Microsoft has disclosed that it is assessing options to make its Xbox Cloud Gaming service more accessible in emerging markets. During a session at the Wells Fargo TMT Summit, Tim Stuart, Xbox's Chief Financial Officer, mooted the concept of ad-supported game streaming. The service, which is currently only available through a paid Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, could potentially offer a few hours of streaming in exchange for viewership of advertisements, though plans to implement such a strategy have not been finalized.
Potential for Expansion
The initiative under consideration focuses on areas with lower console and high-end PC sales. Markets such as Africa, India, and Southeast Asia, where the console market is not dominant, are key targets for this expanded reach. As noted by Stuart, these regions boast a young population with a growing disposable income and widespread mobile device usage, presenting a valuable opportunity for Microsoft to engage with a significantly larger gamer demographic through alternative business models.
Ad-Supported Model in Gaming
The notion of allowing gamers to access premium content by watching ads is a well-established practice in the mobile games industry. While Microsoft has not confirmed any concrete plans for a free ad-supported tier for Xbox Cloud Gaming, the consideration of such an approach reflects the company's interest in adapting this model for its cloud gaming service to address untapped gaming audiences in emerging economies. How Microsoft would structure the ad-supported access and the impact it would have on the company's gaming ecosystem remains an open question.
Microsoft's contemplation of this strategy underlines the continuing evolution of cloud gaming services and the industry's search for sustainable and inclusive models to bring high-quality gaming experiences to broader audiences worldwide. The potential introduction of ad-supported gaming sessions would represent a significant shift in how cloud gaming services operate, potentially making this technology accessible to those without the means to afford current subscription costs.