Opinion – Live services are a problematic trend in Gaming

Fallout 76 represents my ongoing beef with online-only titles that are somehow marketed as full releases. There are a number of overwhelmingly negative videos chastising Bethesda for releasing what can be classified as a early access title. While there are fans who defend what Fallout 76 actually represents, the issue is clear: these titles are clearly incomplete and should be considered early access until there is sufficient content to consider otherwise. This isnt to say that early access titles can’t be good, but marketing a product as complete would indicate that the consumer is going to receive the full experience.

Did you know that Rainbow Six Siege’s ranked multiplayer is still in Beta? It’s been 3 years since its release and I cant fault Ubisoft because at least they’ve been upfront. It will remain in Beta as long as fans lose their shit when you go down in rank after a loss but barely go up half a bar with a win. Fallout 76, Sea of Thieves, Destiny, The Division, and No Man’s Sky are live services that have been marketed, priced, and released as complete games while in reality they are the opposite. All of them are works in progress that still require a multitude updates, patches, and will remain as a work in progress for the foreseeable future.

Live services are the new hot trend in gaming. This would not be an issue if publishers were transparent with consumers in regards to the content in these titles. It’s obvious that the product life cycle for these titles are meant to last years and not months. Which is fine, but there hasn’t been one release where the final product represents what is as advertised. Its ludicrous that fans are ok that games like Fallout 76 are essentially broken shells that are missing significant features.

Now, with all of these problems, you would expect the developers to release statements to ease public concern. And you would be wrong. Bethesda has yet to address any of the concerns presented by consumers and is more than likely going to the approach by Hello Games, in which they addressed the issues of No Man’s Sky by releasing multiple patches and updates while providing detailed notes. This is acceptable, as developers should continue to support their product, but to stay silent on legitimate concerns is troubling.

No one is saying that any game released this generation is without fault. But live services need special attention and higher transparency because their circumstances are fluid. Content has to constantly be pushed out for any chance of sustained success and developers have to drive this home by remaining active on social media. Tweeting out pictures or videos of fans having fun while ignoring the problems is a tone-deaf response.

Common courtesy would go a long way in helping ease the concerns of consumers. What is an appropriate reaction to paying full-price for a title for it only to see a significant price cut a week or so after? It’s going to get to the point that live service games are going to come under intense scrutiny before release. Pricing considerations aside, I would focus on content release dates, because that is what will keep the title relevant. Don’t say something inane like “make your own fun”, because that isn’t a message you should be sending. Organic moments should occur while working toward completing objectives. Don’t make it a selling point in your marketing strategy knowing that it won’t exist in the final product.

This generation has made incredible traction as gaming has been more prevalent than ever. But with the aadvancements in technology, the cost of development has increased significantly. This has caused developers to make financial decisions that have rubbed consumers the wrong way. Microtransactions and live services are here to stay, regardless of public outcry. But that doesn’t mean the consumer should lose their voice. Use social media and other platforms to voice your concerns, make them hear you. It’s your money and time that’s being invested.

We are steadily moving forward to a new generation and it should be expected that costs will continue to rise. So as a consumer you can expect publishers to do everything in their power to make as much money as possible from their products. No harm in that way of thinking, but constantly misleading your consumers is a quick way to find yourself losing business. Is it too much to ask for developers not to cut corners when producing a Triple-A title? I mean look at they did to Fallout, one of the most beloved franchises in gaming. Fans are willing to go to great lengths to defend a deficient product, developers should never put them in the position to do so.

They are better than that.

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