Like massive media companies, game publishers are trying to get a piece of that sweet streaming pie. They want a consistent revenue stream for something they already own. It is a chance to make money off of an existing product. But, things might not be as bright as they could be. While it is an opportunity to try games at a lower price, there could be an opportunity for some major missteps ahead. This isn’t about there being too many, but rather about companies that aren’t prepared jumping into it.
One example is Google Play Pass. This is Google’s mobile game subscription service. Which, ideally, doesn’t seem too bad. For a set fee each month, people get access to a collection of Android games. These are old apps and games, often available on multiple mobile and PC platforms. They’re older titles. But, the initial launch price of $1.99 per month for a year was right, and the after-launch fee of $4.99 per month is identical to Apple Arcade’s fee.
But, it’s a problematic subscription. For one, there’s its hurried nature. Apple Arcade was planned for months. Apple carefully curated titles that were exclusive to mobile devices. These are new apps. Google just tossed in existing games that are years old. There’s a concern about how developers will be paid, since it will have a Spotify-like model that will pay people royalties when their titles are played. Also, it seems rushed in general. Google Play Pass launched about a week after Apple Arcade, and only in one country. It feels like a rushed attempt to try and do what someone else is doing, perhaps without doing all the footwork necessary to make it worth using.
The other questionable service comes from a company that, well, has been known for concerning decisions lately. Atari, the same company that brought us a new cryptocurrency and speakerhats, is going to have a streaming service. When it launches its Atari VCS console, a system that is supposedly, totally happening eventually, it will have a subscription service. It will supposedly launch with its own game streaming service based on Antstream’s service. This Atari Edition would focus on giving people access to “thousands” of retro games.
But, this is even more questionable and uncertain. Atari’s console doesn’t have a strong foundation to begin with. We haven’t really seen good looks at it. Antstream is a relatively unproven service born from a Kickstarter, and it has already had a rough start when it comes to video quality and control options. This will supposedly be ready at launch, for a system that still didn’t have a launch window in 2019. Also, it will be $9.99 per month or $95.88 per year. To compare, Xbox Games Pass is $9.99 per month, is from Microsoft, is fantastic, and offers quality, recent and new releases.
It’s a situation where people are going to have to be wise with their money. It might be tempting to subscribe to a service. “I’m paying $5 or $10 per month for hundreds of games, rather than $60 for one!” Except, you have to consider the quality. What will the library look like? Will the games run and look well? How much is it going to cost you? Will you actually end up using it? Can you trust the company providing the service? Be cautious, as more of these appear.