As I've explained several times now, I like to play games on my phones and tablets from time to time. Lately, I've been transfixed on Real Racing 2 HD, Dead Trigger and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 in my free time. I even picked up a copy of Amazing Alex for my iPad yesterday and have been playing that intermittently throughout the past two days.
Generally, when I see a game I might like or I think looks interesting, I read a couple user reviews on it (which usually requires a lot of sifting) and either decide to purchase or pass for something that might be more entertaining. And, typically, pulling the trigger on a mobile game isn't all that hard. The majority of them are relatively cheap ($0.99 to $2.99, give or take a buck) and easily dismissed if the game doesn't live up to your standards.
There are, of course, more expensive games. For example, Final Fantasy III launched here in the States for Android earlier this month and is selling for a pricey $15.99. To a lesser extent, Minecraft – Pocket Edition, The Amazing Spider-man and Mass Effect Infiltrator cost $6.99 each. That's a pretty penny for a game you may end up hating (and not getting to try before the return window closes).
Earlier today, Verizon unveiled a subscription gaming service for Android devices that attempts to solve that very problem. The service is called GameTanium and comes from the digital entertainment company Extent. For $5.99 per device per month, subscribers can play up to 100 of Android top smartphone games as much as they want. The service also includes access to 50 tablet-optimized games.
GameTanium works with over 30 Android smartphones and two tablets, and is available for download via Verizon Apps. Other than the benefit of being able to play multiple titles without limit for $6 per month, what benefits does GameTanium offer? Chloe Albanesius of PCMag explains:
"According to Verizon, GameTanium helps users narrow down the best mobile gaming options. Exent's editorial board will select the games included in GameTanium, and Verizon touted features like parental ratings, access to reviews, and no ads."
Let me be clear. I love subscription services. Love them. I don't know what I would do without Netflix or Hulu Plus. And I would be completely lost without Spotify. I came to grips with the possibility of never owning another song or album ever again. And I even like the sound of subscription magazine and ebook services that allow you to read all the content you want for a monthly fee. But GameTanium is the last thing I want when it comes to mobile applications and games, especially when subscriptions are handled the way Extent has setup GameTanium.
Honestly, six bucks per month isn't all that much. It's actually relatively cheap, especially if you find yourself buying a few new titles each week. But a monthly subscription per device? Not a chance. The fact that I can't interchangeably use GameTanium on all of my Android devices alone ruins the service for me, and likely for any person with more than one device or a family with multiple members who would have otherwise been interested.
Not to mention, as I explained above, a lot of mobile games are cheap. Many are even free – completely free. And the worst part is that some of the titles offered by GameTanium are free in the Google Play Store. Doodle God, for example, is free to play, meaning you can play through the entire game free of charge. But if you want to accelerate the game process, you can purchase in-app upgrades.
By the same reasoning that I may not actually want to own an entire album or an individual song of an album, but just listen to it a few times, I can understand the prospect of not wanting to purchase a game, but to simply try it out. (There's a return period in the Play Store and lite versions for this very reason.) Over the course of a year, that would cost you $72 and you would have nothing to walk away with. I would much rather own 30 or more mobile games that I can play as much as I would like, for life and on as many devices as I would like, than to pay $72 per year for access to upwards of 100 games that may only be a couple dollars a pop with trial versions in the Play Store and be tied to a single device.
No thank you, Extent or Verizon. I choose to pay for my games outright. Until mobile gaming gets a little more serious than primarily physics-based side-scrollers and time-wasters, I will pass on game subscription services, specifically ones that are offered through the carrier and charge per device.
What do you think, readers? Does GameTanium sound like something you could see yourself paying $6 per month for? Or would you rather just play lite versions and purchase the ones you like?