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Are streaming, rental, & other monthly-subscription services the future of gaming?

As the Internet gets faster, people stream more. Streaming is more convenient, and can often time be cheaper than purchasing the same software or media. Gaming looks to be the next big streaming frontier, and I absolutely love that.

We already have numerous streaming services, but they’re console-dependent. If you love EA games, there is EA Access for Xbox One and Origin Access for PC, while Sony has PlayStation Now for the PS4.

GameStop even recently announced a subscription to a used game rental service, which lets you exchange a rented game for another one as many times as you want in a 6-month period. There’s also GameFly, which is a service that lets you get games mailed to you to play, and then exchanges them for different games once you return them.

So, as you can see, there are several subscription gaming services around right now, but most share a similar problem: platform dependency. GameFly is the only currently available service which supports multiple platforms but is also the most expensive of them all. GameStop’s used game rental service starts later this month but is limited to the games that your local store has in-stock. There looks to be a new future contender in play, however, as Microsoft recently spoke about a future game streaming service they’re thinking about starting.

Today is release day for the Xbox One X, and Microsoft is also talking about a potential future streaming service that is console-independent. Bloomberg interviewed Phil Spencer about the potential of growing beyond Xbox, and here’s what he had to say:

We need to grow, and I look forward to doing that. Our ability to go create content has to be one of our strengths. We haven’t always invested at the same level. We’ve gone through ups and downs in the investment.

If Microsoft were to get into a console-independent streaming, it could really change the companies outlook on things. A streaming service like this could do two things:

  1. Bring Microsoft back into the game development spotlight they used to hold with things like Halo and Gears of War
  2. Potentially give you the ability to game on platforms without the same amount of power as consoles or gaming computers

Though we don’t have full confirmation, that second point is the one I really hope Microsoft hits home with. NVIDIA has a service like this, called GeForce Now, which allows you to play demanding games on lightweight hardware like their older SHIELD K1 tablet or the SHIELD TV. This is really the direction I hope Microsoft takes game streaming, but we won’t know for sure until they formally announce it.

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