With upgraded consoles there is a shift in hardware, but how about a shift in how we pay for consoles?
Note: I would like to note that due to Nintendo‘s maverick nature I have centered this topic on Playstation and Xbox consoles only.
It used to be that once you’ve got a console then that’s it for a few years. The latest games and all the features. You’re sorted.
However with the release of the original Xbox this situation started shifting. To get online to play with your friends you were forced to buy a subscription to their online service. Now you may have had the console but there was still more to pay for the full experience.
Xbox Live has now been with both Microsoft consoles that followed the original Xbox. Playstation finally followed suit with their latest console, the Playstation 4; even the recently released Nintendo Switch requires a fee to play online. With something as notable and important as online play being locked behind a pay wall it’s easy to say subscription services are an almost integral part of many console gamers lives.
But these services don’t just allow online play. Recently they have offered extras such as the ability to stream to Twitch.tv and, most significantly, free games. Now these subscription services are more than simply fees to get online play.
With upgraded versions of the latest consoles coming along, the console situation has shifted once more. The cost of cutting edge console gaming has now dramatically increased if you want the best experience. Put simply if you want to get all the latest features and the most out of the latest games on console you will be buying at least two consoles this generation.
To me these shifts seem like baby steps towards warranting a new alternative payment model to the traditional buying the console and paying for online one that currently exists.
The new alternative
With these updates to hardware coming to a market that already has subscription services that provide features such as online play and free games why not combine the two.
Instead of buying a console then a subscription, you simply get the subscription. You sign up to a Playstation or Xbox service and every two or three years you get upgraded to the latest console on the market complete with all the benefits of Xbox Live or Playstation Plus built in. The ultimate console gaming scheme, if you will.
A good example is that of a modern mobile phone contract. You get your handset, an agreed service and choose the duration of the contract. Then you simply upgrade to the latest phone after a certain amount of time. This ensures you’re up to date and using a service that is suited to you.
The times are changing
Let’s face it: times are changing and the console market is as well. Consoles are focusing more on online. Manufacturers are shifting from physical to digital media. We are now seeing upgraded iterations of the latest consoles. There is a lot that is up in the air and sticking to the same rigid payment structure may be outdated.
Make it an alternative
I would also like to state that I don’t think this should be the only way. The existing model does work this should be an alternative. There are still pay as you go phone plans in addition to contract phone plans, one didn’t replace the other. Consoles should work in the same way. Ultimately it is about gamers having more choice. This is could easily be a more cost effective option for those who don’t want to or can’t pay in one lump sum.
The price has to be right. It’s that simple. It has to be an attractive, not exploitative, price to pay with enough worthwhile extras.
Complacency is a worry. Console manufacturers would have you locked in for a certain period so they have to continue proving their worth and not get lackadaisical. This is arguable the most important factor. They can’t focus on the next console but have to be getting the most out of the existing one. This just isn’t a concern with the existing price model as manufacturers have to prove their worth otherwise gamers would stop buying their games and consoles on the spot.
With everything that is changing for consoles, why not change the way we pay. With this alternative, you can be safe that you are getting the optimal console experience or are using a payment method that is more cost effective for you. There would be no worries about missing key features. Once you sign up that’s it, you are experiencing the best Sony or Microsoft has to offer.
Spotify and Netflix have already revolutionised the way we listen to music or watch films and tv in a similar manner so why not Sony or Microsoft for console gaming.
The chief concerns, however, are complacency and the price being right. If these could be avoided then why not have a great alternative way of paying for console gaming.