Okay, I play a lot of games. In the two-or-so decades since I started gaming, I’ve owned close to thirty systems (counting different editions or replacements of the same system) and I’ve played an unimaginable amount of titles, across countless genres.
As it stands, there’s an overwhelming and exponentially-increasing number of games out there to play – both backlog and coming soon. You’ve got indie titles, triple-A releases, annual iterations, expansions… the list never stops growing.
Today, I play games on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, and am tentatively considering picking up a Switch in the near future (my first ever real Nintendo venture!). Now, this is where things start to become ‘unhealthy’.
Let’s say hypothetically (borderline literally) that I play every new release, have a lengthy back catalogue, and play online on every system. Straight off the bat you’ve got dozens of titles a year, countless games in the back list, and over £100 a year in online subscriptions.
But it doesn’t end there.
I also subscribe to Game Pass Ultimate – that comes in at around £132 a year. Also, I’ve recently expanded my subscriptions to include PS Now, at £50 a year. Thankfully, I use a rental service for software, but even that comes in at around £220 a year. It’s easy enough to make an estimate of the value of buying all these games at full retail value, and it’s eye-wateringly high.
For the sake of the argument, let’s drop the rental service:
Ten (and that’s being modest) new games a year, at retail: £500
Online subscriptions (Game Pass Ultimate and PS Plus): £172
PS Now: £50
We’re at almost £800 a year and that’s without considering ad-hoc purchases, Steam Sales, the cost of electricity, etc. It’s a hell of an investment. In fact, statistics from UKIE estimate there are approximately 37.3 Million gamers in the UK, with a total industry market value (2018) of £5.7 Billion. That works out at an average of £1540 a year, per gamer. And let’s not forget the other expensive developments occurring in the industry: Google Stadia, VR, AR, and so on.
While we’re on the subject of investment, let’s consider the other valuable resource we pour into these games: time. If we’ve got four systems, three subscriptions and ad-hoc purchases to toy with, that equates to thousands of hours in gaming. If you’re the kind of gamer who falls prey to FOMO, you’ll want to play everything as soon as it comes out, and that list can build up rapidly!
The aspect of time is ever more relevant when we consider adult gamers, who arguably have dwindling availability as they grow up, build a family, carve a career, and develop themselves. Although these players make up the bulk of the industry as a whole, they’re likely the group that find it harder to free up time to play.
You’ll ask the question: ‘but are all these services and subscriptions really necessary?’
Not entirely, no – but they’re marketed so damn well that they’re very hard to resist. In fact, let’s think of PS Now for a moment: an instant-play, expansive catalogue of 700 titles, riddled with triple-A games. It’s monumental, and no real gamer could resist it. How about Game Pass? First-party titles free at launch if you have the subscription? Yes, please!
So, let’s get back to the core of my discussion – is this healthy? Is it time to pick one format and stick with it? At the moment, I use Xbox for exclusives and multiplayer, PS4 for exclusives and single player, and PC for miscellaneous bits and pieces. Can I narrow it all down to PS4? Xbox One?
Admittedly, not everyone will be able to connect with this article, but I know there are enough that will. If you’re like me, you book days off work to play new releases, get itchy when you haven’t gamed for a while, and relish the thought of kicking back and zoning out with a controller or kb&m for a few hours.
Do you feel your gaming habits are healthy? Do you think you could do more to step away from the screen and save yourself some time and money? Let us know in the comments below.