A reader predicts that the worldwide energy and financial crisis will change video games forever and Xbox will be the one to benefit.
As tempting as it is, I don’t want to get into politics here, as it would get away from my central point, but let’s just say that every normal person is going to have a very difficult winter this year, and those less well off… well, I despair what will happen to them. Given that bleak outlook, worrying about video games seems self-indulgently trivial, but there’s no doubt that working out how to spare some cash for games is going to be a big concern for many in the coming months.
Of course, every savvy gamer already has plenty of tricks for getting cheap games, from knowing to wait a few months until after a game’s launch and taking advantage of sales for both digital and physical games. However, the rise of digital has made second-hand games a niche concern. Everyone loves the convenience of not having to get up to change disks (although apparently waiting an hour to download a game that’s not installed is fine – I never did understand that) but I think now people are going to realise just what they’ve given away by embracing digital so fully.
The only other way to save serious amounts of money on games now is Game Pass and, to a much lesser extent, PS Plus Extra and Premium. Games subscriptions are already popular, but I feel that the growing economic crisis, which is clearly going to last years, will make them such an essential part of a gamer’s life that the whole world of gaming will be changed forever.
The reasons are not complicated. For a surprisingly small amount of money you get access to hundreds of, mostly, high quality games. And with Xbox you get all their first party games on day one. Now, at the moment that doesn’t mean much, because they haven’t got any new ones, but as soon as their newly bought developers start churning out games, and once the Activision Blizzard buyout goes through, people are going to have access to dozens of top notch games for the price of an indie title.
Sony have something similar with PS Plus Extra and Premium, but it doesn’t have games from day one and the backwards compatibility is much less comprehensive. It’s a much less complete service and the half-hearted way they’ve gone about it suggests they didn’t really want to do it at all, which I think is going to be their downfall.
You can say Microsoft has just spent its way to success and I would have a lot of sympathy for that opinion, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re on the up at the moment and the in-built value of Game Pass is, in my opinion, going to push them past Sony and probably even Nintendo.
The ramifications of this are enormous. For a start it’s going to mean that an American company is the market leader in the games industry for the first time since the 80s, with all that means in terms of the games they push and the developers they choose to work with. We’ve already seen that almost all the studios they’ve bought have been American and if that’s seen to work they’re going to stick with it.
But the effects will be deeper than that, as the success of Game Pass is very quickly going to make the idea of buying games day one seem archaic. Heck, it’s likely to make the idea of buying games at all seem old fashioned. That’s something which is going to completely undercut Sony’s business model but which is baked into Microsoft’s from the start.
The idea of spending full price on a game, when you can get dozens of them a month for a third of the price, is going to seem crazy to people in the future and there’ll be no going back. I’m not even saying it’s a good thing but video games are not going to be the number one spending priority for most people in the coming months and Xbox and Game Pass are the only ones that are going to benefit form that.
By reader Damien Day
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. Just contact us at [email protected] or use our Submit Stuff page and you won’t need to send an email.
To submit Inbox letters and Reader’s Features more easily, without the need to send an email, just use our Submit Stuff page here.
For more stories like this, check our Gaming page.