Games-as-a-Disservice: Emergent value co-destruction in platform business models

Miikka J Lehtonen, Mikko Vesa, J. Tuomas Harviainen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Digital distribution has enabled game studios to reach global audiences and treat mobile games as services rather than products, creating novel opportunities to develop value propositions through the games-as-a-service (GaaS) approach. Yet simultaneously, there are also negative consequences caused by a sharp focus on maximizing profits at the expense of customer enjoyment. Drawing on a study bridging game development and gameplay experience, we shed light on the negative consequences of GaaS. We introduce the concept of Games-as-a-Disservice that draws on value co-destruction research by highlighting how platform business models in mobile games have emergent properties that paradoxically seem to encourage the creation and maintenance of negative playing experiences. Disservice in game development is conceptualized through four analytical themes: predatory monetization, play as labor, support denial and closure denial. To counter these properties, companies could adopt participatory design methods for a more granulated understanding of who plays their games and why.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-574
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Business Research
Early online date4 Dec 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Dec 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Consumer participation
  • Disservice
  • Game development
  • Mobile games
  • Value co-destruction


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