The gaming industry is an ever-thriving sector. As per Statista, the industry’s value is expected to reach 159.3 billion USD by the end of 2020. It will mark a 9.3% growth from the previous year.
According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), there are approximately 2.4 billion gamers globally. Considering such a massive number of gamers, the popularity of video games and its revenue seem plausible.
One of the many advancements that are changing the face of the gaming industry is subscription-based gaming.
Understanding the Subscription-Based Model
There are two ways to play a game.
One is the traditional way: buy every game that you want to play.
Second is a new way: pay one time and play unlimited games.
You can think of subscription-based gaming as the Netflix of the gaming world. The business model is the same as the OTT streaming services – you pay a subscription fee and then enjoy unlimited access to video games.
Another popular platform is Apple Arcade, delivered by Apple. Here users are given access to over 100 iOS games without the hassle of ads and in-app purchases in exchange for a subscription fee.
Why Subscription-based Gaming is the Future?
With the rise of on-demand streaming apps like Amazon Prime and Netflix, a significant change has been observed in consumers’ preferences – they are now willing to pay more for convenience.
And this is what subscription-based gaming provides.
Freedom From Ads
One of the critical defining features of subscription-based gaming is freedom from ads and in-app purchases. In a world where it is hard to look at any screen without having an ad pop up at some point during the experience, a break from the advertisement is something people don’t mind paying for.
Plethora of Choice
Today, gamers are spoilt for choices. It breaks the monotony of life and ensures that they feel challenged. Look at all the popular subscription-based gaming platforms that are popular among the gamers. They have one thing in common – they offer a variety of games to their subscribers.
For instance, take the example of Unlimited Gamez Mo. It is a subscription-based gaming platform for gamers of all ages. Here, after paying a minimal fee, people can access various genres of games, ranging from action to adventure to arcade.
It is the biggest advantage that subscription-based gaming platforms have over the console-based gaming model.
A Sport, Not Leisure
Video games are no longer about entertainment and leisure only. Contrary to popular belief, gamers are no longer young children. Instead, according to the Entertainment Software Association, the average age of gamers is 34!
Most people play games like actual sports. Esports now features cut-throat competition between professional gamers. Not only do these competition attracts gamers, who play to win big prize money, these games also attract huge viewership as well.
According to Statista, there were an estimated 25.7 million esports viewers in the US in 2018. This number is projected to go over 46 million by 2023.
Quick Feedback Incorporation
Previously, once a game was out, there little the developers could do to improve it. The most they could do was implement insights and feedback via updates or new releases of the game.
However, with cloud gaming, as encouraged by subscription-based gaming, developers have the chance to fix mistakes and incorporate feedback much quicker than before.
The Emerging Trends
A New Path for Traditional Game Developers
Here are some of the traditional players that have entered the market of subscription-based games as well:
Xbox: Microsoft offers Xbox Live features along with access to approximately 100 games to its members. The attractiveness of getting your hands on new games before others have made this platform a favorite of many gamers.
EA Access: While previously EA used to offer games via Xbox and other consoles, it has now adopted a subscription-based model. Subscribers can access Battlefield, FIFA, Dragon Age, Madden, etc. for a 10 percent discount.
PS Now: Sony is known to have one of the most diverse catalogs of games. All of them are now available via PS Now. However, compared to other traditional companies, Sony has struggled on this front because of a lack of value provided to gamers.
An Opportunity for New Entrants
The subscription-based gaming model has made it convenient and cheap to play games. It has also made it a lucrative field for new companies to enter. Other than the established game developers, various tech companies are now vying for a share in this pie. Here are other companies that have entered the industry:
- Amazon: Amazon acquired Twitch and revolutionized the model to create Twitch Prime. This platform is ideal for eSport enthusiasts as it allows people to watch other people play. At the same time, it also provides access to Amazon’s list of games.
- Google: Stadia is often regarded as the Netflix equivalent for gamers. The cloud-based gaming allows gamers to play various games without the need for a PC or console. Instead, it will enable people to play games on their TVs, tablets, and computers – all by connecting them via the internet to the system.
The Flip Side
For consumers, the benefits of subscription-based gaming don’t come without a few demerits. These include:
- A lack of overlap in the subscription-based platform leads to various subscriptions for the ideal gaming experience.
- While the subscription fee may not seem high to some, the cost is significantly more than purchasing the chosen games alone for those who play a handful of games and don’t want to pursue gaming as a career.
- As the business model takes off, its price will further rise, and traditional models may slowly become obsolete.
Is subscription-based games the future of the gaming sector? Definitely, yes! And we have already stepped into the future.
Will the subscription-based games model prove to be beneficial for game developers? Yes, it can reach a wider audience and even offer people a chance to make a career out of it. Is this model a good omen for gamers? Since there are two sides to this coin, only time will tell whether the benefits will outweigh the disadvantages.