It’s 2019, and the standards for a game’s success are rapidly shifting. Gears 5 sales – at least in the UK – have been just a fraction of its predecessors, yet Microsoft is saying that this is “biggest launch week of any Xbox Game Studios title this generation.” Microsoft has run a whole bunch of heavy promotion for Xbox Game Pass leading into the new title’s release, and it looks like the subscription era is truly upon us.
Gears 5 brought in over three million players in the first weekend, which doubles the same figure for Gears of War 4, and marks Microsoft’s most successful first-party launch since Halo 4 on Xbox 360, according to the official announcement. The new game has also tripled its predecessor’s performance on PC, and marks Microsoft’s “best-ever debut on Steam” – though Gears 5’s Steam player counts probably just speak poorly to the company’s previous efforts on the platform.
This is despite Gears 5’s poor performance in UK retail charts. As analyst Daniel Ahmad notes, Gears of War 4 sold 4.5 times better in its launch week, and Gears of War 3 – at the height of the Xbox 360’s success and before digital distribution was a major factor – sold 20 times better.
Xbox Game Pass is a solid deal at its standard price, and new users have been able to get in for as little as $1 USD. That’s certainly a contributing factor to Gears 5’s success, but it shows that players are certainly ready to start playing new titles through subscription services.
Gears 5 is the highest-profile launch on Game Pass so far, and soon Uplay Plus will offer up access to big Ubisoft titles like Ghost Recon Breakpoint and Watch Dogs Legion on day one.