Live-Service Games Are Finally Listening To Their Fans

Players loved Apex Legends’ Three Strikes LTM, so much so that developer Respawn brought the mode back almost immediately after it left the game. The match system, developed in tandem with the Post Malone crossover, essentially gave you three lives in the battle royale, as well as making some changes to speed up resuscitations.



Why was this mode loved so much? It’s complicated. But a part of it is the fact that casual Apex matches are so darn competitive these days. As the game approaches its fifth birthday, the skill ceiling is incredibly high and new players trying to have fun are often stomped by people with four-figure hour totals. Three Strikes was more forgiving – especially when combined with the change that gives respawning players their weapons and armour – and that played a big part in why it was so popular.

Apex Legends Post Malone Three Strikes LTM Octane and Wraith firing weapons

However, the more interesting thing is how quickly Respawn heard fan feedback and brought Three Strikes back to the game, albeit not permanently. In the past, it’s taken months or even years to bring popular modes back to the live-service game, in all likelihood thanks to busy schedules and long-term plans. When we’re already rotating through four different maps for casual matches and ranked, you know there’s a lot of content to cycle through before your favourite LTM appears again.

It certainly helped that Three Strikes worked smoothly off the bat. Some modes have major bugs, and others are scrapped completely because of game-breaking faults. Three Strikes was the perfect storm of exciting gameplay and flawless execution.

It’s not just Apex Legends that’s listening to its fans, however. Fortnite has recently done the same, with the rival live-service shooter confirming that it will bring back Fortnite OG in 2024. Fortnite OG is a mode that strikes you right in the nostalgia glands, bringing you back to the map that started the entire battle royale boom. That nostalgia is an additional incentive for lapsed players to jump back in, remembering a simpler time before griddies and Peter Griffin.

Fortnite excels in its creative modes, allowing players Minecraft or Roblox levels of freedom to create their own levels, maps, and even entire games within its ecosystem. There’s no reason why Fortnite OG can’t become a permanent mode alongside the ever-evolving battle royale and the countless player-made creations housed within Epic’s walls.

However, not all live-service games are being treated to the same fate. Fans of EA Sports FC 24, EA’s annual football offering and the video game formerly known as FIFA, lament the new content delivered to their consoles every week. The focus this year has been on major leagues, specifically the Premier League and La Liga, at the expense of all others. There’s a serious lack of women featured in promos, and therefore players’ squads.

Don’t get me wrong, as a Liverpool fan I’ve been eating, especially since the Kenny Dalglish SBC was released and I really had something to work towards, but when the gameplay more closely resembles ping pong than football, something’s up.

Joel Matip hitting the griddy in EA FC 24

However, there’s no easy fix for EA FC. The gameplay is bad, that’s a fundamental issue. This shifts and coalesces into different forms every year and over the course of a season – overpowered Finesse+ shots have been nerfed, but something will quickly take their place. It’s not like fans are requesting EA brings back an old game mode, it’s that they want their tackles to actually tackle.

EA Sports FC is also different in the fact that players have to buy a new game every year, something that free-to-play games like Apex and Fortnite don’t have the luxury of. At a certain point, EA can just wipe the slate clean and start afresh, albeit not with quite the same gusto as this year when the whole series rebranded.

But for some live-service games, and shooters in particular, the developers are listening to their fans and acting quickly and decisively to make changes that people want to see. Some things are easier than others – Apex’s crossplay was worked on for years due to the technicality of it all, whereas popping an already-finished LTM back in rotation was a quick job – but it’s energising to see responses to your feedback in real time. Away from the battle passes and loot boxes, that’s what live-service is all about.

Next: A Tale Of Two Developers: Larian And Bethesda’s Differing Approaches To Feedback

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