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What defines 'Games as a Service'?


Reading the discourse following the release of the Outriders demo has proven that the game is likely to be quite polarizing at launch. There seem to be an equal number of supporters and detractors on most gaming venues. What I find most interesting in this discourse is the debate between whether or not it's a Games as a Service, or Live Service, game.

People Can Fly and Square-Enix both have said the game is not one. They point to a lack of microtransactions and DLC plans as proof of this. But are these items alone what make a game a game as a service? I don't think so. In my opinion, things like microtransactions, DLCs, and roadmaps are all branches of a live service game.

Upon loading up Outriders the first time, I had to agree to the game's Terms of Service. The game then nagged me for my Square-Enix account, or to make one if I didn't have one. Finally, I reached the main menu, a screen which cannot be passed without a persistent online connection. These things are, in my opinion, the defining traits of a GaaS game. They are providing access to the content of the game as a service, a service contingent on online connectivity and their authentication servers. If either go down for whatever reason, access to that service is cut off. If the servers are ever turned off for good, the game is a paperweight.

In the discourse, I've seen a lot of comparisons thrown around with Borderlands being chief among them. But Borderlands can be played entirely offline. It doesn't care if you don't have internet or are playing only on a local LAN, access to your game is still there. Outriders is more like Destiny, The Division, Anthem, and myriad other games we don't hesitate to call "Live Service" games in that you can't even play without being online and accepting their terms.

Of course, I imagine if this blog gets any views it'll probably have similar dissent and that's fine. From where I sit however, Outriders should rightfully be called a GaaS game. Not having MTs or a roadmap is a refreshing, consumer-friendly change, but not enough to claim the game isn't a service, no matter what their marketing department says.

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About Captiosusone of us since 11:14 AM on 06.03.2010