Gaming

Oculus Quest games can now be sold via subscription

A subscription model can keep the money flowing to developers as they update their games with new content and features.

An attendee tries out the new Oculus Quest at the Facebook F8 Conference at McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California, on April 30, 2019. - Got a crush on another Facebook user? The social network will help you connect, as part of a revamp unveiled Tuesday that aims to foster real-world relationships and make the platform a more intimate place for small groups of friends. (Photo by Amy Osborne / AFP)        (Photo credit should read AMY OSBORNE/AFP via Getty Images)
AMY OSBORNE/AFP/Getty Images

Oculus says that developers who offer apps or games in its Oculus Store can now sell their wares through recurring subscriptions rather than one-time purchases. Subscriptions offer a sustainable way to keep titles fresh with new content and features coming long after an initial release.

Starting today, FitXR, Rec Room, Tribe XR, Tripp, vSpatial, and VZfit will all begin to operate on a subscription model, but Oculus says that if you’ve already purchased these apps, you’ll keep whatever content you already have access to. You might not gain access to new content, however.

Under the new model, developers can choose to offer their games through a one-time fee, a subscription, or a mix of both. Tribe XR — a VR-based DJing space — is $29.99 as a one-time purchase, but subscribers to Tribe Plus will get access to exclusive goodies like live video workshops with professional DJs. Thankfully, all apps with subscriptions will offer a free trial period so you can try before paying anything.

Oculus is owned by Facebook, and requires gamers have an account with the social media giant in order to use its VR headsets.

Fitness app FitXR is now available through a monthly subscription from the Oculus Store. Oculus

Business model — The game development business is tough because it demands releasing a regular stream of popular titles in order to keep the money flowing. Subscriptions could alleviate pressure on developers to release new games by getting their most avid customers supplying a consistent and predictable stream of revenue on existing titles. The disastrous release of Cyberpunk 2077 perfectly exemplifies the pressure to launch new titles as executives at CD Projekt Red pushed its developers to get the game finished after years of development.

Though some gamers may not like renting access over ownership, the likes of Spotify and Netflix have trained many more not to care. Now companies including Microsoft and Sony are beginning to offer subscription access to games for the first time.

The relatively low cost of subscriptions means gamers are more willing to try new titles. Eventually, if things go as expected, more people will become gamers because of that near-zero financial barrier. Microsoft has said subscribers to its Game Pass subscription service actually play more games than non-subscribers, and for 20 percent longer. They also end up spending more money overall on things like in-game content.