Developers Worries Live-Service Models Aren’t As Sustainable As They Seem

A recent survey by the Game Developer Collective (GDC) has revealed concerns among video game developers about the sustainability of live-service game models. The survey, which involved 600 developers between February and March 2024, found a sense of unease about the long-term viability of this monetization strategy.

As reported by Game Developer, Live-service games, known for receiving lots of updates and allowing in-app purchases, have become very important in the industry. However, developers are becoming more doubtful. According to the GDC survey, 39% of developers had some worries about the current live-service model, while 31% had significant concerns. Only 29% said they were either unsure or had no fears. That’s a lot less than complete support for the unifying idea that a previous survey showed (where 90% of studios planned on live service)

Interestingly, even though many game developers are using live-service models, only 35% of the 600 developers surveyed by the GDC described their most recent release as a live-service game. Additionally, only 10% of those who are not using the model expect to transition to it for their studios.

The survey revealed mixed sentiments among developers regarding the impact of live-service games on the gaming industry. Many developers expressed concerns about sustainability, with a majority fearing potential player disinterest and the risk of players being attracted to competing games. Additionally, a significant portion acknowledged the challenges associated with maintaining long-term player engagement.

The worries are reasonable. In 2023, many live-service games shut down, leading to the closure of studios. Even popular titles like Destiny 2 seem to be facing uncertainty.

There appears to be more interest in paid DLC in response to current challenges with live-service models. According to a recent Griffin survey, 30% of participants are open to this option for upcoming games, marking a significant 9% rise compared to their latest offerings. Moreover, 76% are inclined towards a one-time payment model for their next game, while 22% are even contemplating a physical release.

The future of game monetization is unclear, as developers don’t seem to agree on alternatives to live-service models. However, since there are no other alternatives, this is still the path.