Twenty years ago, no man in his right mind could imagine a cheap, convenient movie watching service like Netflix. But the development of technology has enabled so many things beyond the imagination of our parents and grandparents. The same story does happen with the video game industry. Back in the old day, we all had to come to the video game shops to get a physical copy of our favorite game. We were fine with that (actually, we were happy with that). But then Steam showed up. More than 16 years ago, on September 12th, 2003, Steam was launched, and it has changed everything in the video game industry.

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Steam has definitely changed the way this industry works

Technically speaking, Steam is still a video game shop, the buyers still actually own their games, but Steam has created the pathway for the Netflix-style subscription service within the video game industry. Netflix is still happily living with movie theaters and other classic movie watching forms like physical tapes. The movie industry is too big to have one form of content providing method, but the video game industry is a totally different story. If gaming subscription services somehow become the only option for gamers to play their favorite video games, a lot of interesting things will happen.

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We already have a lot of gaming subscription services in the market now

Nowadays, we have Xbox Game Pass from Microsoft, Uplay Plus from Ubisoft, PlayStation Now from Sony, EA Access from EA, Apple Arcade from Apple, and Google Stadia from Google. And we can’t say for sure that we have listed all the gaming subscription services. With so many services in the industry, gamers are often confused. Moreover, all of those services look really fragile. They do not seem to be able to last three years. We predict that the services that only support one game publisher will have to leave the market eventually. There have been a lot of television companies saying goodbye to Netflix and Hulu to establish their own subscription services.

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Google Stadia and Apple Arcade will join the market soon, so the competition will be much more severe

At last, we believe that there will at max be the three biggest services staying alive in the market. For now, we can’t say for sure what services have high chances to survive, but all services are trying their best to gather more subscribers. Not just that, those companies also offer great deals for loyal subscribers so that they will keep their subscriptions going on. All the big companies that we have listed above are preparing the best “gears” for their “babies” because they all know that this gaming subscription war will be much more severe than the movie subscription war.

GameStop – one of the biggest physical video game stores in the USA – is going down quite dramatically. The end for GameStop has been predicted by the experts, so gamers will need a place to get their video games. Online game shops like Steam are clearly good alternatives, but then gaming subscription services are also a good choice. You only need to sacrifice about three or four dinners in a fast food store to get access to a huge video game library for 30 days. The relatively small initial cost for gaming subscription service has always been the main reason for gamers to take a leap of fate.

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If you can stop eating these things, you can already afford a gaming subscription for a month

Some gamers may leave after a few months, but a lot of other people will stay. If you actually pay attention to a game, you can surely finish that game within a month. For the AAA titles, they may cost you two months or a bit more, but in the end, you still can gain some financial benefit for yourself if you take a gaming subscription service over. Moreover, once you buy your game, you only have that game. If you do not like that game, sorry, you can do nothing about that. Meanwhile, with the subscription services, you can try a huge amount of the titles to find your favorite ones.

Things may seem to be a bright vision for gamers, but if we have no physical and online game shops left, the gaming subscription services will surely start to roll out exclusive games. If you want to play those exclusive titles, you have no other options except for subscribing to those services. Netflix has been doing that for a few years, and that method works fine. Perhaps that will actually be the final outcome for the subscription war in the gaming industry if the idea of owning a video game for yourself no longer exists.

Perhaps in the future we will see things like Google Stadia Original, just like Netflix Original now

But, as we can see, Netflix still has to co-exist with cinemas. That story will surely happen to the gaming industry. The feeling of completely owning something can never be replaced, and the number of video game collectors keeps going up every year. People are still willing to pay thousands of dollars for a classic physical version of old video games, and that is completely fine. Just let people do the things that they like. It is the job of the gaming companies to serve their customers.

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When there are still people who are ready to play Rs 71 Lakh for a copy of this, gaming subscription still can't take over the industry

That is why we believe this co-existing ecosystem will continue to dominate the video game industry for the next upcoming years. There will always be some space for those who actually to own their video games. There will always be some space for those who want to collect the classic physical copies of old video games. But the gaming subscription services will certainly dominate the industry. It is actually a cost-effective choice for gamers and for game publishers. Those services have provided a lot of space for indie titles, so they may be the best option to balance the relationship between gamers, game developers, and game publishers.

Although that vision seems to be really good and achievable, only time can truly answer us.