When Video Games Become a Second Job: The Rise of Service Games
When video games become a second job
Lately on Tik Tok, I’ve seen many who complain that they no longer enjoy playing video games as much as they used to. They explain that they had more fun when they were younger and that they are nostalgic for this period. By listening a little more to what they reproach to current video games, we quickly realize that they are talking about a category of experiences in particular: service games.
Can we still talk about games if we are not having fun?
To be honest, at first I was a little exasperated to see contemporary video games boiled down to just this kind of experience when we haven’t had so much diversity in decades. At a time when single-player narrative gaming is king and indie titles are more democratized than ever, summing up the current industry to game services is quite reductive, even insulting. Certainly, the formula has become more and more important in recent years, especially in AAA and mobile games, but this does not mean that all players do not play only that. But let’s move on, that’s not the heart of the matter.
Going back to our Tik Tok, these players complain that video games have become like a job for them, in the sense of a task that we are forced to do every day and not as a source of income. We therefore understand that they speak service games that offer daily missions or quests, weekly or monthly which become mandatory when you want to stay up to date. This applies to both Fortnite Daily Challenges and Genshin Impact Quests which are an unmissable moment of the day for players who really want to get involved. It is experienced as a second job with additional tasks and that is where the whole problem lies.
In the vast majority of cases, this daily content is rarely exciting, or even quickly repetitive. Fortunately, some games make sure they are short. But for others, it can become a real chore and you still feel obliged to come back regularly to continue enjoying rewards or even a continuous login bonus that gains in interest over time. I’m sure I’m not telling you much by saying that, but that’s exactly the goal the developers are looking for. In our time when everything is easily at hand, time has become the most important resource that entertainment giants seek to grab. It even has a name since we talk about attention retention. In this context, Netflix has Disney+ and Prime Video as competitors as well as Fortnite or even social networks in general.
To come back to our game-services, these mandatory daily missions which do not say their name are often accompanied by intensive farming, that is to say the fact of completing the same content in a loop, which is not hardly more exciting. If we do all this for long-term objectives, in the short term we come to wonder if there is really a playful interest. Do we play for pleasure or out of habit? If we ask ourselves whether we are really having fun, can we say that we are playing a game? That is the whole question. The main purpose of service games is to keep players coming back regularly to increase the chances that they will make microtransactions. In this case, daily missions are an effective way to achieve this. If the developers come out winners, not sure that the players really are as the feeling of weariness sets in quickly.