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Games and business models – Games-as-a-Service put under the microscope

3 minutes reading time
6-17 years
Foto: unsplash.com/AlexHaney

The games industry is constantly evolving and creating new ideas to sell its products. One of these is the “Games-as-a-Service” business model. In this article, we explain the advantages and disadvantages of this form of game monetization and what you should bear in mind as a parent.

Games-as-a-Service – individual games as a subscription

Games-as-a-Service means “games as a service”. In the video game industry, the term describes a business model in which a product is not sold once, but is continuously developed and offered. In return, the games receive constant updates, new content and mechanics that should keep players excited for years to come. This also influences how the games are developed, marketed and played.

Many Games-as-a-Service games are initially free of charge, but offer the option of purchasing cosmetic items such as particularly splendid weapons or elaborate clothing for a fee. Such items are often only offered for a limited time or subject to certain conditions. This means that players not only have to spend real money, but also play the game for a particularly long time within a specified period. One example of this is the Battle or Season Pass in popular games such as Fortnite .

Another Games-as-a-Service approach is the well-known subscription model. Players take out a subscription to be able to use a single game. The entry costs of the games are often limited, as only the subscription costs are incurred. As a rule, these games cost 10-15 euros per month. Manufacturers primarily earn money with ongoing subscriptions. An old, but still very popular “subscription game” is World of Warcraft .

What can be problematic about it

Games-as-a-Service strongly bind players to a game or service. If you don’t pay, you either have to make up for it with longer playing times or you can’t unlock certain items in the first place. An expiring subscription may in turn mean that players will no longer be able to access the content.

Caution: A subscription incurs ongoing costs. These add up over time. If the subscription for a game is 10 euros per month, the annual cost is 120 euros. If more than one game and/or service is then subscribed to, costs quickly arise that go well beyond the normal amount of pocket money.

Another aspect of this business model is the so-called “sunk cost fallacy”. Canceling a subscription or switching to another game can be difficult, as it can feel like time and money already invested is being lost. This can lead to players feeling obliged to continue using the game in order to justify the costs already incurred. There can also be a fear of missing out(FOMO) if not every minute of the paid Battle or Season Pass is filled.

What parents should pay attention

The business model offers many advantages, such as a constant stream of new content, low entry costs and the flexible option of canceling the game at any time. At the same time, there are associated risks, such as an increased risk of excessive media use, the potentially growing cost of games and the fact that gamers can never truly own the game.

  • Talk to your child about the advantages and disadvantages of Games-as-a-Service. Assess together whether and how much your child actually wants to use the game.
  • Talk openly with your child about the issue of hidden costs and consider together how much money you can and want to spend on games.
  • Work together to find rules for healthy media consumption, such as binding agreements on playtime. A media usage contract, for example, can help here.
  • If you allow a game, pay attention to the protection of minors and use the technical setting options. Games often offer the option of setting up a children’s account in which age-inappropriate content can be hidden/removed or budgets can be set. Information on various games and services can be found on the website medien-kindersicher.de.
  • The “Games-as-a-Service” model is mainly used for online games. This can create communication risks for your child, for example through hate speech.

Keep in mind that many “Games-as-a-Service” games are geared towards the multiplayer experience. They often serve as a virtual meeting place where common interests can be exchanged and friendships cultivated. Banning these games without proper communication and understanding of the importance of these social connections can strain the relationship of trust between parents and children. Have an open discussion with your child about the reasons for a possible ban and potential alternatives. This can help to accommodate your child’s social needs while keeping them safe and secure.

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