Paradox Is Quietly Testing A Strategy Game Subscription Service

Paradox Is Quietly Testing A Strategy Game Subscription Service

If there’s one thing about Paradox Interactive’s big PC strategy games, it’s that they’re nearly always fantastic. And if there are two things, it’s that they quickly become bogged down with hundreds of dollars worth of DLC that looks absolutely daunting to any potential new players.

Take, for example, Europa Universalis IV, which is very good. Let’s say that you get sick of hearing people say how good it is, you read a glowing review of the game and you decide to buy it. You go to Steam, you check out the game’s page and uh


You get the fuck out of there. That would be fair! You’d assume, quite rightly, that the best version of the game in 2020 is the one with all that DLC bolted alongside it, and that the cost to buy it all”even if savvier consumers know that bundles get sold for much less quite frequently”is just too much, and you bail.

If any/all of that sounds like you, then you’re exactly the type of person Paradox is targeting with a new, very soft trial of a subscription service, aimed only at EUIV players. Basically instead of buying this stuff up-front, players could pay a monthly fee and get access to all it immediately instead.

While exact details of the service are yet to be announced, EUIV fans discovered code for the trial in the game’s latest update, after which Paradox made it official and offered some details like the fact a subscription service won’t replace the way games are currently sold or priced, and is aimed at new players rather than existing ones (hardcore fans tend to accumulate that DLC over time, and EUIV six years old at this point).

All of which sounds fine, but it doesn’t take an oracle to work out this is something Paradox could easily expand to cover other games like Crusader Kings II as well.


  • Paradox says that both paid expansions and ‘games as service’ rental options will remain available, although we know in practice how that works in real life, which is to say that in the ideal world of software development everyone gets on board a nice lucrative monthly payment plan that is promptly forgotten about until the credit card statement is checked a year or two later.

    On one level this works with Paradox games, since if you are into them you are typically very into them and invest thousands of hours, although this very quickly excludes people like me who love the idea of the games and have enough cash to cough up for it when it’s cheap but can just never find the time or the attention span to invest the dozens of hours to actually learn what is going on.

    My gut feeling is that a lot of people own Paradox games because the idea of an all-consuming, complex game sounds much better than it actually is in reality. Realistically, it’s hard to imagine that many of the 32,736 people who have bought the current Humble bundle to date are going to suddenly become converts, most are likely just game collectors.

    In practice, neither group is well served by a subscription model. The people investing thousands of hours will presumably save money with a fixed up-front purchase and game collectors won’t actually have a game to point to at the end of the day with the subscription model. The best I can see here is that perhaps paying for a month or two of the game might work as a demo of sorts, particularly of the first month was free.

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