Valve co-founder and president Gabe Newell isn’t interested in doing a Steam game subscription service but is open to bringing Microsoft’s Game Pass to Steam.
Newell did an interview with PC Gamer about the recent Steam Deck release. However, the publication also asked him whether Valve wanted to make its own subscription service like Microsoft’s Game Pass.
“I don’t think it’s something that we think we need to do ourselves, building a subscription service at this time. But for their customers it’s clearly a popular option, and we’d be more than happy to work with them to get that on Steam,” Newell said.
“We’ve talked to people there quite a bit about that topic. If your customers want it, then you should figure out how to make it happen. That’s where we’re at.”
So, it sounds like we won’t see a “Steam Pass” subscription (or whatever Valve would call it). However, Microsoft’s Game Pass on Steam is also quite intriguing. Some people have had issues with how the service handles installing and managing games on PC, while other games have had issues or missing features on Game Pass. If people were able to use Steam to handle game installs instead, it might make Game Pass more popular.
Moreover, as PC Gamer points out, there is precedent for Steam hosting other subscription services. EA added its EA Play subscription to Steam in 2020. Moreover, Steam support for Game Pass could open the subscription up to Steam Deck owners. Currently, Steam Deck runs Linux, which means Game Pass isn’t available — it uses Microsoft’s Xbox app, which doesn’t exist for Linux.
That said, PC Gamer notes that Steam Deck owners may be able to play Game Pass without the need for Linux support in the future. Valve and AMD are reportedly still working on driver compatibility to allow installing Windows on Steam Deck — once that’s sorted out, Steam Deck owners may be able to install Windows and access Game Pass that way.
Regardless, Game Pass on Steam depends on Microsoft too. Valve is clearly open to the idea, but it remains to be seen if Microsoft is — judging by previous comments, it might be. In August 2021, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said there were “no plans to bring [Game Pass] to any other kind of closed platforms right now” in response to questions about putting the subscription service on the Nintendo Switch.
Instead, Spencer said the team was focussing on “open platforms” but acknowledged that Xbox was open to discussions about bringing the “full experience to a device that players want.” Maybe that sentiment includes game distribution platforms like Steam too.