Strange rumblings are afoot in the world of Nintendo, with several reports corroborating evident that Microsoft is bringing Xbox Game Pass to the Nintendo Switch. In addition to this, Microsoft is also looking at actually publishing some of its games on Switch, including Ori and the Blind Forest.
We’ll start with Xbox Game Pass, a move which ties into the recent unveiling of Xbox Live API integration with the Nintendo Switch. Xbox Game Pass will allegedly work on Switch through the Project xCloud streaming service that Microsoft has been beavering away on for some time. It would basically be an Xbox Game Pass app that sits on the Switch home screen and would allow the library of Xbox Game Pass games to be played over the cloud. This would obviously necessitate an internet connection at all times, but it would also mean Nintendo Switch owners could sit around playing Gears 5.
The benefits to such a move seem obvious for Microsoft, less so for Nintendo. Microsoft would gain access to a potentially massive new audience who could sign up to its Xbox Game Pass subscription service. They may lose out on a few Xbox One hardware sales, but the real money these days is found in subscription services.
For Nintendo, it feels like more a gamble. The opposite would apply in that it could encourage more hardware sales but it could also discourage game sales through its own storefront. Nintendo would likely be demanding a hefty cut from any Xbox Game Pass subs earned through its platform, or time spent playing games through the service.
Xbox Game Pass currently offers north of 200 games to play at any time, with several new games being added every month. All of Microsoft’s first-party output is also available on the service on launch day, meaning Game Pass subscribers never even need to buy first-party titles such as Forza Horizon 4 and Crackdown 3.
The secondary story here are the reports of Microsoft’s plans to actually publish games on the Switch to play locally. This would basically be Microsoft going third-party again, breaking down the traditional walls of platforms and exclusivity. It’s perhaps a broader sign of where Microsoft is heading with the Xbox brand as a service rather a hardware platform. The success of such a move is surely going to depend on the quality of the streaming tech, an aspect which will be a big sticking point for a lot of core gamers.