Xbox Chief Phil Spencer Wants A Netflix-Like Subscription Model For Console Games

Console gaming is in a sort of interesting place at the moment. New generations of hardware are building on top of previous releases, such as the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One S, and later Project Scorpio. Rather than release brand new systems that leave the old ones behind, these incremental upgrades are faster and more capable versions. And on the software side, developers are spending more time supporting their games with extra DLC and graphical upgrades. These things combined have led to a sort of game-as-a-service model, which Xbox boss Phil Spencer would like to see evolve.

Into what, exactly? Well, he envisions a subscription model similar to Netflix and HBO Go.

Xbox One S Game

"I’ve looked at things like Netflix and HBO, where great content has been created because there’s this subscription model. Shannon Loftis and I are thinking a lot about, well, could we put story-based games into the Xbox Game Pass business model because you have a subscription going? It would mean you wouldn’t have to deliver the whole game in one month; you could develop and deliver the game as it goes," Spencer told The Guardian.

For the most part, gaming subscription services up to this point have been focused on giving gamers access to a back catalog of titles. But what Spencer observes is that it has become increasingly risky for studios to commit to creative games with new types of narratives. That is why he is inspired by what Netflix has been able to do with its original series and distribution platform.

"We’re in a golden age of television right now,” Spencer added. "The storytelling ability in TV today is really high, and I think it’s because of the business model. I hope as an industry we can think about the same. [Subscription services] might spur new story-based games coming to market because there’s a new business model to help support their monetization."

It is not a farfetched idea, at least no more farfetched than what Netflix faced in the early going. Before streaming video services came along, it would be hard to imagine studios investing in projects like Stranger Things or Game of Thrones, two highly popular shows that were developed in-house at Netflix and HBO, respectively.

That is not to say that Spencer's vision would be one that is easy to implement. First-party titles on Xbox aren't as compelling (as a whole) as what is available from Sony, the latter of which has Naughty Dog, Guerilla, Media Molecule, and others.

What do you think—would you pay for a gaming subscription service that had unique and compelling games, or do you think the gaming model is just fine the way it is? Sound off in the comments section below!