On July 23rd, one of the most significant moments of the Xbox Games Showcase was not one of the myriad of cinematic trailers promising Series X exclusives years out, but the reunion of two old friends.
That would the news that Bungie was bringing Destiny 2 to Xbox Game Pass. Not just the base game, which is already free to play, but all of its paid expansions, including Forsaken, Shadowkeep and to everyone’s surprise, this fall’s Beyond Light. While Beyond Light is not a full sequel, it is a huge release for the series, and is shaping up to possibly be its largest expansion ever with a fully new elemental class and two new zones (well, one old one) that we know about. In short, it might as well be a sequel, considering Destiny 3 is probably never going to exist.
This is significant, and to me, represents a pretty watershed moment for the gaming industry. Bungie is no longer owned by Microsoft, so it is doing this as a third party. It is effectively offering Game Pass subscribers Beyond Light on Series X and PC (later in 2021, as part of PC Game Pass) “for free.” And with cross save between PS4, Steam and Xbox, that expands its reach further. The Game Pass addition also means you can play Destiny on certain mobile devices through that system now too.
This feels like the future. It’s not just Microsoft offering its own games at launch on Game Pass, but they’ve made it appealing enough to lure Bungie in as well, no doubt offering them a decent pile of cash to do so, but it should be a win-win for both parties.
We can already see this starting to happen elsewhere. One thing we learned yesterday is that Halo Infinite will exist as a “platform” and will be the main Halo game for the indefinite future with more and more added to it in time. And all of that will continue to be on Game Pass, obviously.
This is a combination of two different trends, the shift to subscription models in media generally, which has fully consumed TV, but is now inching into games, and game franchises that last 5-15 years as a single entity, rather than something with numbered sequels and new box copies.
It’s hard to know exactly what the next franchise to go this route will be, but I would not be surprised to see maybe Call of Duty turn into a “platform” where its new releases are part of an ongoing stream of content, rather than hard resets every single year. Some games have been doing this already. Fortnite already exists as a platform and being free with no paid expansions, doesn’t need to be a part of a Game Pass at all. Other games have already set this trend in motion a long time ago. We never got World of Warcraft 2. We will never see League of Legends 2.
Yes, $60 games and numbered sequels will still exist. And yet I would not be surprised to see less of those and more of what Destiny is doing. Godfall, Avengers are new loot-based IPs that seem like they may follow this trend, even if they’re not showing up on Game Pass at launch. But 2-3 years from now? Maybe debuting your new title on Game Pass (or something like it) will not be so weird to consider. This is the direction everything is moving.
Sony and Nintendo can likely hold out for a while here. I do think Game Pass is a force to be reckoned with, more so than the actual Xbox Series X, certainly, but Sony and Nintendo keep pumping out first party hits that more or less demand purchase, which is why even with this trend becoming clear, we see The Last of Us Part 2 and Ghost of Tsushima breaking records to this day. But will the day come when Sony needs a PlayStation Game Pass to compete? That seems likely in the long run, even if they can postpone a move like that a while longer, due to their current lead and recent string of hits.
This is the future. I don’t know far in the future before we get to a “majority subscription” gaming industry, but I don’t think it’s as far off as people realize. Microsoft is all-in on the concept, trying to arrive first as “Netflix” and make everyone else play catch-up later. And if third parties are starting to waver and get on board, that’s a significant step in that direction. More to come.
The content featured on https://entertainment.directv.com/ is editorial content brought to you by AT&T. While some of the programming discussed may now or in the future be available by our or our affiliates distribution services, the companies and persons discussed and depicted, and the authors and publishers of licensed content, are not necessarily associated with and do not necessarily endorse AT&T. When you click on ads on this site you may be taken to AT&T marketing pages that display advertising content. Content sponsored or co-created by programmers is identified as "Sponsored Content" or "Promoted Content."