Hi, today I’ll be writing about game portal subscriptions, specifically RealArcade’s GamePass (which I subscribe to.) However, before I get started, I thought I’d just quickly cover what Indie means and what game portals are:

Indie Games

Indie is short for “Independent”, and Indie games are made by small teams (from say 1 to 10 people) without the financial backing of a major publisher. What’s cool about Indie games is that, just like in the 8-bit and 16-bit era, anyone with enough dedication can make one. Indie games cover a wide range of genres from retro style action games through to puzzle games aimed at a more “casual” audience. They are normally sold via the Internet for around $20, although prices can vary.

Portals

Some Indie game developers sell their games via their own websites; however, such a site can take a lot of time, skill and money to set up, so many developers use a game portal instead. Game portals are professionally run websites that sell tons of Indie games and pay royalties to the developers. Some portals are massive with hundreds of games and millions of visitors. You can visit a portal, browse the games, look at screenshots, and then download a time-limited demo (normally 60 minutes). Most downloads are pretty small, often under 20Mb. If you decide to buy the game, you pay your money and the demo is “unlocked” so that you don’t have do any more downloading.

Subscriptions

Portals seem to have standardised the price of Indie games at $19.95 but they often run special offers that they let you know about if you sign up for a newsletter. Some of the larger portals also offer a subscription service where you pay a certain amount per month to get big discounts on games. This can be very cost effective if you play a lot of Indie games, although you might want to spare a thought for the poor developers being paid peanuts in royalties due to discounted sales 😉

I subscribe to Real Arcade’s “GamePass” which I’ll describe in a moment. Big Fish Games run a “Game Club” and GameHouse has a “FunPass” – there may be others, but these are the ones that I found after a quick tour of the major portals. Each has different benefits, *and* catches, so you might want to check them all out and read the small print. Surprisingly, some of the main portals such as AOL, MSN, Yahoo, Miniclip, Reflexive etc. don’t seem to run subscription schemes.

Real Arcade GamePass

I pay Real Arcade £5.95 a month for their GamePass and I get to chose one full game for free per month, plus I get £3 off any additional games that I buy. So that’s basically one game at roughly 50% off and unlimited others at around 25% off.

So what are the catches? Well I can only spot one: if you fail to select your free full game in any given month, it doesn’t carry over to the next month – you loose that opportunity. However, this isn’t too bad; you just need to remind yourself to choose a free game before the month is up. They won’t remind you specifically to choose your free game (it’s not really in their interests to), but they will keep sending you emails about new games, and this serves as an effective reminder anyway.

They also have a 30-day free trial – so for the first month you pay them nothing and get a free game! “Wow” I hear you say … but there is a catch: if you cancel within the first month you don’t get to keep the free game. However, if you cancel in the second month, after you’ve paid the first £5.95, you get to keep *both* games – pretty sweet!

I’ve subscribed for 8 months now and, with over 400 games to choose from, I haven’t thought about cancelling my subscription yet – I can thoroughly recommend it.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be reviewing the games that I’ve bought so far, so stay tuned…

Jake

I'm an Indie game developer with a couple of titles under my belt. I've been programming for 23 years on a variety of platforms. Currently I'm using BlitzMax, which is great.

4 Comments »

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  3. You may want to check out and review Shockwave.com. It has a portal that costs $60 USD for a year. So for $5 USD/month, you get unlimited game play of almost all their games. You don’t get to keep the games after the subscription runs out. With casual games, I find I pretty much master them and don’t want to play them much any more after that, though at such a reasonable rate, I’ll probably keep my subscription for a while. They have many of the great/popular games that are out, but not all. Though I don’t think any of services have all the games.

    Also, with RealArcade, there are some offers that let you keep the free trial game plus a free Collapse II even if you cancel within the first 30 days. It’s worth checking the web to find one of them.

    Hope this helps!

  4. Hi Laura, thanks for the info. So are the shockwave games you get access to online versions only or can you download the full versions as part of the subscription?

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