I’m sure this doesn’t come as a surprise to a lot of people but damn, the Xbox gamepass for PC is insanely good value for money right now. Additionally it’s not the only one offering up great games all bundled in to one monthly payment.
Subscription services for video games aren’t really a new thing any more. The gamepass has been around for quite some time on Xbox One, EA have their own version and Ubisoft are also moving in to that area. Therefore it was only a matter of time before the gamepass hit PC.
Microsoft has been trying to get a piece of the PC market for a while but haven’t managed to pull it off. Mainly due to the user experience not being very good. As a result, and quite frankly well overdue, we saw a new version of the ‘xbox’ app hit PC a couple of months back.
For £7.99 (£3.99 at the moment) a month you get access to a very long list of games including the newly released Gears 5, and other Triple A games like Metro Exodus which in itself is already a pretty sweet deal. Then you have a whole load of incredible indie games from Slay the Spire and Hollow Knight. In addition there are also loads of new games being added in the next couple of months like Bethesdas new Scifi RPG The Outer Worlds.
Sony are also looking to muscle in on the gamepass territory with PSNow being available on PC. Having said that, it looks a little half baked at the moment and lacks what I would consider some basic features. That being said, it’s still cheap and has a wide selection of games to choose from.
Value for consumers
Honestly it’s not hard to see the value in it from a consumer side. Most of game subscription variants don’t mount up to more than £100 across a year. As a result if you’re someone who would normally buy a couple of AAA games a year you’re easily going to cover the cost of them. Obviously there is a caveat that you have to actually like the games available to be worth it. But it won’t take long until you’re getting your monies worth.
Value for Publishers & Developers
The financial side of these arrangements between developers and publishers is obviously very unknown. However, we have to assume that it works on a lump sum contract basis. In effect where first party games are involved it feels like a no brainer to go down this route. In particular it seems to be working for Gears 5 as when it launched it overtook Fortnite as the most played game on the Xbox One – albeit briefly.
When the gamepass subscription service first launched you weren’t getting many brand new games or games that would hit the subscription service from day one. However, now it’s becoming a more standard practice – as can be seen with the aforementioned The Outer Worlds. By and large it seems that for publishers the subscription model is obviously an attractive prospect.
I guess this could be where the Stadia sees itself slotting in, although I’m still a little unsure of how well it will do. Attaining lossless gameplay with visuals and input lag over the internet can be difficult to achieve. I know when I tried streaming from my Xbox to my PC there was noticeable lag that would make certain games unplayable.
It’s clear that subscriptions services have the legs to continuing growing, with Xbox branching out to the PC market, EA, Sony and Ubisoft all grabbing a piece of the pie. I’m sure it won’t be long before Epic try to get in on the action.
The Future of Gaming
Digital is the future of gaming. Faster internet speeds and data caps disappearing means consumption of video games digitally makes sense. Even though a lot of people still like having physical collections sales are shifting towards digital. From an environmental point of view I think it absolutely makes sense. Single use and non-recyclable plastic is a huge issue across the world. I’m actually surprised that the gaming industry hasn’t come under more scrutiny for the wastefulness of their packaging. The developers of Football Manager recently announced that their physical copies will be sold in cases made from recycled plastic which is a great and should be the standard going forward.
I recently went to a gaming market and the amount of plastic on display was actually pretty shocking really. The video games industry needs to do more in this area and digital games and subscription models is one way in which waste can be reduced.