At some point over the last decade, subscription services completely changed the way I discover and listen to music.
I couldn't tell you exactly when the shift happened. It occurred slowly, steadily; regular purchases gave way to monthly payments, and my love of the album was rivalled and eventually subsumed by playlists and individual tracks. I was one kind of music enthusiast in 2010, and somewhere in the time since, I became another.
While it is perhaps too early to know for sure, it feels like the shift I find so difficult to pinpoint with music happened to me with video games in the course of the last 12 months. While I played many games I loved in 2020, the single product that mattered most to my playing habits was a subscription service: Xbox Game Pass.
The reasons for this are manifold, but there are two that stand apart from the others -- the first and most obvious being value. When Spotify launched, the cost of music was already much lower than games, with purchases starting at 99p a song and rarely exceeding £15 for an album. Some games are free to start and some are only 99p, I grant you, but the products I most frequently buy fall between £10 and £60. Gaming has always been the most expensive of my many cultural obsessions.

Games of the Year 2020 | Xbox Game Pass |