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Live Service Games Are Dying?

Live Service Games Are Dying?

Live Service Games as a concept is just Games as a Service (GaaS) with a different name to a certain extent. The main idea is that the game you purchase is not the complete package or all that you will be experiencing. Traditionally games fell into three large camps, one launch, subscription fee, or launch with DLC later. In recent years, Live Service, as a concept, has caught on because of the potential monetization and ongoing revenue streams. Recent trends in the industry, however, may make it tough for this format to work and Outriders might be the first to turn the rudder.

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The Challenge

The main challenge facing live service games is that development must be spread out and potentially thinned out. Director’s cuts from Bungie indicated they were constantly placing “simultaneous bets” just to keep the seasonal model working.

A common result of this challenge is that the launch version of the game is criticized as thin and not worth full price. This has a compounding effect since the launch version of the game was devalued by the very content development that you hope the core audience buys and they’ve been motivated to not do that by the weakened launch.

In essence, live service games often set themselves up for failure because the minimum viable product is seen as just that: minimum. And the result is an irritated fanbase that quickly disbands and turns on the game, resulting in future sales projections being inevitably damaged, and thus the downward spiral begins.

The Saturation

Another significant problem with live service games in the current market is saturation. Even games like Fortnite offer an ongoing service, with updates, map changes, meta patches, and a story often tied to massive live events. This makes it hard for any other game in that genre to get a foot in the door.

In the years that followed Fortnite’s launch and Destiny’s launch, countless games have tried to pull off similar formats and failed miserably. And the few that were successful struggled right out of the gate. Division 1 and 2, Anthem, Radial Heights, and Apex Legends just to name the most memorable.

It isn’t a coincidence that every time a Battle Royale launches it gest compared to Fortnite or PUBG, and it isn’t a coincidence that every time a loot-based game launches, especially if it is a shooter of any kind, it gets compared to Destiny. The saturation breeds comparison wish stifles innovation and risk-taking.

The Unknown

Lastly, and certainly not least, the unknown factor is a huge element in this situation. Launching a game with planned content within 3 months of release almost guarantees that the extra content will be, to some degree, off the mark, because the game doesn’t have a player base yet.

This is where Outriders comes in. It honestly feels as if they analyzed the landscape, and on the heels of Anthem being lowered into the ground, they took a different path for their game. This ensures that risk is lower for ROI and that any and all future content can be more finely tuned to what the player base wants but also based on what the player base does.

Division 1 and 2, Destiny 1 and 2, and even Borderlands 3 all struggled to offer meaningful content in the wake of their rocky launches. Copying that format is certainly unappealing, especially given how volatile the game market can be. While the dirt on Anthem’s grave is still loose and Outriders is about to launch, we could be at a turning point for live service loot-based games.

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