Question Games as a Service is ruining gaming?

Are Games as a service hurting the gaming community?


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    18

MaddMann

A nerd that found his place
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Jan 17, 2020
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Games as a Service (or GaaS) seem to be taking over the industry everywhere. Some have done it better than others, but none of them really hold up to being, at least what I consider, to be a great game. From Destiny 2 to Black Desert Online, making a living games only seems to benefit shareholders. They release small sub-par snippets of game that are either incomplete, or just a reskin of old content. On top of that, GaaS completely alienates the modding community and often those who do not have the income to shell out for the new content or gear that is released. While I do enjoy playing some Destiny 2, I am left with the realization that playing it will not satisfy me as there is no "end" in sight. I think my worst experience with a GaaS was actually Star Wars Old Republic. When it first came out as a straight MMO, it was great. The story's were thought out and engaging, the content was large and the multiplayer was fantastic. Then it went F2P with a subscription model that was basically "Pay to look cool" which also turned into, if you don't pay, just stay out of PvP since you can't wear gear that puts you on the same level. This quickly killed the game I had almost 500 hours in.

So, I ask you, the community, what would make a GaaS a better or more functional? Do you agree with me that it instead turns its players into a cash crop they can crowd into small space and demand monetary returns over and over again. Do you think I am full of angst and just don't like change?
 
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Jan 14, 2020
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I don't think you're entirely wrong in your assessment. Games as a service are a neat idea in theory, always giving the player something new to come back to and keeping them invested in the worlds that they love. I like the idea that a game you enjoy is forever changing, that there's something new to do every time you log in without having to resort to some cheap trickery like the radiant quest system in Skyrim.

In practice, these games are often unfinished to the point of being broken or disfunctional at the time of release. Games like Fallout 76, Anthem and Ghost Recon: Breakpoint come to mind. The former was just the buggiest and ugliest mess the world had ever seen, the latter two bland and uninspiring and very much lacking in meaningful stuff to do. They always seem to over-promise and under-deliver. There's an insidious 'release it now, fix it later' mentality which is making consumers lose faith in the developers. Fallout 76 in particular is a terrible offender and they even had the gall to charge another $100 for premium access. Anthem's now being reworked as well.

This isn't always the case, of course. Some games launch in a great state. I bought The Division 2 upon release and absolutely loved every second of it. The campaign was fantastic fun, particularly with friends, and the endgame and PvP were some of the most fun I had with games in 2019. I just couldn't keep up with it all because there are so many games now! I don't want to commit to just one when there is so much interesting stuff coming out all the time.

Also, did Ghost Recon: Breakpoint really need to be a live service game? Did SimCity or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare? Whatever happened to plain old expansion packs or DLC? All these companies are vying for your time and money and I just can't keep up. I mean, I get MMOs being live service games, I can see why a game like Destiny would do it.. but why do I have to go online to play Ghost Recon? Also, why is that game so awful when it looks so good and the studio has so much pedigree?!

Some of my favourite 2019 games were the antithesis of this: Control, Resident Evil 2, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, freaking Death Stranding.. all great games with no live service nonsense, unsensical microtransactions or 'battle passes' (*ugh*), just plain old adventure games with a beginning and an end. Consumers need to vote with their wallets. There is a place for 'games as a service', as projects like Star Citizen or Warframe couldn't exist without it.

Just don't slap a server and microtransactions onto any random game genre and call it an improvement.
 
Feb 14, 2020
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My issue is franchises/genres that were singleplayer focused getting turned into games as a service titles. Stuff like Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six, Elder Scrolls and Fallout. Even the new Wolfenstein is a co-op live service game with loot! I guess maybe 5 or 6 singleplayer Wolfenstein games should be enough, but it's still a bummer. Fallout is one of my favorite franchises ever, since the original in the 90s, and yet I have zero interest in 76. Bums me out.

However I do think there's a place for stuff like Fortnite, for those who like that sort of thing. Especially when they sell only cosmetics, which I think is harmless. So for me it really depends on genre and franchise.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
No, Games as a Service is corporate-speak for what we've been getting from the mid-level gaming companies since the internet became a thing. It's simply this: you keep supporting the game well after it comes out. Maybe that support will be paid DLC, maybe free updates, and maybe a mix of both.

