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    The advent of the digital era of video game distribution brought with it many conveniences: quick, integrated patches and updates, instant delivery, and easier access to discounts. This new era also allowed a special type of service to flourish: subscription-based gaming libraries and services.

    What are they, what benefits do they offer, and why are they so popular? We’re about to get to the bottom of this, so read on.

    How do video game subscription services work?

    The specifics of each option’s operations differ and are discussed later, but they all share a few key elements:

    • They are reliant on recurrent payments. You can always just pay for a specific amount of time (such as 1 month, half a year, or a full year), but you lose the associated benefits once the subscription expires without being renewed.
    • They might provide new and/or improved services. Some subscriptions offer a premium-grade experience unavailable to free users.
    • They might provide their subscribers with free content

    The best game subscription services and their benefits

    Platform subscriptions:

    Platform subscriptions are offered directly by the gaming platform holders and are meant to expand and enhance the experience with the given hardware/system. They tend to offer first-party games from studios owned or founded by the platform holder, better user experience, etc.

    • Game Pass: A cross-platform gaming subscription from Microsoft. It comes in several variants
      • PC Game Pass – grants access to a library of games you can download and play for as long as your subscription lasts, provides additional special deals if you want to make a purchase, and unlocks access to EA Play.
      • Game Pass Core – an Xbox-oriented variant, which grants access to a smaller library of games than PC Game Pass, but unlocks multiplayer in games which rely on Xbox services for that purpose.
      • Game Pass Ultimate – provides all the benefits of the other two options, and adds the ability to game in the cloud, letting people play new games even on older hardware, as long as they have a strong Internet connection.
    • PlayStation Plus: a PlayStation equivalent to GamePass, without the PC-oriented variant. It similarly provides access to a game library spanning several generations, special deals, and multiplayer. I also gives free games for subscribers to keep, and its higher tiers include access to trials, cloud gaming, and the Ubisoft Classics library.
    • Nintendo Switch Online: a treat for Nintendo fans. NSO provides access to a library of NES, SNES, and GameBox classics you could play on your Nintendo Switch consoles, with a higher tier also unlocking libraries of Nintendo 64, GBA, SEGA Mega Drive games, in addition to three modern games from Nintendo catalogue. NSO also provides cloud and multiplayer services similar to other platform subscriptions.
    Show more

    Publisher subscriptions

    These services aren’t tied to a specific platform, instead, they are meant to provide a different way to access titles to the catalogs of a specific publisher. They aren’t inherently tied to a specific platform, and might even come bundled with certain first-party subscriptions, further expanding the libraries they offer.

    • EA Play: a subscription service available on Xbox, PlayStation, Steam and dedicated EA app. It provides access to a large collection of EA games. EA Play Pro removes time restrictions present on regular EA Play, providing unlimited access even to the latest, biggest hits.
    • Ubisoft : unlocks the libraries of Ubisoft, coming from the publisher’s many studios and franchises. Its higher tier has a larger number of available games, including premium editions, provides special discounts, and can be activated on Xbox with a limited library.

    Convenient and affordable

    The benefits of gaming subscriptions are hard to ignore. They are by far the best way to try new games out without committing to their full price. If the game you’re interested in trying is available on a subscription service, you can just pay a small price for a month of membership and try it out. And even if you don’t enjoy that title, you can test a hundred others. It’s a bargain, and the only limits are your internet transfer and the current library on offer.

    Subscription methods

    There are two basic ways of paying for your subscription.

    One is to set up a recurring payment with your credit or debit card. It’s very direct, and convenient to the point of forgetting you have an active subscription.

    The other option is to use subscription gift cards, which usually give you membership for a specific amount of time which expires if you don’t set up another payment method of getting another gift card. It’s very easy to manage and doesn’t run the risk of draining your money when you forget to cancel a subscription. If you look for them on G2A.COM you can also find them at attractive prices, cheaper than in many other places, giving you more bang for your buck.

    It's just like a real library

    Hopefully, this cross-section of the developing gaming susbscriptions which have appeared all across the hobby has provided you with enough information to start exploring the options without overpaying.

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