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  Games As A Product 01:37 PM -- Sat February 23, 2019  

Hey, I'm gonna legit blog! Here's a thing I'm thinking about!

"Games as a service" is the big buzzword these days. It's all over the place - even very straightforward single-player type games like Tomb Raider have this whole schedule of DLC releases and new features coming out for the year after release. What game doesn't have a Season Pass these days (which just means "pay triple for this game to get all the content; you basically bought a large demo")? And of course they all have multiplayer modes.

But why? Do we need every game to have a multiplayer mode? Do we need to continue on in the same game over and over with new missions and - more commonly - grinding the same content to unlock new outfits and colors and hats and horses? I would definitely say no. The thing is, if I 'buy in' to a game that is a service, then that's really the only game I can dedicate myself to. All the other games are out for me, because I'm too busy on the big service. This is a thing that happened to me with World of Warcraft for about 8 years of my life. I miss the NES days of popping in one game for an hour and then doing another one. I don't even like playing big RPGs because I know I'll forget where I am in them by the time I play them next.

And multiplayer is a bigger issue itself - if I'm going to play a multiplayer game, why would I play the little side mode in a game like Tomb Raider instead of playing a dedicated multiplayer game with millions of players like Overwatch? Obviously it depends on the gameplay and what I like to play, but the big issue is that the dedicated game is going to be around for years, and have a big audience. It's like an actual sport of sorts. Whereas the multiplayer mode in a single-player game is going to die off in a matter of a month or a year, and it's necessarily limited in scope. Imagine if all that multiplayer development time had gone into great content for the single player campaign.

What I'm trying to say is that games should not be a service. Or at least not every AAA game! For multiplayer-only games, it makes sense. You need to keep cranking things out to keep the audience interested. But a single player game should be just that. A consumable piece of entertainment, like a movie or a book. I'm not opposed to DLC, I'm just opposed to the idea that the game is this weird organic mass that is going to grow and change over time in response to player desires. That isn't art, it's pure commerce. A game should express the creator's intent and be put out into the world to be appreciated or hated for what it is, not massaged over time (and polished of all its rough edges AKA interesting things) to assuage any complaints.

Of course, as a developer, I have strong feelings about this because I like to be done with one idea when I am done, and move on to others! I don't want to be buried in that same system for years. I put out my piece, and let it be judged. I'll release patches to fix bugs, and on rare occasions, a bit of DLC that was an itch I needed to scratch. But I have thousands of ideas in my head, and if I focused on one thing for years (as I did recently!), they all just go by the wayside, and I grow old and die a bitter man. Nobody wants that.

These thoughts are brought to you by the combination of recently buying a Switch and feeling the "single player game that doesn't even touch the internet" feeling that I hadn't realized I missed so much, as well as all the hatred over the new game Anthem and the big schedule of releases they have planned to fix it all for you. I honestly expect that in 6 months, Anthem will be a game I really want to play (it certainly looks like it should be awesome!), and great news for me - it's gonna be cheap by then too!

And lest you think Anthem counters my argument since it's likely going to get better by being a service, I have to point out that it was launched in such a pitiable state entirely because they knew they were going to enhance it over time. If it were a one-shot game, it would not have been released until it was actually good.

So yeah, Robot Wants It All will be done soon, and that's it for that. Then it's on to the next adventure!
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