This is as opposed to a game where the publisher releases it, maybe does a few bug fix updates for two or three months after release, and then moves on to the next game. In their minds, all the serious revenue is made in the first few weeks of sales after which it's all lost to used game sales and pirates. So why sink money into it? To help people that haven't paid them a dime? Better to work on a new game that will actually get some revenue.

The old model is fading away, though. I'm guessing it's happening because more sales of older games are happening on the console side of things through online stores as opposed to people buying used games at a retail store.

Games as a Service has NOTHING to do with going free to play. Every subscription MMO I've ever heard of is already in the GaaS camp. So is Guild Wars. But then so are most Stardock and Egosoft games. So is No Man's Sky. So is BattleTech. So are the Witcher games. Lots of companies have been doing this for a long time, especially on PC, but now even more companies are getting on board. (Though certainly not all. NieR:Automata had one DLC and no patches, for instance, despite a serious need for them.)
 
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Feb 14, 2020
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No, Games as a Service is corporate-speak for what we've been getting from the mid-level gaming companies since the internet became a thing. It's simply this: you keep supporting the game well after it comes out. Maybe that support will be paid DLC, maybe free updates, and maybe a mix of both.

When Steam first started and Gabe Newel talked about "games as a service" this is what he meant, yes. Continual updates, community features, and DRM of course. However now that this is standard everywhere, I think it's morphed as a term into things like always online service games that make money by continually offering new items/services to buy, rather than an upfront cost.

I guess one could argue these terms are semantics, but either way it's the latter I dislike, not the former. Especially when the latter is applied to a game that easily could have an offline singleplayer version, like Ghost Recon Breakpoint.
 
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When I play a game, I want to be embedded into the world, and that is extremely hard to do when you meet a restricted zone with a yellow exclamation mark screaming from the top of its, erm..greedy lungs: Lack of credit card!. Or how about small popups telling me that for the most convenience in my gameplay I should definitely buy loot boxes, inventory slots, XP boosts, or I might just have the most boring experience ever because of the immense headache from bashing my head against the thick walls of endless grinding.

Sure, microtransaction can be a good thing if it is made for the purpose of gently tapping the player on the shoulder and pointing them towards the possibility that they can, if they want, buy a nice cosmetic item for their character that gives absolutely no enhanced experience against the player that does not. I completely understand that a game like, take LOTRO as an example, need income to be able to run servers and give the consumers updates and employees a paycheck, but there is also a need for grace as to how these factors intertwine with the player base.

That said, if the game is being developed, there is a win-win situation by helping out the company and also getting something back, which is why I think that Robert Space Industries is on the right path with their business model for Star Citizen. Without help from the backers, Star Citizen would never, ever be where it is now, which is somewhere near space, but not completely in it... just yet:)
 
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MaddMann

A nerd that found his place
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Jan 17, 2020
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I don't think you're entirely wrong in your assessment. Games as a service are a neat idea in theory, always giving the player something new to come back to and keeping them invested in the worlds that they love. I like the idea that a game you enjoy is forever changing, that there's something new to do every time you log in without having to resort to some cheap trickery like the radiant quest system in Skyrim.

In practice, these games are often unfinished to the point of being broken or disfunctional at the time of release. Games like Fallout 76, Anthem and Ghost Recon: Breakpoint come to mind. The former was just the buggiest and ugliest mess the world had ever seen, the latter two bland and uninspiring and very much lacking in meaningful stuff to do. They always seem to over-promise and under-deliver. There's an insidious 'release it now, fix it later' mentality which is making consumers lose faith in the developers. Fallout 76 in particular is a terrible offender and they even had the gall to charge another $100 for premium access. Anthem's now being reworked as well.

