When it comes to the gaming industry’s leading brands, it’s safe to say that jumping on a bandwagon isn’t a surprising move for any of them to make. The most recent bandwagon we’re noticing, however, is online subscription services. From the moment Nintendo announced their Switch Online service, the likes of EA, PlayStation, Xbox and more all starting to release their own pay-monthly service to give gamers access to a wealth of perks and free games over the course of their subscription. The question on everyone’s minds, however, is whether these services could change how we buy and play our favourites, or whether they’re just another marketing ploy.
When it comes to promotion, every industry’s customer base has their sweet spot. For Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services, a free trial is often enough to draw in customers who might find themselves looking for something to do who will then go on to continue the subscription without cancellation. In casino gaming, the tried-and-tested method of marketing tends to be the offering of sign-up incentives and bonuses to draw new players in. By offering these ‘free’ trials and bonuses, consumers are pulled in and can easily become loyal customers and gaming subscriptions certainly play on the allure of ‘free’.
While most subscriptions will offer a free trial anyway, it’s the pull of free content every month that keeps players coming back for more. By claiming that a gamer can revisit as often as they like and play ‘free’ games all for a small monthly fee, it’s simple to see why so many people are beginning to opt for these subscriptions as opposed to splashing out on the full games individually.
The use of subscriptions across the entertainment industry is nothing new. With Netflix changing how we stream content and Amazon Prime offering a unique subscription service that covers everything from movies, to free one-day delivery, the concept of paying a monthly fee in return for access to a variety of different features is certainly nothing new. Within gaming, however, these features can manifest in different forms. In a similar way to movie subscription services, you can access a number of games in an unlimited fashion, but you could also be given access to a number of discounts and DLC for games not free under the subscription.
Here are a few common features of gaming subscriptions:
- Unlimited Access
Unlimited access to some or all of a library of games tends to be a fairly standard feature across most gaming subscriptions. For one set payment every month, which can differ between providers, gamers are given access to a number of leading and indie games dependant on the library that they have. For example, PlayStation Plus provides users with access to some of their biggest releases among other offerings from a handful of developers, while EA Access tended to only provide games that were developed and released by the company.
- Early Access
You may find some subscription services give you early access to upcoming releases before anyone else is able to get their hands on them. Whether demos, full access or beta versions of a game, the likes of Humble Monthly and EA’s Origin Access Premier can give you the chance to try your hand at a game in its trial stages.
- Discounts And Free Content
Where access to a full library is lacking, most gaming subscriptions will give you the chance to buy full versions of a game at a discounted price, or offer free DLC as an incentive to go on and buy the main game. As early as 2008, Activision was debating introducing subscription DLC to Guitar Hero: World Tour and it’s safe to say that it was an idea ahead of its time.
Subscriptions in gaming have changed the way that gamers are accessing content via online services and as a result, both consumers and developers are being given the ability to play and promote on brand new platforms. Whether you’re a gamer pulled in by the allure of free unlimited play, or a developer looking to get involved with a branded subscription service, hopefully, this has given you more of an insight into just how subscriptions work. Do you think they could be the future of gaming?