The Beginning of the End: Is Gaming Industry Doomed?
If you haven’t heard anything about EA and Battlefront II: Star Wars, you have been living under a rock. Good for you, I guess, as the news isn’t very pleasant. Maybe I think that games as a service are a poor choice for the gaming industry because I’m old (older than 18, at least), and the famous “the grass was greener” kicks in. But the trend is visible and inevitable, and we will see it whether it is good or bad for the industry in a couple of decades.
The New Trend
I’ve heard this buzzword recently, mainly because of the hype around the new Battlefront and micro-transactions. But I believe that the phenomenon has existed earlier. It appeared when the first loot boxes and cosmetic items in multiplayer online games, such as CS:GO , and Dota 2 were introduced. Probably the whole idea of cosmetic items or additional game time was introduced just to make Gamers spend more time and, subsequently, more money. But is it such a catastrophe as people describe it?
Games as a Service
This fancy phrase “games as a service” is used in the gaming industry to refer to a more straightforward concept – a concept of a game with various DLCs, additions, and cosmetic items. If you have never played old-school games, you probably believe that the gaming industry existed as it is now. That’s not true. In the past it was a community for geeks, proficient in IT, because there was little chance you could manage your PC at that time without at least a little bit of relevant knowledge. Games were single-player with a limited amount of hours you can spend on them.
For example, you played the “Lost Vikings,” reached the end and that’s it. You could replay the game, of course, but since there were no such things as DLCs or plot-changing choices, you won’t get any crucial changes. Today everything is different.
Developers want to stay with the player (you) for as long as possible, engaging you with various add-ons, that add hours of gameplay or expand the plot. From purely cosmetic items that do nothing but change your appearance to changing the color of your ammunition.
What’s Wrong with That?
The controversy ignited when Triple-A game developers moved from the lootbox mechanisms, which are by the way often deemed to be similar to gambling, to micro-transactions. The ones you see in the match-three games, offering you to buy boosters or extra lives. That’s okay for free-to-pay, but when you have to pay $60 for the game itself, things get tricky. Gamers got incredibly mad because of the fact they want to revoke EA’s Star War License, and the petition created two weeks ago has already been signed 65,000 times!
Old School Gamers like myself see an upcoming collapse of the gaming industry in this mechanic, though I’m a little bit more optimistic and try to stay neutral. Who are we to judge anyway? The main argument against games as a service with an endless streak of downloadable content, additions and other stuff to lure Gamers back to the forgotten title is that companies are not putting as much effort as they were before.
Earlier to generate resonance and revenue, as a result, you had to do something memorable, something mind-blowing. Now you can make something average and make the same amount of money or even more by inserting purchasable items.
Is There Anything Good?
I believe that we are witnessing a natural development of the gaming industry, and it’s unstoppable. Though some nuances may be unpleasant, gaming companies will develop an ideal strategy of interaction with Gamers without infuriating them as time flows. Everyone thought that loot boxes and cosmetic items were a poor choice for generating additional revenue and lifetime value of the games, and yet here I am, buying my second Doppler skin because the deep blue one looks astonishing.
Changes, even if inevitable, are rarely accepted favorably, but this doesn’t mean they won’t do any good to the gaming industry. I propose you to become a spectator – sit, watch and wait. I bet what comes next is going to be interesting.