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Has Game Pass/PS Plus/Humble Bundle/other subscription services and freebies affected your videogame purchasing habits?


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I mentioned this in its dedicated thread yesterday, but at the moment there's a game called Mortal Shell on sale at Curry's for about £13. It came out last year and I've been interested in it since it was first announced. It's a sort of dark fantasy Soulslike with a few new mechanics, and it looks gorgeous - all very much my thing. So, when I saw a few days ago that it was going very cheaply (and seeing as I'd just been paid), straightaway I went to get my wallet out.

 

But then I thought to myself, "Actually, this has 'Very Likely to be on Game Pass at Some Point in the Near Future' written all over it. I've got lots of other unplayed games. I'll just wait." And I didn't buy it.

 

Then, as I'm wont to do, I spent far too long analysing my decision.

 

What made me think that this was a future GP game?  Well, it came out to 7s and 8s out of 10, without much fanfare, and, being a Soulslike, it's a game from a niche-ish genre that lots of people find inaccessible and are therefore unlikely to buy, so those were both pretty telling signs. I'd also seen it heavily discounted already, not too long after it came out - another symptom leading me to see it as future GP fodder.

 

The biggest factor that made me believe it was GP-bound, though, was the fact it was developed by a small, relatively unknown team, not quite 'Indie', but definitely not triple (or even double) A. If it was a game I was interested in that had been made by Capcom, or Ubisoft, or, indeed, FromSoft themselves, then at this price I wouldn't have hesitated to buy it if it was a game I'd been interested in, as it's very unusual to find games by these bigger third-party developers on GP at all, much less so soon after release.

 

This then made think about the effect my decision would have on the developers of this game - just the fact that it *looks* like a GP game was enough to make me not buy it and not give the devs any of my money. Even if it did come to GP in the future, would the money that the devs get from Microsoft equal the money that I (and other prospective players) would have spent on it to buy and own it? And then, if it doesn't come to GP at all, and I was wrong to assume that it would, would I even want to buy in the future, once I'd waited and waited for it, or would I just move onto something else, having never paid any money towards the devs whatsoever, indirectly through GP or otherwise?

 

I guess the question I'm trying to ask, in a very convoluted way, is is Game Pass, and the like, a good thing for smaller developers if the distinct *possibility* of their game coming to a subscription service enough to prevent potential consumers from paying them directly for it? Or is the money that these devs get from the companies who run these subscription services enough to offset the loss in income the devs experience from people who don't buy their games?

 

Are we going to get to a point where fewer and fewer people pay indie devs for their output because it becomes almost an expectation that they put their game on one subscription service or another? Is this, in turn, going to make it even harder for indie developers to succeed and lead to the further monopolisation of gaming by a handful of mega-companies who are only willing to produce and publish generic, cookie-cutout open-world games that have been exhaustively focus-grouped to appeal to as broad an audience as possible!?

 

...or am I just worrying about it too much?

 

(Incidentally, I did end up buying Mortal Shell, but only because I saw that it's getting a free next-gen update, which made me think it's probably not going to come to GP for a good while.)

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  • Jamie John changed the title to Has Game Pass/PS Plus/Humble Bundle/other subscription services and freebies affected your videogame purchasing habits?
5 minutes ago, Jamie John said:

Or am I just worrying about it too much?

Yes. :D 

 

GamePass is great. Its my go to place to play games these days. However if something isn't on there and I want play it, the price is right I just get it. Life is too short to be waiting around. Saying that usually find something of interest on GamePass anyway. Its the Steam sales that always hook me in at times. But again don't spend over much on there anyway.

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I rarely ever buy at full price any more. Ubisoft games are the exception, I never ever buy those at full price if at all. They discount their shit like 2 weeks after release and when the well is drained they fling it one on of the subscription services.

 

I rather spend the £60 or £70 RRP on two to four smaller (indie) games.

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I don’t buy MS games any more.

 

everything else - no. I’m time poor: I’m not going to skip playing a game at the same time as everyone else in the expectation that eventually it’ll end up on PS Plus.

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As Gamepass is more of a try before you buy rental service, where a game can be removed any given month, So if I was in the middle of a game it was going to leave I'd have to buy it anyways... I find the omnipresent PSN sale more of a thing that affects my buying habits. 

 

I'd like the get the Nioh collection but I'll just wait as it's like £65 atm, and it absolutely will be half that amount in no time. 

