Subscriptions are coming for everything, even your video games.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. If you’re a consummate consumer of whatever thing you’re paying a monthly fee for, the deal usually works out in your favor. That’s as true of video game subscriptions as any other, though of course the quality of each individual service is all over the map.
We’re here to help you navigate that map. Pretty much every option that’s out there caters to different types of players. So it’s not really a question of filtering the good out from the bad, but rather figuring out which option(s) – If any! – work best for you.
If you’ve never spent any time immersed in the culture of video games, a brief history lesson is in order. (Go ahead and scroll down to the round-up if you’re feeling all caught up!)
Subscriptions have been kicking around for the past 15 or 20 years as games have increasingly moved online. It started with games like World of Warcraft and eventually expanded to include services, such as Xbox Live Gold being a requirement for Xbox gaming online.
You can still find plenty of individual games that offer a monthly subscription, including WoW. Those aren’t the kinds of subscriptions we’re talking about here, but it’s worth understanding how the industry has pivoted.
Gaming subscriptions these days generally fall into two basic categories. There are the game-focused ones that enhance an otherwise free-to-play experience with everything from purely cosmetic upgrades to time-savers that let you skip ahead in one way or another. Then there are the service subscriptions, most of which give you unfettered access to a library of games alongside a handful of other features (such as streaming, cloud saves, and the like).
We’re going to focus on the latter here. These promise to give most fans of gaming the best bang for their buck. Besides, if you already play something like World of Warcraft or Star Wars: The Old Republic you probably know the pluses and minuses of those individual subscriptions better than we do.