The State of Gaming in 2024

Join us in a deep dive with the latest developments into the state of gaming as of mid-2024!

Lately, the gaming space has been rife with terrible news, including numerous lay offs from several companies, amounting in nearly 10k people that have lost their job this year alone. Since January, more than 30 companies have been accredited to this action including bigger names like Microsoft, Sony, EA, Riot and Sega. This has culminated in the recent additional news of studio closures from Microsoft itself, causing great uproar throughout the community.

The STate of Gaming layoffs

Along with all these job losses, mainstream gaming continues to shuffle out mediocre content that isn’t complete on release, with Day 1 patches now being considered normal, and in some cases required, for actually playing many games. Not to mention the huge push for live service games that are usually a mixed bag of results. So why has all this been happening? Is there a way to stop it? Let’s take a peek behind the curtain to understand better why these companies are continuing to follow this path and what we can do to change the state of gaming for the better!

The State of Gaming – Why a Push for Live Service?

There was a dream once, to create worlds and stories that excite and enthral gamers. This is generally celebrated as the PS3 & Xbox 360 era. As online games became more popular, they brought out a new beast in the form of live service gaming. A game that is designed to be perpetually updated and enjoyed by many players, although the success rate of this genre is varied at best. Some popular ones that have done well include Destiny, Valorant, Apex Legends, Fortnite, Sea of Thieves and of course the most recent one, Helldivers 2.

the state of gaming live service

These are all still doing well at this time and continue to generate profits for these developers. They are also partly the reason why other companies look to copy their success as these games become sustainable on their own. This isn’t without the bad however, as many have tried and spectacularly failed like Anthem, The Avengers and more recently, Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League. The former being reported it lost $200 million to Rocksteady and Warner Bros. So why do companies keep seeking this out? The answer is risk and reward.

live service kill the justice league

One successful live service game can add up to several failed ones, whereas a narrative based game that takes just as long, if not longer to develop, only has a play time of 10-50 hours and then that’s it. From a company’s perspective, they want to take a risk on something that will always get them more revenue. Does this make it better or ok? No but at least we can understand why they are doing this.

the state of gaming avengers

The State of Gaming – Studio Closures

On the 8th of May, Microsoft announced the closures of Arkane Austin, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog Games and Roundhouse Games. Surprising everyone in the industry and only just a year prior, Xbox had praised the success of Tango’s Hi-Fi Rush and how they will continue to support smaller companies. Whilst Arkane Austin isn’t as big of a surprise, due to the poor reception and low review scores of Redfall, they had previously worked on a lot of good games. These include the Dishonored series and the fairly recent Prey remake, which both have been praised in their own right. All was not lost as Arkane Lyon is still operating, currently developing Marvels Blade after their success with Deathloop.

The biggest upset is the loss of Tango Gameworks, which released one of Xbox highest rated games of 2023! This is after their reasonable success with The Evil Within series and Ghostwire Tokyo. A shocking loss and a devastating blow for not only Tango but for the fans and gamers that have enjoyed their wonderfully unique games. It is very unfortunate we are unlikely to see any of the mentioned series again as they were all fantastic IPs.

“But Microsoft is a 3 Trillion Dollar company!”

Yes it is, but there is a reason why they are and that’s because they do things like this. Cutting the fat, which they have more than likely done it before but in this case, the fat is popular and well known. There is a man or woman somewhere out there that got told they had to get rid of a certain percentage of Xbox studios so that their profit continues to grow and they probably haven’t even heard of Hi-Fi Rush.

Of course, this doesn’t make it easier for Tango Gameworks or any of the hundreds of developers that have lost their jobs and livelihoods. All of this is in order to perpetuate continual growth for the company and shareholders. In other words, they want to make sure consumer spending is increasing, not just make good games that nobody is buying. Unfortunately that is the reality of capitalism and the main reason that Microsoft is as big as it is today.

