Video games are always in constant flux. New gaming trends come and go as dev studios watch each other to see what works and what is getting a bit stale. A new gaming trend seems to be taking over right now: games as a service. This phrase, games as a service (GaaS), basically means that developers are making online multiplayer games that they fully intend to support for years after release. This continuous support is supplement by downloadable content continuously being released.

The classic, and maybe old-school way of having games be a more personal, single-player focus experience is becoming less and less common. I’m more of this type of gamer. Video games for me are an escape from people in the real world. I love to get lost in a world meticulously crafted by game developers. Being able to hunt for treasure in Egypt, or survive a post-apocalyptic zombie outbreak in Colorado, are experiences that are sacred to me. I may be in the minority here, but I know there are others like me. Gaming is an escape, and the new games as a service model being popularized is breaking that.

games as a service

Now, obviously, I get it. Video games are a business at the end of the day, and the GaaS model makes them very, very rich. Just think about it. Let’s look at Bungie for example with their Destiny franchise. Bungie made a game and continuously supported it for many years. They supplemented the long time span of the title with add-on content through DLC. This is easy money that made the Bungie and Activision execs very happy. When a game developer doesn’t have to create brand new games as often, they’re able to cultivate an online community that keeps coming back and wanting more through DLC. That’s why it makes sense for GaaS to be pushed so hard by publishers. It makes the most amount of money for the least amount of effort. That’s called efficiency.

games as a service

I do know that these games as a service are becoming wildly popular and that there will only be more and more. Games like Overwatch, The Division, and Destiny are just a few examples of the recent wave of GaaS becoming extremely popular. This is even more evident with recent news coming out about Square Enix. The company’s president said they wanted to focus on increasing the importance of multiplayer games and experiences designed with long-term engagement in mind. Matsuda said, “Gone are the days in which single-player games were of primary status and multiplayer games secondary. Lately, multiplayer games have taken the lead, and it is standard for games to be designed for long-term play.” The industry is moving closer to fully adopting the GaaS model, and the sacred experience that I love is becoming less common.

I will admit that this problem for me is all my fault. Playing video games is a different experience for each person, and everyone is looking to get something else out of it. I just happen to want something that is starting to fade away. I think the reason why I stay away from GaaS-type games is that I look for the feeling of accomplishment when playing games. Chasing that 100% completion makes me feel like I’ve conquered the game and everything the developers threw at me. Games like Destiny are impossible to 100%. There’s always one more weapon to grind for, and it never stops. I’m sure this could be psychoanalyzed or something and reveal a weird truth about myself, but that’s just how my brain works.

games as a service

Video games are at a super interesting point right now as new business models emerge and they become incredibly popular. I don’t believe that the single-player focused experience will ever truly disappear, but I do worry that the GaaS features will slowly start to seep in. Loot boxes in single-player games like Middle-Earth: Shadow of War is already happening right now and causing industry-wide controversy.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how the industry evolves over time. Oh, and maybe I’ll get into a game like Destiny. It must be so popular for a reason, right?

About The Author

Special Contributor

I'm Richie, and I'm a college student at Florida who has always loved all things videos games and the culture around it. What do I love? Star Wars. Naughty Dog. And right now, Cuphead.

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  • silvaring

    Thanks for the article. Makes sense that the industry in the West has shifted to this model, what is more interesting is how the Japanese AAA devs have not. Sure there is mobile but when it comes to the next Silent Hill / Resident Evil or Dark Souls there is still a reluctance to cater fully to this games as a service model. Thank goodness too because I think the industry would experience a micro crash if big Japanese devs pursued this course of action. Not that Games as a Service is bad in principle but the infrastructure surrounding it is still very raw right now. If what companies like Playkey are trying to do by implementing the blockchain as a component in Games as a service actually works then I think it could herald a rapid adoption of cloud gaming (even cloud VR is already bring trialed in Asia however you need about a 40mbps connection and apparently it isn’t recommended for twitch game experiences).