Monday, April 20, 2009

game subscriptions

Michael Pachter mentioned a discussion between a number of CEOs about whether or not cloud gaming (ala OnLive) should encourage publishers to adopt a more TV-like model of business. He then raised the old idea of episodic content being released weekly or monthly, with each episode being purchased individually.

If games do go the way of cloud gaming, subscriptions which include simultaneous access to multiple games makes more sense to me. In other words, let's stop talking about a Pay-Per-View model and instead talk about an HBO model.

With Pay-Per-View, you pay for each individual show, as in Pachter's example. But by subscribing to a service like HBO or Starz, one fee buys you access to many shows. Some of those shows are developed by the service provider while others are only published by the provider. And how long has HBO been around? Obviously, it's profitable.

Of course, HBO's service is scheduled and sequential. You can only watch certain shows at certain times. That's one of the reasons I and others increasingly avoid traditional television and instead prefer on-demand services like Netflix.

So what happens if game rentals go online and do not require installation? If a subscriber can place multiple games in his queue and play any of them at any time with no extra fee, ala Netflix's streaming model, is that less profitable for game publishers than current services, like Gamefly and Gametap, which stagger rentals either by mail restrictions or by limited hard drive capacity and download time?

In short, I'm hoping for a day when I can pay a monthly fee to play any of a collection of games at any time, ala Netflix with movies.

For now, Netflix includes in this service only a portion of their movies. I can only guess this is because the film publishers do not want all of their movies to be available for the service. That suggests to me that they think they'll profit more per rental through the traditional rental model. But would it really be unprofitable, or less profitable, if they offered their entire libraries for on-demand rental subscription services?

And does the same apply to games? If on-demand rental subscriptions are profitable for film publishers, is there any reason the same model would not work as well for game publishers?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.