THE PCG Q&A
The Xbox Game Pass seems like a pretty good deal, especially if you want to play The Outer Worlds. If you're already a subscriber to Humble Monthly when it transforms into Humble Choice you get grandfathered into the new, more expensive system. Over in phone land Apple Arcade has made people actually pay money for non-f2p mobile games again. It's a good time for subscription services.
And of course there are still people subscribing to World of Warcraft, The Elder Scrolls Online, Final Fantasy 14 and so on. Certainly there must be plenty of people willing to pony up for MMOs on the regular, because otherwise Bethesda wouldn't have been motivated to put together the baffling Fallout 1st package for Fallout 76.
Our weekend question is this: What was the last game or service you subscribed to? Let us know in the comments.
Shaun Prescott: Bah, humbug
Subscription services don't suit me. If I spend money on a game it's an investment, and I'll stick with it until it's over. But subscription services in general—both music and games—encourage me to graze, which means I never properly engage with anything. I subbed to Xbox Game Pass for a while and played half-an-hour of about a dozen games. It's a great service if you've got self-control but me? I don't. It'll be interesting to see how game subscription services in general come to mold the medium.
Wes Fenlon: Xbox Game Pass
They got me. Back during E3, when Game Pass launched for E3, I signed up for $1, the introductory price. I'd cancel it in a few weeks, I figured, but I wanted to test it out. There are some awesome games in Game Pass, and it keeps getting better, with additions like The Outer Worlds. But between travel and other games I was playing at the time, I didn't end up playing much on Game Pass... and then I forgot to cancel it. For three months. So they got $15 or $20 from me, and I didn't even use it! Joke's on me. I'm disappointed that some Game Pass games have issues compared to their Steam versions, or are missing easy mod support, but I'll resubscribe to the service in a second when a friend and I decide to co-op Crackdown 3 or another big game I don't want to pay full price for.
Lauren Morton: The Elder Scrolls Online
Like Shaun, I don't do subscriptions to services that grant access to a library of games. It seems like a good deal but I already have plenty of games installed on Steam, GOG, Epic, and other storefronts that I have yet to play. In practice I'd just be paying a monthly fee to look at an even larger library of games I'll never have time for. Instead, I commit to one particular game at a time. Right now, I'm a subscription member to Elder Scrolls Online. I'm not a hardcore player so sometimes I feel like I've hoodwinked myself by essentially paying monthly for an unlimited crafting material inventory, the ability to dye my clothes, and a premium currency allowance for buying more outfits, but it does also give access to the many many story expansions for ESO. Granted, I totally could have bought all the expansions by now with the money I've spent on the monthly fee but every time I think about dropping my subscription, I think "ESO is this one's only luxury subscription. Khajiit deserves to treat herself!"
Jarred Walton: Humble Monthly, Origin Access
I've been a Humble Monthly subscriber since it first started, in November 2015. I also have an EA Origin Access Basic membership, which I bought because of some game I was testing before launch—probably Mass Effect: Andromeda. I should just cancel EA Access as I hardly ever use it, and I have too many games to play as is! Which brings me back to the Humble Monthly. I continue to subscribe because it's fun getting a collection of "yours to keep forever" games each month, and I support the idea of what Humble Bundle does.
Sometimes I get extra codes for games I already own, which then get passed along to family or friends. Other times, I get some great games that I meant to buy but never got around to until suddenly they're in a bundle. The great part is that there are always several pretty good games each month, and it's always a bargain. The past year, I've enjoyed Mutant Year Zero, Yakuza 0, Battletech, Hollow Knight, and several others I'm forgetting right now. If you're new to PC gaming and don't have a ton of money to spend on games, I highly recommend subscribing. It's $100 per year for around 100 games, or just $1 per game. I can't resist a deal like that!
James Davenport: Apple Arcade
I have too many damn games in my backlog to justify a Game Pass subscription, but I haven't used my phone to play anything that wasn't designed to attach itself to my brainstem and drain me of all impulse control for years. Apple Arcade changed that, a nifty service that curates Real Shit and cuts out all the exploitative design practices and cheap rip-offs otherwise clogging the mobile space. There are a ton of great games on available already, and many of them are also on PC, which has turned it to something like a taster service for my PC indie gaming habits. It's something like $5 a month right now, so if you're already in Apple's sterilized ecosystem, it's worth a shot. Some recommendations: What the Golf, Jenny LeClue, Skate City, Pilgrims, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Exit the Gungeon.
Christopher Livingston: Xbox Game Pass
I'm currently subscribed to Xbox Game Pass, which has quite a lot of good games to play and is inexpensive enough to not make me freak out even if I go month without using it much. I initially signed up to try out Metro Exodus, but then got into Slay The Spire—which led to me buying it on Steam because I wanted to use Workshop mods. Which is kind of a big drawback to using Game Pass, frankly. I'm not sure how long I'll keep my subscription, but there's enough new games trickling in each month so far to justify it.
Morgan Park: Also Game Pass
I also got that Game Pass, though I'm more about cancelling and signing back up whenever there's a game I don't want to pay full price for. I've had my fun with Crackdown 3, Metro Exodus, and Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Next, it'll be The Outer Worlds. In general, though, I don't subscribe to more than one or two game services at a time. Too much money being discreetly pumped out of my bank account.
Joanna Nelius: GameFly
First and only game "subscription" service I ever tried was GameFly back in 2015 because I wanted to try Driver: San Francisco on the PS3 before I bought it. (Spoiler alert, I didn't buy it.) I rented that one game and then canceled before my 30-day free trial was over. I much prefer paying an upfront fee for my games, whether digital or physical copies, because I want to own them. Also, I like getting outside more often now, so most of the games I like I can play from beginning to end in a single sitting. Unless I'm playing the Sims 4, then I have no idea what day or time it is.
Andy Chalk: GEnie
I think the only gaming service I ever signed up for was GEnie, because at the time it was hosting the most excellent multiplayer WW2 dogfighting sim Air Warrior. Online gaming was expensive as hell back then because virtually everything charged by the hour, which often came on top of exorbitant long-distance charges, so when GEnie introduced unlimited Air Warrior for a flat monthly rate—I think it was about 20 bucks a month—and a local access number, you better believe I was in.
What those rotten bastards didn't say (unless you looked at the fine print, and who does that?) is that the local access was through AOL, and those rotten bastards were still ringing up their ridiculous hourly fees on top of the GEnie charges. And I, mayyyyybe not being as attentive as I should to my financial situation, didn't notice for, well, months, until the funny-colored bills started showing up. I phoned, I complained, I pleaded, it did not help. Ignorance really is no excuse, it turns out.
That little escapade cost me some bucks. I can't say that's specifically what put me off subscription services, but I still get a little cranky when I think about it. (It was worth it, though.)
Phil Savage: Final Fantasy 14
I keep meaning to play FFXIV. I've been meaning to play it ever since they added Gold Saucer and the siren song of nostalgia tempted me to give it a try. I subscribed, played five hours and then stayed subscribed for the next three months despite never really finding the time for it. It was enough to convince me that gaming subscription services aren't for me. I'm much more comfortable with things like Destiny 2's deluxe edition—essentially a one-off payment that acts as a subscription to its next year of stuff. I know season passes are controversial—and for good reason—but I'll be playing Destiny regardless meaning I know I'll get my money's worth.
As for things like Game Pass? It's a good idea in theory, but I'm already subscribed to more TV and sports services that I can physically watch in a lifetime that I can't justify doing the same for games as well.