Digital Takeover: Report Predicts $22 Billion ‘Game Subscriptions’ Market
For the last few years, gamers the world over have witnessed firsthand the ever-growing popularity of the subscription-based model. It’s a winning formula that has proven to be an overwhelming success for some operators, so much so that it now seems that the average gamer is drowning in subscriptions. From ‘platform access’ fees to games library services, and from merchandise subscriptions to premium memberships, there’s a digital revolution taking place, and the beating heart of it is the periodic payment model.
In a report by Omdia, it was forecasted that, by 2027, the game subscription (and by association, cloud gaming) market revenue will exceed $22 billion. At the time the report was published, the market revenue cap sat at around $16 billion, rising from around a third of that figure since 2017. This growth has been – and continues to be – driven by services like PS Now, Game Pass, and cloud gaming services, but it also includes in-game subscriptions and platform-access costs.
It Just Keeps Growing
It’s a competitive market, that’s for sure. If we take a look at games library services, we can throw some huge names into the melting pot:
- Xbox Game Pass
- PlayStation Now
- GeForce Now
- EA Play
- Ubisoft Plus
For the longest time, there has been a constant effort for these operators to provide as much value as possible in their subscription-based services. It could be said that Microsoft leads the pack with its Xbox and PC Game Pass services, but PlayStation and Nvidia (GeForce Now) certainly aren’t far behind. The newest edge to these services is cloud-based gaming portals. It was forecasted by Omdia in the report that, by 2027, cloud gaming services will generate around $6.5 billion in revenue.
That’s why Microsoft is reportedly working on Project Keystone, an all-cloud console, and PlayStation recently moved to open up cloud-streaming options to its PlayStation 5 users. Out of the research analysed by Omdia, it was revealed that games library services make up a whopping 44% of the market share, and when these services are bolstering their offerings with cloud mechanics, they only get more valuable.
Subscriptions Upon Subscriptions
These days, it seems like there’s a subscription service for everything in gaming. From the age-old access subscription for World of Warcraft to something like ESO Plus in The Elder Scrolls Online, there are plenty of things for users to pay for. While Xbox Live Gold and PS Plus have been around for years, some of the more recent additions to the market have only cropped up in recent months and are fleshing out their user bases as we speak.
It was predicted that by 2027, the ‘total number of paid subscriptions’ will reach around 217 million worldwide. In a statement, the Senior Principal Analyst at Omdia, George Jijiashvili, said:
‘Subscriptions have evolved into a cornerstone strategy for leading game companies, which increasingly emphasize expanded capabilities, exclusive content, and cross-platform accessibility. However, subscriptions’ role as the primary business model remains unproven. While offering a cost-effective and user-friendly experience, sustaining blockbuster game development within this model raises difficult financial questions. This further underscores our belief that, while subscriptions will continue to grow, they will not become the dominant business model for games but rather complement a diverse range of monetization approaches.’
Subscription-style services, live-service games, and microtransactions have all combined to drive a new operating model in recent years. It’s why many games have pivoted to a free-to-play model, which is almost always a successful move. That’s what Jijiashvili meant by a diverse range of monetisation approaches.
For some, all these subscriptions represent a growing concern that impressionable gamers will soon be swimming in monthly, recurring payments. For others, boasting a vast collection of subscription services is the cost-effective, progressive way to enjoy games in 2023 and beyond.
Which category do you fit into?