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Robert Tamayo

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Gaming as a Service

My only thoughts on the recent Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard are related to the Game Pass subscription service. I'm guessing a lot of people are excited about this as it would open up Game Pass to plenty of big titles from both companies. And with this, it seems more and more likely that Game Pass will just take over everything. I wonder what that world will look like.

I never liked the idea of Game Pass for a few reasons, first of which is that I'm just as thrilled about cloud/everything-as-a-service as other people are. I tend to see "lack of ownership" as the critical flaw in the equation. For games, let's explore a few problems that not owning the game can cause.

If data is on the cloud, then for how long?


There might be a Terms of Service explanation for this, but the issue of cloud storage of saved game files is real. The issue is less to do with wanting to return to a 10-year-old game with my character still leveled up to the max as it is with not being able to control the data itself. Not being in control of your game's data means that it could all be lost simply because you couldn't "pay the rent" one month. It could be lost if you get banned!

How long will the game be available on Game Pass?


Sure, Microsoft now owns everything, but what if someone bigger buys Microsoft? What if Microsoft just decides to not host the game any longer? Or if they decide to make certain games available only for a brief period of time, sort of like how Disney does with movies? These are all what-ifs, but they are real what-ifs. If I have an original XBox, I can always play games on it for as long as the console still functions. Unless I lose the physical game, it's mine for as long as I want. No one can take it away.

Internet Connection Required


Along with the trend of games-as-a-service, there is the problem of single player games increasingly requiring an Internet connection to play. This is almost as bad as, if not worse than, the problem with Game Pass. Services like Game Pass only serve to exacerbate the problem by encouraging an Internet-dominated gaming industry, where Internet connections are increasingly required even for non-multiplayer games just to fix bugs.

Cancel Culture and Games Getting Banned


I wonder how much longer it will be until an extremely popular game is demanded to be removed because one of its creators was canceled. If you had the physical copy, you could still play it.

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