As we’ve become so reliant on technological hardware like mobiles and laptops, our reliance on supporting services has grown commensurately. For the user, these developments have manifested as the arrival of software service cultures backed by slow evolution. These markets can be highly specialized, with each demonstrating a view of what the service truly values if customers peek below the surface.
Opening the Door like Online Casinos
To start with let’s look at smaller services that are more location-targeted and arguably have a more consumer-friendly approach, like online casinos. These adopt systems that support new arrivals with special features. As can be seen on many modern comparison websites targeting countries like China, contemporary casinos pull in customers by offering the likes of deposit matches and free spins. By opening the door, this approach encourages a customer to test the waters, where further bonuses and potential accrued winnings are targeted at bringing them back. Thanks to region-specific practices, this approach can be more welcoming than a broader system, appealing on both a personal and a cultural level.
A New Emphasis on Subscription Culture
A more contentious approach comes from how so many modern services are turning to subscription services over what used to be paid one-offs. This is a double-edged sword, where it can be great for certain individuals and reasons, and be frustrating for others. For an illustration of systems that have taken this route in the last few years, we could look at common digital work tools such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Premiere. These programs used to offer standalone packages as default, but users today are encouraged to or can only engage through renewing subscriptions.
“Office Mac 2008 packaging” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Long Zheng
The reason for taking this direction is that, from a business point of view, continued engagement is king. Subscription encourages a company’s stockholders and drives engagement with its brand. A customer with a subscription is also more likely to be more dedicated to the related program to get the most out of their investment. Greater involvement then means they’ll want to keep paying to continue their progress.
In a functional sense, a service being tied to an always-online system means it can be easier to roll out new features, updates, and bug fixes. On the other hand, it also means each system has a limited lifespan, and that users without easy access to online wallets can be left by the wayside. Fortunately, in most cases, there are still functional old product keys for non-subscription versions of software.
Fully Free Offerings
A rare but famously well-received approach adopted by online services takes the form of offering free products alongside a paid lineup. Video games are one of the most pronounced examples here, with the Epic Games Store being a standout that constantly offers free AAA titles. By staying active on a service like this, a user continues to build a library, which, like the other options, makes them more likely to return and use real cash.
“free” (CC BY 2.0) by mikecohen1872
Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, the highly specialized nature of modern online services has led to a pattern of concentrated solutions. While some of these systems are practically always helpful for the end user, some can be less useful as they emphasize the business over customer satisfaction. As for how they could evolve in future years, incremental changes are likely much more likely than greater evolutionary leaps. For good or for bad, the systems seen today are going to become the status quo.