Jun 11, 2016
There have always been rivalries in gaming, whether that’s Mario and Sonic, Call of Duty and Battlefield, or Rock Band and Guitar Hero. But now it seems, the industry has to band together to fight for our attention; as the wealth of entertainment available at the touch of a button is too much to resist.
The way in which games are being developed is changing rapidly. The fact is that a title’s release date used to signify the completed product for most developers; yet now it may not even be the midway-point, as devs continue to patch and expand their product.
In America, services like Hulu and HBO are immensely popular. Services such as Netflix have (presumably) begun to hit their full potential in the UK, and as titles improve, this is surely going to continue to expand.Games as a service is becoming a very popular approach to gaming, and although many consumers may not like it, it has trickled into many franchises.
Battlefield’s premium package including in-game items and XP-related events. Call of Duty have an “Elite” package, giving hardcore players a number of benefits. Similarly, the “Season Pass” has become standard for any title with DLC, providing gamers with all future DLC for a straight-up, reduced fee. This trend is becoming fairly dominant, with any major title undergoing significant change, from day one till a year later.
These payments highlight something very intriguing; in that gamers are willing to pay for something in the future. There is no guarantee what they’re paying for is going to be quality, and so payments are truly indication of faith in the developer. There are notable times when DLC has failed fans, such as the recent BioShock Infinite DLC only taking a few hours to complete; which received negative remarks. Similarly, Skyrim DLC was seen as pretty poor in comparison to the main game.
And now, standalone apps such as iFruit, or Call of Duty: Ghosts app manage to fill the time in between gaming. You can check stats and chat with friends, ensuring you can engage with the game even when you’re not at home. This is a practice which enhances gaming as a service, competing against similar apps from Netflix or other services, which allow you to participate wherever you are.
Social networking has become entertainment in itself, with the public investing a colossal amount of time into browsing services such as Twitter or Instagram. “Sitting on Facebook” has become an activity in itself, and developers need to ensure that players opt for their game instead of purely sitting on their computer or tablet.
Many games have to replicate these services, with rewards for weekly or daily sessions. Social games such as Clash of Clans encourage regular checking, but others like Sims Freeplay directly reward your involvement on a daily basis. Console titles have begun to implement rewards, like Rayman Legends offering extra unlockables if you play more often.
The future of gaming is evolving rapidly, but it seems it will involve swift response to consumer demands from developers, as voices are easily heard, and can be implemented simply via digital add-ons or patches.
GTA Online has become a form of MMO in itself; and it looks like it will host a number of updates and patches in the future. This format could become dominant in the near future, with a single game merely evolving constantly like World of Warcraft has over the years; rather than pushing out new iterations with new missions and little change in gameplay.
As far as games like Call of Duty go, aside from the single player aspects, it hasn’t changed all that dramatically since CoD4: Modern Warfare. In the future, an online-only version could be released, and merely updated with extra maps, guns, and fixes indefinitely. Whether this is as profitable is refutable, but it would certainly please a lot of gamers out there. Counter Strike: Global Offensive recently implemented icons above characters in-game, as a direct response to a player’s comment. This kind of practice could prove vital to future-proofing titles on the next-gen and beyond.
Essentially, the boundary between the standalone game and DLC is becoming blurred. GTA Online’s Beach Bum DLC was completely free as an update, and it is these kind of incentives that will keep players returning to the game, and perhaps splashing out on microtransations. It will certainly prove effective to tear gamers attentions away from watching another episode online, or listening to an album on services such as Spotify. A game is no longer truly completed once you see the credits; DLC and updates expand the experience, and replay value is something many gamers see as vital, especially when spending around £50 on next-gen titles. If you are only going to get 12+ hours our of a title, is it really worth it?
Although there is a lot of hate for freemium out there, it does have one huge benefit for the gamer. If a title is released for free, with no initial payment, it ensures the developers will attempt to make the game as good as possible, to encourage gamers to download it, and to spend money in-game. There is also no leap-of-faith in spending an up-front fee, and no necessity to continue playing. You can remove the game guilt free if it doesn’t meet expectations. Developers then, must work extra hard to ensure it captivates and engages it’s audience effectively, in order to retain profit. Gameplay is integral to ensuring the success of a business, and great gameplay is definitely good for the gamers out there.
Another hurdle it seems, is that both next-gen consoles require a subscription for online capabilities. This means that gaming as a whole needs to capture gamer imaginations, to ensure they continue paying their monthly subscription, in order for them to play certain aspects of their game. If a player becomes bored of gaming in general, and decides to cancel their subscription, it could mean a loss of revenue overall.
Games are already beginning to change dramatically, developing their own ecosystem consisting of games, DLC, apps, and updates. The next-gen capabilities, including simple update downloads and social aspects, will ensure that games continue to evolve, and provide the best entertainment possible. And maybe you’ll choose gaming over one more episode of Game of Thrones.