In the next week, Microsoft will release the latest Gears of War game. The coming of Gears 5 is not really shocking news in and of itself. The fighting based sci-fi shooter is a 30m selling franchise that has earned its creators over $1bn in revenue and even drove the success of the Xbox 360 console. It has also led to a variety of comic books and novels. A sequel in the sequel-loving world is as welcome it gets
But Gears 5 comes with a significant weight on its heavy shoulders. While it looks like it is at the tail end of the Xbox One console’s life-cycle, it will be the flagship title for Microsoft’s rising ‘Game Pass’ subscription service.
For the most part of 18 months now, Microsoft Game Studios has been releasing its first-party games on the Netflix modeled service, which requires the players of the play pay a monthly amount for accessing a downloadable library of games on Xbox One and PC.
The company had previously released significant titles on Game Pass –Sea of Thieves and Forza Horizon 4 to name a few from the top of the head but Gears has the most weight. While Microsoft is still giving these games under the traditional “£50 to buy” model too, placing Gears 5 front and center to drive subscriptions feels like a redundant marketing strategy.
Studio head Rod Fergusson said the company realized there was going to be an extensive range of people who will be dipping into Gears 5 beyond its usual fanbase was an ‘a-ha’ incident for them.
How Gears 5 performs will in all probability be a good indication for how subscription services will work in the future. Not only for Xbox, but it has implications for the whole £140bn gaming industry.