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Anyone worried about where subscription services are leading?

Vawn

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So it looks like another major publisher, SquareEnix, is ready to join the subscription model for their games. Add this one to the pile along with EA, Microsoft, Sony (PS Now), Bethesda and Ubisoft. I'm sure more are to follow.

Publishers love subscription models as it gives them revenue they can more clearly count on. There is less fear of a game underperforming because people are no longer buying (or not buying) individual games based off of reviews, etc.

I previously made a thread how I think this is already resulting in a quantity over quality situation.

My other concern is how far these publishers will go to get and keep people subscribing. How long until games begin being completely locked behind subscriptions?

How long will it be feasible to play the exact games you want to play or will most gamers be forced to stay in one or two ecosystems and ignore the rest? Instead of games being tied to one of the three consoles, games could be tied to one of a dozen monthly subscription services AND a particular console and/or streaming service which also comes with it's own set of monthly fees.

I am not personally a fan of any subscription service, as I feel that I will end up paying for a ton of stuff I don't want. Right now I can, and do, ignore them. But what happens when these publishers push things further so I can't easily ignore them?

Is anyone else worried about these possibilities?
 
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Naru

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May 20, 2019
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Not at all. New game comes out? Subscribe for a month, finish it and if there is still time check out a different one, then unsubscribe and do the same thing for the next game. No need to stay subbed to one service all the time. If you don't want to play them at release just wait for a sale like you can right now.
 
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kiiltz

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I've never liked subscription services since cable. It's cheaper nowadays but it's still a very vague business model that superficially looks good. I don't care about X amount of products for Y amount of dollars per month.

If I know what I want to buy I should be allowed to pay for only that and that's it.
 

spookyfish

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Yep. I feel like there are too many people trying to take a bite of the same apple, but consumers will ultimately decide if this will become the norm.

My gut tells me it’s going to be very difficult for all of these sub services to survive. But we’ll see.
 

Clear

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I think the model is going to prove far less profitable than they predict. MS are propping up GamePass with massive discounting, but that's not going to last forever. And long-term is has to have a chilling effect on game-sales, for at least some types of game anyway.

The real worry for me, and this I felt was strongly shown in the Xbox media briefing, is that games just become "product" used to fill out release schedules and keep stuff rotating on these services. A lot of the time during that presentation I felt that I was looking at stuff purely so they could have an "available at launch on gampass" displayed in the corner.

Specifically I felt like its presence was to promote the service, rather than the game itself.

And this is deeply, deeply problematic to me.
 

jshackles

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Some subscription services make more sense than others. Uplay+ doesn't make a lick of sense, because it's $15 fuckin dollars a month and the majority of those games could be bought on sale for about $150 at which point you get to keep them. Microsoft's Game Pass makes sense because the same value proposition is $10 a month for about $800 worth of games and includes multiple publishers and genres.

It's like these execs look at a service like Netflix and Game Pass and have the wrong takeaway from it. Very few people subscribe to Netflix for the Originals. They subscribe because it's a cheap way to get a wide variety of content. Take away either of those factors and the service will inevitably fail. You're not going to be success if you have a service that's expensive but has variety (Apple Arcade?) or is cheap but doesn't have variety (Jump). If you're expensive and have little variety (Uplay+), you don't stand a chance.

I get what you're saying though OP - Microsoft first party games are all going to be designed from this point forward with the Game Pass subscription model in mind. While some people will inevitably buy the games for $60, the overwhelming majority of people playing their games will be via Game Pass so it curbs a lot of customer's expectations. Bundle with that the proclivity of developers to include day one DLC (that won't be included in the subscription, but will cost extra) and you've definitely got a problem.

It'll be interesting to see how this all shakes out.
 
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Hjunklay

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My understanding is that Netflix pays for lots of cool indie movies which would never get made in the old studio-centric structure. These subscriptions will need smaller games and that will lead to a boom in funding for smaller game studios.

Yeah, you'll get more quantity and a lot more originality too.
 
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Cert.in.Death

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I have concerns, but more toward development studios. Subscription services may raise the revenue floor but they are encouraging consumer behavior that will sharply lower the revenue ceiling. And the reality is the distribution of funds is not going to be uniform from studio to studio.
 

Fbh

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Yes. I'll continue buying games for as long as that is an option, though if it comes to the worst case scenario where games are locked behind subscriptions I'll just have to do the same I do with TV/Movie streaming: just subscribe on a per game basis.
Square has a cool game? subscribe for a month or to to play it, once I'm done I see what game interest me now and I subscribe for a month or 2 to that one, etc.


