Up For Debate - Is Microsoft now the Netflix of gaming? And will that model work?

Written by Chad Norton on Sat, Sep 26, 2020 5:30 PM
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The world of streaming has taken the film and TV industry by storm, and has subsequently enticed many of the big name companies in the video games industry to follow suit. We all know Netflix’s model for streaming: get as much content out there as possible, frequently and consistently. And now it looks like Microsoft is following the same idea.

Earlier this week it was announced that Microsoft had bought Zenimax Media - the parent company of well known studio Bethesda among many others - for a massive $7.5 billion (that’s nearly twice as much that Disney paid for the Star Wars deal). This acquisition showed that Microsoft are planning to create their Netflix-style model of constant, frequent content for Xbox and PC players, and they’re not going to slow down apparently.

Obviously a big part of that is to do with the Xbox Game Pass, which MS keeps pushing as its success grows, and with the recent Zenimax acquisition will be bringing DOOM Eternal to the service soon. Microsoft is also dominating the games industry by focusing on both the Xbox consoles and PC, whereas their biggest competitor, Sony, is rather reluctant on the PC platform.

Then again, it now looks like Microsoft’s biggest competitor may not be Sony anymore, as Amazon just recently revealed their own cloud gaming service called Luna, which could explain the more aggressive push for their Game Pass service.

So with the streaming scene making it’s way over to the games industry, Microsoft is surely going to follow the same formula as the big companies like Netflix and Disney Plus, but in order to do that they would need a whole platter of studios under their belt. EA and Ubisoft tried to do the same thing, and whilst Ubisoft seems to be doing okay with their huge catalogue of famous titles and franchises (just like Disney Plus), all it takes is a dry couple of years with a more or less-than lukewarm reception, and look where that has gotten EA now as they get ready to bring their EA Play service to Game Pass as well.

But Microsoft’s success may be more likely due to their push for Game Pass and apparent Monopoly-style of buying up games studios. This would then allow them to come up with and release many big hitting titles throughout the year, even just once a quarter, which would then mean more customers to potentially buy into their service and get constant access to new games and updates. Microsoft could even control the release schedule of their big titles to make sure that the launches throughout a year would be consistent enough to keep people on their service.

If you’re interested, here’s a quick breakdown of all the studios that Microsoft currently owns:

  • 343 Industries
  • Compulsions Games
  • Double Fine Productions
  • inXile Entertainment
  • Mojang Studios
  • Ninja Theory
  • Obsidian Entertainment
  • Playground Games
  • Rare
  • The Coalition
  • Turn 10 Studios
  • Undead Labs
  • World's Edge

Zenimax Media - (gets it's own category thanks to how many studios Zenimax encompasses under its name)

  • Alpha Dog
  • Arkane
  • Bethesda Game Studios
  • Bethesda Softworks
  • id Software
  • MachineGames
  • Roundhouse Studios
  • Tango Gameworks
  • ZeniMax Online Studios

So with all that, it looks like Microsoft might be slowly becoming the Netflix of gaming, but is that a good thing? How will this affect the games industry overall? Back when Netflix came out we all thought it wasn’t going to be that big (okay, maybe a little, but definitely not as big as it has gotten), but look at us now, almost everyone has access to some sort of streaming service to watch their favorite movies and TV shows. So will a Netflix model for gaming turn out the same way?

What do you think? Will the Netflix model for gaming work for Microsoft? How will that model affect the games industry overall? Is this the next step for gaming? And who is Microsoft’s biggest competitor now? Sony, or Amazon? Let’s debate!

Is Microsoft now the Netflix of gaming?

How do you feel about Game Pass or other subscription services?

And how do you feel about streaming services in general? Games or other

Will game streaming become as popular as video streaming?

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16:42 Sep-27-2020

Calling it Netflix would be inaccurate as there is a clear distinction between the Game Pass and xCloud services even though they are bundled together for now. Game Pass allows for games to be downloaded and installed providing a superior experience to actually streaming the game along with mimicking the feeling of playing an owned game as its locally installed which makes Game Pass is preferable to other services. Payment model is a subscription but the feeling is negated to quite an extent.


