Proving Their Worth: Budget Gaming with Subscription Services
As listeners of the Mashcast may know I recently moved to Georgia. But what I haven’t talked about is how we still own our house in New Jersey. My fiancee and I are struggling to sell our old house, and as a result, our budget has been tight lately. I still haven’t gotten around to purchasing Mass Effect 3, and outside of a handful of games (The Sims 3, Penny Arcade IV), I’ve been ignoring Steam (NO MATTER HOW TOUGH ITS BEEN). In this light, there are two services I’d like to highlight that have been key to allowing me to enjoy my gaming habit on the cheap.
The first is World of Warcraft. Simply by agreeing to subscribe I’ve gotten Diablo III from Blizzard as well as regular access to an all-encompassing game. Starting with the annual pass, I signed up for the 6-month plan, and can’t complain that I’m saving $2/month over the month-to-month plan I had been using. If WoW wasn’t as engrossing as it is and didn’t take up as much time as it did, I would be spending that $13/month on other, probably more expensive games. I will still reach out and buy other games (Bioshock Infinite, for example, but that’s one of the few games I would argue is worth buying at any price), but overall, WoW helps keep me from looking to get other games in my free time.
Additionally, writing about it weekly also helps keep me from getting bored and looking for other entertainment. $13 or $15 a month may seem high as a subscription, especially with so many other free-to-play options available, but from raiding to crafting to pet battles to PVP, WoW offers plenty of activities to engage in for that subscription price. Plus, free-to-play isn’t always free. I was hoping Marvel Heroes would be engrossing, but I’m about halfway through and losing interest with Hawkeye. They recently announced some changes to make acquiring free heroes easier, but I’m concerned about what that means for Gazillion’s performance if after about a month they are changing their business model. WoW seems to be incorporating some free-to-play methodologies with their in-game market, but we know they’ve lost a third of their subscribers over the last few years so these are all pre-emptive manuevers to staunch the bleeding. At any rate, I’m glad that World of Warcraft helps keep my gaming habit in check.
The other service that is great for cheap gaming is Playstation Plus. Its only $50/year and it’s highly worth it, as each month several games are released for free on the service. Through Playstation Plus I’ve played Spec Ops: The Line, Saints Row The Third, and XCOM Enemy Unknown. I downloaded The Cave but still have yet to start it. For the value it provides, Playstation Plus is easily a net win for the customer. This value is why I had no problems with Sony rolling multiplayer experiences into the Plus service. From my viewpoint if Sony is encouraging (read: forcing) people to sign up for Plus, that’s only good for them as they will make back their investment with all the games Plus makes available. In a way, it’s like a parent encouraging (read: forcing) a kid to eat his or her vegetables. They may not like the taste, but the nutrition is worth it. People may not like having to pay for their multiplayer, but the free games make the service attractive to everyone.
There are plenty of other outlets for cheap gaming as well. Free-to-play games are popping up all over the place, and as long as one has the discipline to not overspend, they can be a worthwhile experience. Also, Steam always has tons of games on sale, and there are plenty of other outlets as well.
Overall, it’s a good time to be a cheap gamer. I personally am especially glad for World of Warcraft and Playstation Plus, but there are plenty of ways to game these days without spending a lot of money. Now, if only selling a house was a simple as putting it up on the auction house…