Boss Rush Banter: Does Releasing AAA Games on Game Pass Cannibalize Developers’ Profits?

Imagine creating a game, having the highest of hopes, expecting it to do well, and to also turn a profit? Then after years of hard work and sacrifice, your game is polished and ready to be shared with the gaming world. The game does extremely well, and people praise its positive attributes. Now fast forward 5 months ahead to receive news that you have not made any profit from the game you had worked so hard on. Devastating to say the least, but this is exactly what is happening to Outriders, developed by People Can Fly and published by Square Enix.    

When a deal was announced with Microsoft to have the Outriders on Game Pass available on day one of release, plenty of game enthusiasts were quite happy with the decision. When the game launched, plenty of people joined in on the fun, and were extremely happy with the product of this third-person, role-playing looter. But can anyone point out the issues that would arise from this scenario?

I can see a few issues that can cause the retention of a sustainable profit for the publisher, and especially the developer. Here are just a few of my thoughts:

By releasing day one on Xbox consoles and PC platforms, you will have a variety of issues depending on the way you roll out your plan to make a profit.

  • The game is free to those who purchased Game Pass, so you would start to cannibalize profits that could have been made from PlayStation 5 consoles. Plenty of gamers will have an Xbox and/or a PC, so if you have that option to get it for free on a service you already pay for, there is no need to purchase it on another console.
  • Outriders does not have any microtransactions or paid DLC, so with no source of revenue on that end, how will you make a profit?
  • The game released in April of 2021, and this article is written in August 2021. People Can Fly is saying they have not made any profit. In-turn they now do not have the initial money they could have made to put back into the game to maintain and add additional paid or free content, and even worse, they’re struggling to pay the employees.
  • Microsoft and Square Enix will want to receive a cut of revenue generated by the game, so that would leave even less profit for People Can Fly.

What can People Can Fly do about this situation? Can they come up with another source of profit within the already established Outriders IP or is it now too late in the game? How do you feel about Game Pass and do you think it will have big name games come to the service after this incident?

Share your reactions below or join the conversation on the Boss Rush Discord.  

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