There was once a time when video game developers would make a game, release it, and then move onto the next big thing. That time has long since passed. These days, you’re more likely to see a new Metroid than you are to buy an AAA game that’s never updated, patched, or enhanced in some way. Today’s big video games aren’t products—they’re services.
That’s not a new buzzword—“games as service” has been floating around for many years now—but these days, we’re seeing big publishers embrace it in a way they haven’t before. Developers are looking at ways to make money off games for as long as possible, through downloadable content, cosmetic microtransactions, and good-old fashioned loot boxes. For example, here’s Square Enix in a financial presentation last week:
Titles that have become global hits recently have tended to be offered via the “Games as a Service” model, and we believe this is going to be the mainstream model for gaming in the future. In developing future titles, we will approach game design with a mind to generate recurring revenue streams.
Square’s most successful recent game, Final Fantasy XV, has become a service thanks to patches, downloadable content, and Gladiolus’s abs. (There’s also plenty more en route.) Though the publisher is looking to sell developer io Interactive, whose most recent Hitman was an episodic (and critically acclaimed) “service game,” Square appears to be preparing for a future in which games change constantly.
And here’s Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot, speaking during a financial call earlier this month:
We are transforming our games from standalone offline products into service-based platforms where we can continually interact with and entertain our players.
Adds Ubisoft chief financial officer Alain Martinez:
The philosophy of all the games that we make is to be able to justify and to bring live operations for a long life, as long as we think it fits the game. What we said is clearly…