It's about time we had family subscription options for Xbox Live, Game Pass and PSN
Gaming is an expensive hobby - with new release games costing more than £40 and top-tier consoles costing well over £300, the current generation of gamers are paying a fortune to enjoy themselves. Add to that DLC and monthly fees for online gaming and the investment even for lone gamers isn't something to laugh at.
However, for families with more than one console in the house, these costs increase even further. While Xbox Live allows one console to be your 'home console' - giving all users of that console access to Xbox Live and all Game Pass games, if you have kids with an Xbox each they suddenly find they can't play against their friends or access their favourite games, even if they're installed; that privilege is only available to the user who has the Live account or who pays the subscription - and they can only be logged into one console at a time.
There was a time, a number of years ago where Microsoft offered a family Xbox Live subscription, but this was dropped; partly because of low take up and partly because many of those taking advantage of the package were using it in ways unintended - students sharing subscriptions to bring the cost down being one of the most common.
However, online gaming is now bigger than ever and almost all the games aimed at kids have an online requirement or require an online account. Minecraft is the perfect example. It can't be played without a valid Xbox Live Gold subscription and kids go crazy for it - it's a great game for collaboration but the costs are astronomical if there are multiple gamers in the house wanting to play it on their own console.
Technically, almost all of the elements are in place to support sharing of family subscriptions and Microsoft and Sony could EASILY place restrictions so that only consoles on the same internet connection can share family accounts. You wouldn't need a TV licence for every TV in your house yet you DO need an Xbox Live subscription for every player in your house if they have their own consoles.
In a household with three Xbox One consoles, I'm shortly going to have to either pony up for another TWO monthly subscriptions each for Xbox Live and Game Pass OR I'm going to have to explain to two children that they can no longer play their favourite games at all because it is too costly to justify a subscription for each of them. If there was a combined Xbox Live Gold, Game Pass Family subscription that was locked to devices on the same network for one monthly fee I would be at the front of the queue to subscribe!
Nintendo are going to be offering a 'family' subscription for their Nintendo Online service - but that introduces a paid tier for online gaming that is currently free!
Family subscriptions are already popular on music platforms - for an additional premium you can share access to your library of music with your family without the cost of additional full subscription. There's no reason why Microsoft and Sony couldn't throw us a digital bone and do this kind of thing to help our their loyal users. How else am I supposed to get any better at Fortnite while the kids are quietly building their own metropolis in Minecraft?