Suicide Squad Proves That Live-Service Trend Chasing Needs To Stop

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2024 Needs To Put An End To This Trend!

Story Highlight
  • The live service genre is highly lucrative and enticing for all developers.
  • However, recent failures like Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League show that trend-chasing for the sake of it rarely ends well.
  • This game might be the final nail in the coffin for developers attempting to break into the live service genre.

Various live-service games have debuted in the first two months of 2024 alone. While Helldivers 2 and Palworld show why this genre is so inviting for every studio in the industry, most projects end up as failures.

Giants like PlayStation, Warner Bros, and more are in the race to join the live-service goldmine. However, I only fear that this trend-chasing will lead to devastating outcomes.

Warner Bros recently launched Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, hoping to pioneer Games-as-a-Service based on quirky anti-heroes from the DC comics. One month later, this game proves that trend-chasing is rarely worth it.

Why it matters: A report has predicted declining interest in the genre by the end of 2024, and such releases make it hard to disagree.

Live Service Games
Every Studio Wants A Piece of The Live Service Pie

Way Too Many Live Service Games On The Market

For the first time in many years, I’m not excited about the gaming industry since the future is swarmed with live-service titles. A recent survey suggested that over 95% of the studios are currently experimenting with the genre.

This will only dilute the industry further. Live-service titles also require several years to make, taking up massive budgets for post-launch support and roadmaps. Both Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League and Skull and Bones highlight this problem.

Coming from massive publishers, these games offered unique takes on live service. However, the former is now trailing behind its Batman Arkham predecessors in terms of player counts, while the latter has failed to hit 1 million players.

Both games were in the works for well over half a decade, requiring hundreds of millions of dollars. However, when such releases lead to higher player counts for past games, I can’t help but question why these games exist in the first place.

Skull And Bones Featured
Skull And Bones Artwork

An Excuse To Sell Microtransactions?

While developers are understandably attracted to live-service gaming, success in the genre is far from guaranteed. In fact, failure is far more likely, as pointed out by Gears creator Cliff Bleszinski in a recent interview.

If ten live service games were to launch in a year, only two or three would be successful. For reference, you need not look further than Ubisoft. This gaming giant currently runs Rainbow Six Siege, a first-person shooter it believes can run forever.

While this statement stems from a successful live-service business, Ubisoft has failed time and again to break into the genre through other games. Furthermore, it is worth noting that aggressive microtransactions can often ruin the fun in live-service titles.

With publishers primarily aiming to sell cosmetic bundles, many games lose their souls in the process. No other game highlights this point better than modern Call of Duty multiplayer, which has turned into a crossover game, with numerous skins and bundles from pop culture showing up in each new entry.

Call of clowns
byu/Tasfiqul9 inModernWarfareII

What’s even worse is the fact that these bundles are often overpriced. Foamstars recently launched as a paid title(free with PS Plus for the first month), yet it came with bundles as expensive as $45.

I can only imagine that publishers hope to make a quick buck out of such microtransactions at launch since many of them already realize that their games lack the staying power to compete with the giants of live service.

As they stand, most live-service games practically bombard you with cosmetics, portrayed through mobile-game-like UIs. It’s almost as if they want you to feel guilty for not buying cosmetics and Battle Passes.

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Is Now Rocksteady’s Worst-Rated Release

Single-Player Games Are Still Relevant

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League came from a renowned developer, but it quickly showed why everything doesn’t need to be a live-service title.

Single-player games are also doing better than ever today. Last year’s best-selling title, Hogwarts Legacy, included no live-service or multiplayer elements, yet it has sold over 24 million copies to date.

I hope developers will see a clear pattern after these releases.

After all, learning from others’ mistakes is often the best way to proceed in the gaming industry. Even PlayStation has scaled back its live-service focus, realizing the unique challenges presented by this genre.

I don’t want all live service games to perish from the market. However, developers who excel in other genres do not need to pursue live-service titles for the sake of it.

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