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 The Netflix model triumphs in video games (and threatens console slots)

The Netflix method conquers the world. Its monthly catalog payment formula is a model that little by little is permeating all countries and cultures. And the interactive world, obviously, does not escape successful business models either. Microsoft and its Xbox Game Pass is the greatest exponent of this philosophy, that is, a fixed payment (12.99 euros per month) that gives access to a vast catalog that ensures hundreds (thousands?) of hours of entertainment.



As if that were not enough, Microsoft has been rash enough to include in its gamepass a handful of games from day one of release. And we often talk about blockbusters that are among the most anticipated of the year, such as halo-infinite. The truth is that Microsoft’s strategy is so good that it doesn’t seem real: there are those who say that such a model can only be carried out by Microsoft, which as the second largest company in the world can afford real madness (exorbitant acquisitions included) because After all, and unlike Sony, the video game branch is by no means the most important part of the company.



Microsoft may have unlimited economic power, but Sony has decided that it does not want to be left behind: on March 29, the Japanese company announced its new subscription service, which will combine two pre-existing services (PlayStation Plus with PlayStation Now), offer three models with three prices and services (Essential, Extra and Premium, from 8.99 to 17.99 dollars per month) but that are essentially similar: monthly payment, extensive catalog, cloud storage. It will come into force, according to the company, next June.



The movement ratifies the unstoppable rise of a philosophy that we could call “Netflix”, which permeates the digital world and which, beyond the medium to which it is applied (video games, audiovisual content, apps or the media themselves) is establishing the idea that (even if it’s not a lot of money) you have to pay for the content available on the internet. Nintendo’s strategy is a little different, because its audience is different, but, even with everything, the Big N also wants its share of the cake of the streaming. Its service, much cheaper (3.99 euros a month) and with a much smaller catalogue, nevertheless offers some exclusive games and recovers some works that are much loved by players; but in general it is intended (for now) more as an appetizer than as a main dish.



Factors that we could call geopolitical have also pushed players to this type of consumption. The new desktop consoles (PS5 and Xbox Series), which hit the market at the end of 2020, have been successful, but they have not been able to establish themselves as much as they would have liked. In the case of Xbox Series it is symptomatic: the version premium (Xbox Series X) has especially suffered from the various accidents that we have experienced this time and that have made proper distribution impossible: the freighter stuck in the Suez Canal, the coronavirus, the supply and microchip crisis and, now, the recession due to the war in Europe.



Image of the PS Plus service.Image of the PS Plus service.



We talk about the version premium of the console, the Series X, but its brake has led to the growth of the Series S, its little sister, which, in addition to lower technical features, costs 290 euros (instead of the more than 500 of the X). There is another thing that differentiates them: the Series S does not have a physical slot. That is, the user cannot go to the store to buy a game, but you can only download it from the digital store. The disappearance of the slot in a large part of the Xbox sold (PlayStation 5 also has a version 100 euros cheaper and without a slot) is another step in the establishment of a digital-only world. In return, the consoles have established such a great symbiosis with the Internet that a huge number of games can no longer be played if we are not connected. In short: the glass half full, the glass half empty.



In 2021 PS5 sold in Spain three times more consoles than Xbox (about 300,000 per 100,000 Xbox Series). But 55% of Microsoft console users have the digital model. In other words, of this new generation, there are already more owners of an Xbox “without a slot” than “with a slot”. Perhaps that helped digital services account for 80% of Microsoft’s gaming revenue last year. And one thing is clear: the consoles no hole they can no longer own or operate physical games, so hopefully this digital trend will grow in the future.



The movements of Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony make it almost mandatory to think that the future of video games in the medium term passes through here. Not everything is hauja with Netflix-style formats, of course. No model is perfect and the human being is a machine for finding problems where there seemed to be none. In the digital world and with such a wide catalog, the paradox of choice is also triggered. Because yes, they also exist or players who spend more time choosing what to play than playing. And then, snacking instead of finishing full games in a kind of bulimic consumption. The solution, in the digital world as well as in the analog one, is clear: spend a couple of minutes thinking about what we want to do before turning on the screen.



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