I do think consumer will regulate it a bit though. Subscription service is just the new popular thing so everyone will give it a try but I think ultimately it will end with a couple of big ones
 

Enjay

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lol ea betheesda ubisoft and now square.... a very very heavy concentration of incompetence getting into that subscription racket. Hell between the 4 of them they might make it exploitive enough that government steps in and makes subscription services illegal
 
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Thabass

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Not necessarily. My hope is that streaming services are just another avenue to play games on budget. Publishers should always now and forever make the game available for purchase ALONG SIDE a subscription model. People complain about have the choice to do what they do with their money and how to spend it. If publishers made their games for both people that want to own their own copy and/or want to stream, then I'm okay with that. But consumers should always have the option to own it personally.
 
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I'm sure many do jump in, even here I see people pushing the Microsoft service as "free games" or when a game is new they say "you can have it for 10$", which is kind of true and false at the same time.

Thankfully PS Now doesn't get the same pass, even since you can download games on the console now.
EA's service doesn't seem to have any image problems as well (but no buzz either).

I think this is a grim future - but if you compare to what used to be rentals (this is how I played most NES games as a kid) it gives you pretty big benefits:
- It's cheaper than renting 1 games per weekend
- You can access a pretty decent library compared to what was in most rental places
- Assuming they don't start rotating the libraries (they will, just like Netflix does) you can play the same game for a couple of weeks before you have to move on...

The only down side compared to rentals (if you want to call it that) would be the embarrassment of riches - how long will you browse the interface before you jump into a game?

A long/medium therm side effect will be that prices will be gradually raised, and/or the service will be split into tiers so that people have "options" that they did not have before, just like cable TV.

I see why some people may want to go this way (no more begging from the kids).
 

Hendrick's

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Like with TV it will become oversaturated, but eventually it will shake back out to just the best few.
 

ethomaz

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My only worry is the model making an influx of cheaper low quality online games.

When you pay less you receive less.
 
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DanielsM

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My only worry is they're able to go so cheap to get a large segment in, but the truth of the matter its about extracting more money, not less. That doesn't mean I am opposed to all subscriptions, but at the end of the day I really don't need any. I certainly don't need someone to manage my console or pc for me in the cloud, I work with virtual servers/desktops and what can make sense in the enterprise world really doesn't make sense in the consumer space, generally speaking.

My guess is many of these companies are going to go through a very rough patch going forward.... I'm not going to be surprised if some additional publishers go under.
 

Ornlu

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I think for now it is ok; but looking at it through the lens of recent history I'm sure that most of the subscription services will fail. I find it very unlikely that consumers will be willing to discern between dozens of different services.

Maybe in the future these services all start to conglomerate into "bundle" packages centered around the few highly popular services (ala the cable model).
 

bosnianpie

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I'm not really worried because we're not there yet but I can't say I'm thrilled about recent developments in the industry. I can only speak for myself but if we ever reach a point when a majority of all new games are locked behind a subscription I will simply stop playing new games and turn to retro or some other alternative. I don't really care how affordable they make it, I will always prefer the option where I still have control over the product.
 
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kiiltz

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Not necessarily. My hope is that streaming services are just another avenue to play games on budget. Publishers should always now and forever make the game available for purchase ALONG SIDE a subscription model.
This sounds good to me. I'm not strictly against streaming but there is some bitter feelings towards not having the option to own a specific product.
 
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Lukin1978

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I think it's leading to a future of all streaming services that will ultimately lead to having to have multiple subscriptions to play the games you want.
But for right now gamepass is an amazing deal for me at this point in time.
 

McHuj

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I don't see how they all can survive. I'd be interested in one cross platform subscription, but I'm not going to sign up for an EA, Ubisoft, Microsoft, Sony, Square, etc subscription. The market fragmentation will really hurt the adoption. It's way cheaper for me to buy games that subscribe to all these services.
 
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Three

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It's the consumers that decide if this is the future or not.

If people eat it up, then there is nothing we can do. It will become norm.
Which is why I am worried. Look at paying to play online.
 
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Fine with me. It's all about choice. Just like Netflix isn't the only subscription service.

But I can understand the OP being sour. Vawn is a bonafide PS fan, so anytime MS does something creative, he hates it. MS's latest GPU plan (with free GP PC) is another option for gamers, and it surely aggravates him that Sony doesn't want to offer something similar as an optional service. Sony finally got EA Access 5 years after Xbox and doesn't even have PS3 EA games included like Xbox has 360 games included.

Someone will complain it may split the users and some games (like movies) are on one service, and other on another one. That's a fair point.

But the key difference is games can always be sold as one-offs. How many games are there which require you to be a subscription payer? I don't think too many. Actually, the only ones that exist are MMO which are their own one-off game sub.

