Today is the final day in my Metaboli subscription. Not because I dislike the service, mainly because Christmas is coming up, and I also have too many other games to be playing. Will I ever subscribe again? For the answer to that you’ll have to carry on reading…
It’s been three months now since I first signed up to Metaboli and did my subsequent write-up ‘Metaboli – A Viable Alternative?‘. Overall I think my experience has been a positive one, I’ve been given a chance to try games I might not otherwise have tried, and on the odd occasion found one that I’ve then gone on to buy. The choice on offer can be a little overwhelming and several times I’ve been unable to choose which downloaded game I want to play.
I suppose that’s a benefit of actually buying a game, firstly the games you buy are ones you really want to play. Secondly you have also invested money in it, which makes you feel like you’re losing out if you don’t get around to playing it, this gives you an incentive to play even when you might not be that interested. With Metaboli you’re paying for access to the whole collection of games and, aside from one or two you particularly want to play, you don’t have to play any of them. Regulars of the PC Gamer Forums will know I’m a great bargain lover, I am constantly picking up new titles which has interfered with my making use of the service. I have still found the time to play a good selection of games however, I played ans subsequently bought Sniper Elite, completed Trine, found out I didn’t like Far Cry 2 or Assassin’s Creed and climbed most of the ladders in Unreal Tournament.
Cancellation is relatively painless, so long as you know how it works. I had read that you need to cancel 48 hours before your next payment, which I did, but the next payment still went through. After checking my account page I found that it had cancelled at the end of the next subscription period. This wasn’t so bad for me, but it could annoy some people, so the moral of the story is, cancel early. I’ve been able to play for the whole month that I paid for, so no early cut-off. I’m sure if I’d have contacted support they would have sorted it out. When you cancel, your account is still active and you can keep all of the games you have downloaded on your hard disk (you obviously can’t play them), this means that you can easily skip a month or two if money is tight or for whatever other reason you might have, but still go back to your saves at a later date.
I mentioned in my original article that the Metaboli service is not fully compatible with 64-bit systems. Only games that have been updated to the new Yummy software will work. Despite this however I still managed to find a lot of games to play, and all of the new releases use the new system. In the three months I’ve been subscribing there have been 56 new games have been added, some of these are new, others have just been updated to the new software. Not all of the titles are great, just as with other digital distribution services and any of the many retail businesses before them, but there were quite a few interesting ones. Now, just take a minute to think about that, 56 new games for £12.95 a month (£38.85 in total maths fans). That works out at 69p per title, or 99p per title if you deduct the casual games (which are a mixed bunch, Plants vs. Zombies is included for example). These 56 games include some big titles such as Assassin’s Creed, Overlord 2, Fuel, Sam & Max Seasons 1 & 2, Anno 1404, Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising, Mount & Blade, Company of Heroes, Supreme Commander, Tropico 3, Medieval: Total War 2, Company of Heroes… Now you could say, ‘Well I’ve got a 32bit OS, so these games wouldn’t be new to me’, and it’s true, quite a few were simply updated for 64bit compatibility, but a new subscriber would still have all those games to play. As for numbers, I’d estimate around 38 of those titles are new to Metaboli (sadly no easy way to search) during the time I’ve been subscribing, which is still a hefty amount.
Overall my use of the interface has been good and most of the minor issues I’ve had can probably be traced back to my refusal to disable UAC, which quite a few people will have already done anyway. It’s a little annoying that you have to use a web browser to launch the games, but liveable. The system offers all the options you could want, delete content (with the option to keep saved games), prioritise downloads, disable individual downloads, and also offers the ability to start playing a game before it has completely downloaded (not all games support this). My one annoyance with the downloading is that you can’t (easily) play a game whilst others download, although I think this works when you use the early start feature. There is a little work around, if you’re playing a game that has a launch window pop-up before the game you can then go back to your browser and start the downloads, it’s also possible you could do this by Alt-Tab-bing but as most gamers know some games hate doing this. It wouldn’t be so bad if it followed used similar system to Steam, in that multiplayer games disable downloads but single- keeps it going.
Having made good use of the service (although I wish I could have played the games more often) I now have a good understanding of Metaboli. Aside from a few minor niggles it is a very good service, and if you’re looking for some kind of subscription-based service I can easily recommend it. I am planning to resubscribe at some point in the future, it might not be for a while and I might only subscribe for a month or two at a time, but it’s definitely a consideration for me and as the catalogue expands I’ll gain more and more reasons. (Batman: Arkahm Asylum is apparently coming soon, although I may just buy it when the price is right.)
The points I made in my original article still stand, some people don’t like the idea of losing all access when you stop subscribing, preferring to buy their games so that they will always have access to them. In which case Metaboli is not for you. For those who want wide selection of games available for them to play when they have some spare time, this could be a better option. You could spend £12-ish (or £6.95 for the Essential pack) on a single game, if you shop around possibly a few, but that will be all you have. If you’re happy with that then fine, but if you’d prefer more choice (a lot more choice) Metaboli could be an interesting option.
For those who prefer owning their games, it could still be a possibility. How many games have you bought that you actually play on a regular basis? For the average gamer it’s probably one or two, probably online multiplayer games like Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress 2, Call of Duty, Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike: Source, or possibly a sandbox like The Sims. There is nothing stopping you from buying these games, and having a subscription to Metaboli (except for limited funds… 😦 ). That way you get the best of both worlds, you still get to play your favourite game(s) whenever you want, but you also have access to a selection of games whenever you fancy something different.
When it comes down to it, it’s all personal choice. Nothing I can help you with there. But if you just want to know what the service itself is like, then I’m happy to recommend it. 🙂