Controversial point of view incoming!
The short version: I think Gamepass isn’t a system seller. Certainly not at the moment. There’s little reason for the general public to buy a Series X anytime soon.
Longer version: This will be controversial here, I’m sure, but unfortunately for Microsoft, Gamepass is a great deal without a killer app. People who aren’t already Xbox players will not be convinced by the current offering. Yes, once you have a subscription, you understand how great it is to be able to just grab any game, yes it’s brilliant to be able to play games you wouldn’t pay for but this does not sell a $€£500 piece of hardware. There’s no need to correct me with the “Microsoft only care about subscribers” line, in this thread, I’m talking about them wanting to sell xbox Series X (I assume Series S isn’t coming this year).
Without a big game on launch day people will not be swayed by Gamepass. “You can play Double Kick Heroes and Yakuza Kiwame and Wasteland 3” (those are the gp games i have played most recently). That does not sell a system versus “you can play the new Halo.” Sorry, it just doesn’t. Those games are events, not to be missed. People buy systems for those experiences.
I think Microsoft are in real trouble this launch, and you can see online that other people either don’t get the value proposition of gamepass or they don’t care about it because they’ve already decided to get a PS5. Without a really big compelling title, Gamepass is great to have, once you’ve already bought a console.
I am a huge xbox fan, have played all the Halo games, bought the expensive controller, bought a launch day Xbox One, an S and now an X, had 3 360s too (premium, Elite and S) and even with that level of brand loyalty, I don’t know why I should get a Series X. If I’m thinking that, then the general public definitely aren’t convinced.
System seller: something that you have to play, something you cannot get anywhere else.
What Microsoft are offering is, unfortunately, not selling systems. What they’re currently offering is “games you can play everywhere else but we have them in a subscription”, maybe the best version of multiplatform titles, but probably roughly the same as what you’ll see elsewhere for the next year or two. The major 3rd party releases coming to Series X will be on X1/PS4, that will likely be what defines these games, and make no mistake, there are so many X1&PS4 consoles out there, that getting those versions working optimally will be the main concern for a 3rd party publisher.
While Microsoft have bought an impressive number of studios to make games for them, there aren’t any ready for launch day AFAIK. Why am I buying Series X? The best argument I’ve got is that I’ll probably want to get one before they drop the price/release a revision/ bundle some other things in. Other than that, I’ve got “play Gears5 again in slightly higher fidelity” if I zoom in on the screen like digital foundry does, I’ll be able to see some differences.
So, if you can, change my mind. I want to feel enthusiastic about getting a Series X, but what is there to be positive about on launch day, not 2 years later? I fully expect that once the current generation is dropped that Series X will be delivering noticeably the best version of multiplatform software, in 2 years time we’ll have Halo and the other first parties will start to deliver what they’ve been working on, but right now in September 2020, what is there to convince me or anyone else to buy one of the most expensive consoles ever?
For the record, I don’t think that Sony are offering much at launch either, but at least people considering their system have a couple of things which look to arrive at or near launch, which they seem to be enthusiastic about. Those games aren’t for me, but at least they appear to be available imminently.
It’d be better for everyone if both manufacturers delayed to 2021.