Microsoft could introduce a lower-cost Xbox Game Pass subscription tier that requires users to watch advertisements before they play.
An Xbox user survey may hint at a new cheaper Xbox Game Pass subscription plan in exchange for ads, not unlike the cheaper ad-supported plans that Netflix, Disney, and Paramount+ currently offer. The survey, which is in Spanish and was uploaded to ResetEra, gives an interesting look at what Microsoft could be planning.
According to the questionnaire, Microsoft could offer a tremendously low-cost Game Pass tier for just 3 Euros a month with lots of restrictions. Right now Xbox Game Pass is the most value-oriented video games subscription on the market, and Microsoft could improve subscriber counts by cutting up this value and offering separately-priced pieces.
The survey mentions a subscription plan that costs just 3 Euros a month, but would require advertisements to be display before every game, would remove streaming functionality, and would only include games that are older. This could roll out in 2023 as Microsoft starts to raise the price of its video games hardware and software; Xbox's Phil Spencer confirmed that all new Xbox Series X/S games would start costing $69.99 in 2023, and had previously said Microsoft will need to adjust costs of its products, subscriptions, and software.
Back in April 2022, video games industry analyst Joost Van Dreunen predicted that both Microsoft and Sony would offer new ad-supported plans for their respective Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus subscription services. The idea is simple: Gamers would pay a lower monthly fee in exchange for watching advertisements before, during, or after gameplay sessions.
There's compelling evidence to support this claim. Earlier this year, sources told Business Insider that Microsoft planned to create an adtech platform bring advertisements to free-to-play titles. A year ago, Microsoft purchased adtech platform Xandr from AT&T in order to 'shape the digital ad marketplace of the future."
Microsoft and Sony already make millions from advertising on their gaming platforms--Microsoft, in particular, made $10 billion from ads across its entire Windows-Xbox ecosystem--however these new plans would likely supercharge their digital businesses.
The use-case could be something similar to what Bidstack offers, including in-game advertisements of real-world products and/or interstitial ad breaks before, after, or during gameplay.
Microsoft would use Activision Blizzard King properties to accelerate this plan. King, the mobile dev who makes the lucrative Candy Crush games, already has a very strong ad tech platform in place for mobile devices.
Activision-Blizzard games are particularly well-suited for Microsoft's digital-first gaming approach and could fold neatly into an ad-supported plan, offering users unique in-game rewards for watching extra advertisements.