why are video games moving from standalone titles to to Microtransaction heavy models or Free-To-Play models?


Some background; I don’t follow video games. I used to a lot. But the last video game I played and really, really enjoyed was Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. During recent searches, I’ve understood that although titles like Overwatch, Fortnite, The Division etc are very popular, there’s still a bunch of quality single player games being made.

My question is primarily, why are video game companies moving towards this model?

Is there any inherent benefit to it? How do the corporations pushing these games such as EA or Activision (with Black Ops 4 going that route recently, if I’m not mistaken) benefit? Do the gamers benefit in any way?

And also, are there any changes in demographics of gamers? Do people prefer these “Games As A Service” as they’re calling it, over more traditional models?

Any information will be SUPER helpful. Thank you!

In: Economics

5 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

From the company’s point of view, a Live-Service model is encouraged because it makes it so that the game has much more longevity than a traditional game, which means they can make money with season passes, DLC and micro-transactions on top of the initial sale, and they only have to make updates for that one game instead of making a brand new game. Take Rainbow Six Siege for an example: instead of making a new game every year or two, which is very costly and presents significant risks, they can introduce updates to the already-existing game and keep making money out of it.

From the player’s perspective, a live-service game provides the benefit of being able to buy a single game and playing it for years, depending on the monetization model, without having to spend any extra money. (All content in Rainbow Six Siege, save certain cosmetic items, can be purchased with currency earned by playing matches). This is just my opinion, but live-services with a focus on multiplayer tend to do better, due to the continuous play and stable playerbase.

The main disadvantage of this type of game, for the company, is that they’re long-term investments made to last at least 2 years or so, meaning that if it doesn’t do well on the initial two months, it’s very unlikely that it’ll make a turn for the better. Rainbow Six Siege was an exception, it had a bad launch, but made a comeback due to its unique gameplay and constant updates. Needless to say, it’s a very big risk. Anthem and Fallout 76 are examples of live-services that didn’t do well at launch, and don’t seem like they’ll make a comeback, so their plans and roadmaps for future content are crippled, and the more affected they get, the less likely the game is to turn over, so it’s a vicious cycle until the game loses support.

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