Live-service video games frequently present drawbacks that may put you off from engaging with them. Among these drawbacks, the most annoying one is the tendency for games to encourage additional spending, even after you’ve initially purchased them at retail prices. This particular method of monetization is often termed pay-to-win, wherein the game incentivizes you to gain unfair advantages over other players through purchases.
Basically, it will pressure you into spending money in-game if you want to get good or have an edge against other players. When handled properly, live-service games will change and improve to meet the desires of their players as time goes on. These games not only achieve the developers’ initial goals but also go beyond them in many ways. If you want to try out one of the most popular types of games without feeling like you have to spend more money, here are a few examples:
Fortnite stands out as the top dog among live service games, particularly in terms of its massive popularity. Interestingly, if you’re seeking to steer clear of pay-to-win schemes in live service gaming, Fortnite serves as a pretty solid example. Live service games have various elements, and frequently, games transitioning to this format also become free-to-play. However, with this shift to free-to-play, you may encounter a trade-off where the game incorporates more monetization tactics.
Epic Games keeps players happy by regularly releasing exciting new seasons with updates and cool new weapons for the game. But in November 2023, they made history with Season OG, letting players go back to Fortnite’s original Chapter 1 Island and remember their first experiences with the game. It was a huge wave of nostalgia for all the OG players!
Fortnite offers a free-to-play gaming experience where you’re never pushed to buy anything. If you do decide to spend money, it’s only for cosmetic items like cool outfits or accessories. Even if you buy shortcuts to higher levels, it’s all about looks, not gameplay advantages. This means you can enjoy Fortnite’s fun events, like ones with different-themed outfits, without feeling pressured to spend money. Plus, Fortnite keeps changing to keep things exciting, making it one of the top choices in live-service gaming. We have extensive Fortnite guides for you so make sure to check them out as well.
Apex Legends has stayed super popular since EA and Respawn Entertainment released it out of nowhere in 2019. It’s no surprise because it combines the battle royale style from games like Fortnite and PUBG with a hero-based class system, taking inspiration from games like Overwatch. In 2023, Apex Legends kept busy by adding important stuff to the game. They introduced three new characters: Catalyst, Ballistic, and Conduit. They also brought in Nemesis and made some changes to the Charge Rifle and Revenant. The latest update called Breakout is also launching later this month across all platforms. Make sure to check out our dedicated Apex Legends guides section for tips and tricks to win with each Legend and more.
League of Legends
Moving on with our list of 6 best live-service games that can be played in 2024, lots of online battle games offer a free-to-play experience where you can spend a ton of time playing. However, among PC games, League of Legends stands out as one of the best because it doesn’t force you to pay to win. Even if you’re not into MOBA games, it’s tough not to notice how League of Legends has influenced the gaming world. Everyone has at least one or two friends who are playing League at every time. Over time, League of Legends has introduced hundreds of Champions for players to use in its intense battle arenas. They keep adding more during their popular ranked seasons.
In a game like League of Legends where it’s important to create the best builds, having any pay-to-win elements could ruin the whole experience. Luckily, the developers agree, and Riot has promised to only offer cosmetic items for purchase. However, while you can earn Champions for free overtime, it can be slow. You also have the choice to buy a Champion using real money. But don’t worry, League of Legends still lets you play with 15 Champions for free each week. We interviewed the creator of the highly-famous Porofessor app so make sure that you check it out as well.
Valorant continues to benefit greatly from Riot’s excellent grasp of live service models. Leveraging the successful practices of League, Valorant started strong and has only improved throughout 2023. The three new characters introduced this year in Valorant have been widely liked by players, making them some of the most popular ever in the game. Riot has also been working on making the game more relaxed by adding modes like Team Deathmatch, which will have its own special maps. They’ve also kept the map selection fresh with regular updates since Episode 5, which helps prevent the game from feeling too repetitive.
However, some players are still unhappy about the expensive cost of skins, which is a topic of debate in the community. Then again, those are just cosmetic things that you can buy, and they are optional, you technically do not get any advantage over the other players. Check out some of our Valorant guides to get better at the game.
Sports cars and Football combined? Yes, please! When Rocket League came out in 2015, it wasn’t advertised as a live-service game at first. Its incredible success and large number of players made sure of that. In the main game modes, you play intense 3v3 or 4v4 soccer matches with rocket-powered cars. Rocket League is definitely one for our list of six best live-service games that can be played in 2024.
In Rocket League, a soccer game where cars play, having a better hitbox to hit the ball would be a big advantage. Fortunately, the game is free-to-play and doesn’t offer ways to pay for advantages over others. Even though cars have different hitboxes, the default cars you get at the beginning are already some of the best. If you use the Octane body, you already have the best hitbox, and you don’t have to pay for it since it is there in the game by default and is still one of my favorites to date.
Path of Exile
If you’re not into huge multiplayer games or online PvP, and you want a free-to-play single-player game that’s always changing, Path of Exile could be just what you’re looking for. My first impression of this game is that it is very Diablo-like and yes it kind of is! Heavily inspired by the beloved Diablo series, Path of Exile has become something truly remarkable. With its fantastic action RPG mechanics and a wide range of exciting character builds it’s easy to see why many consider it one of the greatest games of its kind. The game offers plenty of seasonal events and major updates to keep players hooked. Additionally, its free-to-play model is fair, only offering cosmetics for purchase making it free from those pesky pay-to-win service models.
Many live service games have microtransactions that bother players and even pay-to-win systems. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t find fair and enjoyable live service games among them, you can go through the list of the games above and play to your heart’s content and we are pretty sure that you are going to get hooked to at least a few of them.
Did we miss your favourite live-service game or did we include it in our list of 6 best live-service games to play in 2024? Let us know in the comments section below.