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Apex Legends, GTA Online and Co: Why Games as a Service Are So Popular?

We’ve recently entered a shiny new generation of gaming that promises to bring our gaming experience to levels we wouldn’t have dared to dream of just a few years ago. Consoles have evolved to boast features like SSDs, ray-tracing, and 4K graphics to name but a few.

However, it isn’t just the hardware that has evolved. The way we purchase, play, and experience games have also changed dramatically in recent years.

The “game as a service” model used by games like Apex Legends, GTA Online, and Fortnite has been the driving force for growth in the industry.

These game styles have become wildly popular with players and continue to grow beyond the standard gameplay experience. For example, searches online for Casino Guide and related terms spiked when an update brought a casino into GTA such is the game’s popularity.

But what are they and what is it that draws gamers to these ever-evolving games? This article examines exactly that.

What is Games as a Service (GaaS)?

Games-as-a-service is also sometimes known as live gaming or cloud gaming due to the online storage element associated with the games. GaaS is a model that has allowed game developers to continue earning money from a game after its initial release and beyond simply the sales of the game itself.

To achieve this, the developer needs to add regular new content to the game to keep the game fresh and entice players to continue playing.

A simple example of this model would be a game that is updated through regular downloadable content (DLC). In this instance, the developers of a game would release new DLC at regular intervals for players to purchase and add to their game.

It is clear to see how this model can be beneficial to both the players and developers. There are several different models the companies use to monetize their games but the basic concept of continuous updates needs to be adhered to for long-term success.

Paid Content Controversies

Despite the popularity of this model, it hasn’t been without its critics. Many gamers feel developers have taken away the fun of gaining skills the traditional way and replaced it with “pay-to-win” mechanics instead.

One example of such an argument comes from within FIFA’s popular Ultimate Team game where gamers can buy packs of new players for their teams and buy players directly from the marketplaces. Of course, the gamers who are willing to spend the most money can gain a clear advantage by purchasing better players than people can hope to acquire by playing them game organically.

Another huge topic of contention has been the use of “loot boxes” or “loot crates” inside of games. These are virtual boxes that can be purchased and contain special in-game items. The contents of the boxes are random so you never know exactly what you’re going to get.

The random nature of these paid-for boxes has caused them to be banned in some countries due to them allegedly promoting gambling in children.

Popular GaaS Examples

Controversies aside, many games have got it right when it comes to paid content and the market is clearly there for it since they are so popular.

For example, Battle Royale games such as Fortnite and Apex Legends display how effective the model can be for the gamers and the developers.

Both games employed a free-to-play model and offer their player base regular updates in the form of seasons to keep the content fresh and exciting. Fortnite and Apex also get it right when it comes to their paid content as neither offer items that directly affect gameplay, which means there is no pay to win.

Despite this, the games still turn huge profits as gamers splash out for aesthetic items like skins in much the same way a sneakerhead rushes out for a new Jordan 1 drop.

gta online example

On the other end of the spectrum, we have GTA online, which could be classified as having a lot of pay to win elements.

Originally the online version of GTA was subpar, to say the least, but a constant stream of updates, content, and game modes has kept gamers buying copies of GTA V (required to play online) for almost 8 years now.

Unlike Fortnite and Apex Legends, the items available for purchase inside GTA online include things like weapons, cars, and facility upgrades so do have a direct impact on your success within the game but this hasn’t held back its popularity.

GTA has never shied away from controversy and in 2019 took the gambling aspect of loot crates to a new level by releasing an update that includes a fully-fledged casino directly into the game.

The Diamond Casino in GTA allows players to trade their in-game currency for chips and gamble on various classic casino games like roulette or poker just as you would in real life.

In-game currency can be earned in the game or purchased directly with real cash so many players effectively end up gambling with real money.

These kinds of updates have allowed GTA Online, Fortnite, Apex Legends, and multiple other GaaS games into evolving, growing worlds that keep their gamers coming back for more and spending for years.

The lifespan of these games is down to how long the developers can keep people interested and for how long they wish to keep adding new elements. Sure, some gamers are calling for a return back to the traditional ways of game releases but GaaS seem to be here to stay and people are loving them.