FIRST OFF, LET’S get one thing straight: The “console wars” don’t exist. The idea that Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox are engaged in some kind of dogged winner-take-all battle is both outdated and toxic. It lets fans indulge in the idea that they’re noble partisans, which in turn gives them an excuse to say offensive things about their so-called opponents. The videogame market is a big one and has more than enough space for multiple game devices from multiple manufacturers.
That said, if there were console wars, the Xbox One would be losing—but that’s not a bad thing.
In video gaming, games as a service (abbreviated GaaS) represents providing video games or game content on a continuing revenue model, similar to software as a service. Games as a service are ways to monetize video games either after their initial sale, or to support a free-to-play model.
Many massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) use monthly subscription models. Revenue from these subscriptions pay for the computer servers used to run the game, the people that manage and oversee the game on a daily basis, and the introduction of new content into the game. Several MMOs offer an initial trial period that allow players to try the game for a limited amount of time, or until their character reaches an experience level cap, after which they are required to pay to continue to play.
Game subscription services
Subscription services like EA Access and Xbox Game Pass grant subscribers complete access to a large library of games offered digitally with no limitations. User need to download these games to their local computer or console to play. However, users must remain subscribed to play these games; the games are protected by digital rights management that requires an active account to play. New games are typically added to the service, and in some cases, games may leave the service, after which subscribers will be unable to play that title. Such services may offer the ability to purchase these titles to own and allow them to play outside of the subscription service.
Cloud gaming / Gaming on demand
Services like PlayStation Now or Gamefly allow players to play games that are run on remote servers on local devices, eliminating the need for specialized console hardware or powerful personal computers, outside of the necessary bandwidth for Internet connectivity. These otherwise operate similar to game services, in that the library of available may be added or removed to over time, depending on the service.
Microtransactions represent low-cost purchases, compared to the cost of a full game or a large expansion pack, that provide some form of additional content to the purchaser. The type of content can vary from additional downloadable content; new maps and levels for multiplayer games; new items, weapons, vehicles, clothing, or other gear for the player’s character; power-ups and temporary buffs; in-game currency, and elements like loot boxes that provide a random assortment of items and rewards. Players do not necessarily need to purchase these items with real-world funds to acquire them. However, a game’s design and financial approach that aims to provide ongoing service is aimed to assure that a small fraction of players will purchase this content immediately rather than grinding through the game for a long time to obtain it. These select “whales” providing sufficient revenue to support further development of new content. This approach is generally how free-to-play games like Puzzle & Dragons, Candy Crush Saga, and League of Legends support their ongoing development, as well as used atop full-priced games like Grand Theft Auto Online and Destiny.
Games may combine one or more of these forms. A common example are lifestyle games, which provide rotating daily content, which frequently reward the player with in-game currency to buy new equipment (otherwise purchasable with real-world funds), and extended by updates to the overall game. Examples of such lifestyle games include Destiny and many MMORPG like World of Warcraft.