These companies are ruining me badly. Starfield On Game Pass. sea ​​of ​​stars On PS Plus. Ashoka On Disney Plus. the last of us (HBO) on Max. Subscription services used to make me feel like I was owning something. Cheap, easy entertainment at the click of a button. No ads, low risk. hassle free. Now the magic is wearing off and prices are rising. I think it’s time to cancel it.

In Eternity you press R2 to hold hands like IRL

There’s a problem at the core of subscription entertainment and that is that very few people actually have the time or money to justify them. I can’t keep up with everyone new star wars Spin-offs and expanded Marvel Cinematic Universe shows, not to mention the critically acclaimed hits that debut on competing platforms every other month. It’s even worse in video games. The Xbox Game Pass library grows every week, while PlayStation Plus and Switch Online regularly bring classic games from decades back into circulation. And while a season of TV lasts a maximum of 10 hours, games often last longer than that.

Meanwhile, each of these subscription services has decided to raise prices as the situation worsens. Disney Plus jumped from $11 a month to $14. Max only increased by a dollar, while eliminating many old shows such as cult hits done by, Game Pass Ultimate increased by $2 per month, followed by the most basic tier of PS Plus increasing from $60 per year to $80. After 12 years at just $10 per month, Spotify also raised its price to $11.

In isolation each increase seems small. How can you complain about being charged an extra penny for instant access to most of the major music ever made? However, overall, it’s starting to break the bank. I currently subscribe to Hulu, Max, Apple, Peacock, PS Plus, Game Pass Ultimate, and Spotify. Over the course of a year, each small price increase is an additional $144. Still small compared to the rest of my budget, but it’s enough to wake me up to reconsider why I’m spending nearly $1,000 on Stuff™ I don’t use and never will. I will become its owner.

PS Plus is the latest price increase

Streaming platforms in particular have taken a familiar toll. The latest season of a hit show airs-Magician, internal management and, separation, inheritance, yellowstone-And as the episodes come out one by one, I rush to watch it again and again to stay fresh. A few months pass and it’s onto the next app. Usually the bench is so deep that I can’t fully hold the membership. my kids want to see Blue, Or maybe I finally succeed in catching it foundation,

With gaming it’s more subtle. Game Pass has been great for trying out stuff I otherwise might have never risked buying outright. beautiful puzzle platformer lana’s planet Comes to mind. exoprimal Also, the underrated dino-shooter of the summer. But inevitably another big blockbuster or indie sensation comes along and steals me away.

right now i’m in deep StarfieldHuge sci-fi RPG from the studio behind fallout 3 And The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, It is impressive, overwhelming and all-consuming. So why am I renting it from Microsoft instead of spending half of my annual Game Pass subscription to buy it? We are afraid that video game subscriptions will drastically reduce sales of new games and thus reduce the value of studios in an industry notorious for fickle audiences and ballooning budgets. Instead, the great new forever game-baldur’s gate 3, Diablo IV, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom—The calculus is turning. Maybe games you can spend months and even years playing aren’t the best test case for the value proposition of an expensive annual subscription (Game Pass Ultimate is $204 per year).

The PlayStation Plus is an even stranger beast. Sony had divided the program into three tiers last year. Like the cheapest tier required to play games is now $80 per year Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II Online, despite this feature being free on PC. To sweeten the deal, Sony offers decent “free” games on PS Plus every month, creating a rental library that you have access to as long as you keep paying to satisfy this absurd requirement. , but mileage varies.

rocket leagueOne of the top games of the PS4 console generation, was “given away” as a PS Plus monthly game. Last month, Retro Pixel Art RPG sea ​​of ​​stars Could have gotten the same treatment, but instead it was added to the more expensive Extra tier, which is now $135 per year. If you’re a die-hard fan of Sony deeply embedded in the PlayStation ecosystem, paying might be worth it to get access to the buffet of games that otherwise would cost you thousands. However, what’s more likely is that you’ve already played a lot of them and spend most of your time chatting with friends inside your live-service hangout of choice.

PS Plus’s September games were largely criticized by customers. Image: Sony

Maybe you’re lucky and are spending time with neglected children top legends, overwatch 2Or Fortnite, free-to-play games that don’t even require PS Plus to go online. it is for me destiny 2, a lofty sci-fi shooter I love that is becoming increasingly expensive. It doesn’t technically require a subscription like most MMOs, but a year’s worth of content will run you $100, even more if you participate in its ever-expanding, in-game space marine fashion economy.

