E3 2018: The Subscription Model Strikes Back, For Now

E3 2018: The Subscription Model Strikes Back, For Now

This IDC Market Perspective reviews the recent push by several prominent game publishers and platform operators to beef up their game subscription offerings, including potential cloud-streamed gaming service launches in the next few years. The primary conclusion is that while TV-based subscription revenue is trending up, this is probably a temporary phenomenon in the context of direct game service subscriptions, and the substitutability of free-to-play games may start eroding demand for direct game subscriptions by 2021."At E3 2018, Microsoft, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft pushed a narrative that suggested the video game industry will inevitably move toward a subscription-based future," says Lewis Ward, IDC's research director of gaming and VR/AR. "This viewpoint is running headlong into the buzz saw of the free-to-play business model that doesn't comparably exist in other entertainment industries. Gamers are going to have a decisive say in what business model dominates in the future, and there's a strong case to be made that, long-term, it's a free-to-play future, not a subscription future."

Executive Snapshot
New Market Developments and Dynamics
E3 2018 Announcements
Broader Market Dynamics
Are Subscriptions Gaming's Future?
Advice for the Game Software and Services Provider
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