Subs can be great. Good value. I never thought I'd do Game Pass, but with that $1 Ultimate deal when I converted 3 years of Gold into 3 years of Ultimate for a whopping $1 promo deal, I'm in.

Now video game subscriptions will be a big deal if all these companies controlling them splinter off games where a gamer MUST buy into a sub plan to play it..... and even worse if they force you into a 12 month plan or something similar to cell phone multi-year plans.

But right now, all gaming subs are optional.
 
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Nikana

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lol ea betheesda ubisoft and now square.... a very very heavy concentration of incompetence getting into that subscription racket. Hell between the 4 of them they might make it exploitive enough that government steps in and makes subscription services illegal
Lol what? Why would the government step in?
 

Nitty_Grimes

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It's not just games, it's going the way with broadcasting - at the risk of stating the obvious, there's bound to be more and more film studios seeing how Disney get along before jumping on the same bandwagon.

There'll be subs for Disney, Fox, Paramount etc. all offering their own individual libraries as incentives.

I look at my subs now and its like:-

PSN
Xbox Ultimate
Steam (I know its not a monthly sub via payment in that sense of the word, but still have to have it if I want games)
EA Access
Netflix
Prime
Spotify
Apple Music
Sky TV
BT Sport
 

Trogdor1123

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Not really, I think it's a rush to take the market. Lots will fail fast and the creme will rise to the top.

Hopefully it happens in 2-3 years max.
 
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Jigsaah

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A small part of me does worry that one day subscriptions is all there will be. Being able to own a physical copy of a game as a choice should always remain an option.
 
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Vawn

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I see why some people may want to go this way (no more begging from the kids).
From personal experience (I have three sons), kids today don't beg too often for new games. They beg constantly for more money to spend on the same few games. In my case, my kids constantly want money for stupid crap in Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite.
 
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Riven326

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Everyone has their own launcher now. They all participate and design their games around microtransactions. They all do the season pass. Might as well have your own subscription service.

The game industry, more and more, is coming off as desperate. They are an industry in denial. They are in denial that games as a service is failing. They are in denial that creativity are st an all time low. They are in denial about the quality of their games, most shipping in a broken and unfinished state.

This is the only industry that can sell you downloadable content for an unfinished, broken game, before even announcing the game. You serve as the beta tester, because these games launch in fucking alpha, and before the first patch is issued for the game, the microtransaction store is activated, and you are persuaded through grind and various other time wasters, to participate and pay them even more money.

I have no sympathy for game developers anymore, and nothing but contempt for the publishers of this industry. It's an absolute joke. They abuse their customers, treat them like garbage, and they send out the attack dogs, the "games journalists" to slander and defame anyone who makes a fuss.
 

Vawn

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But I can understand the OP being sour. Vawn is a bonafide PS fan, so anytime MS does something creative, he hates it. MS's latest GPU plan (with free GP PC) is another option for gamers, and it surely aggravates him that Sony doesn't want to offer something similar as an optional service. Sony finally got EA Access 5 years after Xbox and doesn't even have PS3 EA games included like Xbox has 360 games included.
While I won't argue about preferring PlayStation over Xbox (though Switch is my favorite console and I do own all of them including every Xbox), that has nothing to do with this. PlayStation was first to this through PS Now. I don't subscribe or am an advocate of that either.
 
Oct 26, 2018
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Everyone has their own launcher now. They all participate and design their games around microtransactions. They all do the season pass. Might as well have your own subscription service.

The game industry, more and more, is coming off as desperate. They are an industry in denial. They are in denial that games as a service is failing. They are in denial that creativity are st an all time low. They are in denial about the quality of their games, most shipping in a broken and unfinished state.

This is the only industry that can sell you downloadable content for an unfinished, broken game, before even announcing the game. You serve as the beta tester, because these games launch in fucking alpha, and before the first patch is issued for the game, the microtransaction store is activated, and you are persuaded through grind and various other time wasters, to participate and pay them even more money.

I have no sympathy for game developers anymore, and nothing but contempt for the publishers of this industry. It's an absolute joke. They abuse their customers, treat them like garbage, and they send out the attack dogs, the "games journalists" to slander and defame anyone who makes a fuss.
Yup. That's what sucks about software.

It's basically the only products in the world where things get sold to you at full price, can be half finished and borked. And unless the service has a refund policy (Steam), you're likely stuck with it. And then you have pages of terms and service pages which if you play the game you accept. But if you open the game and actually read it and not accept, you still can't refund it because you already opened it.

If someone bought a toaster and a knob is broken, people would go ape shot and refund it. Store will take it back. Manufacturer will take it back from the store. Customer gets their money back. Problem solved. Manufacturer makes a good quality toaster, customer likes it. Problem solved.

