Warner Brothers say subscription services won’t replace traditional models

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Warner Brothers Games

The gaming industry has recently been on a wave of announcing streaming products and services. With Microsoft, Google, and others all developing their own streaming platforms, it may seem that the future of gaming lies with a subscription service, rather than buying games individually for a one-off purchase.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment president David Haddad, however, does not see subscription gaming replacing the current purchasing model.

In an interview with VentureBeat, he explained that despite the opportunities offered by streaming, he doesn’t see it necessarily coming hand in hand with a subscription model that would completely replace traditional forms of purchasing gaming content. Whilst subscription services like Stadia, Game Pass, and UPlay+ will become more common, they will not in fact become the norm.

“Our observation is that oftentimes it is written that streaming automatically brings subscription, because that’s what happened in other forms of media, other forms of content. I think they’re actually two different topics. I don’t believe that it will automatically come together,” he said. “I do think that we’ve proven that a transactional business, as we call it, where you pay a premium price for an experience, where gamers can have 30, 40, 100 hours of play–they’ll pay a premium price for that. That’s great for us. We have a history of that transactional business.”

His reasoning for this is the fact that most gamers only play a few games each year, so for most a monthly subscription service would be a waste of money. “There may be people that like the consumption pattern of having a subscription so that they can try more games and play more games,” Haddad said. “But the behavior today is actually fairly concentrated on players spending most of their time in a handful of games that they carefully pick and that are able to secure a premium price in the market.”

Whether or not subscriptions will become the normal method of purchasing games remains to be seen, but this may indicate the first crack in the armour of the current streaming/subscription model trend.