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Why Games Will Only Get Cheaper

Chris Rio | 2 Aug 2013 17:00
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So our hypothetical future consoles are all-digital, with no way of reselling your games at an online yard sale. What's next? The obvious conclusion here is our entertainment turning into streaming subscriptions. For an example of where we might be going, we can again look at other mediums, because they are a lot older than us and have more experience. For music, you can choose from Spotify, Rdio, Pandora or countless others, and in most cases you can use the services for free with ads. For TV and movies, nothing beats the value of Hulu Plus, but theres also Netflix, Amazon Video, and HBO Go (that is, if they ever separate it from your cable subscription). All of these services compete with each other to offer you the best bang for your buck, sometimes offering slightly different ways of listening, or even original programming. You get more for your money, and more choice, and more content. For the price of three seasons of Always Sunny on DVD, you can get months of unlimited viewing of hundreds of DVDs. It's win, win, win.

The development bubble is going to burst unless alternative sources of revenue are scouted

Am I saying I can't wait for the day when I don't have a game collection I can show off to my friends? Am I super excited to have less control over the use of content that I "own"? No. The fact is: This has been happening in other industries and no one has really complained. We already don't "own" most of our content. iTunes is the biggest music store in the world, and for years every one of the songs sold there had built-in DRM. And even when they didn't, you couldn't sell your mp3, because in reality you are just licensing the ability to listen to the song (a purchase on iTunes is an indefinite rental, if you think about it). Spotify was greeted with open arms when it finally launched in the U.S. And no one worries about paying $9 a month for Netflix because they see value in it, no matter how many Sharktopus sequels they make.

Some big changes are coming to the gaming industry. Maybe we'll have subscription services, in which you get unlimited gaming for a reasonable fee. Maybe you'll be forced to buy all your content digitally, a la carte. Most likely, there will be some kind of hybrid combination of all these things, like it is with music and movies. But one thing's clear: The development bubble is going to burst unless alternative sources of revenue are scouted. These sweeping, ugly changes are coming. It's inevitable. It'll suck at first, but so did Steam. Let's find the silver lining here. Sure we might not be swapping games with friends the same way in 10 years, but you should be glad GTA V isn't gonna cost you a Benjamin-and-a-half.

Check out more from Chris at Cracked.com and at his blog, Laffington.com.

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