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I didn't pick up Sackboy: A Big Adventure even though it looks like a game I'd enjoy because I'm pretty confident it'll be on PS Plus this year.

 

For indie games I usually just buy then when I want to play them since they're usually under £20 however I buy far fewer games than I used to overall. I think that's more down to a realisation that I rarely actually play them than an expectation I might get them for free later. I do subscribe to PS Plus and I also have GamePass for 1 year (and Epic Game Store freebies) but I don't think I've actually played a single* game offered by either for longer than 20 minutes over the last couple of years so I'm just wasting money really.

 

*Just looked through the list and I did play Uncharted 4 but couldn't muster the enthusiasm to finish it.

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From all accounts, most indie studios right now do pretty well out of whatever payments they get to go on the subscription service plus the much wider audience it brings them.

 

I do think ‘right now’ is a pretty big caveat though, for a couple of reasons. One is that although the current payment from MS or Sony or whoever is probably enough to push your Indy game to breakeven so that you can stay afloat for your next game, it does fundamentally limit your ability to financially benefit if your game is a massive hit.
 

This is fine for most developers because most indy games aren’t going to be that massive a hit - but for the ones that do have that potential put it this way, would Supergiant have been financially better off putting Hades on GamePass at launch? I don’t think so.

 

The other big unknown is whether these indy publishers will be able to command such favourable payment terms or get such good exposure once the subscription platforms become more mature - on Game Pass it will surely become much more difficult for these titles to stand out once Microsoft’s new first party machine starts pumping out big titles every couple of months. 

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I’ve binned pretty much every subscription service aside from Twitch Prime, but I feel like the question still applies when there are so many sales and discounts.

 

For me, it depends on how much I care. There’s a difference between the price label printed on a game box and its worth to you as someone potentially interested in it. Bloodborne ended up in the PS4 budget range but I still consider it a bargain at £40. :P  So I’ll buy things on day one if I’m particularly interested in them... but there are still things that fly under my radar which I’ll snap up in a sale later (The Textorcist being a recent example for me...)

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I never buy games at full price, it's rare I play them enough to get the value out of them. 

 

However I do think twice about games on sale which I've read good reviews about, and may or may not play. I tend to check if they've already been released on PS+ or not before considering purchasing, then if I do pick them up I generally don't play them for years (really, years) by which time they're either cheaper or have been given away on another platform. I should learn my lesson by now and wait until I'm bored of what I already have. 

 

Racing games are somewhat different, my preferred genre - I'm picky but I don't feel they come up on these services very often, and it's a 'safer' purchase. I still have the same problem that I own more games than I have time to play, but the few titles I have put time into I have purchased rather than received for 'free' (Wreckfest, GT Sport, and most recently WRC 8). 

 

 

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I'm happy to wait for things to appear on a service if they don't immediately grab me, but that's really no different to just ignoring them at full price for much the same reason.

 

Another factor at play though is that after a long time as a PS+, Xbox Live, Game Pass and Humble subscriber, I have a mountain of stuff I can play right now at no further cost. A not insignificant number of those are games I'm absolutely interested in, and are the justification for having subscribed in the first place. I see no distinction, therefore, between these and games I paid outright to own, and because the subs generally throw more at me for less, I've got access to more games I've paid for and wish to play than ever before.

 

So that's why I'm less likely to buy new stuff that doesn't already have me excited to play it - less about hoping for a discount, more about feeling it's a waste of money if I don't use the subscriptions I've paid for.

 

 

In truth, there's probably a question to be asked about whether or not I'd get the same value for the same price if I didn't subscribe to any of these, and just bought the games I have actually played.

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It's definitely changed how and what I buy.

 

I have a GPU sub for myself and a separate one for my son, who has an xbox here and at his mum's (50/50 split between households).  So he can play on his account at both houses.

 

My stepdaughter lives here all the time, and I've set the Xbox in her room as the 'home' console so she can share my GPU sub.

 

So because of this, all 3 of us can play any Game Pass games together for a total of around £20 a month (less than that in reality with the XBL Gold £1 trick I did when I signed up).  When you think how many games that consists of and the direction MS are taking with brand new games being added to the service, that is absolutely insane value for money.

 

There are the occasional games we might buy on top which aren't ever going to find their way to GP, but TBH they are few are far between.