Although Sony has incurred losses, they have tried to take it on the chin which has led to their stock price dropping up to 12% over the last year. Ironically, President of Xbox, Sarah Bond, still tries to spin this in a positive note, see below her interview with Bloomberg Tech after these closures. Pay close attention to when the interviewer asks why they closed a studio like Tango Gameworks that released such a good game…

The State of Gaming – Hi-Fi RUSH and Game Pass

There are two sides to gaming: how the community receives a game, its reviews/popularity and then how well it performs in sales and continual growth. This is along the same lines as the live service games that continue to add revenue to the company and as Hi-Fi Rush was a surprise announcement AND released on Game Pass, these contribute to the overall sales and consumer growth not being as high as Microsoft wanted it to be. Essentially, regardless of how well the game is received if it doesn’t hit a magic number, then you are gone. Which is a really scary thought that just making a good game isn’t enough anymore.

Speaking of Game Pass, it was noted that its sales has been down as of late. One rumoured reason why Xbox has bought so many companies is to bolster their Game Pass titles but this doesn’t help create new games or support the growth of individual developers. This is the just as relevant for PS Plus Extra, which gives us all great games for 1 low price, but it does hinder the gaming community as a whole.

It has even been stated by some developers that they don’t get much out of Game Pass as any sales that would have gone to their game don’t get funnelled back to them via Game Pass. A way to avoid this particular issue could be to make new games not on these subscription services for a short period to allow developers to reap the full benefits of their game.

The State of Gaming – Lingering Effects of COVID-19

The worldwide pandemic was nothing short of horrific, yet a number of industries grew dramatically, especially in 1st world countries. Where we had the ability to work from home but we also couldn’t go out, hence gaming became a hell of a lot more popular. Gaming, puzzles, tabletop board games grew exponentially in these few short years, however the world has almost returned to normal and hence drop offs in growth should have been anticipated and expected by these major companies.

Seeking profit and growth increase on a yearly basis without allowing for any setbacks seems very cut throat and the gaming community is now very aware of how serious Microsoft takes this. As seen recently with their actions of  closing of studios and lay offs. Lets just hope this transition period is nearly over and we can focus on getting back to celebrating a good game for its own merits.

The State of Gaming – Square Enix to End the Console War?

One last item to point out is the Console Wars as such, with Xbox and PlayStation fighting over who has the best games, generally whilst Nintendo sits in the corner with Mario and Zelda. This idea of warring companies to produce better games is fantastic, but in the current market where there are more independent developers and the cost of living on the rise, is it time to end this war for good?

Just the other week, Square Enix has announced they will no longer be participating with this in-fighting, saying that they will be open to exploring all options of platforms for their future games. This is a huge step for quite a large publisher and it may mean that more will follow suit, which could be a huge win for gamers. Both Sony and Microsoft have both said that they don’t make money off their consoles, hence why they fight for exclusive games but maybe that’s all about to change anyway with cloud gaming, making this feud all but pointless.

So what does this mean for the state of gaming?

We are in a time, never before seen in gaming, with the internet being a main part of this world has changed things considerably. It’s good to have choices, multiplayer gaming or story focused entries but somewhere along the line some of these big companies have forgot what gaming really means. We connect with characters, live in other worlds, explore locations we could never visit in real life, view history in real time and even provide a sense of belonging.

Whilst we can’t fight back head on, we can control what we do and how we spend our hard earned cash, so lets support the developers that follow this vision and hope the multi-billion dollar corporations get the idea once and for all.

So, what can you do to help?

  • SPEAK OUT! Articles, posts, tweets, all contribute
  • Just play what you want
  • Avoid microtransactions
  • Don’t renew your Game Pass and PS Plus Extra if you can
  • Support new devs

But why shouldn’t you help?

  • Cost of living is ridiculous and everyone is trying to save
  • Unfortunately these companies will continue to do what they want regardless
  • You actually enjoy live service gaming

If you enjoyed this article on the state of gaming, you can check out our latest reviews here and if you haven’t already, be sure to join the Qualbert Discord to find out about the latest game and review updates!

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