Microsoft isn't content to let other companies bring gaming into the streaming era alone. The company introduced a successful "Netflix for games" with Xbox Game Pass, then revealed the upcoming Project xCloud service that promises to stream Xbox games to all kinds of devices. This week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that expanding Xbox Game Pass to Windows 10 will be a "big element" of Microsoft's plans for gaming.
Here's what Nadella said in an earnings call:
"Xbox has the key gaming community and the monetization capabilities. Whether it's first-party games or third-party games, we are best-in-class in that monetization and that's what's reflected in the results. ... So given that structural position, we are going to make sure that we keep increasing the strength of the community. You see that already with Minecraft going to all platforms and that increasing the intensity of the community, and you'll see us do more of that. Obviously, bringing Game Pass to even the PC is going to be a big element of that."
Xbox Game Pass debuted on June 1 as a way for Xbox One owners to play select current-gen titles, as well as backwards compatible Xbox 360 games, for $10 per month. The service doesn't offer access to every Xbox game from the last two generations of consoles, but it does boast more than 100 titles and regularly adds more. Compared to spending $60 on a new game--or having to dust off an Xbox 360--it's not a bad deal.
Bringing the service to Windows 10 would allow PC users to experience these games without having to make too great a financial commitment. Games made for consoles are often buggy on PC, and even though Microsoft has worked to prevent that from being the case for its platforms, there's no guarantee a game made for the Xbox 360 is going to run well on a modern system. Better to test it as a subscription than buy it outright.
Yet, it's not hard to imagine Xbox Game Pass stumbling as it comes to PC as well. Many of these games are available far cheaper via Steam, GOG and lesser-known marketplaces than they are on Xbox (PC gamers spend more on hardware but get to recoup some of the costs with cheaper games). Unless someone's curious about the entire Xbox Game Pass catalog, it's easier to pick up games on the cheap on PC than it is on Xbox.
But that will depend on what games are available, how Xbox Game Pass functions on PC, etc. In the meantime, as Microsoft works on Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud, it's clear that Xbox has gone far beyond its console origins to become a core part of Microsoft's future.