To some extent, the production and sale of video games has always been a service industry of sorts, catering to the demand for this increasingly popular area of the wider entertainment industry. That has only enhanced with the advent of new technologies and mediums of distribution, leading to the current popularity of Games as a Service (GaaS) becoming widely offered by publishers.
Essentially, gaming has followed the same trends and innovation pathways as other entertainment media segments, including TV and movies, music, and even literature to some extent, which have all been transformed by internet access and mobile connectivity. The advent of digital made all this possible, although it has taken roughly 25 years for the term itself to gradually become recognised.
Early Examples in Online Gaming
The beginnings of games being considered a service came during the mid-to-late 1990s, when the first massively multiplayer online (MMO) games became commercially available. One of the most successful was Ultima Online, based around a monthly subscription model, and quickly paved the way for the emergence of similar games. The biggest and most successful was World of Warcraft, boasting millions of players at its peak.
According to statistics covering the WoW population by country, the Australian player base alone peaked at 120,000 players, which is quite an achievement for just one online game in this country. But such games also demonstrated there was a strong market for games as a service, principally based upon subscriptions, alongside an emerging demand for additional downloadable content for single-player games.
MMOs arguably paved the way for the concept of games as a service, as we understand the idea today, and monthly subscription models are still the most popular form of receiving payments from players.
Influence of the iGaming Sector
Not to be confused with gaming in the broader context, iGaming was the term created with reference to games that revolve around betting and wagering activity. Lasseter’s Online was the first to provide casino gaming to Australians via the internet, quickly followed by hundreds and then thousands of other sites around the world. In many regards, this offered the springboard for games as a service to become far more established, reaching much bigger audiences.
Australian players tend to be on the lookout for minimum deposit casinos, which can offer a huge variety of gaming options for the least initial outlay, which also a good way for players to check if a gambling site meets their preferences. Likewise, it’s always a good idea to read through plenty of reliable reviews, as deposit quantities can vary from one site to the next.
Deposits at casino sites usually tend to come with bonus offers, ranging from providing extra funds to extra free spins on the pokies, and they are by far the most popular kind of game with the biggest variety. But online gambling itself boasts a large array of gaming niches and styles, including card games like blackjack and poker or table games such as roulette. And they’re all part of the service concept that casino sites helped towards achieving mainstream status.
Alternative to Buying
Whenever we look at prices for individual AAA game releases these days, they can be prohibitively expensive for some pockets. Let’s take Australia, for example, where the major new PC and console releases can cost more than $100 AUD. That’s a significant chunk of change for even the most ardent fans of gaming.
Although big-budget video games are costing more for developers to make, publishers have gradually acknowledged that pricing is an important consideration for consumers. These are, after all, non-essential entertainment purchases, leading to a shift in market perceptions around gaming as a service.
Console platforms like XBOX Game Pass and PlayStation Plus offer subscription models, providing access to multiple game titles for a monthly payment, while other developers and publishers have launched similar platforms. Examples include EA Play and Ubisoft Plus, both of which offer access to their game catalogues and extras for a monthly fee. Meanwhile,
Rise of the Freemium Idea
While it’s clear that games as a service has caught on, there’s another expansion to the concept. These are freemium or “free-to-play” games, sometimes facetiously called “pay-to-win” by critics, whereby players pay extra for in-game content or advancements. It’s also a good way to conclude our look at the service aspect of gaming, as developers continually look at novel ways to monetise their products.