This isn't always the case, of course. Some games launch in a great state. I bought The Division 2 upon release and absolutely loved every second of it. The campaign was fantastic fun, particularly with friends, and the endgame and PvP were some of the most fun I had with games in 2019. I just couldn't keep up with it all because there are so many games now! I don't want to commit to just one when there is so much interesting stuff coming out all the time.

Also, did Ghost Recon: Breakpoint really need to be a live service game? Did SimCity or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare? Whatever happened to plain old expansion packs or DLC? All these companies are vying for your time and money and I just can't keep up. I mean, I get MMOs being live service games, I can see why a game like Destiny would do it.. but why do I have to go online to play Ghost Recon? Also, why is that game so awful when it looks so good and the studio has so much pedigree?!

Some of my favourite 2019 games were the antithesis of this: Control, Resident Evil 2, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, freaking Death Stranding.. all great games with no live service nonsense, unsensical microtransactions or 'battle passes' (*ugh*), just plain old adventure games with a beginning and an end. Consumers need to vote with their wallets. There is a place for 'games as a service', as projects like Star Citizen or Warframe couldn't exist without it.

Just don't slap a server and microtransactions onto any random game genre and call it an improvement.

I agree with this and thank you for the well thought out reply.

I didn't mind when they added the transaction options in Fallout 4 and Skyrim. I never purchased them and I never felt that I needed to. In hindsight this seems like a good model for continual monetization of games, while not interrupting the function of the game itself. They have released some great content on there (although I think their prices are insane) and they didn't force it down anybody's throat and they didn't turn off or discourage further modding. Destiny 2 on the other hand, seems like it has gone in a bad direction. I was really hoping that Bungie getting away from Activision would improve this, but at the same time I understand they need the funds. My real hope is the current state of Destiny 2 is just because it would not be viable to change it. The campaigns (which were way better than Destiny 1 in the fact there was an actual story) are more or less gone. When it went free to play I got a few friends to hop on so I could play through the campaign with them that I found fun, but we couldn't find them. I eventually found them randomly at the ship dealer that nobody uses, but it was too late and those friends have already uninstalled Destiny. Now they added seasons you have to pay for to get into, but they have no real content. They have a few new skinned guns, a season objective and levels (which can be purchased, you can get to level 100 for $100), and a new "dungeon" that you are expected to play over and over. The only time I have seen that work so far was the Black Armory, but they at least had several different arena like challenges to change things up.

Division 2 did it in more acceptable way, but they kind of fell off. I have played the crap out of that game (I have about 300 hours in it) and I loved it. The raid was a ton of fun with friends... at least it was the first 30ish times. Their cosmetic purchases are 100% fully optional and able to be acquired by playing the game (outside of a few skins like those to put on your class weapon). Assassin's Creed Odyssey also did some of that pretty well, but then they release Break-point which was... bad. With that being said, I find Ubisoft for the most part, to be doing things right. I am excited for the expansion for Division 2 and I am cautiously excited to see what they do with the next Watch Dogs.

All in all, I have no issue with paying a developer for making more content, or doing things episodically, so long as they actually make what I am paying for valuable. If I sink $100 into a game AFTER I already purchased it, I better be happy with what I did, because otherwise I could have purchased another 2 or 3 games instead.
 
Nov 24, 2019
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So, I ask you, the community, what would make a GaaS a better or more functional? Do you agree with me that it instead turns its players into a cash crop they can crowd into small space and demand monetary returns over and over again. Do you think I am full of angst and just don't like change?

As with many things, I have a pluralist take on "Games as a Service". Firstly, I want to see every possible revenue model deployed in gaming that there can be, because I want to see games proliferate. The more varied and different ways to monetize games and gaming, the better. Let the oft-lauded free market take gaming and give us billions upon billions of worlds to explore. The more methods to achieve solvency and profitability for game studios and publishers, the more of them we'll have, and the more choice available to us as gamers. Sure, the old method of Pay $X for Y game with Z hours of content worked, and continues to work, but it also kept game development, publishing, and distribution limited to a small handful of big players in the industry. While we might lament the advent and infamous catastrophic failures of Early Access, there's a ton of success stories and magnificent games that otherwise would never have seen the light of day due to that model. And while the horror stories of the freemium model games in both mobile and MMO spaces are super well-known, we don't really talk that much about the ones that seem to work well, or level the playing field of purchasing power as a barrier to entry for the would-be gamer. The kid bumming quarters at the arcade of our past has some choices now.

