News of Microsoft’s Xbox subscription service has caused the share price of the two big High Street games retailers to fall.
In the US, GameStop saw its share price drop eight per cent from $26.5 to as low as $23.61, although it has since recovered a little to $24.44. In the UK, GAME saw its price fall from 43.26p to 42.09p – a number it has again fallen to after a brief recovery.
Xbox Games Pass will cost £7.99 a month and offer members the chance to access a constantly shifting library of titles. It’s very much along the line of EA Access, but with titles from a range of publishers and spanning both Xbox One and backwardly compatible Xbox 360 titles.
Confirmed launch games include Halo 5: Guardians, Payday 2, NBA 2K16 and SoulCalibur II. Partner publishers include Warner Bros, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Sega, Codemasters, 2K, 505 Games, SNK, THQ Nordic, Deep Silver and Focus.
Instant Library services already exist, of course. EA Access, which is available on Xbox One and PC, is the closest direct competitor, although that is restricted to only EA titles. Both PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold members also receive free games each month as part of their subscriptions.
Nonetheless, the markets have always been wary of any moves that signal a potential shift away from traditional games retail. While the High Street has so far weathered the digital transition quite well, more recently there have been signs that perhaps a tipping point is nearing. And the spectre of what happened to music retail still looms large.
Retailers will tell you that they play a large part in selling digital content themselves via the sale of codes. However, with consumers growing increasingly comfortable with buying content directly through their devices, and internet speeds always on the up, questions remain over the long-term viability of this model.