There are many trends that tend to pop up in the world of video games. Whenever one pops up, you will always see waves of companies, publishers and developers run towards it as though it is a new gold rush. Recent examples include, but are not limited to open-world games, MOBAs, hero shooters, loot boxes, battle royales, battle passes, and so forth. If the industry finds out it works in one game, it might just work in others. Keyword… might. With rising trends can also come downfalls if it turns out others can not replicate the success. And over these last couple of weeks, we’ve seen one of those trends take a nosedive in the form of Live-Service games.

I’ll admit at the time of writing about the status of Live-Service games from Square-Enix, I didn’t consider that it was going to be the tip of the iceberg. It just so happened to be the first wave in what has since become a wide range of announcements from many publishers about how many recent Live-Service games will be shutting down this year. You might not think it could be a lot, but over the course of these last few weeks, these announcements have gone into the double digits. To go with the titles from Square-Enix, we also have the following titles that saw recent shutdown announcements:

  • Apex Legends Mobile
  • Battlefield Mobile
  • Back 4 Blood
  • CrossfireX
  • Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai: A Hero’s Bonds
  • Echo VR
  • Knockout City
  • Rumbleverse

How could this happen?

The big issue with some of these Live-Service games is not just to have an engaging game to keep players coming back for more, but also to keep providing updates to the game to keep it feeling fresh. On top of that, the idea that you have a low level of entry to your game (or as we could also coin it as: Free to Play). Much like the joke of “The first sample is free,” the goal is to hook players to the game you’re tossing out there and have them love the game so much, they will toss money at it for more content.

Knockout City was pretty decent as far as Live-Service games went.
Some of the upcoming closures hit harder than others.

And it can be that latter part that has basically doomed a good sum of games as of late. Much like how there can be too many particular types of games (MOBAs, Hero Shooters, Battle Royales), the challenge is to figure out how to stand out from the rest and get players playing your game over others. There’s a reason why there aren’t many other games left from these genres outside of the big name stays like League of Legends, Smite, Overwatch 2, Rainbow Six: Siege, and Fortnite.

In a way, those games have firmly planted their seeds long ago and already have deep roots that can’t be so easily pulled out as other recent titles. Especially in the case of Fortnite, there aren’t going to be many other Battle Royales that will be able to match the quality (or even crossover potential) that Fortnite has put out in recent years.

How many other Live-Service Games have Star Wars characters fighting others from Dragon Ball, Batman, and Street Fighter?

Recent Failures to Long-Running Successes

There is one aspect to all of this that can be rather fascinating to consider. While a good sum of these recent titles didn’t last for more than a year or so, there are still plenty of other Live-Service games that are not only alive and kicking, but thriving. Games like Fortnite and Warframe are still going strong while hero shooters like Overwatch 2 and Rainbow Six Siege have plenty of ongoing support.

It could very well be a case of a “First come, first serve,” but the games themselves still grab people’s attention even after all these years. And that’s not even bringing up the behemoths of World of Warcraft, League of Legends, and Final Fantasy XIV.

Nearing 20 years and still going!

But that can also lead one to question if there is even viability for anyone else to try and force their way in with their own live service. Unless if your name is Genshin Impact or Sea of Thieves, there aren’t many other recent titles that have been able to stick around long enough to leave a lasting impact. It’s a shame since we could say Live-Service games have gone a long way to help the longevity of a game than just to release a game and that’s it. However, that promise of “supporting a game for years to come” can feel short-sighted if it feels like developers fail to have an engaging short-term plan.

Are Live-Service Games Going To Die?

Overall, this question of viability will be something many will be asking themselves as we move throughout the year. With this crash comes the potential for new possibilities to come out (whether we see new “refined” Live-Service games or the back to basics game making). It is clear that this gold rush is over and some are waking up to find out the mine is exhausted. We will see more games pop up from time to time, but the rate they showed up will drop drastically and we will likely not see the terminology tossed around as the next big thing in gaming.

The Live-Service games circle to keep recurring players engaged. It didn't work out as well as some hoped.
Somewhere along the way, the circle veered off course for many developers.

Will it go away? Not entirely. As mentioned before, those who have mastered the art of Live-Service Games will likely stick around for some time as long as they have their player base. But newcomers likely will need to focus on engaging experiences rather than trying to become the next big whatever. In a way, the monopoly for Live-Service games is now in place, and unless you come in absolutely swinging hard, you will likely see your title join the graveyard of games that didn’t get to stick around long enough to celebrate an anniversary.

What do you think? Are Live-Services games going to stick around for much longer? What will the next Million-Dollar idea be? And will the games currently running stick around for much longer? Leave your thoughts down below and be sure to follow us here at Strangely Awesome for more opinion pieces and thought articles on all things happening in the gaming world.

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