Games as a service – The Future of Gaming?

Games as a service. I’m not sure if those are dirty words to most people, but the fact is, it’s happening.

Think about it, we already have PlayStation Now, Xbox Game Pass and EA Access. The future is now. I’m not entirely sure how popular these services are, but what I do know if they are growing all the time and perhaps this is just the start.

In the case of PlayStation Now and Xbox Games Pass, you can play full games without having to purchase them, with a yearly or monthly fee taking the place of the outlay for the game. PlayStation Now recently updated to allow you to download full games, rather than just stream them. Microsoft’s excellent Games Pass service meanwhile allows you to play 1st party titles from day one of release, practically negating the need to purchase the game at all, even if you do like it.

In fact, Xbox Games Pass is £47.99 for a year’s access at the moment, which is around the same price you’d pay for one 1st party title, yet this cost will gain you access to all of Microsoft’s 1st party titles, released in both 2018 and in future years, although how many Xbox 1st party titles will release any time soon remains to be seen.

What I find interesting about these services is that they are likely the future of gaming, rather than an added convenience. Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, recently told an audience at the Barclays Global Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference that “Game Pass will eventually come to every device.” Doesn’t this then negate the need for a console? And at the same time, does it not negate the need for retail? We all know that one-day games at retail will be a thing of the past and while there will still be the option to buy games via digital means, chances are you’ll be playing these games via an app on your TV, rather than via a box, much like we do now.

There’s no doubt Xbox One Two (as I like to call it) and PS5 will roll around in a year or two, but after those consoles have been put out to pasture you begin to wonder if we’ll ever see the need for a new console ever again. Mobile devices are getting more powerful all the time, as are TVs. Is it beyond the realm of possibility that instead of releasing a console, Sony and Microsoft could instead release an Alexa Firestick sized device and controller bundle which plugs into our TV and gives us access to unlimited amount of old and new releases, all for one monthly cost?

Imagine plugging the stick into your TV and there’s your Xbox. Or maybe even more conveniently we’ll just get access to an app. Download the PlayStation App, Xbox and Nintendo. Pay a monthly subscription fee, buy the controller from Amazon. No need for expensive hardware (or dedicated game stores for that matter), maybe the yearly cost of all three will come under £200, giving you access to all the games you need, with all your saves stored in the cloud and your trophies and achievements joining them. It doesn’t really seem that far-fetched does it?

People love physical discs, but those same people are the ones who are currently praising the likes of Xbox Games Pass, EA Access and to a lesser extent PlayStation Now, so maybe it’s a case of being careful what you wish for, because the more people who move the way of Xbox Games Pass and PlayStation Now and away from discs, the faster services such as these will negate the need for them completely. Personally, I’m ok with that, but are you?