Xbox Games Pass Is The Netflix Of Video Games Minus One Important Detail – Forbes
Microsoft’s just-launched video game subscription service, Xbox Games Pass, is being widely lauded as ‘the Netflix of gaming.’
That’s a pretty fair comparison, for the most part. Unlike Netflix, the Xbox Games Pass isn’t a streaming service. You download the games you want to play (see a list of all those games here) and install them on your Xbox One or Xbox 360.
This is due to the fact that games are much more bandwidth-intensive than movies and TV shows. You need a much faster, more stable internet connection to successfully stream a game, and even then there can be issues. Microsoft made the right choice here in requiring downloads.
The fact that you download games instead of stream them is a positive in my book. Where Xbox Games Pass suffers in comparison to Netflix has nothing to do with the mode of delivery. The one thing that Netflix has that Xbox Games Pass doesn’t is this: New, original content.
Content Is King
Netflix has made huge strides in the world of entertainment due not only to the convenience of its service but to the abundance of new, original content available in the app. Shows like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Stranger Things and Narcos have made Netflix an indispensable part of our TV viewing experience. It’s not just a place to watch old movies and shows that used to run on traditional TV anymore. Now it’s a place to watch some of the best new programming available. Netflix essentially took and adapted HBO’s model, and it’s been a resounding success.
Netflix has approximately 94 million subscribers now, adding over 7 million in the last three months of 2016. The company plans to invest $6 billion into its original content in 2017.
Xbox Games Pass, on the other hand, is a subscription service designed entirely around playing older content. There are more Xbox 360 games than Xbox One games available (though many of these are backwards compatible) and there are no new, exclusive Xbox Games Pass games.
A Deeper Problem Than Just Games Pass
Of course, Microsoft wouldn’t release exclusive content to its subscription service and leave non-subscribing Xbox owners out in the cold. The company could take a page from EA’s Access program, which gives early access to EA games for subscribers, and give subscribers early access to future Microsoft titles.
The problem here is the one I keep listing in virtually every post I write about the Xbox platform: Microsoft simply doesn’t have enough exclusive content in the pipeline to make even this idea work. When I wrote my incredibly well-received post on the Xbox One as a lost cause recently, I made the same observation. I’ve also argued that a powerful Scorpio console wouldn’t be enough to unseat the PS4 without a bunch of exclusive content.
Content creates a virtuous cycle. More exclusive content leads to more platform adopters which in turn creates more of a demand for more new content. If Microsoft truly wants to create the Netflix of gaming, they need to set their sights on a future where the Xbox Games Pass does more than just give gamers access to older titles. New, original content is key. If you build it, they will come.
Fun Trivia: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings came up with the idea for the company after computer scientist, Andrew Tanenbaum, wrote a math problem asking students to determine the “bandwidth” of a station wagon carrying tapes. How many tapes could fit into the station wagon? How fast could the car go? “It turns out that’s a very high-speed network,” Hastings told an audience at the Mobile World Congress earlier this year.
“When a friend told me about DVDs and I realized, well that’s 5 gigabytes of data and you know you can mail that very inexpensively, I realized that is a digital distribution network. And from that original exercise, it made me think we can build Netflix first on DVD and then eventually the internet would catch up with the postal system and pass it.”
Netflix was founded in 1997 and began offering its streaming service ten years later. By 2010 streaming subscribers outnumbered DVD subscribers. Now around 5 million customers still receive DVDs in the mail, while nearly 100 million stream Netflix online.