Xbox first-party games find success in one of the most important KPIs of modern gaming

Xbox's first-party games are finding impressive success in one of the most important performance measurements of modern gaming: digital player engagement.

2 minutes & 28 seconds read time

Microsoft has revealed new performance measurements that highlight the company's engagement-driven business model.

In some ways, Xbox is a lot different than PlayStation. Microsoft's games division has prioritized services, subscriptions, and digital engagement above all else, and this paradigm shift has helped the Xbox brand stay competitive. Along with cross-platform unification through OS and services, Game Pass is the purest example of this model. The subscription thrives from the breadth of content offered, but also the successful capturing and exploitation of player engagement through key online-driven and replayable experiences.

This model is paying off in terms of players engaged with specific titles, which remains a critical part of today's video games market. The most popular and lucrative games on the planet rely on digital engagement models that monetize players over time directly through in-game purchases, but Xbox Game Pass is another method of indirect monetization through recurring subscriptions. Rather than just relying on full game sales alone, Xbox is diversifying its games to leverage the strongest elements of engagement through steady digital content releases. These ultimately serve both monetization and retention of its Game Pass service.

In a recent Xbox Wire post, Microsoft reveals some off the most important indicators of success for the Xbox business, confirming that its first-party labels have shipped 10 separate games that have amassed over 10 million players each. This has culminated in an eye-opening figure: Xbox first-party games enjoy over 150 million monthly active players, including competing platforms like PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and Steam.

"In the last five years, our teams across Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda have shipped 10 games with over 10 million players each life to date, from new IPs like Sea of Thieves and Grounded, to franchise entries like Minecraft Legends and Elder Scrolls Online," said Joe Skrebels, Xbox Wire's editor-in-chief.

"Our first-party games now have over 150 million monthly active users."

Here's a quick snapshot of some of the most-played first-party Xbox games released in the last 5 years:

  • Forza Horizon 4 (2018) - 21 million players (source)
  • Sea of Thieves (2018) - 30 million players (source)
  • Fallout 76 (2018) - 15 million players (source)
  • State of Decay 2 (2018) - 10 million players (source)
  • Grounded (2020) - 15 million players (source)
  • Forza Horizon 5 (2021) - 30 million players (source)
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Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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