Microsoft has announced that Gears of War 5 has outsold Gears of War 4, despite launching simultaneously on Xbox Game Pass. The announcement comes out of Microsoft's recent X019 conference, by way of Vice President of Gaming Phil Spencer. At the conference, Microsoft also revealed plans to further strengthen the catalogue of games coming to Xbox Game Pass.
Gears of War 5 released back in September 2019, almost three years after its predecessor Gears 4. Both Gears of War games are connected by a continuous story plot, while Gears 5 has seen success, Gears 4 struggled in terms of sales because of its release date. Between the date of the game's release and the end of November (~1 month), a myriad of AAA games were released. Among them were Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2, Dishonored 2, Watch Dogs 2, and many more. Needless to say, the release window for Gears 4 was mighty congested. For Gears 5, Microsoft moved the release window up a month, further separating the game from the Holiday rush.
Phil Spencer's comments on the positive sales figures for Gears 5 came in an interview with Eurogamer. In talking about Gears 5 sales and its inclusion in Game Pass, Spencer says,
"Gears 5 sold well for us. 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. Certain players will make the decision as part of Game Pass that they'll either want to start to subscribe, or they're already a subscriber and they stay subscribed."
Another game that launched in retail and for Game Pass was Obsidian Entertainment's The Outer Worlds. Spencer shared similar optimism for that game as well in saying that "The Outer Worlds can be a game of the year award winner." Obsidian was acquired by Microsoft in 2018 and joined its worldwide Xbox Game Studios. The developer of both Gears 4 and Gears 5 is another member of Xbox Game Studios. In 2014, Microsoft bought the Gears of War IP from Epic Games and tasked the developer, The Coalition to make new games for the IP. There are now 15 total development teams within Xbox Game Studios, and Phil Spencer says that they're always looking to acquire new and exciting creators.
The Xbox brand has come a long way since the troublesome launch of the Xbox One. Microsoft definitely misread its consumer base in terms of price and content expectations. But ever since then, they have been buying studios and listening to their community more than ever. It remains to be seen what the future of Xbox consoles will entail. It seems definite that the code-named Xbox Scarlett will be more or less a traditional game console. But Project xCloud may transform the brand into something more akin to the Google Stadia. And Microsoft already offers Xbox Game Pass for PC, so it's not necessary at all to own an Xbox to enjoy most first party studio games.
Gears of War 5 is available now for Xbox One and PC