What Is a Live Service Game? [Top Live Service Games]

Dejan Cvetnarevic
Dejan Cvetnarevic

Updated · Oct 25, 2022

SHARE:

Techjury is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

If you closely follow the gaming scene (or have friends that do), you’ve probably heard talks that developers are moving in a direction that puts the focus back on live service games.

But, what is a live service game?

In this article, we’ll look at the live service game meaning, how they work, and the 10 most popular games of this type in 2022.

What Are Live Service Games?

Live service games, also known as Games as a Service (GaaS,) are video games designed to keep players playing for a long time.

These types of games are kept alive for decades thanks to a constant stream of content that’s added after their initial launch.

Ever heard of Fortnite or League of Legends? 

Still, for a game to be considered a GaaS, it needs a substantial amount of post-release content. For example, The Witcher 3 has two expansion packs and 16 DLC, but nobody considers it a “game as a service.”

How Does a Live Service Game Work?

Although games of this type constantly release new content, the content in question can vary from one game to the other. The main reason behind it is that GaaS don’t belong to one game genre.

For instance, games like World of Warcraft and Destiny 2 have released new stories and new missions in a number of expansion packs. On the other hand, the likes of Apex Legends and Fornite introduce new maps, cosmetics, and weapons on a seasonal basis.

Some of this content is free. For example in DOTA 2, you might get a random reward like a skin for your favorite hero. Other times, you’ll have to buy a season pass or a ticket to get access to certain events.

Also– though not a part of the official live service games definition– these games are almost always free to play; They make a profit on in-game purchases.

How Is a Live Service Game Different From a Single-Player Game?

Unlike a GaaS, a single-player game is not essentially “endless.”

Single-player games can also receive upgrades, updates, and expansion packs, but there is a clear beginning and an end and despite what’s added to it, at one point, you’re essentially re-playing the game.

That’s because single-player games don’t look to hook players to the game for life.

With live servicing games, you virtually get a never-ending story. These are typically multiplayer games with an infinite number of variables – which makes them a much more profitable, high-growth sector.

Many single-player games go on sale regularly, and you can even find them at 50% discounts during Steam's Sale Events.

Pros and Cons of Live Service Games

Live service games’ biggest selling point is the promise of more content always on the way. 

Players who have been with it for a long time are familiar with its dynamics and yet, they have to regularly play the game to keep up with the new additions and stay afloat.

This comes with its own set of challenges. Much of the new content that’s introduced, like a season pass, is time-sensitive. If you don’t jump on the bandwagon before it expires, you’re likely going to have to grind extra hard to earn anything in it– provided that that’s an option.

Things can also get tricky for beginners. The constant flow of new content in the live service model can make this type of game notoriously difficult to grasp or advance at the same speed as in a traditional game.

Finally, most of these games are free-to-play, which makes them accessible to anyone that wants to give their best shot. 

On the flip side, there are plenty of things in the games that cost money– whether it’s expansion packs, cosmetics, or upgrades.

DOTA 2

dota 2 poster

If Valve is known for one thing, besides Half-Life, it’s giving life to the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre, where DOTA 2 belongs. 

The game has been around since 2003 and is the most popular GaaS to date and the biggest esports game in the world, with a prize pool in the millions. (The total prize pool for the 2022 International is a whopping $13,343,599)

At this point, DOTA 2 has so much content that it would take at least a month of intensive gaming to learn the basics of the hundreds of heroes, their abilities, and the items in the game.

League of Legends

league of legends poster

Although DOTA 2 is generally considered the most well-known MOBA, League of Legends has a much bigger player base.

The games are very similar at a fundamental level (they’re both strategic games that require skills and team play), but League of Legends values accessibility more (compared to DOTA 2, which values depth and expertise over anything else).

The title has become such a household name that it has seen its own spin-offs, like the single-player turn-based RPG adventure in The Ruined King and the card game in Legends of Runeterra.

