It started with MMORPG’s years ago — a subscription-based business model for a video game. Years later, Microsoft’s Xbox brought a similar idea to consoles with Xbox Live. Now, this idea is more present in the industry than ever. Sony has Playstation Plus, Activision started Elite for Call of Duty, and Battlefield is following in its footsteps with Premium. With all of these things publishers and developers have us pay for beyond the initial purchase of a game, are games going to start being looked at as services rather than products?
It seems that whenever a game is released, one thing that is always asked about by fans or talked about by the developer is what they plan to do with download content. Whether it’s an expansion pack, small things like additional weapons in a shooter, or maps packs, DLC is becoming a very large feature in just about every game.
Services like Elite don’t necessarily make you pay to play, but they do have you paying for a service that augments the way you are given content and how you interact with the game. How far off could more announcements about more services just like Elite come down the pipe — where gamers sign up to receive additional content for a game instead of picking and choosing which pieces of content to buy instead of picking and choosing what they want off of Xbox Live or PSN?
How far off are we from the loathed online passes turning into full-fledged subscriptions to online access for the biggest shooter franchises? What about online leagues that players have to sign up for in sports games like Madden? Hell, there could even be a garage service that gamers would have to pay for in the next Forza where gamers subscribe and get access to new car parts every month — all sponsored by Summit Racing.
There’s also the issue of DRM. It would be a lot easier for publishers and developers to maintain control over their products if you had to sign up to to gain access to their game. I’m not really trying to make waves by saying these things, but I can’t help but think that, one day, they might come to be true in some form or another.
This is just all idle speculation based off of trends that I have witnessed in the gaming industry over the last few years, but do you think anything I’ve said here is all that far outside the realm of possibility?