Welcome one and all to our Saturday club feature “Controversial Club”. As so much of our content is positive, charming and a lovely read, we thought we’d start a weekly article where we can get a bit of rage out, or just generally be dicks!

I introduce our controversial club, a place where we can all write about things that get on our nerves, rub us the wrong way…

It’s no lie that more and more games nowadays are shipping as unfished products, fuelled by DLC and microtransactions… With this, many of the industry’s spearheads have coined a new sort of term to reflect the status of games sold as incomplete, to be updated with updates, events and DLC – Games as a Service – Will this practice, however, become a reality soon? Will we see more and more games offer shallow experiences initially with the promise of expanding further and further across multiple years? Let’s discuss!

Javier

Yes they absolutely will; the evolution of gaming seems to be inevitably heading that way, and there’s nothing we can do. This all started as DLC, which then became heavily focused around microtransactions after mobile gaming became so popular; Fortnite proves you can have a massive success from a ‘free-to-play’ game.

You then hear rumors that some game series, such as FIFA, are considering releasing one disc and just updating it with a patch every year (Siege is pretty much already doing this and Warcraft has been doing it for a long time) as it costs them a lot less to just release a patch to everyone, yet a company can charge almost the same, so it hugely increase profits.

For me personally, I tend to only play what’s released with the game anyway, this is mostly down to me wanting to play so much and not bothering to go back for DLC, and i’d certainly never pay for a cosmetic micro transaction (except from a weird addiction to Simpsons tapped out a few years ago). Because of this i actually think there’s enough of a game to play with the release of the physical disc and it is up to the player on what they want to spend. However as an ‘ongoing service’ I don’t like that terminology; it’s almost sucking the fun out of it and it definitely seems like they’ll phrase it however they can most easily grab our money. At the end of the day we’ll have to get used to it if we want to game, unless we just stick with 3rd gen consoles!

Salman

Wait, I thought games as a service was already a thing? Far as I know games like WoW and Dota 2 have been doing it for quite a while now. You can even look at this term in a different way for things such a PS+ and XBOX Live. This stuff is pretty much everywhere at this point and it really isn’t going to stop. We’re going to (and already have) seen some really scummy stuff from developers, especially in the form of microtransactions. I’m looking at you EA.

Joe

Unfortunately with the rise of more nefarious marketing and development practices, it’s simply a matter of time unfortunately – We’ve already seen companies like EA and Ubisoft pine for more and more games to be developed as paper thin experiences initially, only to be drip-fed content out of a virtual IV bag once a quarter for 3 or so years; personally, I absolutely despise this practice as it offers nothing of value to us, the end consumer.

Gone are the days where you can buy a game out of a second hand bin, not buy any DLC, and still have a £40, 40+ hour experience – It’s more like buying a £40, 15 hour experience that you’ll shove in a drawer and leave it till it’s fully updated.

It’s a pathetic state, and an inevitability; but all it takes is another Battlefront 2 controversy to set it back a few years…

Will

Bruh, games have been a service since they were invented. The whole point is that they provide entertainment (And, sometimes, a little bit of art or learning, etc.), so seeing a service as a fundamentally different is batshit crazy. It’s marketing fluff, nothing else.

No, call it what it is. It’s a subscription service. Paid with microtransactions rather than a regular fee. All you’re doing is de-regularising the amount of money each subscriber gives the game.

This is what Overwatch, which two years later remains my most played game, runs on. And I haven’t given them a penny in over a year, and neither have any of my friends. So why does it still keep running? Why is it profitable, if it seems no-one is paying significant amounts into the economy?

Because games-as-service models rely on whales. ‘Whales’, for those unaware, are the people that spend hundreds of pounds on in-game currency and items in games like ‘Clash of Clans’, ‘League of Legends’ and, yes, ‘Overwatch’. The kind of person that makes up for all the free players by putting in extortionate amounts of money, usually as a result of a genuine psychological problem. Games ‘as service’ environments benefit developers greatly from getting players hooked- addicted, if you want to use that word- to microtransactions. This is why we see loot boxes; because it’s essentially reliant on the same kind of thinking as slot machines.

Games-as-service models are known to ruin lives. Period. Their very nature encourages developers to make this as easy and as common an occurrence as possible. I’d go back to the old way of doing it- the WoW or the Runescape way. Pay £3 a month for a game, or pay for an expansion pack every year or two. If you must include microtransactions, make them transparent- no lootboxes, no skipping of gameplay grind, just “This item is £2.50”. Much simpler, much more ethical, and I believe a lot more people would go for it.

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