The games industry is now the dominant media sector globally having grown definitively larger than the music, and even film industries, over the past decade. That amounts to an impressive degree of choice for gamers today, with a wide array of platforms and providers all vying for consumer attention.
However there are some downsides to the industry “going mainstream”. Production costs on major releases have grown much greater, and these rising prices are unavoidably being transferred to the end user. This is one of the core reasons why new triple-A releases for the PS5 and Xbox Series are shipping with an RRP of $70.
While many are happy to invest this in blockbuster games, there’s no escaping the fact that this price hike can make accessibility to these titles more challenging for those with less expendable income.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to this state of affairs. There are a number of ways that gamers can have their cake and eat it when it comes to accessing great experiences without breaking the bank. We will be taking a look at three great examples of this below.
Free to Play Games
As the name suggests, Free to Play games do not require you to pay to gain access. These are different from freemium games, as they do not force players to watch adverts, take breaks or pay for core features.
Instead, Free to Play games make their money through aesthetic microtransactions such as character outfits and weapon skins. This lets people who want to pay to customize their character to do so without impacting the core game functionality for those who don’t. You don’t have to spend a penny to enjoy the full experience of a free-to-play game.
Promos, Trials and Open Betas
Big developers are keenly aware that the asking price of new games can pose a challenge to certain players and, as a means of encouraging uptake of new titles, many studios are offering free trials on their games for an extended period.
This is much the same business model employed by OTT media services like Netflix, which will let users access their platform for 7 days free of charge, before billing them for a subscription tier. Some of the trials offered by games are significantly longer than this. EA’s Knockout City initially launched with a 1 month free trial to let players get accustomed to the experience, and hopefully interested in it, before asking for payment.
Promotional offers can also be a very effective means of enabling users to access games and platforms at a lower cost. This is something the iGaming industry has come to specialize in. By making the most of promo codes for online casinos, such as those collated together by comparison platform OddsChecker, players can access titles at competitive and affordable rates.
Another manifestation that has risen to prominence in recent years is that of the ‘open beta’. In such cases, a game, in an unfinished state, is offered to the public for free for a selected time. This lets players enjoy the game early, building hype for its eventual release. It also enables developers to capture data and iron out bugs, benefiting both parties.
Cloud Gaming Subscriptions
Cloud gaming services are growing in popularity, and for good reason. These platforms, such as Amazon Luna, PS Now, Xbox Cloud Gaming, and the recently cancelled Google Stadia, all stream gameplay content live over the internet to the end-user.
This circumvents the requirement for the player to own local hardware powerful enough to play the games in question, instead giving them the opportunity to access triple-A games on smartphones and mid-range laptops.
Considering the upfront costs of buying a new console run to over $500+, with gaming PCs easily commanding an asking price double that, cloud gaming gets around the single biggest economic barrier to entry for gamers.
What’s more, certain platforms, such as Xbox Cloud Gaming, which ships as part of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, lets players dive into over 300 games, instantly, all for a single monthly subscription fee.