The Ascent shows how Xbox Game Pass can help smaller titles sell big
This story about the streaming network effect, boiled down, in 1:29 minutes.
What’s the fuss?
A newly released indie game sold big on its first week of release, even though the game was on a streaming service and could be played almost for free. Counter-intuitively, it may have been streaming itself that was the catalyst.
- Newly added to this catalogue is The Ascent, an indie top-down futuristic shooter that was created by twelve talented Swedish developers.
- The game was also available to purchase outright on both platforms for an upfront fixed price.
According to the game’s publisher, The Ascent earned more than $5 million in pure sales on its opening weekend, despite the fact that gamers could have gotten the game at no additional cost through Xbox Game Pass.
- Rave critical reviews and worldwide coverage on Twitch and Youtube likely aided in these sales figures via word-of-mouth.
- Such success puts the indie title in the same eschelon of AAA titles, securing the #1 spot on the Steam Global Charts (a ranking of the most sold PC titles) over the weekend.
Boiling it down
- Gamers are almost like Netflix bingers in a sense — when a lot of people start talking about a new show/game that is on a service like Netflix or Xbox Game Pass, the word-of-mouth spreads rapidly.
- Game Pass helps build a foundational player base for its games due to its lower barriers to entry, who then can influence players without Game Pass to purchase the game outright.
- The Ascent is able to be played with friends, which also enhances the attractiveness of the game as it favours this interpersonal networking.
The Ascent isn’t the only smaller game to benefit from the Network Effect, in fact Microsoft has seen many of its Game Pass games still sell well outside of their streaming service.
- However, many AAA game development executives have criticized the economics of using the service for frontline titles.