TLDR: Its Game Pass not xCloud that has won people over.

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23:39 Sep-27-2020

game pass and xcloud together are kind of like netflix. you can still get a physical disk from them (like you could before they were a streaming service) and keep it until you are complete. that is the closest you can get to downloading a game until you are done with it or just simply streaming the game.

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10:02 Sep-29-2020

Yeah but then Netflix went all in on streaming and I highly doubt Microsoft's service, whatever it may end up being called, will have success with the gaming audience if they went all in on streaming. If they cut out the ability to install games locally, then this service would go the way of every other game streaming service which is the way of the dodo.

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17:33 Sep-29-2020

you do realize that you can still get a disk from netflix? they have that as a backup.
ms right now has xcloud which allows games to be played on systems that couldnt play the games before and phones to be able to continue to play your games on the go (personal choice).
game pass allows the game to be installed to be abled to be played on a capable system.

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17:34 Sep-29-2020

i doubt they will go all in on streaming because they see everyone failing and ea is even putting games on game pass. thats a testament to it creating lots of money.

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12:18 Sep-27-2020

that's really a deep question to think about,
one point of view is market scale - let's first define what gaming market is, majority are mobile games, on the other hand AAA games are just a fraction, and of course the few pro gamers who hunt for ultralow latency reponse and extreme framerates, they will probably never go for game streaming, unless some streaming tournament explicitly happens;
then there's technical aspect of internet protocol and inevitable latency - current network and server infrastructure is too slow to provide low-latency gaming experience, but in future if networks get faster and game streaming servers will be in every region and bigger city, latency may be pinned down to usable, and once that happens, game streaming can become real, since it will offer platform-independent gaming, which many people are waiting for

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04:42 Sep-27-2020

I think your answer to this will much depend on how and what you play. I buy only maybe a game every 3 or 4 months, mostly due to the huge pile of giveaways from Epic and Indiegala, If you like Day 1 access, play it through and don't look at it again and move to the next one, it's a value proposition. Not for me though

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03:05 Sep-27-2020

Not against anything, but playing devils advocate: the netflix streaming model worked because the cable/satellite business was broken. Same is true for uber.
A llot are pretty happy with the way things are now. So it wont be that easy (not that netflix was “easy”).

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01:43 Sep-27-2020

support for sea country pls

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23:56 Sep-26-2020

I am a disabled PC gamer & know many in same boat, who love this idea. Many limited income, buy a game & cant play (if no refund) wait til next time. I think Dev' will feel better at trying new innovations & stop reskinning the old EA, Ubi

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23:18 Sep-26-2020

I subscribe to Origin Play yearly basic membership and for $29.99 a year it is worth it. I get to play over 100+ games whenever I want!

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22:30 Sep-26-2020

Yeah, it pretty much is Netflix of gaming, or as close to it as possible. I mean even Netflix couldn't have everything forever. Still, it definitely is great service for it's price. And yeah, I love the idea, it basically is kind of like rental, except it isn't same. And if you love wide variety of games, it definitely is worth the subscription. Especially with those games...

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22:33 Sep-26-2020

... you would play through once and then forget. Which for me, it is most games, there are few I revisit. As for streaming services, they are nice, but not as much as standalone, but rather as additive service for something like Game Pass. MS really hit the nail with it. But I doubt streaming will ever take over local play, latency will always be an issue, it never will match the experience.

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22:35 Sep-26-2020

Though it definitely will work for some more casual players, since you won't need expensive PC or anything major. Just get regular office PC and play your favorite AAA titles via streaming. It definitely has its place on market, just not with everyone.

