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The Gears 5 live service is a bit of a mess so far

Gears 5
Gears 5 (Image credit: Microsoft)

Gears 5 won itself piles of praise from critics and fans alike for its evolving campaign formula, which added wide-linearity to break up the corridor shooter gameplay. As solid as the multiplayer seemed on the surface, at events, and during the game's limited access periods, the live service has proven to be anything but solid.

Many of Gears 5's casual fans might have moved on from the game already to single-player games like The Outer Worlds or bigger multiplayer titles like the new Call of Duty Modern Warfare. Gears of War's most dedicated fans, however, are getting the short end of the stick right now.

Unstable

Gears 5 Kait

Source: Xbox Game Studios (Image credit: Source: Xbox Game Studios)

Gears 5 like many of Microsoft's multiplayer offerings (and multiplayer games in general in 2019) is a live service game, complete with incentives to continue playing, atop a promise of free content drops on a regular cadence. The post-launch plan for Gears 5 includes free maps, new playable characters, and skins to earn, among other things. But since the game's launch almost two months ago, the service has been marred with poor stability, which has led to a wave of alleged unfair bannings, and general user discontent.

After weeks of silence, Gears 5 community manager known as Octus provided an update on the game's subreddit, which has been charged with negative feedback since a few days post-launch.

As part of our continued post-launch support, we are committed to continually improving Gears 5's online experience. We know you have concerns, and we want to improve our transparency around our ongoing development work to address your biggest topics of feedback.Our Development Team is already hard at work on resolving several priority issues, which we've listed below. We recognize that these issues have significant impact on your Gears 5 experience, and we're prioritizing them by the degree of negative impact they have.Dealing with the issues below are our top priority – but this list does not include any new features or smaller fixes also in development. As these issues progress, will provide more details – including timing – to keep you informed. Thank you for all of your support and feedback since release. Our team care deeply about tackling these issues as soon as possible. We'll be keeping you updating you regularly moving forward with any detail we can provide.

To start with, The Coalition is prioritizing server stability above all else, removing the temporary bans for "quitting" in standard playlists since it was unfairly banning users who had been disconnected as well. The Coalition is also working to implement fixes to the ranking system, which have been providing inaccurate rewards that don't reflect a player's performance. Matchmaking quality to improve ping times and also general balance tuning is also on-going.

You have to wonder why it took The Coalition so long to begin addressing the community's concerns here, which have doubtless compounded some other aspects of negative feedback surrounding the game.

Gears 5 RAAM

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

In a game like Call of Duty or Battlefield, general progression comes from earning weapon attachments and other similar bits of gear that helps you tailor your playstyle. Gears of War is a different beast, where weapons are fixed quantities. To keep people feeling rewarded for play, Gears 5 is crammed with cosmetic skins and character models that can be earned through gameplay over time. Problematically, though, The Coalition incentivizes people to cheat the progression mechanics using real money, which can allow you to bypass the grind, undermining the value of the system at large.

The Coalition knowingly creates this contention, forcing players to opt-in to grinding modes they may not enjoy in order to unlock specific characters or, alternatively, spend some money. It's not difficult to unlock the characters, but being forced to choose between spending time or spending money on top of a $60 premium title feels egregious, especially considering the challenges don't stack per character unlock.

Gears 5 RAAM

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

On top of that, some of the biggest "additions" as part of Gears 5's live service has been insanely overpriced marketing tie-ins with the Terminator franchise. Twenty dollars will net you access to a couple of characters from the upcoming Terminator Dark Fate, one skin of which has been accused by the community as offering a gameplay advantage, due to the small size and dark tone of its model.

The Coalition has yet to address the community's negative reaction to these monetization schemes, but I hardly feel like they've earned the right to begin price gouging given the quality and content spread of the service thus far.

Pro League who?

Finally, did you know the Gears 5 esports league has started? You'd be forgiven for not knowing, given that Microsoft and The Coalition have done approximately zero marketing for it. Indeed, the last press release I received for anything Gears and esports related was back in July 2019, which begs the question: how serious is Microsoft about this, really?

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It's utterly unfair to expect esports pros, from players to casters and other staff to invest their time and effort in Gears esports, while The Coalition and Microsoft does zilch to support it.

What's going on here?

Gears of War is a pillar franchise for Xbox Game Studios, sitting alongside the likes of Halo and Forza, and to see it operated in such a haphazard way is frustrating even as a casual fan of the franchise. Is The Coalition stretching itself too thin by committing to these lofty goals? Are they distracted by other projects? Either way, it's unfair to everyone who remains invested in the game and franchise at large to be treated so casually.

