Making Time For Live Services

Ever since Destiny 2: Forsaken came out back in September, I’ve really been trying to put time into the game. I’ve raised my character up to 585 Power (close to max), did all the strikes, got some nice loot, spent plenty of time in the Crucible with my trust Main Ingredient fusion rifle, and even attempted the new Last Wish raid a couple of times. All told, I’ve probably been putting at least four or five hours a week into the game, and have much of it. It’s not much compared to many members of the game’s loyal fan base, but it’s quite a bit for me considering how things are these days. The thing is though, I’m already wondering what exactly I’m doing this for. There are all manner of things to do in Destiny 2 since this expansion came out, but I’m just not sure if I want to continue pursuing them. With so many other games that I need to play and talk about, why exactly should I continue making time for Destiny 2? For that matter, why should anyone continue making time for any live service game once it’s a few months old?

Even after spending a ton of time with the original Destiny and having plenty of fun memories associated with it, I find myself struggling to do the same with Destiny 2. Again, the issue isn’t a lack of content, and the core gunplay feels just as good as it always has. It’s just that the lack of a definitive end has got me wondering what exactly I’m playing for. While it has its fun moments, playing Destiny 2 is mostly about repeating the same activities over and over in the hopes of gaining better gear…with which to continue grinding those same activities. For someone who’s mostly a single-player game enthusiast, this has never sat very well with me, even while I was playing Destiny 1. No matter how engaging the content is, there will always come a point where it’ll get dull and uninteresting regardless of the reward attached to it. That reward might be worth it, but then the question becomes one of where that worth comes from.

When I was playing the original Destiny, that worth came from the friendly competition I enjoyed with my real-life friends. We all played the game and were all trying to get better gear in order to both keep up and outdo one another. That competition gave the game purpose for me and kept me playing. In Destiny 2 though, all I have is my clan. It’s a nice group and all, but they’re all just disembodied online voices as far as I’m concerned. Keeping up with them just isn’t as interesting. Anyway, digging into Destiny 2 as a solo player revealed a potential weakness of live service games: they lack any real point beyond playing with one’s friends. It’s a problem with multiplayer-oriented games like Destiny 2, and it’s an even bigger problem with single-player live service games.

What exactly is the point of playing a single-player live service game? The whole point of single-player games is to complete the campaign. If there are side activities, they’re either there to help progress one’s character and make the campaign easier or unlock something fun and secret. Once that campaign is finished though, why exactly would minor updates be interesting? Why continue with it after you’ve done all you wanted to do and there’s no additional incentive to keep playing? What if it’s content meant to continue the story? I dunno if I could stick with any game with additional story spread out over several months, no matter how good it is. Honestly, I think it’s just better for games to end rather than linger on for no good reason.

There’s certainly a place for live-service games in the industry and there’s certainly a large demographic of gamers who can easily enjoy them for months and even years on end. I just hope that they don’t become the new normal. Such games can be great, but the model doesn’t always work for everyone, and sometimes the ability to definitively end a game sounds a lot better than being able to play on and on with no end in sight. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned now, but I really don’t want to have to think about whether or not I want to be in it for the long-haul every time I purchase a game.

What do you think about live service games? What is the best part about them? What do you think is their greatest weakness?