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Games as Platforms and Services

Last week, I discussed the general state of the industry and I may have railed about the concept of games as a service rather than a product. However, the more I think about it, the more I realise there is potential for abuse when making games in this format. I can’t help but notice however that some of my favorite games ever made have elements of being a platform to distribute content. So with that in mind, here are some games that have been used as platforms to distribute additional content in ways that are not against the consumer’s interest.

Fallout New Vegas

Image result for fallout new vegas

Fallout: New Vegas is possibly one of the best and most well-written games made at the time of writing. Masterfully crafted, NV can be played as a standalone story without having to buy additional content. I would, however, think you are insane if you didn’t. Whilst the core game itself is magnificent, the DLC alone outstrips some entire games in terms of quality content. Each DLC has its own self-contained story that pulls you in to the point you realize the whole day has passed you by, and you ask yourself how you’ve missed two square meals. You can follow the Burned Man, wake up in the infamous Sierra Madre casino with a bomb clamped to your neck, or dally around in the big mountain where you can have a convocation with a light switch and its one of the most hilarious things in the game.

New Vegas is a game that works as a platform to distribute content to an audience for two reasons. One: the game is good enough to stand on its own. Two: each individual addition is its own unique short story that refines certain aspects of the core game. These two things together make sure that every addition brings with it a new experience. Comparatively, a game like Street Fighter does not create a core game to then sell new components after the fact, instead taking that well-made core game and slicing it up into 4 parts. Then it expects you to pay the equivalent of buying the core game twice just to have access to the game’s roster.

World Of Warcraft

World of Warcraft the big daddy of MMOs and the reigning king. Blizzard’s continued support for the game is quite obviously because it’s the biggest cash cow in the industry, and has been for the past decade and a half. However, they have consistently been churning out expansions, balances and patches and modifications to existing content for years. There is obviously the subscription cost but outside of this, there is no need for the company to rake their customers for every penny. They create the desire for their consumers to want to give up that much money willingly, rather than making it a necessity.

Whilst there is the minor micro-transaction to the game and the obvious subscription, nothing game-breaking can be bought with any tangible currency. The MMO format is fundamentally built from the ground up to operate as a platform. So it stands to reason the the most successful MMO would be the most consumer friendly. World Of Warcraft continues to bring out more content on a annual basis, and will do so successfully for years to come.

Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance Forever

Finally there is my favorite platform: Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance Forever. It’s a tale as old as time: the developers decide after a number of years that multiplayer isn’t worth their time. So they shut down the servers and wash their hands of it. Normally this is where a game dies. But it was not the case for Supreme Commander. Instead, some passionate modders got together and created their own multiplayer client that allows other like-minded individuals upload their own mods and maps that they have created. The result is a user-driven platform and possibly the most successful example of abandonware being used by its community to its full potential. Even a decade on, it is still going strong. I highly recommend anyone go take a look to see this little marvelous little corner of the industry.

Format and Intent

Either way this entire article is somewhat of a rebuttal to my own work last week. I felt like I had given video game platforms an unfair hearing. Ultimately I believe it is not a practice that is the negative force in the industry. It’s the intent and how practices are implemented. A one-off video game with no additional content can be just as insidious given the right developer, and a video game platform can be a great benefit the industry. It all depends on who is making the decisions. And hopefully the the future of the industry has many people making the right decisions.

Where do you stand on where do you stand on games as platform? Do you like your games to have little developer input post release? Or would you rather have developers have constant access to your games to ensure quality? Let us know in the comments, and for more industry news check out our other articles at Culture of Gaming.

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