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Gears 5 outsold Gears 4, even though it’s on Game Pass

Xbox boss Phil Spencer says the title has been a big success, and Game Pass has helped

Gears 5 has been a big seller for Microsoft, which held its XO19 convention this week. The Coalition’s latest entry in the Gears series has outsold Gears of War 4, despite – or perhaps thanks to – its inclusion with Xbox’s Game Pass.

In an interview with Eurogamer, Xbox boss Phil Spencer says the mixed business model Microsoft is using now gives players more choice, and that’s translated to more players sticking around and playing more games.

“Gears 5 sold well for us,” Spencer said. “It sold better than Gears 4. And we feel good about it. If people want to make the choice of buying Gears, that’s an option we want to give them. I’m not trying to funnel everybody who wants to play Gears into the subscription. It’s about giving gamers choice.”

It’s getting trickier to define what a ‘successful’ launch is now that subscriptions like Xbox Game Pass, which is now also available in a PC version, are on the rise. Gears 5’s initial retail numbers in the UK looked pretty poor, in fact – but Microsoft insists it’s the best launch in the series’ lengthy history.

According to Spencer, Microsoft has chosen to look at a different metric than units sold. Now, he says, players are the determining factor in whether a game is a success. But he concedes that player counts aren’t a be-all end-all number.

“As Game Pass continues to grow, I don’t want us to think that every game has to reach every subscriber,” he said. “Because the subscriber base is already too big for that.”

And as far as Spencer is concerned, Gears 5 has been successful.

“Hey, how do I judge if Gears 5 has been a success? What I will say is we’re incredibly happy with Gears 5,” he said. “It did review well. It has a tonne of players. We’re taking feedback on certain things … But I thought it was a great release in the Gears franchise and it drove a tonne of players who wanted to go play, and that’s awesome.”

You can read our Gears 5 review here.