox Game Pass increases exponentially, as each child must have their own account and membership. You can use account sharing to get around some of these issues, but you lose a lot of benefits as a result, and it’s not transparent, especially if you want multiple kids to play at the same time. Account sharing only works well between two consoles, and it’s not even something that’s even officially endorsed by Microsoft.

Microsoft has robust family controls and features, but they fall apart if you have to sign in to your account to give your kids access to Xbox Game Pass from your profile. A family or home Xbox Game Pass plan would solve many of these unnecessary issues, even if it was only allowed for child accounts.

Beyond giving your kids easy access, there’s just a question of potential value there. It’s weird that I can easily share Netflix or Spotify with my family members in my household, but I can’t do the same with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Why could it be? I could be a matter of licensing and the remaining power of retail.

Could this realistically happen?

Xbox Game PassSource: Matt Brown | Windows Central

I think what might delay this is the potential skepticism from Microsoft’s partners. Xbox Game Pass is still a relatively “untested” long-term model for third-party publishers. However, there is a ton of data indicating that the service is only a win-win for everyone involved. I’ve seen documents from internal Microsoft presentations that detail how Xbox Game Pass gamers aren’t just spending more time playing, they’re also spending more actively on retail games.

Why this could be is anyone’s guess. Maybe people still want the feeling of buying to own. Maybe they want to take advantage of the exclusive Xbox Game Pass discount you get after a game leaves service. Perhaps the virality of “free-to-play-like” access to games is helping to strengthen their spirit-sharing profile. Or maybe they just want to support the developers. Either way, Xbox Game Pass appears to be boosting retail sales of in-service games, not hampering them.

Still, I’ve heard in the past that some third-party publishers have pushed back the idea of ​​a family-style plan for Xbox Game Pass, fearing that their games in the service could potentially be split in multiple ways, instead of just one. . This is potentially a legitimate concern. Netflix and other family sharing features are often “abused” and shared with friends far beyond the home of the account owner.

Xbox Game Pass Ea PlaySource: Microsoft

Netflix had only recently started cracking down on out-of-home sharing, when it started testing blocks for users who clearly use a different IP address than the account holder. It is difficult to determine exactly how many users and how much spirit Netflix may lose because of this. They may be concerned that those who have been taken out of service will not return, which will impact the number of users they can report to shareholders.

Anyway, that’s why I argued previously that Microsoft should consider an Xbox Game Pass “Lite” that only includes its own content. Microsoft has a mountain of Xbox exclusives built in-house, and even more with Bethesda on the service now. It could bypass the concerns of third-party developers this way, and also bring Xbox Game Pass to platforms that otherwise wouldn’t be able to sell that content, like the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo would naturally like to be able to sell third-party games through its own store, but I don’t think it would say no to a service that included Halo, if that was the only way to get those games.

The other option is simply for Microsoft to convince third parties like EA, Capcom, etc. who are potentially skeptical that a family sharing plan would only help, not hinder, their investments in the service. The data certainly seems to suggest that the increased ease of access for games like Outriders and others helps buy mindshare and retail sales, so giving access to more users within a household doesn’t. would only increase adoption and users of the service. It can even help Xbox console sales.

Xbox Game Pass for households is probably on the way

Xbox Game Pass at E3 2019Source: Windows Central

I’ve heard repeatedly over the years from trusted sources that Microsoft has long been exploring some form of Xbox Game Pass for households and families. It is certainly something that is at least on their minds. This does not mean that it will materialize in reality for certain, due to the complexity of the license, but I personally think it’s probably going on one way or another. Whether it’s the full Xbox Game Pass library sharing only with child accounts, a “lite” version with Microsoft’s IP address only, or the full version based on IP addresses or people. of your Microsoft family, I have no idea. What I do know is that Microsoft already has these features for Office 365, so it’s not like there is no precedent within the company for this type of feature.

Xbox Game Pass is still a work in progress, with new features still in the works, along with Xbox Series X upgrades for cloud streaming servers. A family sharing plan or policy would be very popular, I think, and it’s definitely something that I hope Microsoft can offer in the near future.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate gives you access to hundreds of games on your PC, Xbox, and Android mobile devices. There is no family plan at the time of writing, but hey, never say never.

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