Saturday, November 02, 2019

Xbox Game Pass

I am playing The Outer Planets thanks to the Xbox game pass (pc) €1 trial month. This is a great deal from Microsoft and a lot of gamers are signing up to it but I wouldn't be surprised if I and many others stay subbed after the trial period ends. Even though others like EA Origin Access have tried to push gaming as a service with a monthly sub for some years now I feel like this could just be beginning of a seismic shift in the way most people get games. I wouldn't be surprised if in five years time the majority of my games come this way.

Twenty years ago I bought games in physical boxes that I proudly kept on display. I still have a bunch of them on the shelf in my office. Having a physical copy gives a real sense of ownership  and occasionally  I go back and play some old time favourites. But ... even when I do go back to play an older game I am more likely to play a Steam, GoG or Origin version than to physically insert a disk. It is just much more convenient so I have picked up digital copies of most of my favourites over the years.

I have never really felt the same sense of ownership for any of the hundreds of games in my Steam and other digital libraries as for the physical disks. Its a license to play certain games whenever I want. I don't own anything. The "whenever I want" bit is important though. The first Steam game I bought was Half Life 2 about 15 years ago. I could play it today if I wanted to using the same Steam account. I really like that.

Will a monthly gaming subscription offer similar permanency? Will I still be able to play The Outer Planets in fifteen years time if I stay subscribed. It remains to be seen but I wouldn't put money on it. Netflix shattered that illusion in the video streaming world when series started dropping off the list even when people were still watching them.

At present there are only about four games on Xbox Pass PC that interest me. That is probably enough to keep me subbed for a few months and after that we will see. There is a convenience though to monthly subscriptions and the world has already moved that way in video and music. Why should games not go likewise?