Seeing as we’ve had a huge boom in Netflix popularity over the past decade, with Netflix being one of the biggest TV and movie distributor at the moment, it was only logical that games will follow the same path. However, is this future appropriate for the gaming industry, or is this just another phase it will go through before realizing it was a mistake? Let’s go over what game subscription services offer.
Single game subscription
An extremely old model, this is often known as “Game Time”, and is used for MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft and EVE Online. While it is extremely costly (World of Warcraft costs 15 dollars a month), it gives you access to usually great games and makes sure that the game’s community is free from toxic players or children too young to play the game. However, when paired with the cost of constant expansion packs, unless you are a true fan of the game, you will most likely find it too costly and will abandon the game. This is why some MMORPGs are going pay-to-play (as in, only pay for the game and you can play without paying for a subscription) or even free-to-play.
Main course: modern subscription systems
The modern subscription systems, which are becoming more and more popular each year, are also divided by their type: the borrowing type, and the owning type.
The borrowing type
Being inspired by Netflix, these kinds of subscriptions usually cost only 5 to 10 dollars per month and only give you access to the games as soon as you’re still paying for their service. For example, if you buy one month of access and quickly unsubscribe afterwards, you will still be able to access your games, but only for one month. Afterwards, you get to access them again when you resubscribe. Currently, the most popular among this type of service are:
PlayStation Plus: More of a necessity than a normal service for PlayStation 4 owners, as you can only play online games while subscribed, PlayStation Plus also offers a huge catalog of triple-A games, with new titles added to your temporary library each month. A monthly subscription to PlayStation Plus costs you 10 dollars, and a yearly one costs 50, so you’re better off if you’re getting an annual pass.
PlayStation Now: Sony’s other subscription service, which gives people with a modern Sony device access to a fairly broad catalog of PlayStation 3 games, which are streamed via the Internet, thus removing the need for hardware capable to run it, and meaning that even Smart TVs can access it. This is the most expensive subscription service, as it costs 20 dollars per month. You can also rent single titles, but it’ll also cost you a lot.
Origin/EA Access: Electronic Arts couldn’t have possibly missed this market either, and they have aggressively entered it. To most people’s surprise, they’ve done it extremely well: Origin Access is the first of this type of subscription service on PC! EA Access is the Xbox One service, and it offers the newest triple-A titles from EA and EA Sports, such as Battlefield Hardline, Madden 16 and FIFA 15. Its PC counterpart, Origin Access, was recently released and due to the lack of sports titles on PC, offers EA’s other popular franchises, from Battlefield to Dragon Age and Dead Space, along with some indie games, such as Torchlight 2 and This War of Mine. The two services also allow users to play new and upcoming EA titles for 10 hours as a demo, and grants them additional discounts on EA’s entire catalog.
The owning type
This type of subscription lets users access their games even after they’ve stopped paying for the service, thus giving a better overall experience.
Xbox Live: PlayStation Plus’ Xbox counterpart, this service is needed for online multiplayer access on most Xbox 360 and Xbox One games, but it also gives you 4 games per month (2 for Xbox 360, 2 for Xbox One), which you get to keep and play even after your subscription is done. This costs 5 dollars per month, being fairly accessible.
Humble Monthly: Although not marketed as a subscription service, this Humble Bundle offers 6 games per month for the price of 12 dollars. Before knowing the contents of the entire bundle, you are offered a title which is meant to draw you in. The offer for April’s monthly bundle is South Park: The Stick of Truth and This War of Mine (the first time they’ve offered two games), with the rest of the bundle being unlocked on the first Friday of April.