If you’ve messed at all with Xbox Cloud Gaming, you know that it is undeniably cool. Being able to stream a game from the cloud to my iPhone, iPad, or Mac is just really cool, and it is definitely the future of gaming for a lot of people.
That said, it’s still a small piece of business for Xbox compared to its gamer base. Right now, the only way to use Xbox Cloud Gaming is if you are a Game Pass Ultimate subscriber. Game Pass Ultimate is Xbox’s game subscription service that includes access to the full library of 100+ games in Game Pass, EA Play, online multiplayer, and Xbox Cloud Gaming.
That also happens to be Xbox’s most expensive version of Game Pass. While Game Pass Core costs $9.99 per month for fewer games and no cloud gaming, Game Pass Ultimate costs users $16.99 per month. That’s a lot of money to get access to cloud gaming, especially depending on what market your gamers are in. That’s why Xbox is thinking about creating an ad-supported tier for Xbox Cloud Gaming.
As reported by Tweaktown, Microsoft Gaming CFO Tim Stuart recently talked about ads on Xbox at the Wells Fargo TMT Summit last month. During the interview, the executive mentioned that offering an ad-supported tier could make sense in certain markets and help the company on “geographic expansion.”
“For models like Africa, or India, Southeast Asia, maybe places that aren’t console-first, you can say, ‘hey, do you want to watch 30 seconds of an ad and then get two hours of game streaming?…Africa is, you know, 50% of the population is 23 years old or younger with a growing disposable income base, all with cell phones and mobile devices, not a lot of high-end disposable income, generally-speaking…So we can go in with our own business models and say…there’s millions and millions of gamers we would never have been able to address there, and now we can go in with our business models.”
Personally, I’d rather pay the extra money and avoid ads altogether, but the idea that you could get two hours of gameplay after watching a 30-second ad is actually a decent deal when compared to how often ads are starting to show up on streaming services.
How those ads will work with multiplayer games, however, I have no idea. Imagine you’re about to win Battle Royale in Fortnite and an ad for Heinz Ketchup comes barreling through the wall.
It’s also unclear if the ad-supported tier would be cheaper or completely free, but the latter is certainly a possibility.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Xbox try this out, especially when it’s watching all of the streaming services continue to increase the prices of their ad-free tiers and push the ad-supported tiers to their subscribers. It’s a more profitable business model for the streamers so, theoretically, it could also apply to the cloud gaming industry as well.
We’ll have to wait and see if Xbox actually goes through with this idea, and it seems like it would be — at least at launch — only available in select markets where they believe that model would work better than something like Game Pass Ultimate. One thing is for sure, though. The ads are making a resurgence and we all must prepare.