Uplay+ will be a subscription service run by Ubisoft. With it, subscribers will have access to over 100 titles from the company’s catalog, including recent releases. The company also says that they will be available on Google’s streaming platform, Google Stadia, in addition to PCs. It’s a nice thought in some ways just like Netflix was once a nice thought. But, as more companies announce their own streaming and subscription services, the problems become more and more apparent.
We have so many of these things already and it’s getting hard to keep up. EA has its Origin Access Premier service. Microsoft has its Games Pass, which is now available on PC in addition to the Xbox One. Sony has PlayStation Now. Combine these with the familiar problem of console exclusivity and you can see why this is all exhausting; gamers have to buy into a lot of different services and platforms if they want to comfortably imagine that they’ll have access to all the hot titles on the horizon. This isn’t an issue that gamers have had to face in the past.
Movie buffs and television junkies have encountered this all before, though. In the 90s and early 2000s, premier channels like HBO could be added to television subscription packages. To keep up on popular shows, you had to buy in. It was unwieldy. Then came streaming platforms like Netflix that took over the market. At first, it was nice, and even pirates were appreciating how easily they could binge television shows. Then there was Hulu and Showtime and Youtube Red and HBO Now and, well, it’s a very long list of 10 dollar subscriptions to maintain. It’s no surprise that some people are turning back to piracy. This has all become as expensive as cable packages that we were turning away from in the first place.
Now, this is all in addition to the other subscriptions we already pay to play games. The main three consoles, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch all have paid online services for gaming with friends. These add up, too. These formerly nice options are becoming less and less attractive and your wallet will feel the pain if you are a multi-console gamer like myself.
My fear is that these streaming and subscription services will start to offer exclusive content. I can envision a world where digital storefront and services all offer DLC bonuses and the like similar to what we are currently dealing with when we have to preorder from Gamestop for a shiny digital toy and whatnot. It’s just enough arm twisting to be annoying.
Worse is the fact that we don’t own any of this content and it’s scary to see the market turn more and more towards primarily digital options. It’s not exactly future proof, is it?
I just can’t imagine all of this lasting. I’m a huge proponent for gamers voting with their wallets when things get obnoxious but these companies are putting a lot of us where we have no choice but to vote with our wallets because, really, can we all afford all of this? And what value is it really adding? Right now, I’m okay with subscribing to one or two of these so long as they don’t push exclusive content and maintain a degree of quality. Mostly, though, I prefer to just buy and own my titles and I hope enough of us are in that boat that we can express to these companies that we want our content on disc in a way that they understand--financially.