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.”
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.
—Jason Wilson, GamesBeat managing editor
P.S. Watch Dean smash this mime mech with an angry, armed octopus in Octogeddon.
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