Microsoft Studios Head on Games as a Service & Longevity vs Traditional Games
When I hear “games as a service” I think about subscriptions, MMOs, and things I’ve been doing for the past 20+ years of gaming. I’m not sure what Microsoft Studios head Matt Booty means by his use of the phrase. He also has a lot to say on game longevity and the nature of the business models / approach to Microsoft’s first-party strategy in June’s MCV issue.
“There will always be single-player games with maybe 20 to 30 hours of gameplay, we love those kinds of games and there’s a place for those, but it’s also certainly the case with the focus on watching, streaming, broadcast and esports that it’s really important to think about the longevity of a game,” Booty explains.
“It’s really difficult for anybody to think about making a large scale triple-A game these days without having in mind a content and service plan that goes one to two years into the future out of the gate.”
“Games really have become much more social, much more mainstream, much more widespread. We know that the games industry is growing, and that’s taking nothing away from what you call the ‘single-player, narrative, cinematic game’ but we see a lot of interest from our players in more community-driven ongoing franchises. I think that is in alignment with a lot of the trends we see in gaming overall.”
While I don’t see any sort of language pitting the GaaS model against the AAA single-player theatrical experience, I’m interpreting it as a subtle “we’re not interested in spending 4 years making traditional games.” However, I have yet to see Microsoft ever make or succeed at making any GaaS.
Microsoft appears to be doubling down on their Xbox One mistakes. Remember when all they could say at E3 was how “gaming” wasn’t their core message anymore and they were all about that “entertainment system” crap? They’ve learned nothing from Sony’s success. Even Nintendo is shaming Microsoft’s offering.
I’m not sold on the gaming community shouting that they want more community and esports. I think there’s still a huge market for traditional games.
Rather than chasing the success of Twitch and trying to respond with Mixer, I’d like to see them get innovative again. Remember when Xbox had the best (or even only) online gaming service for their consoles? Xbox Live was where it was at! That was a great service in its day for social interaction and achievement. Heck, didn’t that start “achievements” as we know them today? Where did that Microsoft go?
I think he has a point there about games being supported beyond that initial sale. Spending 4 years to develop a game just to launch it and hope it sells well within its news cycle is, at best, ludicrous. Blockbuster movies come out and don’t rely on ticket sales alone. The big bucks are made in the DvD and merchandise phase.
There should be a plan for supporting a title after launch. That can be done in a number of ways, from patches to DLC, expansions, and so on. That’s where I think MMOs of old nailed this business model. That subscription model was the recurring revenue and game longevity solution. Would that work today? No, developers are set up to run games like that anymore. Most studios hire, make a game for 4 years, then lay everyone off. That’s the cycle for the non-Blizzard studios these days.
There’s an answer there for Microsoft, but I don’t think it’s in the ‘watch other people play games’ industry.