The Problem with Games as a service
In today’s gaming climate there is one thing that every AAA publisher is vying for and every gamer fears. No, not battle royale games. Though those are also dreaded and thrown into everything. I Wouldn’t be surprised if my toaster had a battle royale mode at this point. The thing that they are trying to implement is games as a service. Yeah, that old chestnut. Publishers trying to take a model that has only worked for a select few games and tool it to make it fit for any project. Allowing them to generate more revenue and publish fewer games. The model in its current form is plagued by issues.
Many games have implemented this model correctly. Games such as World Of Warcraft, Warframe, and yes, even Fortnite have created a successful model that players enjoy and can live with. These games are either free or have a subscription and constant updates. They also don’t have pay to win aspects nor do they put weapons or characters behind paywalls. The games are complete and you can either pay for skins or other characters that don’t affect gameplay. You can also unlock the skins through standard gameplay by grinding. This is the usual tried and true model that publishers used to use and is proven to work.
The problem arises when publishers started to push this into every game their developers work on. Take Call of duty Black Ops 4 for example. There was a huge backlash when gamers found out that they were going to put loot boxes into the game. They then decided to not put them in only to start charging for things like a red dot reticle and other skins. Now, as of this week, they have put loot boxes into the game so people who feel like they are going to miss out on skins or weapons can spend money and try to get them. The issue I have with this is not the fact that you can pay for skins. Its the fact that the game is created around tempting you to spend money just for a chance to get what you want.
The same issue happened with Destiny 2 when it launched. The ever verse was shoved in and in some cases, you had to use it if you wanted to try to get specific colors or other cosmetic items. You couldn’t get them easily if you ever managed to get them at all. After much backlash, Bungie changed the ever verse and appeased fans. However, the fact that they put this in the game will forever be a stain on the game. Again it’s not wrong of developers and publishers to want to charge for cosmetic items, colors, or even skins. The issue lies in the way things are handled and implemented into the game.
Now, this isn’t a rant on loot boxes however they are a part of the games as a service business model. You came here to find out what the issue with games as a service in its current iteration is and that is exactly what we are going to get into.
The main issue that the games as a service model faces are the publishers themselves. Pretty obvious right? Their own greed and need to squeeze every last cent or euro out of consumers has ballooned and led to any type of microtransactions being viewed as bad. Looking at you activision! With your 2 dollars red dot.
Another layer to this problem is that many developers are under one of three big publishing houses; Activision-Blizzard, EA, and Ubisoft. These companies control most of the AAA titles that come out annually and are all about their bottom line. Which in and of itself is not a bad thing however when done without the consumer in mind is unsustainable. Which is what has been happening for the last few years. It’s a cycle that many of us are caught in and will only be stopped by withholding your purchase and sending a message.
The most egregious offense and the most well-known issue is the loot box mechanic that plagues many games. It adds a layer of RNG and if you want a bunch of chances at getting that legendary or timed skin. You have to put money into the game. Either buying in-game currency or buying a pack outright. Even games like Overwatch have this issue and that game does loot boxes fairly well. The main issue with loot boxes is that you are paying for a chance at getting the item you want. You don’t know the percentages. You don’t even have a baseline of what you will get. This makes it akin to gambling and in games where younger players are present, it has and will continue to cause an uproar.
So what’s the point of this Writer Within?
To inform casual consumers and my fellow hardcore gamers who may not know any better, that there are some very bad and predatory practices that are occurring in the gaming industry. These practices are usually not the fault of the developer but the publisher that they are under. As consumers, we have an obligation to support good businesses and shut down any bad practices we see, and there are a lot of them. The corporate greed that has run amok in the industry needs to be drained out and we need to go back to our roots.
Companies making money is not a bad thing, but the business models in place and the way the current games as a service system is set up will inevitably fail. Shoving Lootboxes and microtransactions into every game will burn out the fanbase and ultimately kill a game. Not only that but the model itself, which many developers use in order to stay afloat, will become reviled. Causing consumers to flock away from a game that uses it sparingly and fairly.
Games nowadays incur huge costs in order to develop, market, and support. These games can live longer by having skins, customizations, colors, etc. but they need to be implemented the right way. Not haphazardly as they have been. These are a few of the problems with games as a service, and we didn’t even get into DLC. Which believe me, could be a DLC chapter all to itself.
What do you think of the games as a service model? Are publishers trying too hard to make it happen? Do you think microtransactions are here to stay or a fad on the downturn? Let me know your thoughts down below.