OPINION: Ah, the console wars, we hardly knew ye. There was a time Xbox and PlayStation went console for console to try and dominate the market on hardware sales. Now, after a bruising defeat in the previous generation, Xbox has changed the game. It wants to be everywhere and PlayStation should let them.
The idea of Microsoft wanting to whack Xbox Game Pass on competing devices is nothing new. Phil Spencer was responding to a question on the concept in 2020, saying “I love the Switch, I love PlayStation, honestly, I think they’ve done an amazing job as being a part of this industry. I’m not sure that those are the next big set of users for us, but we could be open to those discussions,” (via GameReactor).
Further comments have followed in dribs and drabs, but hopes have been occasionally dashed with Spencer saying in late 2021 “We have no plans to bring it to any other kind of closed platforms right now, mainly because those closed platforms don’t want something like Game Pass” (via GamesRadar). However, in 2023, things are picking up once again.
This week, Xbox CFO Tim Stuart reignited the Xbox Play Anywhere ethos by saying, “It’s a bit of a change of strategy. Not announcing anything broadly here, but our mission is to bring our first-party experiences [and] our subscription services to every screen that can play games. That means smart TVs, that means mobile devices, that means what we would have thought of as competitors in the past like PlayStation and Nintendo.”
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Intentionally or not, Spencer has also offered what seems like a bit of a carrot-and-stick approach with Xbox Game Pass on PlayStation. Want Bethesda games? Whack Game Pass on your device. “the thing I want you to know is this is about delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists,” (via Xbox).
So, the motivation for Xbox wanting Game Pass and its Cloud Streaming service everywhere is obvious. The company has abandoned a hardware console battle for a drive to get as many Game Pass subscribers as possible but why should PlayStation do it?
Well, it’s clear PlayStation continues to fight on the old battlefield, with a focus on its cinematic AAA exclusive games remaining the key driving force behind its console. And, we’ve seen PlayStation Plus get a revamp but it remained far from an Xbox Game Pass rival.
Departing PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan has previously dismissed the idea of bringing its exclusives to PlayStation Plus, saying “As you well know, this is not a road that we’ve gone down in the past. And it’s not a road that we’re going to go down with this new service … The level of investment that we need to make in our studios would not be possible, and we think the knock-on effect on the quality of the games that we make would not be something that gamers want.” (via GameIndustry.biz)
With PlayStation having little interest in truly taking the subscription fight to Xbox and Xbox, even with its plethora of acquisitions, still underwhelming in the exclusive arena (ehmmm Starfield and Redfall), PlayStation has plenty to gain by allowing Xbox Game Pass on its system.
Xbox Game Pass remains one of the few unique selling points that Microsoft’s console range has. If PlayStation welcomes the service to its console, that’s a win for them – and it’ll be a win for Xbox as it’ll open up even more potential subscribers.
It seems like a delightfully friendly and wholesome potential team-up, which is why it likely won’t happen. PlayStation may not be willing to turn its subscription service into a true Game Pass rival, and its streaming offering remains limited, but, even in its limited form, it’s unlikely it would want to see PlayStation Plus overshadowed by a PlayStation-housed Xbox Game Pass.
Who knows though, and the chance of Xbox sneaking onto the Nintendo Switch remains. Playing Elder Scrolls VI on the PS5… one can still dream.
Ctrl+Alt+Del is our weekly computing-focused opinion column where we delve deeper into the world of computers, laptops, components, peripherals and more. Find it on Trusted Reviews every Saturday afternoon.