Game Pass has proven to be of great value over the years. It's a way to venture outside our comfort zones and explore games we would normally hesitate to buy. It's not only been a great way for us to explore our tastes but for developers to make weirder and more wonderful games.
That's certainly the case for Pentiment, a game that director Josh Sawyer says wouldn't exist without Microsoft's subscription service. He appeared on Waypoint's Radio podcast, telling host Rob Zacny "I never would have proposed making Pentiment without Game Pass. Like, I literally just wouldn't have done it. I just don't think it would have been possible."
Sawyer cited "the old mentality of publishers and developers" and their desire to focus on "larger teams, larger investment" for a higher return on said investment. "And that's not really the point in this environment [referring to Game Pass], that's not like why things exist in this ecosystem."
He added: "In a traditional model, I just don't think I would have even bothered because no one's going to pick that up. Even if my boss were supportive of it, it would have been so incredibly difficult to get a publisher to pick it up. And that's why this specific environment is the only way in which I really conceive of it being viable."
Sawyer said that Xbox was "very supportive" of Pentiment throughout development, "specifically because it is very niche and unusual. And it has a high appeal to a very enthusiastic audience. So the process is quite different from the old publisher model. But so far, it's been different in a positive way."
Despite Sawyer making the game for a "small audience that is into the idea of the game," I've seen a lot of people diving in and singing its praises. Josh Wolens was one of those people, scoring Obsidian's murder mystery a lovely 88 in his Pentiment review. "Pentiment is a rare beast: A relatively short, gameplay-light narrative adventure from a studio renowned for its lengthy, mechanics-heavy RPGs," he wrote." Obsidian’s tight grasp on its subject matter and thorough understanding of exactly what it wanted to do with Pentiment has produced a game that I wanted to launch again just as soon as I finished it."
It's nice to see developers benefitting from Game Pass, as well as Microsoft supporting more niche games. Let's just hope that the service stays that way, and I don't have to tell Wes Fenlon he was right and that Game Pass can't stay a good deal forever.