 

I really believe that Game Pass is a huge game changer - our family absolutely love it.

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I already owned the best games on Game Pass when I had an Xbox so that didn't do anything for me. The games that I was interested in wouldn't have been on GP for a couple of years, if at all. The One X was the place to play the best version of third party console games for me. 

 

PS+ has been awful for years, but the PS5 seems to have given it a new lease. I hadn't bothered downloading the monthly games for a couple of years until this gen began. FF7R is the best subscription game in a long while.

 

I like the Switch Online offering, and I'm happy to pay what it costs, but I would prefer the option to outright buy individual titles as per the Virtual Console days.

 

I don't intend to buy many games any more, which is a good thing, besides the absolute top tier exclusive Nintendo or PS5 stuff, or M2 ports. I will get the odd AAA if I really really think it looks like my thing, but I'm pretty much done with the big name third party stuff. I find the vast majority of indie games as stale and derivative as big budget shit these days, so not that arsed about them, either.

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I was subscribed to PS+ for years, waiting for it to reach the levels of the late PS3 glory days. However the monthly games were appealing less and less so I eventually let it lapse, spent the £40 on a bunch of cheap games I'd put off buying due to hoping they'd arrive on PS+ one day, traded them in when finished and the cycle continued. I much prefer playing the games I actually want to play, when I want to play them.

 

No online multiplayer obviously but I hated it for the most part anyway.

 

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Nope. I still buy games i want to play. Simply because I have a weird mental block with gamepass that means I never actually play anything on it properly. I'll download a game, play a bit of it, forget about it and then delete. It reminds me of pirating games in my youth

Even games I really like I just move onto the next thing. I've then bought that game in a Steam sale or something and played it all the way through.

 

Gamepass sort of worries me a little that it'll go the way of Netflix. A lot of original content most of it mediocre to shite. I think it'll drag the quality down.

 

100% accept my take on it might be weird mind. My tastes are very different to most of the forums it seems from many other discussions.

 

Never buy full price mind!

 

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I still buy plenty of games at full price but with Gamepass I very rarely buy games on sale anymore.

 

Basically, if I really really want to play a game day one, I'll buy it. Apart from Microsoft published games or games that launch on GP day one obviously. But if I'm only semi-interested in a game, whereas once I would might have bought it for 20 quid nine months after release, now I will just choose a game from the Gamepass library to play instead. 

 

So essentially for those 'inbetween big games' periods, Gamepass is my go-to. Why even spend 20 pound on something I'm not sure about when I have tons of games on there I can try out.

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Game pass for me has just meant a bunch of games I’ve got still in the wrapper on PS4 will forever stay in there. I’ve bought said games with the intention to play them at some point, but then when I got my Series X and Game pass a whole bunch of them were on there, and I’ve since installed them and tried them out. Games in the list include Dead Cells, Yakuza Kiwami 1 and 2, Skyrim, Streets of Rage 4 and more. I’m not sure how it will affect future buying. Probably not at all as I am far too impulsive a buyer.

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Once I got over the “pile of shame” feeling you get with the subscriptions I think it has actually caused me to chill about about needing to play things as soon as they come out or as soon as they’re discounted. There’s too many of them anyway and they’ll probably show up as a freebie, or cheaper, later.

 

Freed from that obligation, I only really pay attention to the games I’m personally hyped about at a particular time. The result has been some really rewarding impulse purchases like Goose Game and Ring Fit, and some personal must-haves like Death Stranding, all with that proper “can’t wait to get it home and play it” feeling.

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I still have a bizarre fixation about 'owning' stuff. I've got GP until around August I think, but in truth I so rarely use it, it's daft. I understand the notion of owning stuff in digital form is dubious at best these days, but I still prefer to pay and have a game. I like looking at my stupidly large library of games on Steam (and Epic, and GOG, and the others) and - making sure I don't think too much about the money I've spent on it all over the years - smile a little at it. 

 

I suspect it's all due to my age :( 

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I only ever buy games on sale - the last game I paid full price for was in 2013, which I remember vividly because it felt so alien a concept - so no, it hasn't really changed my habits at all. It also means that even if I buy something that later turns up on another service, because I've paid so little (my trigger-point is between 66% - 75% off) I don't lament what I could've saved.

