recently a Ubisoft exec apparently said that customers would have to get used to not owning their games for streaming and game services like game pass to really take off. What’s your take on that? Are we really headed to a place where none of us own our games anymore and we just rent them? If we buy games digitally do we actually own them? Can the rights to those games be taken away even after we paid for them?

As with most things, it's good to take the time to understand the nuance of what was said. The Ubisoft person doing the speaking was Philippe Tremblay and he is Director of Subscriptions at Ubisoft. In [the article], he was specifically talking about the mental shift that needs to happen in order for a subscription business model in games to really take hold, because game subscription services are really still in their early stages. Realistically speaking, subscriptions have one of two possible futures - an eventual plateau where subscriptions reach sustainability and equilibrium or an eventual crash because they couldn't.

Look at digital music streaming services like Spotify. They have largely reached their plateau as a massive chunk of the music market. There are still people who buy physical albums, but they are in the minority. The majority of music consumers tend to listen to their music via streaming services and have gotten used to not owning their music. This is one possible future for video games.

Let's contrast this with the current state of movie and tv streaming services. There's a huge number of streaming customers, but there are still strong physical media sales because the streaming services can't necessarily keep the shows and films the people want due to licensing issues. When this kind of volatility in the availability of the product is commonplace, it upsets the user base and puts them off of staying as subscribers. This is another possible future for video games.

As for buying games digitally and "owning" them... well, not really? Like... we've known for ages that end of service for live games is the end of the road, barring player-run grey shards and the like. There are many MMOG, MOBA, looter shooter, mobile, etc. games that have been shut down permanently. Some kinds of games are inherently ownable and some are not.

As player, it is largely up to us to decide what kind of games we want to support. Playing with a regular group of friends in a live service game is a huge amount of fun but absolutely not conducive to owning the game. Playing a single-player game by myself at my leisure is much more conducive to ownership, but I lose out on content updates and the camaraderie of playing with friends. It is my belief that we should all support the things we value. There are no solutions, only tradeoffs.

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