From it's launch in 2017, Xbox has been keeping a close eye on all sorts of statistics related to Game Pass. Especially with all first-party Xbox releases launching day-and-date on Game Pass, the pertinent measures of success expanded beyond subscriber count and retention. For a subscription model like this to really pay off, Game Pass subscribers need to do and play more—today, Xbox has announced more figures that indicate they're doing exactly that.
A new post from Head of Xbox Phil Spencer leads off with news that Game Pass has amassed over 10 million subscribers. This was first mentioned briefly on Microsoft's quarterly earnings call yesterday, which also noted that the company attributes a bump in gaming engagement to stay-at-home orders in response to COVID-19.
Spencer's post also touches on the pandemic's effects before offering another significant statistic: since March, Game Pass members have added over 23 million friends on Xbox Live. That's a 70% increase in "friendship rate," and it's accompanied by a 130% leap in time spent playing multiplayer games for Game Pass subscribers.
Adding more friends and playing more multiplayer games, which can tend to be "stickier" in terms of player retention, are both good signs that Game Pass is doing more than letting subscribers quickly dip in and out of the catalog's offerings. That said, subscribers are still playing more games than non-subscribers: Spencer again cites that the Game Pass subscribers play 40% more games than non-subscribers and that 90% of people who use the service have played a game they wouldn't have otherwise. Back in October 2019, ID@Xbox's Agostino Simonetta revealed those increases are coupled with a 30% jump in genre variety.
As important as Xbox's subscriptions and services approach will be heading into the next generation, Spencer has repeatedly assured the public that quality hardware remains a focus and that Game Pass isn't an attempt to dissuade people from buying games. "[T]here's no slide deck anywhere that says 'hey, we want to turn everyone into a subscriber, nobody should buy,'" Spencer told Gamertag Radio in February. "That's why sometimes when people use 'the Netflix of games' I bristle a little bit, because Netflix doesn't sell the content that's in Netflix. For us, if people want to go buy their games, we think that's a really healthy part of the industry."
Regardless of how Spencer feels about comparisons to the service as it exists today, it's interesting to note that Netflix hit 10 million subscribers in early 2009, toward the tail end of last decade's global recession. With the Xbox Series X on the way and Microsoft expanding its xCloud game streaming service to Game Pass subscribers later this year, there will be a lot of ways people can choose to spend their money in the Xbox ecosystem. You can imagine that few people will go all-in on a Series X, Game Pass, and xCloud all at once, especially during the COVID-19 economic recovery. A cheap monthly subscription could serve lots of people well regardless of what system they're playing on.