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Last Decade’s Greatest Gaming Innovation Could Save Struggling Live Service Titles
Last Decade's Greatest Gaming Innovation Could Save Struggling Live Service Titles,Live service games are struggling to maintain a player base, but an innovation from the last decade could hold the key to their salvation.

Last Decade’s Greatest Gaming Innovation Could Save Struggling Live Service Titles

Live service titles are one of the latest in a long line of developer attempts to keep players returning to their games. While games like Counter-Strike and League of Legends manage to maintain a consistent player base, other newer games have had a harder time attempting to keep people playing. Unlike many of their contemporaries, new live service games like Marvel's Avengers and the upcoming Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League focus on having a plot. The live service aspect comes into play after the main game narrative is complete, but there is an issue with keeping players interested in coming back simply to collect loot.


Live service games work off the concept of constantly releasing content rather than releasing sequels and new games. In theory, live service could be considered the logical result of the DLC trend that has been a part of gaming for a long time now. However, one of the issues that arise is how to keep players engaged while waiting for the next piece of content to be released. This is especially prevalent in games that focus on having a main campaign. So far, there hasn't been a good fix to the issue, but perhaps there is one from the past: something used in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.

The Shadow of Mordor Nemesis System Could Save Live Service Games

Released in 2014, Monolith Productions' Shadow of Mordor brought a brand-new, revolutionary system to gamers called the nemesis system. Essentially, the system creates new mini-bosses from the ranks of the orc soldiers that the player fought during the course of the game. These orcs would have random personalities and stats, as well as traits and weaknesses that the player could exploit. The nemesis could even develop a history with the player if it survived.

There is one major issue that comes with the nemesis system — it's patented. As such, it cannot be replicated in the same form. However, the system offers several ideas that live service games could implement to increase player interaction while not directly copying the system. The other thing to note is that this system would be a far better addition to story-based live service games than tournament arena shooters or League of Legends-style titles.

Player-made Stories Are More Compelling Than Loot

One of the biggest issues live service games have is what they offer to players to keep them interested. One of the most common is the concept of loot and constant inventory upgrades. This is designed around a consistent influx of numbers that give the impression of progression. A good example would be the constant stream of new equipment and upgrades given to players in Marvel's Avengers, which was meant to keep players coming back. However, this didn't work, and many players slowly turned away from the title. It should be noted that Shadow of Mordor also had a constant influx of equipment, but the nemesis system blunted the tedium due to one simple fact.

Essentially, the nemesis system allows the player to craft their own stories. They could come up against an orc after a massive fight that manages to kill them, leading to that orc being raised in the ranks to a position of power. Then the player hunts down that orc and manages to kill it. The lesson here is that simply having loot dropped for the player isn't enough and doesn't give any incentive for the player to return. However, a system that allows for variety and for the player to craft their own stories will bring gamers back over time and gives developers several tools to break the monotony.

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Is Perfect for the Nemesis System

Comic book-based games offer a good incentive for this concept, especially when it comes to something like Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. For instance, the game could include gangs of survivors that either work for or fight Brainiac's forces. Over time, these gangs could fight each other, increase or decrease in strength and take over territory. This constant back and forth outside the player's control would give the players something to do outside the main plot. Perhaps they want to increase the strength of one of the gangs as this lessens the power of Brainiac's forces in the area, or another offers better rewards for fights. They could also develop grudges against certain gang leaders and lieutenants, which would give them incentive to influence the fights.

While it is true that Monolith's nemesis system is unavailable to other games, the lessons it teaches are not. The idea of giving players a personal stake in the enemies, as well as the world they inhabit, could bring them to bring them back to the game perpetually. At this point in time, live service is viewed with derision by gamers, yet it is also the perfect stage for some experimentation. While it would be difficult to turn public opinion around, the past may hold the key.