There was a time in video games, not so long ago, when getting what you enjoyed meant shelling out for one game and that game alone. Today, the market has changed, with new payment and access systems shaking up what has been decades of consistency. As the big names of Microsoft and Sony are overhauling the way their new platforms deliver content, they move ever closer to standards set by streaming systems like Hulu and Netflix. So, what’s the goal here, and how are these companies illustrating such a profound shift in how they operate?
Delivery En Masse
When Netflix started streaming services in 2007, it revolutionized how we watched TV and movies. All of a sudden, we didn’t need to go out and buy box sets and film home releases. We instead had access to an enormous library right from the comfort of our couches. Through the implementation of a level of centralization never before experienced in the world of visual media, on-demand viewing entered a new age, and since then, it’s only grown.
Following in the footsteps of Netflix and Spotify, it was just a matter of time before video games would take the leap. It was Microsoft that came first out of the gate, long-watching other streaming services as it worked to create a project known internally as Archilles. Though Achilles was more of a direct rental service, it eventually gave way to the Microsoft Game Pass. Initially sold to higher-ups by involving only older games, the Game Pass wasn’t much of a gamble. The gamble, as it turned out, paid off.
Possibilities of a Digital Landscape
As online connectivity revolutionized passive entertainment, it made similar strides in the interactive. Outside of video games, this was best represented in the online casino arena, where a casino no deposit bonus will offer what physical casinos never could. Thanks to the lower costs associated with online over physical access, digital casinos like RIZK and LeoVegas have been offering free spins and chances for bonus cash in a new series of bonus and payment systems. With online access also granted hundreds of titles from developers like NetEnt and Microgaming, the advantages of this approach are again undeniable to users.
Back in video games, the massive success of the Game Pass would encourage Microsoft to offer a greater range of AAA and new titles on the service and others in the industry would follow suit. EA and other companies would try similar things in the PC space, and companies like Google and Apple would adopt likewise approaches in the mobile gaming market. By 2021, Game Pass had grown so successful for Microsoft that it brought in $2.9 billion, with involvement still growing by the year.
Moving into the New Generation
The love companies have for systems like Xbox Game Pass is that it’s not just bringing in guaranteed money. It’s involvement within a company’s infrastructure. Sony, for example, famously offers a digital-only version of the PS5 with no disk drive. This doesn’t just encourage players to use their PSN membership for games; it also means the only way to purchase games directly is through their storefront. Sony controls all the prices and eliminates the chances of losing cash through second-hand game disk sales.
With online-only systems bolstered by game passes, players can gain far more for far less while at the same time keeping company shareholders confident and encouraged. From this perspective, it’s a big win, but this move isn’t completely devoid of criticism.
For one thing, players don’t decide what is available on Game Pass, nor do they have input on licensing issues that can play out behind the scenes. It can be possible for games to vanish from passes and storefronts when this happens, so if players don’t have a physical copy, they can be completely left without a way to play. There’s also the fact that there’s no guarantee anywhere in the world of a constant or high-speed internet connection. While infrastructure keeps improving, there are always complications and dead zones that hold some players back.
Though things like Game Pass are looking to play an increasing part in all forms of modern gaming, their limitations make many gamers hope they’ll always have an alternative. There’s no one size fits all solution here, and while the pass system can be perfect for some players, the history of the gaming industry means it shouldn’t be granted total trust. For now, at least, it’s shaping up nicely, and even if you just want to try one for a month, there’s a lot to offer.