Paywalling Services and the Ethical Dilemma: Extortion or Fair Business?

Thomas Steffen
3 min readSep 4, 2023


In today’s digital age, access to content and entertainment has never been more abundant. However, a concerning trend is emerging within the entertainment and gaming industry — the use of paywalls to grant early access or exclusive privileges to those who can afford them. While it’s tempting to label this practice as criminal or extortionate, it’s essential to explore the issue from various angles before reaching a conclusion.

The Rise of Paywalls are becoming increasingly prevalent in various forms, from early access to games like Starfield to exclusive streaming services and premium memberships. While they can provide additional revenue streams for content creators, they also raise ethical questions about fairness and equality.

One of the most significant concerns with paywalls is their potential to exacerbate income inequality. Premium access is inherently tied to financial privilege, granting those who can afford it an advantage over others. This exclusivity can foster a sense of inequality and resentment within the community.

Critics argue that paywalling services exemplify corporate greed, as companies prioritize profits over equal access. When entertainment or essential services, like gas or shopping for groceries, become subject to paywalls, it perpetuates the notion that money can buy convenience and privilege.

Access to entertainment and essential services is a fundamental right that should be accessible to all, regardless of financial status. Introducing paywalls challenges this principle and may lead to a society where privileges are allocated based on wealth rather than need.

While paywalling raises ethical concerns, it’s essential to distinguish between unethical business practices and criminal offenses. The legality of such practices may vary by jurisdiction, making it challenging to label them as criminal. Which in corporate America, leaves the consumer as the target, but also the one to make a decision. Do you support these actions, will you support companies that allow this, and would like to see other companies follow suit?

Consumers play a pivotal role in shaping industry practices. By supporting companies that prioritize equitable access or boycotting those with unfair paywalling policies, consumers can influence the market.

To strike a balance between business interests and consumer rights, governments may need to consider regulatory measures that ensure fair access to essential services and content. This could involve anti-discrimination laws or regulations on paywalling practices.

In conclusion, while paywalling services undoubtedly raise ethical concerns, labeling them as criminal offenses is a complex matter. It’s crucial to distinguish between ethical objections and legal violations. To address the issue effectively, a combination of consumer awareness, industry self-regulation, and potential consumer boycots may be necessary. The ultimate goal should be to find a middle ground that respects both business interests and the principles of fairness and equality. As consumers and citizens, we have the power to shape the direction of this evolving landscape through informed choices and constructive dialogue.



Thomas Steffen

I am Virtual Reality Developer, UI Systems, and general programmer with a passion for Unity software development.