In an internal memo to employees, Sony Interactive Entertainment President Jim Ryan appears to say he is not worried or fazed by Xbox Game Pass...but the competitor should be worried about Microsoft's value-oriented subscription.
The games industry is rife with disruptive trends that ultimately end up defining an entire generation. We've seen this happen with microtransactions, live services, battle passes, and free-to-play that wraps all of these things together. Now the latest trend is subscription services, and it's all thanks to Xbox Game Pass, a model that is largely seen as the major value-oriented force in the industry.
Xbox Game Pass cannot and should not be ignored. Sony has responded to Xbox Game Pass by making their own PlayStation Plus service more like Game Pass and mimicking the popular and profitable business model--adding value through access to tons of video games for a monthly, quarterly, and yearly fee.
Interestingly enough, it appears that Jim Ryan, who leads Sony's game division, has downplayed the significance of Xbox Game Pass in an apparent effort to improve morale.
In an internal memo to employees that was acquired by Insider Gaming, the PlayStation boss said this about Game Pass:
"When we consider Game Pass, [subscriber counts] seem to be getting lower. We've sold more PS5s in two years than they have gathered subscribers, and they've been doing that for 6-7 years."
This is a bizarre comment given what Sony has told the United Kingdom's Competition Markets Authority (CMA) in regards to Xbox Game Pass and how it relates to the proposed $68.7 billion on Microsoft-Activision merger.
In documentation submitted to the CMA, Sony up-played Xbox Game Pass and its commanding reach on the subscription market.
Sony says the following on page 12, para. 33 of the document:
"Game Pass leads PlayStation Plus significantly - Microsoft already has a substantial lead in multi-game subscription services. Game Pass has 29 million subscribers to Xbox Game Pass Console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and is expected to grow substantially in the future. The multi-games subscription tiers of PlayStation Plus considerably lag, with fewer than [REDACTED] the number of subscribers."
So which is it? Is Xbox Game Pass a threat, or is it something that Sony shouldn't worry about?
Ryan's comments seem to be an attempt to keep favor among employees but he's doing it in a way that's odd, especially given the public information and quotes provided by Sony. However it would be an exceptionally large mistake to ignore or downplay Xbox Game Pass, a service that has essentially disrupted the entire video games industry.