I recently read an article in The Atlantic entitled “This is Peak Subscription.” The author, realizing that she is oversubscribed, asks if we have reached the ceiling of what Americans are willing to subscribe to. I have also thought about my subscriptions and what services I’d be willing to give up. But more importantly, I’ve thought about how these subscriptions have changed my buying habits, especially when it comes to video games.
I own both the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5. I subscribe to Game Pass Ultimate, downloading games like I have all the time in the world. For us old-heads, it’s like having Blockbuster in your house. I don’t own games as much as rent them, and for the most part, I’ve learned to be okay with it. I can always buy a game I like from Game Pass, but it’s usually one and done save for a few particular games.
My PlayStation 5, on the other hand, acts more like a traditional console than a media-connected device. I’m not a PS Plus member. I play primarily single-player games, and when I can, I buy physical copies of games. Part of this is due to the confusing nature of downloading games on PlayStation 5 compared to the Series X. But honestly, PlayStation games feel worth the price of admission. Sony presents a simple proposition – my money for unique first-party experiences. And Sony, for their part, holds up their end of the bargain. Final Fantasy VII Remake, SpiderMan, Miles Morales, and Ghost of Tsushima are all worth the price of admission. The question is, does Sony care if I’m not a monthly subscriber?
Every month I give Microsoft $15. This small sum, multiplied by the millions of subscribers, is why Phil Spencer and co were able to make its latest acquisitions. It’s a steady stream of income that grows monthly. Sony, on the other, receives my money from buying the console and the revenue share it gets from each sale. With Microsoft, I experience everything but never own anything. But Microsoft doesn’t care as long as I continue to slide them a few dollars every month. Hell, I don’t seem to mind because I’ve yet to cancel the service. Sony, however, keeps one foot in the past, sticking to a tradition that has proven successful since the original Nintendo. I buy the console, whatever exclusives I want, and that’s it. But is that enough? Can I expect the same great games in the future if I’m not subscribing? And if millions of people are subscribing to Sony’s PS Plus service, will they miss a few dollars?