Microsoft’s Xbox closed out 2023 with a decreasing number of Xbox Game Pass subscribers, according to third-party data.

Estimates on Xbox Game Pass subscriber numbers at the end of the last year place it at around 33 million users, reports IGN. This rings true with reports that adoption is slowing down and growth falling by two percentage points in 2023 according to industry analysts.

“We’re seeing slowing adoption of Xbox Game Pass even though Microsoft will claim otherwise thanks to the repositioning of Xbox Live Gold as Xbox Game Pass Core,” Omdia senior game analyst James McWhirter told IGN. “Our forecast estimates total Xbox Game Pass subscriptions (excluding Core/Live Gold) to be at 33.3 million at the end of 2023, which represents subscriber growth of just 13% – down from 15% in 2022. Notably, over half (55%) are currently on the device-agnostic Ultimate tier.”

Xbox is typically shy of sharing exact hardware or software numbers publicly, so it’s worth taking these numbers with a pinch of salt. However, what can’t be denied is that there’s immense pressure on Xbox to stand up to the big boys of Sony and Nintendo, especially with the Activision Blizzard deal now tidied away.

Pressure on Microsoft’s plans for 2024 subscriber growth

Microsoft has long since voiced plans to “meet gamers where they are”, not wanting to force players to buy consoles to play games. Indeed, it put its money where its mouth is in 2019, releasing previously exclusive games Cuphead and Ori and the Blind Forest to Nintendo’s Switch store.

This is an unusual move for gaming companies that sell their own consoles, with the majority pursuing Apple-style campaigns where consumers need to own the consoles to buy the in-house games. This still applies to some major titles on Xbox, but crucially not all. After all, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can play games on console, PC, or cloud, negating the need for a console on all Xbox Game Pass titles.

However, with Xbox Game Pass subscribers now flagging, it might be that Microsoft will need to think of another way to appeal to the wider market of gamers in 2024.

Featured image: Jakub Sisulak/Pexels

Rachael Davis

Freelance Journalist

Rachael Davies has spent six years reporting on tech and entertainment, writing for publications like the Evening Standard, Huffington Post, Dazed, and more. From niche topics like the latest gaming mods to consumer-faced guides on the latest tech, she puts her MA in Convergent Journalism to work, following avenues guided by a variety of interests. As well as writing, she also has experience in editing as the UK Editor of The Mary Sue , as well as speaking on the important of SEO in journalism at the Student Press Association National Conference. You can find her full portfolio over on Muck Rack or follow her on social media on X.