British firm GameShadow, whose eponymous service offers PC users automatic updating and patching of their games as well as access to a variety of downloadable content, has announced that it is to drop the subscription fee for its users.
The company formerly charged around GBP 10 per year to users, but will now be providing the service - including the automatic patching system and up to 1GB of high speed content downloads per month - for free.
GameShadow recently reached 300,000 subscribers on the system, thanks in no small part to being used as the default application for providing patches to users by Eidos, being bundled with ATI graphics cards, and being supported by Konami, Atari and Ubisoft.
The system will now be supported by advertising, as well as by paid-for content downloads through the service - with the sale of digital items including expansion packs, full games and merchandise likely to form a major part of the future of the service, GameShadow's recently appointed CEO Nicholas Lovell told GamesIndustry.biz this week.
Users who don't wish to view advertising will still be able to opt out of this by paying a subscription fee, with premium benefits available including disabling advertising, increasing download capacity to 30GB per month, and a free boxed game from a range including King Kong, Prince of Persia Trilogy, Splinter Cell Trilogy and Crashday.
"We've been waiting to hit critical mass before offering the service for free," explained Lovell. "We know the technology is 100 per cent sound, we know that publishers are impressed about what it can do to increase their levels of customer service, and feedback from subscribers has indicated that gamers find it hugely useful. We are delighted we can now offer the service free."