Build a good toaster, and people will come back and buy more kitchen appliances off that brand. That's how brand loyalty works. It goes for pretty much everything. But for gaming, as you said, there's this desperate nickel and diming tactic that goes on.

Whatever happened to the 80s where it seemed you can count on every Konami and Capcom game on NES and SNES being guaranteed a solid game? It could be Street Fighter or Duck Tales. You knew it would be upper tier quality.
 
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Mr Nash

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I could see it going the same way as video streaming where it's split by a bunch of services in a few years and many of them wind up failing. There is only a finite amount of money out there that can be dumped into these, and it's more likely to be spread thin than funnel to one or two big players. It'll probably also encourage people to return to piracy because they're upset with the state of things.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy my retro collection, safely sitting on my shelf, away from all this software as a service nonsense that has been making waves of late.
 
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Kadayi

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I think it's a concern, but mainly because it's not going to be sustainable for most. I mean Ubisoft expecting $15 a month when Microsoft is just charging $5 for their PC game pass is like



I think Ubi make pretty solid if largely formulaic games, but treble the cost of the Microsoft monthly? That's ridiculous.
 

Gashtronomy

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This is the end game for living room entertainment that Microsoft spoke about over ten years ago.

One box that plays movies, music and games. All three having subscription models is how all of the entertainment industry appeal to the mass consumer. They pay X amount a month and can use whatever service.

What does that mean for traditional games? it means that there is a great shift coming and it's coming the form of VR and that will be long-await 'great reset' of traditional gaming.

Sure, you will still be able to play COD and Fifa, forza and halo, battlefield and star wars, just like you could play tetris on a thousand devices back in the day.

The true innovations will be on VR. The basement nerds of the 90's who sat in their rooms and played RPG's, detached from the world, will now don VR headsets. The technology has changed, the people haven't.
 

nikolino840

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Yes. I'll continue buying games for as long as that is an option, though if it comes to the worst case scenario where games are locked behind subscriptions I'll just have to do the same I do with TV/Movie streaming: just subscribe on a per game basis.
Square has a cool game? subscribe for a month or to to play it, once I'm done I see what game interest me now and I subscribe for a month or 2 to that one, etc.


I do think consumer will regulate it a bit though. Subscription service is just the new popular thing so everyone will give it a try but I think ultimately it will end with a couple of big ones
Is not the case of Sony ms and Nintendo...are Just things of Company not gaming related or new to publish/produce games..like stadia...if you look,like the new Ubisoft service, Ubisoft release games on phisical/Digital in all platforms
 

magnumpy

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the whole situation is :(

I'm concerned that these developers, pushed in this direction by ultimately the stockholders or the money lenders, or whatever, will produce a ultimately less valuable product, which I feel is what many "on line games" are ultimately working towards :(

and the subscription services... ultimately that is just a very gross rotten perversion of what games once were. fallout 76 is a perfect example of how to do this kind of thing in the worst, most worthless pile of stink trash from satans toilet kind of way. totally worthless game, color me unimpressed so far. maybe some game will come out that does something more than justify my skepticism. maybe "Fallout 76: 2" will come out and completely justify it's pointless boring existence? D:

76 is still kind of an open wound for me :(
 

waylo

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I sort of dig it. As a PC user with no ability to trade-in games, it's nice being able to sub to a service for $10-$15 a month, play whatever new game I want and potentially check out some older stuff while I'm at it, then cancel. I don't have to waste $40-$60 on a game I might play and be done with after a week.
 
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Hinedorf

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All that will happen is a huge increase in demand for content which will either raise developers wages and simultaneously put them in a crunch lifestyle or within 5-10 years these companies start buying each other to grow their own content list.

Netflix had the right idea until everybody realized how much money they were making off other companies original content.

Lost all the Marvel/Disney stuff, will probably lose the Office/Friends next. Not to say Netflix is dying but they just had a leg, four fingers, a testicle, and an ear removed by everybody coming for their money.
 

Vayne

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I prefer physical stuff when it comes to games. Anyway, I have to say that, sadly IMO, this methods will be great in the future. Just look at what Netflix did to the TV shows world. Other than that, my fear is that in the future physical games won't exist anymore and I would be forced to play em on digital/streaming. From an objetive perspective, you will have tons of games for less prize... in case that you don't need to suscribe to 34243243 different platforms, of course. It's also happening in the TV shows business now that Disney and others are creating more and more platforms. People are happy to pay like 8 dolars/month and enjoy a lot of content. In fact, I think this is helping to stop piracy but... will people still pay for 4/5 platform and waste 4 times that prize, I don't think they will.
 
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