Now, on the other hand, there should and must be a stronger check on consumer protections for games. Publishers take advantage of the hype train and offer pre-order bonuses, collector's editions with little to no actual value, hyper-segmentation of gaming content gated to frustrate rather than entertain. Promises made in trailers and feature lists often fall short when the reviewer copies go out, if consumers are fortunate enough even to be able to read reviews before making purchases. There need to be far, far, FAR more consumer protections in place right now than there are, as all too frequently triple-A titles are released with a hefty $60 price tag (much higher for our international friends), and found out to be a buggy, unsupported mess that crashes and burns. Yet, the publisher has by that point more than recouped it's losses due to a megalithic marketing spend whose noise deafens out the reach of any game reviewer sites.

-JP
 
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Inspireless Llama

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Dec 20, 2019
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What is GaaS actually? Because I'm reading about MMORPG's, Microtransactions in SP games, so it's not just multiplayer.

I get the idea that it means that a developer tries to find ways to earn money after the initial release of the game? Which would make sense to me, developers / publishers need a monthly income too.

In terms of constantly releasing DLC, I feel like SCS Software is doing it well with Euro Truck Simulator 2. Yes they do release alot of DLC (which are not all required and neither did they strip parts from the base game), but the map expansions are good, without bugs and considering the amount of work they put in I don't even feel like they're overpricing it.

In terms of DLC people often get upset about the price of total DLC price. I don't always think that's fair. Train Simulator for example, if you wanted to buy all the DLC you'd spend over $5000. But AFAIK you're not supposed to. You're supposed to just buy the tracks you like and are interested in, just like model trains. And when it comes to "base" game, I'm not sure when something is considered as "it should have been in the base game". Everything that's new after the base game shouldn't have been there. It would be bad practise if they would strip content from the original game and then re-add it as a new DLC you need to purchase.
 

MaddMann

A nerd that found his place
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Jan 17, 2020
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What is GaaS actually? Because I'm reading about MMORPG's, Microtransactions in SP games, so it's not just multiplayer.

I get the idea that it means that a developer tries to find ways to earn money after the initial release of the game? Which would make sense to me, developers / publishers need a monthly income too.

In terms of constantly releasing DLC, I feel like SCS Software is doing it well with Euro Truck Simulator 2. Yes they do release alot of DLC (which are not all required and neither did they strip parts from the base game), but the map expansions are good, without bugs and considering the amount of work they put in I don't even feel like they're overpricing it.

In terms of DLC people often get upset about the price of total DLC price. I don't always think that's fair. Train Simulator for example, if you wanted to buy all the DLC you'd spend over $5000. But AFAIK you're not supposed to. You're supposed to just buy the tracks you like and are interested in, just like model trains. And when it comes to "base" game, I'm not sure when something is considered as "it should have been in the base game". Everything that's new after the base game shouldn't have been there. It would be bad practise if they would strip content from the original game and then re-add it as a new DLC you need to purchase.

For better information on what makes a game a "live" game, or GaaS, I'd suggest checking out this wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Games_as_a_service

Otherwise DLC doesn't generally make a game a GaaS, think more on the lines of MMO's where there are expansions that if you don't buy them, you can still play, but other players have access to additional content that you do not. Other examples would be things like Apex Legends, Rainbow Six Siege, Destiny 2, World of Warcraft, etc
 

McStabStab

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Jan 13, 2020
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I put my vote as "no". In my opinion games as a service isn't hurting the gaming community. It is however making or breaking the reputation of publishers and developers.

Bethesda for example has become a pariah due to their comical misfortune with Fallout 76, however some game services like EA Origin or EA's Apex Legends are widely liked and successful. It's just like anything else in capitalism, you make a good product, you see success. If your product is crap it will fail. Nothing wrong with that and the community marches on.
 
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