Call of Duty: Warzone

warzone 2.0 poster

The Call of Duty franchise faced a serious identity crisis in 2019. The Battle Royal mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, which was supposed to be the game’s big break, didn’t do as well as Treyarch and Activision had hoped.

Things turn around in their favor with the 2019 soft reboot of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and its Battle Royal spinoff Call of Duty: Warzone.

Warzone combined gamers-favorite aspects of games like Apex Legends and Fornite with the best elements of CoD’s famed multiplayer component to return the franchise to the top.

Fans had a chance to see a glimpse of what the new Warzone 2.0 has to offer during the COD Next showcase event and even had the chance to try out the new Engine and gameplay mechanics that the game is built on during the Modern Warfare II Beta weekends.

CS: GO

csgo poster

Counter-Strike Global Offensive (CS-GO) is the most-watched e-sport game on Twitch and one of the most competitive games on the market for those who prefer first-person shooter games.

The original Counter-Strike spawned from a Half-Life mod and has since exploded into one of the most popular esports in the world.

Unlike DOTA and League of Legends, CS: GO is simple to follow. It won’t take a beginner months to start to understand the basics of the game, but it does require precision, skill, and fast reflexes.

Fortnite

fortnite poster

The crème de la crème of live service titles debuted in 2017 as Fortnite: Save The World. This version was quickly overshadowed when the free-to-play Battle Royal portion picked up steam and earned the company $2.4 billion in revenue in 2018

Today, Fortnite is a global phenomenon that’s famous for refining the controversial loot box monetization system– which cast a dark shadow on the live service industry for quite some time– and for popularizing the player-friendly battle pass system.

If you’re a Fortnite gamer looking for a good VPN, here are our top picks for the best Fornite VPN services.

Apex Legends

apex legends poster

Apex Legends was Electronic Arts’ attempt at perfecting the Fornite formula and it worked quite well.

The game follows the same basic Battle Royale structure of Fornite where teams compete to be the last ones standing. 

Unlike Fortnite, Apex Legends is a first-person shooter game that packs plenty of tools– including communication with the enemy– and a huge cache of weapons that players can use to fight each other in-game. 

Apex Legends also forces players to carefully pick the characters in the team to complement each other’s abilities– which is not the case with the more generic shooter survival game Fortnite.

Overwatch 2

overwatch 2 poster

Overwatch exploded in popularity the moment it hit the gaming scene in 2016.

Since then, the game has seen a massive number of gamers flocking to Blizzard’s beloved team-based shooter game.

What keeps players coming back for more is Blizzard’s ability to introduce major changes while keeping the core gameplay the same. The consistent updates, seasonal events, and new skins grow its player base but keep its existing fan base strong.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

final fantasy xiv poster

When Square Enix launched Final Fantasy XIV back in 2010, it didn’t see the success it was hoping for. The game had the aesthetic, but it came at the cost of performance, which forced developers to shut it down.

The game came back under the title Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn and found renewed success with a more traditional system and a vastly improved storyline.

Final Fantasy XIV currently stands as one of the best MMORPGs on the market that has been entertaining gamers for years now with multiple expansion packs.

Fall Guys

fall guys poster

The seriously addictive Fall Guys rocketed to very early stardom in its life cycle.

The game, which was originally published by Devolver Digital, was released in mid-2020 and kept many console players glued to the screen during the lockdowns triggered by the COVID pandemic.

Fall Guys became so high-profile that Epic Games (Fornite’s developer) assumed publishing duties in 2021. Although the game did experience a dip in its player count, things have since turned around in its favor thanks to the introduction of new challenges in the game.

Rocket League

rocket league poster

Rocket League is yet another title that came under Epic Games’ wing that quickly rose to the top after its release. 

The game was fun from the start and although nothing particularly was wrong with it in its initial form, Rocket League wasn’t expected to amount to much in the live service sphere. 

