Timing and Games as a Service

It’s weird to be playing both Monster Hunter: Rise and Outriders, two games that have really different models on hand, yet both offer similar end game incentives.


First the world context. Quite a lot of folks are in the 3rd wave of the pandemic, with more time on their hand than money. Tons of media has been delayed to allow for proper development from remote locations, and there’s a general lack of new in the gaming space. As much as Valheim is a truly amazing game, had this released in a regular game window I’m not sure it would have caught on as much. With that said, any game launching today has a crazy opportunity for wide eyes, and by proxy, a lot of gamer patience for any potential issues.

Well, issues in the general sense. Not the mess that Cyberpunk delivered.

MH:R is a time-sink game to get the most out of it… dozens of hours to get through it all. Advantage that so many folks have so much time on hand to really dig into this.

Outriders is different, in that there are some rather serious bugs (inventory wipes!) that are hiding a quality game underneath. The end game portion itself is better in a social setting, but it’s honestly quite a pain to get through and there are some server optimization issues that remain (the wipe for one, but some mods don’t work well in MP).

The flip side to this, is that gamers are much more locust focused, with the rapid ability to consume content. Makes you wonder how much success Blizz would have had with Shadowlands if it had launched in February instead…

Games as a Service

What actually fits into this model? Any game with on-going micro-transactions?

MH:R has a huge content roadmap at zero cost, and I’m not currently seeing any MT. Maybe it will come for cosmetics? Doesn’t seem like it, given that you can reset your character looks for free. There are only a few games that come close to this amount of free content.

Avengers also gives out tons of free content, with the MT focused on cosmetics. Clearly they are limited by Marvel/Disney as to what cosmetics they can use, just like the older Marvel Heroes game. There are only so many options for the Hulk after all… he’s always going to be big, green, and half naked. It lists itself as a game as a service, just no one seems to be at the door.

Diablo 3 has no MT, and while it didn’t have extra free content (RoS was an expansion), it does have seasons and huge balance changes. The game today bears minimal resemblance to the initial launch.

Path of Exile has a huge content roadmap and the business model is entirely driven through cosmetic MT. Warframe is a similar bag, where the business model is community driven. They do compare to MH in terms of free content, and in some respects have delivered more in less time.

Outriders has no MT, and no content roadmap. What shipped is what you get. Which on the one hand is kind of smart given the lack of return on these types of games over the years. I can’t see how they would compete with Division or Destiny in terms of looter/shooter, and Warframe is just at another level. Anthem, Anvengers, Godfall are all really good examples of how not to do this type of game. Surge 2, Remnant, Borderlands are examples of how you can. It’s a really tough balance. Who knows, maybe Outriders can generate the type of demand that would generate DLC.

Not every game fits the GaaS model, particularly those that are focused on the single player aspect. But if you want people to play together, it seems like a really good opportunity to put it to practice. Just need to make sure the core is solid before pitching DLC..


2 thoughts on “Timing and Games as a Service

  1. I think I define GaaS games as any game that plans to be indefinitely incomplete, with a plan for post-release content over a long period.

    Although I don’t mean ‘incomplete’ there in a snarky sense, it does seem more often than not such snark is warranted at the release of most GaaS titles.

    From there I think it is pretty typical that some type of additional monetisation scheme is at play, be it through a series of DLCs and xpacs (Destiny 2), or Cosmetics (Avengers, Anthem) or simply through continued sales and building of goodwill (One Man’s Sky).

    Although that last example challenges my own definition perhaps, as I doubt that was the ‘plan’. At least initially.


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