How I’m battling the stickiness of live service games


Shawn Farner

Writer and Storywriter


If there’s one thing I really struggle with, it’s finding time to play different games. Notice I didn’t say all games — It’s not that my life is totally devoid of gaming. I just can’t get myself to start more titles on a regular basis because the same games keep finding themselves on my TV screen. Mainly live service games: the kind built to keep you coming back.

How I'm battling the stickiness of live service games

The biggest and most obvious one affecting me at the moment is Destiny 2. There are always bounties to complete each day. There’s a power level grind to keep up with. There are new weapon rolls to acquire. There are always things to do, and I worry that if I don’t do them, I’ll fall behind.

But there’s also Rocket League, which is addictive in its own right. There are challenges you can work on, for instance, to unlock new items for your car in the season pass. And the game is just so fast at getting you into the action. You can load it up and be in a match in roughly 30 seconds. Sometimes that near-instant gratification alone gets me.

I want to play more games. I have an enormous backlog waiting that I’m barely making a dent in. I need to break the cycle of getting caught in live service games so that I can broaden my horizons a little bit. I need new experiences.

So I’m putting both Destiny 2 and Rocket League into something I’m calling “the live service bubble.”

To the bubble with you

Here’s how the live service bubble works. Mondays and Tuesdays, I’ll play these games and do as much as I can in them. Seeing as I’ll no longer be spreading everything out over an entire week, that should cut down on the meandering I do in them — the “playing just to play” that sometimes occurs.

Every other day of the week, however, I’m banning myself from them. Is it Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday? There will be no Destiny 2. There will be no Rocket League. They are forbidden outside of the live service bubble.

Will it be difficult to break the habit? Of course. There are times I start these games and jump into them having no real idea what I intend to do. I’ve just performed that action so many times that it’s basically muscle memory at this point. I’ll have to retrain my brain and my fingers and thumbs to work a different way.

Ultimately, though, I think it’ll end up being worth it. The grip these games have is a little too strong. It needs to be loosened up a bit.

I’m going to try and document how this goes — just to see if there is any meaningful progress achieved from this new approach. I’ll report back later.

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