Ctrl+Alt+Delete: Why Steam needs to copy the Game Pass model

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Stance:
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard looks set to take a seismic impact on the gaming manufacture, but while near of the focus has been on how it could affect PlayStation, there’southward a large take a chance it volition also have major consequences for the likes of Steam.

Steam is currently the leading digital storefront for PC gaming, and while Epic Games Store has recently been on the rise as a competitor, it’s yet to fifty-fifty come close to reaching a like number of active users.

Steam revealed back in 2022 that information technology had 120 million monthly active players, while Epic revealed its storefront had 58 one thousand thousand monthly active users in 2022. This shows that Steam is comfortably the virtually popular PC platform right at present.

But a new challenger has entered the band: Microsoft’south Game Pass. For those unaware, this is a subscription service that gives you access to a massive library of games for a monthly fee – it’due south often been described as the ‘Netflix of gaming’.

Microsoft recently revealed that Game Laissez passer currently has 25 million subscribers, although information technology’southward worth pointing out that number combines both the PC and Xbox (and even smartphone) user base. Such a effigy won’t exist worrying Steam just even so, although that could soon modify post-obit the Activision Blizzard conquering.


In the most future, every game serial in the Activision Blizzard acquisition will be available through Game Pass. That includes Call of Duty, Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Tony Militarist and more. Those franchises join the likes of The Elder Scrolls, Doom, Fallout, Halo, Forza, Gears and Fable under the Xbox umbrella.

Of course, it’s important to remember that all of those games will probable exist available via Steam too, equally there won’t exist any exclusivity issues similar with PlayStation, but why bother paying £50 or more than on these games via Steam when you tin can pay £7.99 per calendar month via Game Pass instead?

As Xbox’southward portfolio continues to abound, it’s becoming far more appealing to sign up to the Game Pass subscription rather than paying high upfront fees to purchase games individually. Don’t get me incorrect, digital storefronts will e’er exist effectually – just like how you can still buy films rather than signing upwardly to Netflix – but at that place’s a adept chance that Steam could outset to see a decline in sales for some of the highest contour game franchises.

Only at that place is a solution to this upshot for Valve, as it could launch its very own subscription service to accept on Game Laissez passer directly. Information technology wouldn’t need to abandon its incredibly successful storefront – only equally Xbox hasn’t ditched the Microsoft Store – but could offer it as an additional option.

Valve is already in a great position to imitate the Game Pass model, since it already has an established working relationship with all of the major game publishers. And while it hasn’t got as many showtime-party game franchises like Microsoft, the likes of Half-Life, Portal and Left iv Dead are still hugely popular.

Steam Deck

Having the option of a Steam Laissez passer would also make the likes of the Steam Deck fifty-fifty more than of a tempting purchase, helping to heave hardware sales as well every bit getting a consequent income from its user base.

Valve could fifty-fifty include VR games in its subscription service, going caput-to-head with Viveport. That would exist particularly handy for Valve since information technology already owns the Index VR headset. And with One-half-Life Alyx being one of the height rated VR games currently available, it would immediately make the Steam Pass a more enticing option compared to HTC’s Viveport.

With all things considered, information technology makes so much sense for Steam to imitate Microsoft’south Game Laissez passer model that I really do call back it’s just a matter of fourth dimension until a Steam Laissez passer arrives. In fact, I can run into many other companies jumping on the bandwagon. PlayStation is said to be working on a Project Spartacus service to tackle Game Pass, while Nintendo is already offer NES, SNES and N64 games via a pay-monthly model, with Game Boy games rumoured to arrive later this twelvemonth.

It’due south inevitable that the gaming industry volition go down the same route as Idiot box streaming apps, with subscription services offering consumer-friendly value. So Valve is highly likely to adopt this model eventually, simply it’south arguably important to act now before Microsoft’due south Game Pass gains momentum and starts threatening to displace Steam as the go-to PC platform.


Ctrl+Alt+Delete is our weekly computing-focussed opinion column where we delve deeper into the world of computers, laptops, components, peripherals and more. Find it on Trusted Reviews every Sabbatum afternoon.

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