Exclusively Games is supported by its audience. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Read More

Gaming Services Are Getting Out of Control

We all knew that once these gaming publishers and developers started to get behind the phrase “Gaming As A Service” that things would get out of hand. It’s a similar issue being caused by all the television channels that are now all starting their own subscription-based services. Instead of one unified service, each one is carving out their own, and they’re all competing with each other around the same price. Much like the video game crash in the past, we live through another if things keep heading in this direction. Even more so when you consider that 99.9% of them want a digital-only future.

The perfect example of this potential crash really comes together when you take Google Stadia into mind. Google wants you to pay $10 a month for the opportunity to stream games at 4K and 60 FPS. You’ll still have to buy $60 games separately. If you don’t want to pay for each game individually, some companies will have services of their own. Ubisoft is one of these companies who offers a subscription-based service to get access to their games at $15 a month. EA also has its own version, called EA Origin Access Premier, and it also costs $15. Xbox has their own version, PlayStation has theirs, and even graphic card companies have their own version, like Nvidia.

Oh, and cellphones aren’t any better. Apple just released Apple Arcade for $5, EA is working on their own mobile version, and even Google is making their own phone-based subscription service. Why isn’t this new Google one, called Play Pass, just included with Google Stadia? It makes zero sense for them to make an additional, separate, service for phones. The same with EA. This doesn’t even include EA and others making their own cloud gaming services too. We’re going to reach a point where, to get the complete gaming experience, you’ll have to subscribe to several different services.

What if independent developers decided to have their own services too? What if, to play the next Hotline Miami, you have to subscribe to a service from Dennaton Games? Then, what if, to play it on your platform of choice you had to subscribe to that platform’s service? You see how out of control these can all get? Maybe I’m jumping the gun but believe me if they could, they would. This is the same issue that television channels are having, and if things aren’t figured out, it’ll all collapse.

Services like Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now make the most sense out of all of them. Both Sony and Microsoft have a strong first-party lineup that can carry their services without the need for third-party and indie games. Those just become an added bonus to those services. All these other services don’t have this foundation and are at a disadvantage. Stadia’s whole selling point is the ability to play games without downloads and installs, but you still have to buy the games, and if Google cancels the service like they have a history of doing, you won’t keep your games.

If it were up to me, there wouldn’t be any services. People would just buy the game they want and play it on that respective platform. I know, what a weird concept. A digital future is for certain; there is no escaping that. Publishers and developers make more money through digital distribution than they do through retail. Until then, however, what needs to be figured out is how this future will be most effective. Gamers want to own their games and not have to be subscribed to a bunch of services. Publishers and developers want players to stay engaged to their games and committed to them for as long as possible. Stadia, unfortunately, isn’t the future.

Looking at the PC side of things, Steam seems to be the only platform that could take a subscription service model and make it work. You’d also be able to download your games. On the phone side of things, Apple Arcade seems primed to be a good service. It has exclusives, games can be downloaded, and it works across all their devices, so you’re not locked to only your phone. Ubisoft’s service is probably the best of both worlds from a third-party perspective. Much like Xbox Game Pass, you can either subscribe to their service and have unlimited access to their games or simply buy your copy on whatever platform you want.

I’ve addressed my concerns with all of these services and the few companies I feel do it right but, to be honest, I’m not a fan of these services. I like owning my games physically, but I also see the advantages digital downloads offer. Technology is unpredictable, and a digital future seems inevitable, and that’s fine, gamers just want to own their games. If we could lessen all the services out there, every company will be more successful and gamers wouldn’t feel as if their money was being sucked dry. Wherever the industry goes, gamers will be vocal and will make sure these companies do right by them.

Post Comment

  1. Daniel Dover on October 10, 2019 at 11:40 am said

    Then stop paying for them. They’re only proliferating because they’re successful enough to justify the costs..

  2. I agree! I cut the Spectrum TV cable cord and I can barely afford just having Amazon Prime, Netflix and Blaze TV. If I had to pay to play games as well I wouldn’t be able to do it. I’m old-fashioned – I like buying a physical copy of a game! If I don’t like it I can re-sell it on Amazon or Ebay (I have a home-based business selling on these venues.) I don’t like digital copies of games (a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the Cloud!) Although, I hear, in Europe, they are ruling nowyou own your digital games and should be able to sell them as well!

