Gaming is the largest entertainment industry there is. It dwarfs traditional media like movies, TV shows and music in terms of revenue and it has only got bigger during the pandemic lockdowns.
I’ve been interested in gaming since the late 80s. Starting on an Acorn Electron. You had to type binary code for an hour before getting anywhere near something resembling a game and this is how it all started.
In the last few weeks, I’ve done some thinking about my Game Pass subscription…
I bought an Xbox Series X on the strength of what Game Pass was offering. I thought if I subscribed to a Netflix like service and that service provided a variety of games I could play, I might not want to buy multiple £40, £50, £60 games each year. Therefore I’d be saving some money and getting my gaming fix.
I also considered the convenience factor offered by Game Pass. My work relies on having a blazing fast Internet connection so downloading games is not an issue for me. I can line up a game and be playing it in roughly 20 minutes. Excellent!
The reality is something quite different though.
I’m a story-driven single-player. I can count on one hand the number of good experiences I’ve had online, so I avoid it. I do not care about multi-player modes and add-ones, I care even less about Xbox Live.
For several months I was paying £10.99 and tried two games from my Game Pass subscription.
The first game was Forza Horizon 4. It was entertaining and I have some good memories, but those types of games get boring quite quickly and I’ve never felt compelled to try and complete any of the previous versions, let alone number 4.
The other was Greedfall. A very ambitious game but lacking polish and I quickly lost interest due to the poor dialogue and control methods.
The rest of my gaming on my new Xbox Series X was Xbox One games on a disc that I had owned previously or bought cheaply on eBay.
I played through the Witcher 3 recently and all of its downloadable content and loved every minute of it. It was the complete edition off of the disc and not the standard edition from Game Pass.
Now I am currently playing Red Dead Redemption 2 off of the disc and that game is going to take a while to get through. During all my lengthy game playing, £10.99 was taken out of my bank account without looking at Game Pass.
I realised recently that my game playing is very sporadic. I might get an hour or so early on a weekday morning before I start work, or a few hours game time on a weekend. But overall, my time spent playing games does not justify having a monthly subscription just for the option of playing more games.
After carefully analysing my game playing habits, I decided to shut out all the hype surrounding Game Pass and cancel my subscription. I’m £10.99 better off each month, despite the value proposition Microsoft and the Xbox division keep on promoting about Game Pass.
I think there is a place for a subscription service like Game Pass, I’m just not sure who it is for. I love the idea of having games on demand but games are not like traditional media and entertainment. A TV show you can watch in anything from 30 minutes to an hour, you could burn through a series in a weekend and then you’re done.
Games are a different medium, not all experiences are the same, they’re meant to be like that. You can replay games and you can spend months playing some of them. If you like playing multiple-player they can last even longer. So a subscription service for games doesn’t work for me. The premise is much better than the execution, as they say.
As a general rule in life, take a minute or two to step back and look at the bigger picture.
Subscription services like Game Pass, Netflix, Apple One, Spotify etc., all require you to use them often to get value from your subscription. If you find yourself not watching Netflix, not playing games, not listening to music, cancel the subscription and save yourself some money! Even if it is only for a few months.
To wrap these thoughts up, I’m not saying that Game Pass isn’t worth it, or that Game Pass is a failed business model. I’m just saying that as an older gamer with limited time, it’s not worth the £10.99 each month.