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Xbox Game Pass inclusion leads to lower sales, Microsoft admits

Contradicting past statements
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The recently released provisional report by the UK Competition and Market Authority (CMA) on Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard continues to generate news.

Data spotted inside the report, which Microsoft provided the CMA as evidence during the investigation, confirms that the inclusion of video games in Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass subscription service lowers their sales (thanks,

The relevant passage in the report reads: "Microsoft also submitted that its internal analysis shows a [redacted]% decline in base game sales twelve months following their addition on Game Pass.” Activision is shown to be skeptical towards putting its titles into subscription services in general, with the report quoting Microsoft documents about the topic. In particular, the publisher believes that the sales of newer releases are severely impacted by such a move.

This directly contradicts a statement made by Xbox boss Phil Spencer in 2018, who said: "When you put a game like Forza Horizon 4 on Game Pass, you instantly have more players of the game, which is actually leading to more sales of the game.”

He claimed that the ‘try before you buy’ nature of Game Pass encouraged sales of these games at a later date: “You say, ‘Well isn't everyone just going to subscribe for $10 and go play this thing?’ But no, gamers find things to play based on what everybody else is playing.”

Unlike Microsoft, which adds even big new releases to Xbox Game Pass on launch day to get people to subscribe, Sony has been keeping its blockbusters away from PS Plus for at least a year before making them available via subscription.