    I don’t see how kids can afford to buy all these services or get their parents to subscribe for them. I certainly wouldn’t for my kids. With all the pay for play, loot boxes, etc. games as a service is getting totally out of hand! Personally I don’t play, or pay for, any online type games like Fortnite.

    • The Court Case you’re thinking of is the one that France had against Steam, and Steam is currently appealing.

      And no, it doesn’t make it so you own your Digital Games. What it does, is make it so Steam has to allow you to sell your Digital Games as if they’re Physical Games.

      Which is super bad for us consumers. Why?

      What do you think AAA and Indie Gaming Companies/Developers will do when they start noticing that a specific group of people will purchase their game from Steam/Epic/GOG, then go to a Shady Third Party Grey Area Market to sell those games at a reduced price?

      What do you think the average consumer, who probably wants the cheapest option for buying a game, will do when they realize that they can simply buy a “used” copy of a Digital Game which is not used at all since it’s Data?

      The subscription service that this Op-Ed talks about will become worse, because it’s the only profitable business model. Selling a single game then waiting for the profits to come in will no longer be possible, because everyone will buy from Third Party Dealers, and Developers won’t see a cent. Even if it doesn’t happen, the fear of it happening will be enough to get AAA and Indie Developers to abandon the Traditional Games model and go full on Games As A Service.

      The only upside is that it will accelerate the Gaming Crash which will hopefully spawn something better from the ashes.

      Article where I got my Info: https://www.oneangrygamer.net/2019/09/french-court-rules-that-valve-offer-resale-option-in-steam/93301/

      • You are ignoring the fact that Steam and GOG for instance, can set up a marketplace specifically for reselling games with terms that both the Marketplace and the developer have control over, if they choose to do so.

        • Normally, I would agree with you on that…but we are currently living in a time where all developers and publishers seem to be greedy, entitled children.

          If Steam or GOG create their own marketplace to sell games from, I can imagine developers pitching a fucking fit over it. Shit, they already can’t handle people review bombing their games for their poor interactions with the consumers. Who’s to say they won’t get pissed at Steam for daring to allow people to sell their games if they don’t like them? Developers already refuse to do business with GOG simply because they won’t use DRM.

          As for the Publishers, they would never allow this to happen. As we’ve been seeing, there’s a push for games to go fully digital. This is due to the whole licensing thing that you mentioned. How when you buy a game from Steam, you don’t technically own the game. You have just purchased the “right” to play it. This is because it gives them more control over you. If you do something they don’t like, they can revoke your right to play their game and keep your money. If this case causes Steam to make a marketplace, then suddenly things change. People will technically own the Digital Games they buy, since they can Sell them on a marketplace. After all, if it was simply a license, then this case should’ve failed. But it didn’t, Meaning that people do own their digitally purchased games, and businesses can’t revoke the ability to play them.

          Which ordinarily would be a great thing. But, as we’ve seen, if it means they can keep control over their consumers, companies will go as far as they have to. Including creating their own store fronts/launchers (Origin, UPlay, Epic Games) and limiting certain games to those store fronts/launchers (All the Command and Conquer games can only be purchased from Origin, you need a UPlay account to access the online shit in Assassin’s Creed games, and Epic has been buying exclusive to games since they came onto the scene). If Steam or GOG make a marketplace for people to sell their games in, I wouldn’t be surprised if companies started making their own launchers and pulling their games away from Steam, GOG, and Epic. Just so they can keep the control they have over players.

          Again, I normally would agree with you. Steam losing this case could be the catalyst we need to start owning our games again. The tipping point that will stop the coming Digital Apocalypse, where all games must be Streamed or “Purchased” Digitally, as physical copies no longer exist.

          But, with the way Developers and Publishers act in modern times, I can’t be that optimistic. If Developers and Publishers behaved like adults, had passion for games, and didn’t simply want to control what Gamers played, I’d be happy Steam lost.