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21:09 Sep-26-2020

Certainly beats buying games at full price... HOWEVER, then there are issues with ownership, building up a library and long-term game preservation. Our PC game libraries can be decades old and what you buy cannot (legally anyway) be taken away from you. With things like streaming or game passes, you own nothing and the libraries change constantly according to the whim of license holders.


To those who don't care - these are not really issues... you play the game on the cheap and you're done. But I like to replay my old games after some time randomly.

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23:36 Sep-26-2020

The benefit to game pass, for me, is the 10-20% off games. So if you truly wish to keep a game you enjoyed on game pass, you get it for 20% off while it's on the game pass (10% off DLC I think), and then it's yours to keep.


So a $60 game you enjoyed will be $47ish with the discount, which is practically the price of the pass itself for a month.


I still think it's a great deal, especially if you're both a PC&Xbox user.

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23:41 Sep-26-2020

Also to tack onto this. Game Pass also comes with other features lately (6 months Spotify, 3 months of Discord Nitro, various in-game freebies, sometimes free DLC for game pass games). I make a new Spotify account every 6 months and reap that benefit saves me $10 a month

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00:06 Sep-27-2020

Well, I guess it depends on the person. I like quality music, so spotify simply does not cut it vs my vinyl collection and various vinyl/CD/tape rips. As for discounts... I get 20% off everything on Humble for $12/mo (I'm an older sub, so it's the best deal out there) + 10 games each month (varying quality). Since I mostly buy games on heavy sales on Steam - the discount thing rarely is needed anyway :D
Dunno... I don't see the pass beneficial to me, I don't have any consoles except portables... Life goes on :D

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16:02 Sep-27-2020

I, too, am a Humble Choice member (also the $12 a month from day 1).. the quality of games has gone significantly downhill to the point where I've had my subscription paused since I believe February of this year.


Like I said. It's not for everyone, but it certainly holds value, and to me is far more valuable than Humble Monthly these days. The only thing Humble Monthly has over game pass is the games are yours to keep. But the game quality has been extremely poor..

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16:08 Sep-27-2020

I respect your opinion though. I loved Humble Monthly for a long time. Expanded my library significantly and even if I had double games, I would hand them out to friends or on Twitter/Discord for free. But the quality has gotten really poor. February was the last one I claimed (Pathfinder, Cryofall, Frost Punk, Book of Demons were the games I wanted).

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18:32 Sep-26-2020

As someone who knows what i want to play/not play and those games are a few for me it would make no sense for me to give microsoft money every month as I play maybe 5 games a year. Its going to be an interesting console generation xbox going for games as a service and sony sticking to the traditional tactics. If i was a kid this this service would be great play anything for pocket change nice.

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18:01 Sep-26-2020

I would love it if it was available in my country. Netflix gives the bare minimum to less populated countries and calls it a day. Its why piracy is so frequent in my country, even if we want to give them our money they wont let us. Also hate the argument "Just buy a vpn". I shouldnt need a vpn to begin with.

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17:59 Sep-26-2020

The benefit to streaming TV/Movies is that you don't need a bunch of shelves to hold all the DVDs/VHS anymore. And while TV streaming is ideal, I would prefer to own movies in a digital format. Specifically a format that I can actually own on a hard drive if I want.


Games are already digital (so the physical space issue isn't an issue anymore) and a significant amount are available DRM-free. Why anyone would want to switch from what we currently have to a streaming ser

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18:02 Sep-26-2020

...ice for games makes absolutely no sense. You lose more ability to own what you've purchased and you have no guarantees to own what you've paid for in the future. There's many many more reasons why streaming is bad for gaming but ultimately it doesn't offer any of the same benefits that it does for TV/Movies.

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23:44 Sep-26-2020

One of the upsides to GamePass is any game that is on there, you can buy permanently for 20% off. So a $40 game is $8 off, and you get to keep it forever. If you do this enough, you're saving even more money.. One way to look at it atleast :) Plus various other benefits (Spotify, Discord Nitro, in-game freebies). Well worth the price, especially if you enjoy branching out and trying new games.

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