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Ubisoft may have put words to the unspoken strategies of many triple-A publishers when it said during an investors call this week that it would focus on live-service games and plan on fewer releases.

We’re seeing this with every major publisher (such as Activision-Blizzard, EA, and Take-Two) except Nintendo, which still focuses more on single-player games and hasn’t dipped into the lootbox economy (yet). And while a number of gamers claim to hate this monetization scheme, the large number of sales for these game — and ongoing transactions — brings to mind a line from Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

As I look at my gaming habits, I see that only two loot box games are in my regular rotation: Hearthstone and The Elder Scrolls: Legends, both digital card games in which you buy packs to bolster your collections. You could throw Neverwinter in as well: This free-to-play MMORPG charges for a variety of items and boosts.

But then I also look at Path of Exile (think a modern Diablo II, but online and with regular content updates). It’s free-to-play, but it charges for cosmetic improvements, pieces of flair that help your character stand out. Grinding Gear Games calls this “ethical free-to-play.”


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And then I turn to the other games I play on PC. Civilization VI (check out the new Rise and Fall expansion, which I think is pretty dang good). Single-player RPGs like Pillars of Eternity and Divinity: Original Sin 2. Night in the Woods. Hundreds of good single-player games appear on the PC every year, all without loot boxes or “live services.”

Maybe the next time someone complains about in-game purchases ruining the industry, point them to a great, old-fashioned PC game instead.

For PC gaming coverage, send news tips to Jeff Grubb and guest post submissions to Rowan Kaiser. Please be sure to visit our PC Gaming Channel.

—Jason Wilson, GamesBeat managing editor

P.S. Watch Dean smash this mime mech with an angry, armed octopus in Octogeddon.

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