OPINION: Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is set to have a seismic impact on the gaming industry, but while there’s been a lot of focus on how it might affect PlayStation, there’s a good chance it will also have consequences. major consequences for Steam.
Steam is currently the leading digital storefront for PC games, and while the Epic Games Store has recently gained momentum as a competitor, it hasn’t even reached a similar number of active users yet.
Steam revealed in 2020 that it had 120 million monthly active players, while Epic revealed that its storefront had 58 million monthly active users in 2021. This shows that Steam is comfortably the most popular PC platform. more popular right now.
But a new challenger has entered the ring: Microsoft’s Game Pass. For those unaware, it’s a subscription service that gives you access to a huge library of games for a monthly fee – it’s often been described as the “Netflix of gaming”.
Microsoft recently revealed that Game Pass currently has 25 million subscribers, although it’s worth pointing out that this number combines both the PC and Xbox (and even smartphone) user base. Such a figure will not worry Steam for now, although this could soon change after the acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
In the near future, all game series from the Activision Blizzard acquisition will be available through Game Pass. This includes Call of Duty, Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Tony Hawk and more. These franchises join The Elder Scrolls, Doom, Fallout, Halo, Forza, Gears and Fable under the Xbox umbrella.
Of course, it’s important to remember that all of these games will probably also be available via Steam, as there won’t be any exclusivity issues like with PlayStation, but why bother paying £50 or more on these games? through Steam when you can pay £7.99 a month through Game Pass instead?
As Xbox’s portfolio continues to grow, it becomes much more attractive to sign up for the Game Pass subscription rather than paying high upfront fees to purchase games individually. Don’t get me wrong, digital storefronts will still be around – just like how you can still buy movies rather than sign up for Netflix – but chances are Steam will start to see a drop in sales for some of the more prominent. game franchises.
But there is a solution to this problem for Valve, as it could launch its own subscription service to directly support Game Pass. It wouldn’t need to abandon its incredibly successful storefront – much like Xbox didn’t abandon the Microsoft Store – but could offer it as an additional option.
Valve is already in a great position to emulate the Game Pass model, as it already has an established working relationship with all the major game publishers. And while there aren’t as many first-party game franchises like Microsoft, Half-Life, Portal, and Left 4 Dead are still hugely popular.
Having the option of a Steam Pass would also make Steam Deck purchases even more tempting, helping to increase hardware sales while earning consistent revenue from its user base.
Valve could even include VR games in its subscription service, one-on-one with Viveport. This would be especially handy for Valve since it already owns the Index VR headset. And with Half-Life Alyx being one of the highest-rated VR games currently available, that would immediately make the Steam Pass a more attractive option over HTC’s Viveport.
All things considered, it makes so much sense for Steam to emulate Microsoft’s Game Pass model that I really think it’s only a matter of time before a Steam Pass arrives. In fact, I can see many other companies jumping on the bandwagon. PlayStation is reportedly working on a Project Spartacus service to tackle Game Pass, while Nintendo already offers NES, SNES and N64 games via a monthly payment model, with Game Boy games rumored to arrive later this year.
It is inevitable that the gaming industry will follow the same path as TV streaming apps, with subscription services offering consumer-friendly value. So it’s very likely that Valve will adopt this model eventually, but it’s arguably important to act now before Microsoft’s Game Pass gains momentum and begins to threaten to replace Steam as a platform. Essential PC.
Ctrl + Alt + Del is our weekly IT-focused opinion column where we dig deep into the world of computers, laptops, components, peripherals and more. Find it on Trusted Reviews every Saturday afternoon.