GAMES AS A SERVICE (GAAS)
Defined by Wikipedia as "video games or game content on a continuing revenue model." Games as a service (GaaS) is in essence a way for developers to continue charging consumers/gamers years after a game is released. This seems to be the way of the future within gaming as many AAA studios are focusing more and more on this model.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing or a good thing. Within this article I will provide evidence of this model working well and working poorly, whilst stating my opinion on the matter at the end.
Over the years the cost of developing and updating a game has and will continue to increase. This means that studios and developers will have to either charge more for their product or find other means to cover the costs.
Games as a service allows developers to continue to work on their game after release whilst still making money. This can be done in a way that consumers may not like, but obviously understand. For example, Riot Games, the developers of League Of Legends have been using the games as a service model for years now and the community continues to support them. I believe this is the case due to a number of reasons.
Primarily the fact the League Of Legends is free, so the community understands that if they want more updates they can support the developers with microtransactions such as skins and name changes. Secondly is due to these purchases having zero effect on the actual game or the outcome of a match. Just because someone buys a legendary skin, doesn't mean they will instantly be 100x better than another player.
You could make the argument that players can buy characters with the purchasable currency. But due to the nature of the game and the constant changing of the meta I find it hard to believe people spend Riot Points (RP) on this.
Another solid example of a good games as a service strategy is Epic Games' Fortnite: Battle Royale season pass. This allows players to spend money and then work towards unlocking more cosmetics and has proven to be successful. Epic Games made $296 million in the month of April through both battle passes and "V-Bucks".
The reason this type of games as a service works so well is simply because players won't feel cheated for not spending money and aren't at a disadvantage.
The Grey Area
Whilst some companies are able to find a model similar to Riot Games' that works, others find other strategies that can be seen as bad by some and good by others. These money making strategies are most predominant in mobile games and free to play MMOs.
These sorts of games as a service generally boost the player towards the end game or give them an advantage through the use of real money purchases. In most cases these boosts come in the form of time skips or grind skips. Such as in games like Clash of Clans which allows players to buy gems to skip waiting for building or units to be made.
Many players find this as a grey area due to the fact that people who spend money at a direct advantage over their free to play counter parts. The free to play players are still able to reach the end game or be competitive but it takes considerably longer and is much harder.
This version of games as a service is still somewhat acceptable as it is more of a choice. Yes it helps to spend money but you are fully capable of reaching the same point of the game through investing more time.
Everyone should remember the Star Wars Battlefront II fiasco in which developers EA really tried to push a horrid adaptation of games as a service. They in essence forced players to buy loot boxes to gain "star cards" which would in turn allow you to add upgrades to your characters. This is an unacceptable way in which to use games as a service as it gives real money spenders a huge advantage over players not willing to drop hundreds of dollars on a game that they've already had to purchase.
Similar scandals have occurred recently in single player games such as Middle-earth: Shadow of War where Monolith Productions forced players to spend additional money on loot boxes which could contain XP boosters. Many players found that to be a high enough level to complete the game that you had to rely on these XP boosts even after completing all content in the game.
This is extremely unacceptable and should not happen. We all understand that developers need a way to make money after a games release without raising the price. But forcing gamers to do so isn't fair, especially if the games cost is above $50.
These are my personal opinions and do not reflect the thoughts and opinions of KeenGamer as a whole
Games as a service is the future of gaming and we have to accept that. Games cost a lot more money to make then they used to and someone has to foot that bill. Developers really only have 2 choices, up the cost of games, or add in game purchases.
I personally don't want to be paying more money for games and am more than happy to pay for in game purchases. But in saying that, there is a limit to what I see as an acceptable purchase.
In a free to play game I feel as if developers can include microtransactions in any way they see fit. They are offering a game for free and if they want people to be able to pay to be overpowered and win every match that is fine. The game likely won't last long and sure as hell won't make it to an esports title.
If the developers want to make a successful and long lasting game they should follow suit with Riot Games and make all microtransactions optional. These microtransactions should also be limited to skins, services and loot boxes. Some games such as Clash of Clans can get away with time skips and if the game follows a similar formula, again go right ahead and include it.
If a game requires a full purchase such as Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege or Overwatch then microtransactions can be done correctly. Allow players to customise their characters with skins and sprays. Even loot boxes are fine in this situation because they are optional and not a necessary purchase or give you an advantage as they simply reward you with cosmetics.
Developers, please do not release a full priced game with microtransactions that allow players to win simply by spending more money than others. It will create a bad reputation and less people will want to play your game. Regardless of how amazing it may otherwise be.