How much does it cost Microsoft to put a game on Xbox Game Pass?

Internal emails revealed in unredacted Microsoft documents have outlined expected costs for putting certain games on Xbox Game Pass.
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An email exchange between Microsoft head of gaming Phil Spencer and other company executives, revealed within Microsoft’s leak of unredacted documents posted publicly via the US courts, has seemingly provided a first look at cost breakdowns for bringing major games on the Xbox Game Pass subscription service.

Between reveals for major blockbusters in development, and new Xbox consoles and controllers, one email chain sent by Spencer describes the unique predicament Microsoft found itself in following the delay of Starfield. “This is really a disaster situation for us given all we’ve invested in content across studios at our GP content fund,” Spencer wrote in an email to Xbox executives dated 7 May 2023.

As a result of the delay, Xbox would have had a 16-month gap in its game schedule – which may have led to player disinterest. To combat this scenario, Sarah Bond, Microsoft VP of gaming business development, provided a detailed breakdown of potential Xbox Game Pass inclusions to plug the gap.

The complete analysis is included within the unredacted documents posted mistakenly by Microsoft, with costs for a range of blockbusters, including Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, revealed.

Read: Microsoft reportedly responsible for leaking its own Xbox documents

Here’s the full breakdown of estimated costs for including games on Xbox Game Pass (whether at launch, or years after launch in the case of GTA V and Red Dead Redemption 2):

  • Star Wars Jedi: Survivor – US $300 million
  • Mortal Kombat 1 – US $250 million
  • Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League – US $250 million
  • Assassin’s Creed Mirage – US $100 million
  • Gotham Knights – US $50 million
  • Dying Light 2 – US $50 million
  • Lego Star Wars – US $35 million
  • Grand Theft Auto V – US $12-15 million per month
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 – US $5 million per month
  • Dragon Ball: The Breakers – US $20 million
  • Wreckfest 2 – US $10-14 million
  • Return to Monkey Island – US $5 million
  • Just Dance – US $5 million
  • Net Crisis Glitch Busters – US $5 million
  • Blood Runner – US $5 million
  • Baldur’s Gate 3 – US $5 million

There’s certainly a lot to pour over in this list. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor being the most expensive title proposed for Xbox Game Pass makes sense – it’s a major blockbuster from EA and Respawn, and carries the added cost of the Star Wars license. Mortal Kombat 1 and Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League also carry the weight of pop culture licenses, and strong audiences.

Baldur’s Gate 3 does appear to be an anomaly on the list, however – particularly given it’s one of the highest rated and reviewed games of the year so far. Per emails revealed in the recent leak, and surfaced by Polygon, Microsoft didn’t think highly of the game, reportedly going so far as to call it a “second-run Stadia PC RPG”. While the leaked list of Xbox Game Pass costs are only estimates, it’s fair to say Microsoft supremely underestimated the potential popularity of Baldur’s Gate 3, and its monetary worth.

Regardless, it’s a very intriguing list that reveals more about the costs behind Xbox Game Pass – and while Microsoft did not want these emails made public, arguably, they serve as solid justification for the ongoing monthly costs of an Xbox Game Pass subscription.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.