But, the regular content updates gave the game a life that nobody saw coming. The new cars, maps, and game modes created such a strong following that Rocket League eventually switched to a free-to-play model. 

Now, with its free updates and a battle pass, Psyonix's physics-based car soccer game is still on top of its game, even as it approached its 7th anniversary.

Destiny 2

destiny 2 poster

The original Destiny debuted back in 2014.

It was expected to be Bungie's (Halo’s developer) next big hit and was marketed as a live service title that’s in for a decade-long life cycle. 

Although the Destiny franchise is still a big deal, it was the 2017 sequel Destiny 2 that ended up delivering on the original games’ promises.

Destiny 2 is a massive looter shooter game with hundreds of hours of varied content. It has regular updates and an avid community that keeps it at the top of live service titles in 2022.

GTA Online

gta online poster

There are very few games that boast the amount of customizable content that GTA Online has – and Rockstar isn’t showing any intentions of hitting the brakes on it any time soon.

The game has received more than 40 content updates in nearly a decade, with new content flowing at regular intervals even as the game enters its third console generation.

Much of those consist of new guns and vehicles, but Rockstar has also introduced new heists and story missions and given players the ability to run arenas, nightclubs, businesses, warehouses, and even aircraft hangers.

World of Warcraft

world of warcraft poster

If there’s one game that everyone in the gaming industry is familiar with, it’s World of Warcraft (WoW). 

The game was launched by Blizzard Entertainment back in 2004 – making it one of the earliest examples of live service games– and still has a massive community wrapped around it. Unlike games like DOTA 2 and LOL, Wow is based on exploration and new adventures in an immersive world, rather than a map.

Updates in WoW come in the form of expansions (the latest being the Shadowlands 9.2 7) which introduce a slew of changes to the ever-evolving world. 

If you’re a beginner at WoW, you might want to take a loot at Zygor Guides

Genshin Impact

genshin impact poster

When Genshin Impact hit the gaming scene, skeptics quickly wrote it off as a lesser version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Now, two years after its release, it’s widely regarded as one of the best live service titles that currently exist on the market. Gensin Impact has seen record-breaking revenue streams and even has started to scratch the curiosity reach of players who aren’t the biggest fans of the anime-looking aesthetic.

The game remains remarkably accessible for newcomers even as it continues to introduce new content that make it worthwhile for those who have been with the gacha game from the very start. 

Valorant

valorant poster

Compared to some of the titles that have been around for nearly two decades, Valorant is a pretty new addition to the gaming scene. 

The free-to-play first-person shooter game, which was launched in 2020, took the world by storm by combining the fun elements of first-shooter games like Counter-Strike, and the hero-abilities in games like Ovewatch. 

And though that’s a simple enough explanation of the title, Valorant offers excellent gameplay that makes it one of the hardest FPS games on the market.

MultiVersus

multiversus poster

Multiversus is a relative newcomer to the service game scene. Launched on July 19, 2022, the game has amassed a player base of more than 20 million, which speaks volumes about the quality of the game.

One part of its chart is the character progression, per system, and the focus on team-based abilities. 

But, what truly makes MultiVersus stand out is the way it modernizes the genre with the different progression systems and its free-to-play model.

Bottom Line

If you’ve ever heard of games like DOTA 2, Wow, and Valorant, then that’s your answer to “what is a live service game?” 

It’s a type of game that rarely goes away. The developers of these games keep players hooked with a regular stream of new content – whether it's new modes, tools, or challenges– and make sure that the game’s life cycle doesn’t end even after years of its initial release.

SHARE:

Dejan Cvetnarevic

Dejan Cvetnarevic

Dejan is a techie at heart who always dreamed of turning his fascination with gaming into a career. He finds working for TechJury a perfect opportunity to express his views of all kinds of different software. Being an avid reader, particularly of fantasy and sci-fi, Dejan pursued a degree in English Language and Literature. When not at his computer, he’s watching sports or playing tabletop games.

Leave your comment

Your email address will not be published.