 

By its very nature this does also mean I'm never playing anything new, I'm well behind the curve and playing catch-up. The only recent exception to that has been Avengers - and even that was just over 50% off (and will probably be dead soon, so it feels like I've played a little bit of history :D).

 

I don't really feel any particular 'pull' of having my own, owned, digital library versus 'borrowing' something via Game Pass - it's all just games and I'm not one for replaying stuff either - I complete and move on.

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Let's be honest though, if you were really interested in a title, you'd pick it up, and if you weren't at all interested you wouldn't bother to play it. The stuff we're discussing is in this sort of middleground where you'd like to see what it's like because you might like it, but you're not really in a rush either and it'll come after whatever your priority is.

 

I've definitely held off on a few titles like that expecting them to be on a service, but this is only different from before in that I never bought them or got around to them with the excuse that I had too many games on the go, so they just hung out on a Steam wishlist for several years before being removed.

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27 minutes ago, Alex W. said:

Once I got over the “pile of shame” feeling you get with the subscriptions I think it has actually caused me to chill about about needing to play things as soon as they come out or as soon as they’re discounted. There’s too many of them anyway and they’ll probably show up as a freebie, or cheaper, later.

 

Freed from that obligation, I only really pay attention to the games I’m personally hyped about at a particular time. The result has been some really rewarding impulse purchases like Goose Game and Ring Fit, and some personal must-haves like Death Stranding, all with that proper “can’t wait to get it home and play it” feeling.

That's the beauty of services like GP - there is no pile of shame... Just try something - if you enjoy it play it until your done and move on and if you don't enjoy it also move on! There is no waste other than your time. Guess that is where you need to filter on the game types you are most likely to enjoy. Although with GP you can also try genres you may not have thought about trying before. 

 

Its a change of mindset really. Having Netflix doesn't compel me to watch everything on there to get my value out of it! 

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I buy less Indies now without a doubt, has to be something I really want or reviews very well e.g. Hot Shot Racing or Lonely Mountains Downhill. If I do I’ll probably get the Switch version as they’re often good portable games and if it then becomes available on PS+ it’s still a bit of a bonus.
 

I probably won’t buy another Codemaster’s game (other than F1) after seeing Dirt 5 go onto GP so quick, not that I bought it as I’m playing via  gameshare but it’s just too quick imo. Codemaster’s games are not what they once were anyway so little loss.

 

Also in the future if a game is landing day one on GP it’ll certainly put me off buying it on PS (don’t have XBOX), I’ll be much more likely to buy PS exclusives day one and pick up other games later.

 

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I think ps plus did for housemarque, didn't it?
I remember when nex machina came out, people didn't realise they were self publishing it so every time I was like "buy this! You need to buy this!" they would go "Yeah, it looks fun that, will definitely give it a shot as soon as it comes to ps plus"

 

It's a double edged sword, innit? They got a much wider audience, it's the reason people know their name today, but it devalued their product to such an extent that it eventually ended up killing the very concept of arcade style gaming entirely.

I just have to play like puzzle games and stuff now :(

 

If I see a game I like the look of, I just buy it usually, launch discount or not. Don't bother with bundles or subscription services or things like that.

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29 minutes ago, JoeK said:

I still have a bizarre fixation about 'owning' stuff. I've got GP until around August I think, but in truth I so rarely use it, it's daft. I understand the notion of owning stuff in digital form is dubious at best these days, but I still prefer to pay and have a game. I like looking at my stupidly large library of games on Steam (and Epic, and GOG, and the others) and - making sure I don't think too much about the money I've spent on it all over the years - smile a little at it. 

 

I suspect it's all due to my age :( 

:) Get where you are coming from. Because you have paid some money for a game you feel more compelled to play it. However looking at my steam catalog its not worked for me in many cases. Although to be fair many of my steam games were bought extremely cheaply in the steam sales.  So even if a play them for an hour or so no guilt that I've wasted much money. 

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Not really. If I want to play something I don't need to justify it to myself as a value proposition; I'm not a spotty teen in the local indie store spending a fortnight's keep money on some potential shitshow. If it comes to PS+ or whatever, that's cool, but I'm not going to avoid playing a game because it might be free later.

 

That's a double bonus, as it also applies to game sales. I don't do Steam or Epic sales unless it's something I was half thinking of buying anyway. I no longer wind up browsing the big game sales except to see if something I wanted to play in the next few months is cheap.

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