What do you think? Are the complaints justified? Hit us with your Gears 5 experiences in the comments.

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

13 Comments
  • Can we please kill the live service games trend now .
  • Why? This article doesn't even have an issue with live service games. Jez is disappointed in the server stability and microtransaction strategy, neither of which are exclusive to live services.
  • Please.
    I want to play games. I don't want to play services.
    They are trying to turn games and gaming into live services where the priority is no longer make a good quality game for gamers to enjoy, but how to make more money from people who are hooked, even if it means make the experience worse through frustration and grinding mechanics.
    This coming from MS is even worse than other publisher.
    This game is sold at full price, it has "pay if you don't want the game late", pay to be able to play with skins that promotes an upcoming movie, loads of limited edition stuff. It helps them sell console, renting service, play online service...
    And yet they'll have all this microtransactions, pay for faster progression, new powerful characters added that you must either grind for hours to get or purchase with cash...
    All that for a full price game... Unacceptable no matter who is doing it. Bethesda, EA, MS...
  • So companies should start releasing single player only games like Sony? That means we'll be buying games every week because single player only games get boring fast. I mean how many people played God of Bore or Spiderman after a few days or a week? Those games are nothing but weekend rentals that don't have any replay value. Just look at the sales charts. It's mainly all multiplatform games with multiplayer with the exception being Nintendo. Multiplayer games have high replay value. I still play COD MW3 online and it's still fun after all these years.
  • I think you're confused. This is not single player vs multiplayer.
    This is publishers trying to turn multiplayer games into services where the focus is to keep making more money once the game is sold.
    Adding mobile-style free2play economics in multiplayer games.
    This is goes beyond silly console wars that stupid fanboys defend the company they worship...
  • Also @jams,
    COD MW3 online being fun is subjective. Replay value is subjective too. The lifespan of a game is not a fixed thing. Playing again and again few maps can be extremely boring. You generally stop playing when you're bored. I started getting bored of something like SoT after around 3-4 hours.
    It's hilarious to see fanboys trying to hype the 100s of games on something like gamepass, yet the same people wants one game to last months and years. I don't know about you but me, once I finish a game I play another one. I don't want to play the same game for months and years... Unlike some people I don't like mindless grinding...
  • No, I don't want to buy a new game in a series every year or two years, I want to buy one game and continue playing it ten years from now.
  • You think you'll still be playing gears 5 or any of these services in 10 years??
  • I still play Neverwinter, Diablo 3, Elite Dangerous, and StarCraft 2. Other people are still going strong on the likes of Counterstrike GO, World of Warcraft, DOTA 2, LoL, Path of Exile, Warframe, Minecraft and probably others. And yes, if they simply added campaigns to Gears 5 instead of releasing new games I would 100% still play Gears 5 both for single player and multiplayer for the next ten years because that's what I want from gaming, I want expansion packs back.
  • The only problem here is that games you mentioned are either free2play games or MMO that are designed that way. Or they are games that only introduced microtransactions recently because of the growing trend...
    Gears 5 is one of those "live service" that are designed to get as much money until the next version comes out in 1-3 years. Games like CoD, AC...
    I don't think the few modes, maps or few characters added can be compared to some of the content added in other games. Trends is trying to turn every multiplayer game into this live service. As an excuse to introduce free2play economy in AAA full price games...
  • Games with single player + multiplayer should be $60. Games with single player only should be $30. Why pay full price for a single player game with no replay value.
  • @jams
    Or maybe single player games should be at full price and game mode with free2play economy should be free.
  • Firstly, I like Gears 5, alot. The campaign was excellent and on the whole I've enjoyed multiplayer too. I'm not an expert player and will never reach the top ranks but I can hold my own. I dont care for cosmetics, bloodsplats or flags in my opinion all pointless. But having said that unlocking characters is the grind of all grinds. I enjoy versus and horde mode but find escape boring, being forced to play endless games to unlock characters or pay over the top prices is a little hard to swallow. Gears 5 is and should be a flagship title but these issues have created a wave of negativity that needn't have been. I haven't experience any server issues so I guess I'm lucky but I think repricing the store needs to happen asap. I'm not averse to games as a service but when you pay £50 for a game the unlockable should be achievable or more reasonably priced. Charge less, sell more and earn more surely?? If a game is a service, the a full road map should be in place, maps, characters and modes. It saddens me that this just feeds the perception of MS and game pass fodder (not true as GP is excellent) but in order to increase Xboxs popularity MS need to stop shooting themselves in the foot.