Rumor has it that Xbox Game Pass will make its appearance on Nintendo Switch. According to Game Informer and Jeux Video, Microsoft plans to bring some games over to the Switch and allow subscribers to Game Pass to access their catalog via Project xCloud. Is it the right move? I think so.
Is it the right move? I think so. It will be the fruit of an ambitious strategy that Microsoft has been pushing for since Phil Spencer took office in 2014. Under Phil Spencer, the Xbox platform has changed and the leadership has been righting the wrongs of Don Mattrick and expanding the fundamental idea of Xbox, a home console to something much more, a platform that you can access anywhere. Since Phil Spencer took office in 2014, Phil Spencer and company have launched multiple services that place Xbox games beyond the sphere of the home console. Play Anywhere, Xbox Game Pass, Project xCloud, the Windows 10 Xbox app, and Xbox Live itself will be coming to mobile and the Switch.
Each of the projects above has helped Microsoft keep the Xbox brand afloat and interesting during a really rough generation for them, especially Xbox Game Pass has been a success for them. If you have been following Microsoft for quite a while, you’ll find out that this plan has been a thing for a while now.
Microsoft’s plans and ambitions have shifted away from what they began with way back in 2001 or 2005 with the Xbox 360. They’re no longer a company that represents home consoles but are a company that is focusing on something much bigger and something that is taking off quite rapidly in the tech world. The big players in today’s world is prioritizing mobile and these big players are reaching mainstream audiences across the globe, so in turn, Microsoft is no longer competing with Sony but with Google and Amazon which are gearing up to enter the gaming world with their own game streaming services of their own and these two companies can muscle their way in and ruin what Microsoft is attempting to build. This form of thinking that Microsoft has been on is more for long-term thinking and planning for long-term goals.
Another plan that is a part of what Microsoft is trying to build is Project xCloud, the game streaming service that is supposed to be out sometime after E3 if rumors are to be believed. 5G connections are starting to roll out at select phone retailers here in the United States and I imagine that it will begin to roll out fully by the end of the year, and while it could take years for everyone to play catch-up but Project xCloud will be ready to exploit it which will make streaming games in 1080p to any phone or tablet a reality.
It would be quite questionable to not put Xbox Game Pass across mobile devices and the Switch itself as 5G wireless connections begin to roll out and would be questionable to not explore and branch out in the face of Amazon and Google as they begin to make their way into the gaming industry.
The hardcore Xbox fanbase is already upset about this rumor as the hardcore believe that hardware will completely go away and Microsoft, especially the Xbox side of things will turn into a company that solely provides a service like Valve. If Microsoft can’t do this then they’ll miss out on a huge opportunity and miss out on potential customers to bring into the Xbox ecosystem.
As for the hardware side of things, Hardware will never vanish from the face of the earth. Having a game service and hardware will put Microsoft onto a kind of pedestal and will give Microsoft a huge boost as now you no longer have the core fanbase but an external one that will play their games on mobile devices like the Switch, Microsoft isn’t about to sacrifice the very thing they built back in November 2001 for a game streaming service and aren’t about to sacrifice the goodwill they built for xCloud or pursue streaming.
This strategy can only end in a good way, a three-part strategy that focuses on that core fanbase that goes out and picks up the next iteration of the hardware, the mobile gaming side of things, and the external fanbase that plays games like Ori and Cuphead. This strategy gives Microsoft a foothold and has the potential to possibly win in that section. There cannot be any downsides to this plan.
* * * *