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Survey: Live service games on the rise, but dev teams struggle to keep up

Plenty of service on hand.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

February 2, 2024

2 Min Read
Key art for Rocksteady's Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.
Image via Rocksteady/WB Games/DC Comics.

At a Glance

  • Making live-service games isn't easy, and 2023 was an especially tumultuous year for the genre.

A newly released survey from venture firm Griffin Gaming Partners reveals the majority of game developers are making live service titles.

65 percent of studios are presently working on one (or more) of these, and 30 percent want to have regular updates for their titles. Nearly 540 studios were included in the survey.

"Live service" is a bit of a broad term: usually it means a multiplayer game meant to go on for several years. Studios like Ubisoft have also applied this to their single-player offerings.

Interestingly, 68 percent of game producers say their studios lack a proper live service pipeline. 53 percent admitted to struggling on the technical end in particular.

Making live-service games can take a long time. Both Anthem and this week's Suicide Squad were in the works for nearly a decade, and by the time of release, the tide towards games of this type has changed.

Despite that, 66 percent of developers confessed that such games are necessary for long-term success. The report notes how 51-61 percent want a "biweekly to monthly" cadence.

2023 wasn't the best year for live service games

More than previous years, 2023 showed how unstable live service games are at the moment. Several went offline after being around for a few years, if even that long.

Further, longstanding titles like Destiny 2 were losing players (and revenue), prompting studio layoffs and concern about future endeavors.

Even live service titles that hadn't been officially announced were canceled, such as Naughty Dog's Last of Us spinoff and Insomniac Games' multiplayer project for Spider-Man.

In the case of the former, Naughty Dog was frank in saying being a live-service developer is a full-time gig. And it'd rather stick to single-player, a territory it knows quite well.

Live service games will continue to be a part of games. But it's easy to imagine the number of studios working on them may fall (or rise) in the coming years.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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