Services that provide users with games by subscription seem to be a new idea. But in fact, even 40 years before Microsoft’s Game Pass service, some companies were offering something similar.
Xbox Game Pass launched in 2017 and now has 23 million subscribers. The service provides its users by subscription with early access to a large catalog of games, and it is possible to play on different devices. It’s simple: paid for a subscription, got access to the catalog. But this is not at all a new idea, as it might seem.
Subscription gaming services have been around for a long time, and this is one of the first ideas that came along with the popularization of video games. Subscriptions were sold to buyers of consoles and cartridges for Atari and Intellivision. In a sense, these services even surpassed modern ones – the most “heavy” games could be downloaded in just 30 seconds, where there are modern consoles.
But, like many good ideas, subscription gaming did not survive the 1983 crisis. But they showed gamers the benefits of online entertainment, which ultimately led to the emergence of the largest giants of the dot-com era.
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The subscription boom began with Mattel. She introduced PlayCable, a peripheral for the Intellivision console. The device connected users to a constantly updated catalog of games for $ 12.95 per month. There were many games, some of which were very popular, like Utopia and Burgertime.
The PlayCable project was not a local initiative. 13 US cable providers took part in its implementation. The company also paid for advertising to celebrities – just like it is today. For example, the company paid a famous baseball player of the time to appear in several commercials that aired in 1982.
Gary Moskowitz, marketing director for Mattel Electronics from 1981 to 1984, says the new service was part of Mattel’s burgeoning e-business. “I think sales went from $ 50 million to $ 550 million between 1981 and 1982,” Moskowitz comments.