Live Service Games are perhaps the most challenging sphere of gaming to work in. Studios have to fight against gamer fatigue, new releases, and the realities of how long game development takes. It is a war against constant attrition where the feedback loops take months to learn from and incorporate. Every year, we examine the landscape of live service games, and every year new entries come to life. However, their staying power is always under scrutiny. A multiplayer game with a million players today may have ten thousand in six months. Through no fault of its own, solely because attention spans are shorter than ever. This year is a celebration of some of the longest-running live games in existence. It is a testament to the skill of the developers and the passion of the fanbases. With that said, here are the winners of Lords of Gamings 2023 Golden Lance Award for Live Service Game of the Year.
Winner: Halo Infinite
Halo Infinite is a video game that struggled to find its footing in the live service space since it launched in 2021. Launching with a limited set of maps, a lackluster battle pass and lacking many modes people expect out of a Halo game; the game didn’t have the legs other live service games had on offer.
But with the year 2023, Halo Infinite is in a very good place for its live service offering and the key reason is an abundant amount of modes, battle passes, and maps for the player to experience.
Thanks to the implementation of the level and content creator Forge, both 343 and the players themselves have added maps new and iconic to the series’ history to the game, answering one of the many issues people had with Infinite at launch. And the player-friendly approach to battle passes cannot be understated, as you can do any battle pass with no time limit.
Capping it all off is the return of modes people loved from Halo like Firefight and more. While Halo Infinite might not hit the player counts of a Fortnite or Call of Duty, it has found a footing in the live service landscape and that is not an easy feat to accomplish.
Runner Up: Fortnite
Epic did it. After years and years of build-up and content drops. Years of bringing in franchise after franchise, Epic has done what Meta couldn’t do with hundreds of billions of dollars. They have created the Metaverse. To call Fortnite a cultural phenomenon would be to decrease the sheer audacity of what it has achieved. Fortnite is as much of a social network as Instagram or Facebook. It brings together wildly disparate audiences and gives them the chance to be anyone. To experience music, storytelling, entire worlds. It is a celebration of play and of the worlds we love brought together. A decade ago, when the game was conceived as a base-building, wave-defense game, I remember looking at it and thinking “This is what the Gears of War people are doing?” This year is the culmination of a decade of incredible work by incredible talent. The culmination of a vision beyond what anyone could have imagined. It is amazing that this game, this experience exists, and we get to log in to it every day, for free. Well done Fortnite.
Runner Up: Warframe
In a year where there was a fierce sea of incredible new titles for everyone to enjoy. Warframe stepped up its game in a very big way. From Citrine’s Last Wish, to The Duviri Paradox expansion that offers players new and old an incredible rogue-lite experience. Going all the way to the Abyss of Dagath and fantastic Whispers in the Walls expansion? It more than earned its place with the dedication to quality and consistency with creativity in between. While also having a very bright future moving into the new year.