Games as Services

If you have forgotten, Scrolls is that one card game from Mojang that no one ever played. And after July 2016, no one else ever will.

I actually had a Beta review up of Scrolls nearly two years ago, and that more or less marked the last time I spent any serious amount of time with it. I did pick it up again for a hot minute last year (I think), but the structural problems I already talked about were still present, so I stopped again. Probably because of Hearthstone. But, the CCG genre is not a genre one can go in half-assed anyway- it is strictly full-ass or bust.

While Scrolls getting an expiration date is not even remotely similar of an impact as an MMO shutting down, it is example #1765783 of the dangers of Games as Services. This is a game that I paid $20 for (two years ago, admittedly) that I will not be allowed to play in another year. Do you know what I played last month? Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines, an RPG that came out in 2004. And while it certainly costs money to keep an MMO server running each month, Scrolls had a perfectly fine single-player experience against the AI. Hell, I’m not even sure what the cost of running Scrolls matchmaking software would even be. Surely not that much?

Alas, it is not meant to be. While we can question whether it was Microsoft swinging the ax or normal market forces, the fact remains that the ax was always there. A veritable Sword of Damocles hanging over every game-turned-service, not threatening mere removal, but extinction. Will there even be a museum where these games could be played in the future? Or will these orphaned blog posts be all that exists, a Google search result that becomes less relevant with each passing year?

Nothing is permanent. But clearly some things are more impermanent than others.

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Posted on June 30, 2015, in Commentary and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Studio 343’s decision to not implement split-screen multiplayer, nor native LAN support, means Halo 5 will suffer the same fate in the future once those servers are taken down. Whether that will impact the sales of the game or not is yet to be seen, but I do know someone who, because of past implementation, was sure they’d release it with couch co-op.

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  2. Hmmm, games as services, or games as consumables?
    I mean, even if you pay for an ink cartridge, it still has an expiration date…..
    Seems like the same happens with games.

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  3. It’s all temporary though. Eventually all the NESes in existence will crap out, and you won’t be able to play Duck Hunt or whatever anymore (actually Duck Hunt won’t work anyway on newer TVs, but I digress), at least not legitimately. Even old computer games have to be constantly updated to deal with newer OSes, and even then…eventually you just have to buy it again in “extended” or “enhanced” edition form.

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    • Yeah, a lot of even the SNES cartridges are becoming nigh unplayable due to the internal batteries going bad.

      But you kinda touched on the alternative there, in ROMs. While I suppose people rebuilt entire MMOs with private servers, it seems to me that it’s a step that shouldn’t be necessary. If Mojang and Microsoft are pulling the plug next year, why maintain the copyright to the source game? Or if they don’t want to release the entire code out on the internet, at least enable single-player when appropriate, e.g. when it already exists in the form of bots.

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