Sports games have been around for as long as the video game industry itself has been. For a while now, each sport’s community has had to accept a new game being published every year. Even though there are very minor graphical and technical improvements over the year before. Add in that they launch at a full $60, and it isn’t hard to imagine why for most fans, they utilize a few different methods when purchasing an entry in the series.
Those methods are:
- Buying one of each of the sports they play per console generation.
- Buying one of each of the sports they play every other year
- Only buying the games on sale
Now of course there are loyal fans who buy every entry, every year, without fault. And that’s perfectly fine. But these developers and publishers should be looking to improve on their current business model.
Games as a Service
The sports genre overall should move to the “Games as a Service” model. Games like World of Warcraft, Destiny, and Anthem are a few games that already use this model.
What this means is, that instead of releasing a new game with very minor improvements every year, they release one game and make it last for years. Some games as a service titles aim to last on one title for 10 years or more.
Now, that may seem like a guaranteed way to lose money. But it isn’t. Not only would this generate more revenue for the companies involved with these games, but it would also help the genre’s reputation overall in the industry.
Incorporating this into Sports
The sports genre is the perfect platform for the games as a service model. The fact that this isn’t already industry standard is strange. The publishers would save a lot of money, find it easier to encourage players to purchase microtransactions, and generally increase sales of their series overall.
If you picked up a copy of MLB the Show 16 today and tried finding some matches online, you would. Fairly easily too. How do I know this? I did just that today. Even though three new MLB the Show titles have dropped since its release, the fans can still be found on the game. This just shows that the fanbase isn’t advancing at once. They move in waves mostly.
There are two major benefits involving these points that I’m going to jump into.
Profits are a major priority for publishers and developers. Especially since most sports games are done by AAA teams.
By cutting down to one game in the service method, they would save money on development time, and publishing physically. Instead of working on new titles, teams can work on making expansions.
These expansions can incorporate a lot of different features. New in-game players, items, game modes, even things like broadcaster voice lines. They would be able to do small expansions that improve the game more for the players who want that. Not having to spend as much to keep up with new titles might also spark fans to spend a little more on the in-game market too.
This is basically what they do already. But instead of just building off a foundation, and encouraging player spending, they try getting gamers to dish the $60 a year.
They’d be able to sell season passes, expansion passes, and even published editions of the game later in it’s life cycle that includes some expansions with it. The amount of money they could potentially pull in is substantial.
Managing to bring the fanbase to one place would also be beneficial. More so for the management of resources. Instead of having to keep so many servers up and running and under potential extra development, the development team would be able to focus on one area.
Even without the expansion passes, the game would continue to improve for people, for a longer period of time. While making things easier for the team itself.
This kind of mutual benefit isn’t seen too often in something like the video game industry. But this entire move to an as a service model is just that.
If a move is extremely beneficial for all parties involved, why not take the first step towards making it happen?
For publishers, they are spending less money on physical publishing, while earning more revenue in sales increases, microtransactions, expansion passes, and so on. The reputation of their games would also rise. Everyone loves to complain about greedy publishers pumping out the same sports game every year. But by doing this, that would dissipate. Leaving only the sounds of happy fans who have wanted this for a while now.
The developers get to work on one game for longer than half a year to a year. While they may not see a major increase in their personal earnings, the job itself would be a little bit easier.
And the consumer wouldn’t have to buy a new game every year. They could purchase the expansions that they wanted, and not have to buy the others. But they’d also have a stable fanbase to play with, instead of jumping ship every year.