Xbox Game Pass is the first time that the subscription model has made economic sense for game developers, according to Playdead and Jumpship co-founder Dino Patti.
Speaking on a panel hosted by at Gamelab 2019, Patti touched on a subject that often gets lost amid the noise around Microsoft's first-party studio acquisitions. While Double Fine, Obsidian, inXile and the rest will be making content for Game Pass, third-party studios face a different reality.
"With subscription models, there are two angles: the consumer angle and the developer angle," said Dino Patti, who departed Playdead in 2016, and has since co-founded both Jumpship and Coherence. "Consumers want as many games as possible, as cheaply as possible... But the developer needs to look at what [the deal] gives them."
"With Game Pass, Microsoft is doing it correctly for the developers"
Dino Patti
Microsoft's first-party studios will be judged by a certain set of metrics, of course, but for third-party studios to be involved with Game Pass, the deal has to make sense upfront. In that respect, Patti said, previous subscription services like OnLive and Gaikai fell short even despite the technical limitations of streaming. Game Pass is not a streaming service, but from Patti's point-of-view Microsoft has got the most important aspect right.
"For me -- and I might be a bit biased -- but I think the way the business is with Game Pass is the first time subscription is what could be considered fair for developers," he added. "All other business models that have been suggested with subscriptions have never worked out, because they didn't know what developers actually need.
"With Game Pass, Microsoft is doing it correctly, I feel, for the developers."
According to Paradox Interactive's Fredrik Wester -- another panellist at Gamelab 2019 -- a common mistake that many people make is to compare Game Pass to services like Spotify and Netflix, as if they are "the same thing with the same business model."