“Yet, another subscription”— The concerns with subscription based platforms in gaming

Subscription based models have become very popular for a lot of different types of products. In fact, we most of us probably use some sort of subscription based product.

A subscription based model is where a customer must pay for a service on either a weekly, monthly or yearly basis to use the product and/or service.

Common subscription based services and products include examples like, Netflix, Hulu, Xbox Live, Amazon Prime, Hello Fresh, World of Warcraft Game Time Subscriptions, and much more. There are a variety of platforms that utilize these types of services for their products.

I’ve noticed in the past few years with gaming, there’s been some concerns with different types of memberships. I could tell you personally, sometimes they are a bit of a hassle, depending on the type of service you are using.

Video streaming services seem to be the least hassle in my opinion as an end user. If you actively watch TV and movies, it can be worth the price to keep a monthly membership. It’s also been seemingly easy to cancel and pause if you don’t plan on using them for a while. However, it can be hard to manage if you have to buy several video services and manage all the different payments (i.e. Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, YouTube, Discovery, etc).

Gaming services like World of Warcraft can be good, but also a mixed bag at times especially if you pay for a 6 month subscription to save money on the monthly subscription but you don’t end up playing as much as you want either due to lack of content or lack of time to play. However, I’ve not really had a problem with using Blizzard’s services as a subscription based model, even though you still have to buy the base game to play.

My bigger issues with subscription based models is some online gaming services like Xbox Live. One reason I never used Xbox Live to play online, is because of the extra charge just to play online with other people. As a consumer, when you buy video games, you already are paying full price for one game. If you wanted to play with your friends, they would end up charging you extra for a monthly fee. It wasn’t worth it to me if I just wanted to play the base game and play with other people at the same time.

This is why I would play the PlayStation back in the day, since playing online was free as long as you purchased the base game. However, in the past few years they’ve changed their model to PlayStation Plus with some new additions to their membership with new online games you can play monthly.

Again, it would vary from person to person, but as consumers we’re trying to get the best bang for our buck. What makes sense logically for the customers?

I’ve heard some people actually like the Xbox model since it includes a variety and quality of games to play and save on the cloud. I’m sure it’s changed a lot since I last tried to use it years ago.

For the companies who offer the software as a service, they’re definitely increasing their profit to target those who like having the subscription based services. However, sometimes it gets hard to manage depending on how many subscriptions you have, and remembering to cancel or pause certain months especially if you don’t use a service regularly.

The reason for writing this article is after a recent situation I’ve noticed with one of my favorite video games that I play on the Oculus Quest 2. It seems that Virtual Reality gaming is taking a similar approach now for certain games. One of them that recently launched a subscription based model is FitXR.

Originally, they were a base fitness game (one time purchase) with add-ons that you could purchase on the side if you wanted more content. Recently, they surprised everyone by changing the game to be a subscription based model like it’s competitor, Supernatural.

Supernatural started as a subscription based model with a free trial to check out all it had to offer. For me, I definitely had no problem with their services, because to me, they had so much to offer for the subscription price that I would definitely pay the fee to use their game monthly. The fact that they give you one month free to try the software is an amazing approach to a subscription service model.

With FitXR, it was a little different. I never bought their add-ons, but I felt I had a lot of content in the base game. I didn’t really feel the need for a subscription with how I used the game. I would choose to either do a boxing workout or dance workout based on their intensity.

They recently surprised all users yesterday (4/15/2021) with the new software update which includes 90 days free to their new subscription based model. If you already had the base game, you get to keep that. So in a way, not much has changed for me, but I noticed so many people freaking out in the forums for the game.

Shock is a huge thing when discovering “yet another subscription based platform”. Especially for those who don’t want to have to keep buying more subscriptions.

I did not see much positive feedback at all in the forums I was on for the group, but I believe with subscription based models, there has to be a gradual approach to letting customers know, instead of a surprise launch that changed the whole look and feel to the game.

I did like what the company did by offering those who have already purchased the base game and add-ons to keep those, but also giving everyone (3) months free to play. They plan on charging $9 a month for the subscription once the free trial ends, but for me it’s as easy as cancelling my free trial once it’s over. It’s a good way to help current users get used to the new system but I still don’t feel the way they launched their service was the right way to go.

When you buy a subscription based platform from the start, you already know what you’re getting into. When you buy a base game, and they immediately change it into subscription — it’s like “wait a minute…I didn’t want this”.

While I didn’t fret too much over the software update, as an end-user, I would have liked to have known maybe a week before that this was the company’s big “surprise”. Maybe even provide a countdown to the launch, so it could have given users time to play the base version or buy the add-on packs prior to the surprise launch to buy more content before it all became live on the subscription. It would have even given others who have not bought the game yet to still buy it at the $30 flat rate.

There were comments like “why do the developers make these changes without telling us!?”! Though, this wasn’t so much as a developer issue as it was a Product/Release issue and coming prepared with a soft launch vs a hard launch.

The company decided to change the game without a soft launch. There was no integration.

However, I do feel that they did right by the end-users by allowing those who bought the base game for $30 to keep the original content (and same with those who purchased add-ons).

It’s definitely shocking to see when base games move to a subscription platform. As a user, I can understand the frustrations of other users. As someone who works in a Product field, I can also understand the need for companies to transform to match their competitors to make more money.

In terms of subscription based fitness games go — it’s pretty much like a gym membership. Just find the “gym” that works for you.

Makes me wonder if Beat Saber will be next in a subscription based game platform.

Only time will tell, but hopefully companies can start working with client feedback for future releases and launches that don’t shock users who are used to playing a base game already.

While subscription services are great for company profit with being able to provide more updates and services (in this case, all the new content that FitXR is releasing to keep it’s users happy), it’s definitely a frustration that users feel knowing they will have to manage “yet another subscription”.



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