Live Service Games: The Good and The Bad

The Future of Gaming or a Step in the Wrong Direction?


Live service games have been a wide-ranging part of the market for some time now. For those unaware, a live-service game is defined as a title that receives regular updates or new content after release. This is different from an early-access title or standard bugfixes in that this content alters or adds to the base gameplay in an organized fashion. 

While there are plenty of popular live-service titles that players can't seem to get enough of, there are also examples of popular IPs or whole franchises completely wiped out by going the live-service route. So what is it that makes a live-service title good? What are mistakes that should be avoided? In this article, we'll provide examples and explanations of the good and the bad sides of live service gaming.

The Good

Starting on a positive note, let's take a look at a couple of examples of live service games with thriving communities and positive results. 

The most obvious example is a rather recent one, Helldivers 2. This multiplayer third-person shooter game incorporates a live map and dozens of worlds all with their own missions. Each of these missions adds towards the community goals and can earn rewards for every player involved. This title includes no PVP features, so every player is fighting for the same cause, creating a remarkably positive and cooperative atmosphere. Additionally, new gameplay events do not require additional payments or monthly subscriptions to take part in, meaning players who own the game won't miss out on the fun if they're short on cash. 

Destiny 2 is another great example. This PVP and PVE first-person shooter includes numerous DLC packages, expansions, raids, and in-game purchases. The value of the DLC is what makes this title stand out, and fans generally react positively when waiting for the next expansion. The microtransactions that would normally upset gamers are rather tame here, and destiny 2 silver isn't required to progress the game, instead offering numerous upgrades, cosmetics, and ways to skip in-game grinding.

The Bad

Bad examples of live service gaming are scarcely remembered for long. Unless, of course, they're especially heinous. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, is a recent example of how not to include live service into a game. Focusing solely on the live-service aspects of this title, players will find advancements locked behind paywalls and incredibly long and tedious grinds with disappointing payoffs.

The most unfortunate thing about the inclusion of live elements into this game is that players could clearly see the intention to (rather aggressively) steer them towards spending more money on a game they've already purchased.

Community Matters

Live service isn't always bad, and can actually open opportunities for some pretty unique gameplay experiences. Unfortunately, many publishers seem to believe gamers are unaware of common tactics used in microtransactions and upselling in general. The general rule of what makes a game good depends entirely on the community, so taking their feelings into account is key to making any kind of game successful.