The new costumes cost $15 a pop, and Bungie recently raised the price of a Seasonal Battle Pass, whose rewards you’ll still have to work hard to unlock (or pay to get them right away). , ranging from $10 to $12. play destiny 2 That’s really the only reason I need PS Plus, which also indirectly benefits Bungie now that Sony bought the studio last year. A “virtuous circle” indeed. I hope Bungie charges as much as it needs to make destiny 2 thrive. I probably won’t move around as often.

Of course, cutting back on paid season and monthly subscriptions is easier said than done. It requires foresight, planning and hard work. How many times have I come to the login screen to cancel something, groping for a forgotten password and trying to explain to the robot that I’m not a robot either, but when one of my kids asks for something I give up or forget when the yelling starts, dinner starts to burn on the stove, or another notification for another app distracts my attention on my phone?

For example, if you had asked me last year if I was a Google Stadia subscriber I would have said no. If you had asked Google Stadia it would have said yes. Despite my vivid memories of multiple cancellations, the membership fees were paid on time every month. $10.59 for Stadia Pro, like clockwork. I realized this when late last year the service announced it was closing down and refunding customers their purchases and I went to check the status of my account. What started as a multi-month free trial in November 2019 ran for nearly three years. $307.11 down the drain. Stadia was a joke. This made me feel that way too.

Is Game Pass still worth it?

The subscription model is based on this. Some people will cancel after a free trial or when they get tired of the service; Many, overwhelmed, forgetful and tired, won’t do it. This friction is compounded by vague mathematics that makes it easier to wait another day, another week, another month before choosing not to renew. at any point there Are Lots of shows I could watch, play games, or listen to music. It has value only if I have the patience and focus to achieve it. An illusion, but compelling.

Then I actually look back at what services I actually used, how often and for whom, and it gets very close to break-even with what it might have cost to purchase the content outright. That number is hard to pin down in streaming, where digital downloads and Blu-ray releases are rare. In games, it’s much more straightforward. These are the main games I played on Game Pass in 2023: Starfield ($70), lana’s planet ($20), ravenlock ($25), hi-fi rush ($30), Vo-Long: Fallen Dynasty ($60), relapse ($70), fallout New Vegas ($10). That’s a $285 game, compared to $137 for a nine-month subscription. Paying out of pocket, I’d probably only really pay for this Starfield, hi-fi rush, lana’s planetAnd new vegas, which is $130. And therein lies the rub.

My situation isn’t much better on the PS5 and Switch. I used the PS Plus library to replay the PS4 version the last of us ($20), try more humanity ($30) and wicked legacy 2 ($25). i use it to play sea ​​of ​​stars Also for ($35) I didn’t receive the code in advance review Copy. I also downloaded PlayStation Classics twisted metal 2 ($10) and wild weapon ($10), but never touched them. One year of PS Plus Premium was $120. Let’s call it washing. I don’t play Switch games online and only play for like five hours a day The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap This year, but the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC ($24) came in handy. Not good for the expansion pack at $50 a year.

These services have been invaluable tools for discovery, encouraging me to try games, movies, and music I might never have otherwise discovered and later fall in love with. But it also creates pressure to always try to consume more, more, more. Money goes out every month, it would be a waste not to make the most of it, right? When it comes to the way subscriptions have made their way into every corner of my media diet, it’s probably the thing I hate more than anything else. Often, this doesn’t feel like a healthy, fun, or sustainable way to connect with the things I love.

Needless to say, there seems to be a gradual erosion of the creative industries that are supposed to drive the whole thing. The jury’s still out on whether gaming subscriptions will lead to worse games and more layoffs, but the damage has been done in music and Hollywood. I think I’m ready to stop giving my unconditional money to Bob Iger and David Zaslav for some time, no questions asked.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to ditch every subscription overnight, although I probably should. Maybe I’ll start by getting rid of one each month and only then start airing them back out when it makes sense. Or maybe once I’m free from the grip of their sunk costs I’ll realize I should have canceled them all a long time ago. Life is too short and I still have hundreds of hours Starfield To play.