Microsoft wants its subscriptions on every screen, including PlayStation and Nintendo hardware


In context: In recent years, Microsoft has increasingly oriented its gaming business around subscription services rather than consoles. A recent statement from the company could push the strategy toward its logical conclusion, where Microsoft games and services become increasingly available on rival hardware.

Microsoft recently expressed its desire to bring its subscription services to as many screens and devices as possible, including PlayStation and Nintendo consoles. Its strategy is to take full advantage of subscriptions, including Game Pass, which return higher profit margins than traditional retail game sales.

Xbox CFO Tim Stuart laid out the plan during a Wells Fargo TMT Summit conference call earlier this week. While discussing Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Stuart said the company’s mission is to bring its first-party experiences and subscription services to every screen that can play games. He mentioned mobile devices, smart TVs, and competitors like Nintendo and PlayStation.

Microsoft’s focus on Game Pass leans toward a hardware-agnostic strategy, as it allows subscribers to play games across Xbox consoles and PCs. The service also includes Xbox Cloud Gaming, which is now available through mobile devices and smart TVs. The cloud service would likely expand to more devices before Game Pass and Microsoft’s in-house titles.

However, Stuart wasn’t only referring to games developed by the company’s internal studios like Halo, Forza Motorsport, or Microsoft Flight Simulator. The companies Microsoft has recently purchased, including Mojang and Activision Blizzard, make popular games on various platforms, and Microsoft has pledged to continue supporting such titles on rival hardware.

When Sony expressed concern that its competitor in the console space could restrict the immensely successful Call of Duty franchise to Xbox, Microsoft pledged to keep releasing new entries on PlayStation and, eventually, Nintendo devices. The agreement will likely be similar to the company’s treatment of Minecraft, which continues to thrive on all consoles and mobile devices.

Mobile is one of the primary reasons behind the acquisition of Activision Blizzard, which includes mobile game maker King. Stuart mentioned Candy Crush, one of King’s most popular titles. The CFO also highlighted Call of Duty Mobile as an example of how Microsoft could utilize its intellectual properties. World of Warcraft is another subscription service Stuart cited that the company now owns and could theoretically bring to multiple platforms.


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