          As it is, I just can’t help but see things getting worse. I hope I”m wrong. But I don’t expect I am.

  3. I agree with most of the author’s sentiments here, but this got out of hand way before now for us to even get here. Stadia is ridiculous, but I do not pay for any of these “services,” even something like PS Plus. I do agree, though, that something like PS Now or Game Pass, etc., probably has the right to exist without being the most egregious thing ever. The idea of a Netflix of games is a fine one, but not ten wannabes that wish to strong arm you into their prices with product exclusivity.

    Even in a near perfect version, though, I have no personal desire to pay for a service. Perhaps it could be worth my money, but I want to buy my games and play them on my platforms, without things like online play restricted to be bundled in a “service.”

    And yes, I understand that the best way to curb this behaviour is starve it of cashflow and it is a given to those of us that resent these encroaches. However, we cannot control what others deem worthy of their money.

  4. “A digital future is for certain”

    I am not so sure about that. You risk leaving a lot of people in the dark, that is for certain especially with the line being as unstable as it is in most places of the world not mention that about 70% of Playstation owners for example arent registered to PSN which could be one of two things. They eirther dont want to register or they are not connected and I think its the latter.

    Also It should be called “Gaming as a dis-service”

  5. I do see how all these games as a service options mimic the cable companies and could lead to another crash. I don’t plan to participate in any of those. Ownership is damaged enough by digital games and this is another step towards consumer losing all rights to the product they are paying for. If the suggested digital only future ever comes to be I’ll become a full on retro gamer.

    • It’ll take some games that aren’t plagued by microtransactions and bad releases for me to consider switching to digital on consoles.

  6. Screw “gaming as a service”. Should be renamed disservice. The only “service” is the one the executives are giving themselves and their shareholders.

  7. I’ve really started to retreat from the latest games. I’ve gone back to replaying 360 titles and tons of stuff from the 8 and 16 bit eras. None of the money I have spent on gaming this last 12 months has gone to publishers. I’m not at all interested in the current model, I decided to pick up COD WW2 a while back and it put me off for good. What a f**king mess games have become.

    I couldn’t even be bothered in the end figuring out how to get online for a game, wouldn’t work, so played a few rounds with bots and there and then decided I’d had enough of this three currency, menu buried, lootbox loaded, service style, bu**s**t casino.

    I’m done, going to go through PS2 and GameCube next, all for next to peanuts.

  8. Great article, I feel the same, too many. Like if we were to subscribe to all the streaming services TV and gaming just to get the content we want I’m sure wed pay around 600 bucks a month. Its ridiculous. Also I’m sick of all the launchers pc gaming is having.

  9. From a consumer standpoint, I hate the myriad service offerings. I want one place, maybe 2-3 if I’m stretching it, to go to to get entertainment. It’s not because I overly trust one place, but if you spread the content of the market out amongst dozens of potential sub markets, we don’t get to see all that is available to us.

    I prefer, even with the deluge of nonsense, an unfiltered signal. Or at least, I prefer to be the one who has a handle on what the filters are. I can’t do that with dozens of services.

    Just sign up to amazon prime to see how that feels. Oh, you want to watch an old movie like Cliffhanger? Weeeeell, you better be willing to sign up with Starz! What’s that you say? You already PAY for PRIME? lol scrub, tough shit. Pay for the extra service or don’t watch the movie.

    What’s that? You bought a movie/show but the publisher/IP holder no longer wants to do business with Amazon so they made their own streaming platform and you can no longer watch your show? LOL scrub.

    And so on. It’s anti-consumer, no matter what industry it happens in. Hell, it’s anti-person when it happens on social media. It’s no different here.

  10. If a all-digital future is certain, I’m done with gaming.

  11. Games as a service will ultimately destroy DRM free gaming, modding, customisation and fan servers. They have a place but I hope there’ll always be good games we can download to our local machines, play them there without any net access after the fact and dig into the files.

  12. Xbox has a whole section for “paid services”. Right now it’s only EA and Xbox itself, but there’s definitely more to come.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *