What's So Bad About the Games As a Service Mode? Soapbox 1

Had this past weekend been the very first time you'd heard of the Games as a Service concept, there's a pretty good chance you would have come away thinking it's the literal spawn of Satan. The announcements of Gotham Knights and Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League gave way to a sea of concern -- not entirely based on facts -- that turned the conversation into one dominated by what these titles will look like a year after their release rather than what's there at launch. The Games as a Service approach to game development has people scared, and I don't think that's fair.

According to Wikipedia, games that fall under this category are monetized "either after their initial sale, or to support a free-to-play model. Games released under the GaaS model typically receive a long or indefinite stream of monetized new content over time to encourage players to continue paying to support the game." Typically, this sort of monetization includes microtransactions, DLC, and expansion packs alongside free updates and patches. And because of that, alongside the usual suspects, the term covers a lot more titles than you might think.

Pretty much every single AAA Ubisoft game of the past five years can be considered one -- that includes Assassin's Creed Origins and Assassin's Creed Odyssey even more so. Fallout 4, Final Fantasy XV, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt were all Games as a Service. Sony isn't averse to the model either with Gran Turismo Sport and Dreams falling under the same category. Hell, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and The Last of Us Remastered were absolutely packed full of microtransactions and they're considered two of the greatest PlayStation 4 games in existence.

What's So Bad About the Games As a Service Mode? Soapbox 2

What I'm trying to say is that the Games as a Service approach covers so much more than the typical line-up of titles you see rolled out time and time again. It's much more than Destiny 2, Fortnite, and Rainbow Six: Siege. And even if your definition of the far-reaching term is defined by the industry's biggest games, upcoming experiences such as Marvel's Avengers are starting to shift things towards a much fairer model.

No matter what your opinion of the Crystal Dynamics project is, you cannot fault its post-launch plans. Every single superhero added to the game following its release in early September will be completely free, including all the story content that comes with them and their movesets. You won't have to pay a penny after purchasing the game, and that's amazing. 10 years ago, that content would have formed the foundations for a Marvel's Avengers 2 rather than free updates that can be delivered at a much more rapid pace. Meanwhile, Ghost of Tsushima: Legends would have been a paid spin-off akin to something like God of War: Ascension. Develop a short campaign on top of the co-op experience and you basically have the same package.

You may not want to play the same game for years on end, and I completely understand that, but isn't this a wonderful approach for those that are invested in becoming the greatest superhero the world has ever seen? Or Tsushima's very best samurai? Users have the chance to truly invest in an experience they love for years on end, and in the case of Marvel's Avengers, they won't have to splash the cash in order to do so. This is very much the way forward, to the point where I'd be surprised to see Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League take a different approach.

What's So Bad About the Games As a Service Mode? Soapbox 3

I don't want you to think I'm advocating for every type of Game as a Service, however. FIFA 20, and indeed EA Sports' full range of sports titles, take it too far with purchasable card packs that grant just a tiny chance of bagging a Lionel Messi or Christiano Ronaldo. The publisher has now been forced into displaying those exact odds for all to see, but it just proves how greedy the entire model is. When you factor in the fact that children also play these games, I'm with you on that front -- these sorts of predatory microtransactions based on chance have to go.

On the whole, though, I truly believe that the Games as a Service model is a net positive for gaming. Developers have the chance to fully explore the experiences they ship on day one while players can be assured there's so much more to come once the campaign is over. Some studios take it too far -- using "no microtransactions" as a marketing tool is a big no-no in my opinion -- but when things are done fairly, I don't think you can have too many complaints. Games as a Service is a good thing that should be celebrated a lot more than it is right now, and you shouldn't feel blindsided by the mere existence of a microtransaction. Developers deserve to be paid for the efforts they make after a game launches on the PlayStation Store.

How do you react to Liam's thoughts on the Games as a Service model? Do you agree with him or not? Share your full thoughts in the comments below.