Sunday, July 21, 2024

Game Pass needs a family plan, and fast: We’re getting to the point where it’s no longer “a great deal”

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The price is going up. Everyone is doing it. The problem is that all is doing it. What might be seen as “Oh, Game Pass is only going up a couple of dollars/pounds a month, it’s still a great deal” is never seen on top of the rise in everything else. I’m not even talking about the cost of living crisis, I’m talking about that. subscription cost crisis. Spotify, Netflix, YouTube – the cost of using multiple internet services is rising faster than most people can afford together and something will have to give. For a start, it’s not like broadband/fibre is cheap.

Take Game Pass in my household: I have to pay for two Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions – one for myself (probably for work, ahem) and one for our son. In the UK, the price is going up from £12.99 to £14.99. Multiply that by two and that’s £4 more a month. Multiply that by 12 and that’s an increase of £48 a year. Don’t forget that the price went up last year too and who’s to say it won’t go up again next year.

Now when you consider that a single game can cost around $70, that still looks good, but the problem is that you’ll probably still have to buy most games anyway. It’ll still cost £80 when EA FC 25 (your favourite game) comes out. The best games of last year, BG3, Alan Wake 2 etc weren’t on Game Pass – actually, between the two of us, we don’t play 99% of what’s on Game Pass, and this is a statistic that’s probably repeated around the world – but we still need two accounts to keep separate saves or play at the same time.

I’m not stupid, prices go up and never come down and we’re told it’s because of wars here and there, energy costs, Brexit and monetary strength, and so on, but also, and here’s the kicker, costs go up because of greed.

There’s no single reason Microsoft can make me accept that it’s not nonsense that there’s no Game Pass family plan beyond the financial one. YouTube has one, Spotify has one, and Netflix has one. So what’s going on? A family pass for £20 or even £25? Throw me a bone, I’m a loyal customer. Aren’t you supposed to look after me?

In 2023, Microsoft cancelled its brief Friends and Family tier trial and it hasn’t been mentioned since. So if we both want to play Starfield after the price increase (we probably don’t, but stick with me…) it’ll cost us £30/$40 a month. It’s getting to the point where even for day one releases, it’s better to buy them if we’re going to play them for any length of time.

Yesterday I talked about the ridiculous changes to Apex Legends Battle Pass, another game our son plays. To his little boy it just seems like corporate profiteering, and I don’t agree.

Don’t get me wrong, these are all first world problems, but something is going to give, and if it’s going to give in our house, it’s going to give elsewhere. Microsoft need to be very careful, they’re in a strange situation in the gaming space at the moment and if they’re now trying to recoup their huge investments in the likes of Activision Blizzard by squeezing the customer and closing down small studios, well, no, that needs to be a consequence of that original decision, even if it’s just losing £15 a month for me and a few others. We need a Family Plan and we need it soon.

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