Phil Spencer Pushed Hard for Xbox Game Pass Despite Internal Doubts: ‘Wouldn’t Take No For an Answer’

One of the biggest changes to the Xbox business in the past five years has been the introduction of the Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft Games CEO Phil Spencer has been its biggest champion, and according to a new profile, a major reason why Microsoft took a chance on the experimental gaming service in the first place.

In a profile by the Wall Street Journal, Xbox Game Pass — a service where for a monthly fee players can download and play from a library of games, including Xbox first-party titles — was born from Microsoft’s success with its cloud service business. But it was never a guarantee Microsoft would go through with the proposal.

“In meetings, Mr. Spencer’s staff would present arguments for why Game Pass Wouldn’t work — publishers wouldn’t participate, or it would eat into profits,” says former Xbox veteran Richard Irving.

28 Best Xbox Game Pass Games

“‘[Phil Spencer] wouldn’t take no for an answer,’” Irving added, saying Spencer was at the center of pushing forward with Xbox Game Pass. “He was always trying to find a way to make it work.”

While Xbox Game Pass has been touted as a success with around 25 million subscribers. There are reports that PlayStation is working on a similar service codenamed Project Spartacus.

Unlike Netflix which streams movies and TV shows to devices, Game Pass subscribers can download games to their PC or consoles locally, though Xbox also offers Cloud Streaming as well. Another feature of Xbox Game Pass is being able to access first-party Xbox titles on day one when they’re released.

Spencer is set to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 25th Annual DICE Awards for his work at Microsoft, which includes introducing services like Game Pass. He has also overseen Xbox’s major acquisitions including Activision Blizzard and last year’s ZeniMax Media.

Matt T.M. Kim is IGN’s News Editor. You can reach him @lawoftd.



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