Are Game Passes a Feasible Business Model?

Streaming has, without a doubt, upended traditional business models across every major media industry.

From music to films and TV shows, and now to games themselves, stream-based platforms are beginning to make more and more sense to consumers.

But what about in the case of a game pass catalogue? While streaming videogames is still an oft-buggy experience that is highly dependent on the latency of a connection, offering players a wide pool of ready-to-download games for a fixed price has certainly gained traction – but does it have a future?

The last decade has done much to upheave the conceptions of “ownership” as it regards to consumers. It used to be, back in the day, that when you purchased something, it was yours. The transaction signified the exchange of a number of funds for a physical product.

Well, that all changed with the advent of digital marketing and purchasing.

Nowadays, when you “buy” a game off of any digital marketplace, you’re not actually “buying” it in any traditional sense. There is no fully-packaged physical product that you receive.

Instead, what you are doing is buying a license from the distributor that gives you access to said product. So your giant library of Steam games can be revoked by Valve at any time, and you’d be shit out of luck because you opted into the end-user-agreement.

While there is undeniably a portion of the gaming populace that would love nothing more than to retain the ownership of their products indefinitely, the reality for most gamers is that they have already moved on to whatever is the next biggest and brightest attraction in this year’s offerings. The game pass is there to fill precisely that desire.

Publishers have already figured this out, and they’re aggressively pushing to make things like Xbox Game Pass and Origin Access the no-brainer method for players to consume their favourite games.

On one end, it makes perfect sense. Why pay $60.00 per game when you can plop down a measly $15.00 for an entire catalogue of games? Sure, you don’t technically “own” the games – but remember that you don’t “own” the titles you purchase off any digital storefront.

You’re only purchasing the license to use the software. And at the end of the day, when you’re playing the game – does it really matter?

The concept of “streaming” a game in real-time has been something that companies have tried to get right for years now – but could the answer be as simple as a game-pass like system?

Why bother with streaming a game byte by byte when you can just download it all at once and merely perform a server check upon bootup to ensure that your membership is active and you’re all good to go?

We’re sure there’s someone out there who’ll prove us wrong, but this one seems like a no brainer to us.

So far, Microsoft, EA, and Sony have tackled the concept of a monthly game pass. However, as global adoption rates continue to grow, expect to see other heavy-hitters hop into the fight for their slice of the pie.

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