IGDA executive director: Subscription game services ‘make a lot of sense’ in a pandemic


Apple made waves when it launched its Arcade subscription service in September, releasing exclusive games like Grindstone and Mini Motorways to Apple device users for a monthly fee. They follow Sony, EA, Ubisoft, Microsoft, and others in what International Game Developers Association executive director Renee Gittins believes will be a big trend during the pandemic.

Gittins and Xsolla’s Justin Berenbaum talked about how game developers can adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic during the second day of the 2020 GamesBeat Summit. One topic they touched on is the popularity of subscriptions services like the Xbox Live Game Pass and Apple Arcade could become a bigger trend in the game industry despite the pandemic.

“This makes a lot of sense, particularly when people are at home,” Gittins said. “They don’t have the same opportunity to go to game stores and get personal advice or browse in the same ways they are used to.”

Gittins and Berenbaum highlighted that people have a lot of extra time while stay-at-home orders are in place and less disposable income due to pandemic’s effect on the global economy. The price of subscriptions services — Xbox Game Pass is $14.99 (less if you only use one platform) per month while the Apple Arcade is $4.99 per month — are more affordable than purchasing games. Gittins believes we’ll see more models like these pop up in the near future.

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“Getting access to a wealth of games and being able to try which ones that sound interesting and then really dive into the ones they like best is going to be really appealing,” Gittins said.

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These services are beneficial for major developers, first parties like Apple and Microsoft, and studios with already established relationships with these companies. Gittins said that studios launching a game within the next six months should strive to build a relationship with Apple, Microsoft, or another subscription service provider in order to get the most out of their launch.

“Persistence is really the way to go at it,” Gittins said. “As we see more of these subscriptions models rise, persistence will be key in order to get their attention.”



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