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11-19-18 02:55:30 AM

Jul - Gaming - Monetization in games New poll - New thread - New reply
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Posted on 02-25-18 11:57:12 PM Link | Quote
I feel like monetization has gotten out of control in the last few years; rather than making games that are genuinely good or fun to play, gated behind some paid amount, it feels like almost every game these days has some awful scheme to rip people off embedded in it. Mobile games are especially bad about this; I have had a few games from before that were a few dollars to get and then provided a casual play experience that I could pick up or put down at any time, but now it's been locked behind paywalls engineered to remove people from their money.

Worse, these schemes are working really well, fed by "whales" (people who spend tons of money on these games), especially with gacha (random-chance) events and other garbage ... It's to the point that I'm starting to worry that the traditional style of game will be going away, in favor of these awful things. This is already happening with some of the major AAA studios, because they're always in search of more profit, but... oof.

I don't really know what can be done about this other than some form of legislation, and even then it's obvious that companies subjected to it are finding any loophole they can to get out of it; Blizzard's Hearthstone workarounds in China makes for a good example.
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Posted on 02-26-18 04:26:47 AM Link | Quote
I spend a lot of time thinking how to monetize games (cause it sucks to release them for nothing).

For mobile and web games, free + reward ads (and tastefully placed forced ads) and a premium currency seems to be the best way to go, both for enjoyment and return on your time as a developer.

Paid games on those platforms seem to have a bad time, because you have to advertise heavily (but that's half of gamedev anyway).

Gatcha games are terrible. They're usually just barely fun to play on their own, but heavily emphasize the spectacle of winning a lottery. They're really not much different from slot machines, except you're not actually getting any money back, and if they spend time building up that in game currency, they're probably also getting a few ad views. It's incredibly effective and not hard to see why developers would create entire games around it, especially if they can get a popular license.

As a dev, I hate that I have to think about that shit. Even considering doing something like Bitcoin mining as an alternative to having to see ads. The one game I was making that was going to focus on ads/premium currency, I wound up not even wanting to finish even though it's 80% done.

Indie devs will never let the old model die though. There's always gonna be some crew that just released games without the bullshit and still see success (see: locomalito)

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Posted on 03-03-18 07:09:17 PM Link | Quote
it's not just monetization, if it hasn't happened widescale yet, then it will soon: the psychology marketdroids have their hands all over the gameplay portions too. Gameplay isn't thereto be a game rules to play by, but a way to keep you playin theirs games and (ideally) giving them money.

increasingly I can only stand games in the older/indie style. i look through steam now and again and nothing ever looks interesting anymore.
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Posted on 03-03-18 07:43:22 PM Link | Quote
I would be incredibly unsurprised if there was a huge convergence between "gaming" (a.k.a. gambling) and "gaming" (a.k.a. video/pc gaming) in the next ten years. The process has already started and it's only going to get worse.
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Posted on 03-03-18 09:44:00 PM Link | Quote
Overall I rather enjoy Blizzard's approach to loot boxes. It's all cosmetic, there's no trading market, no cost to unlock boxes, and you can reroll.

They added a cash shop a while back to WoW that has two aspects. Cosmetic pet and mounts, and WoW Tokens, which you can buy and sell for gold in-game and are worth one month's subscription or the equivalent in Battle.Net account balance. This has dramatically fucked with RMT gold sellers as well as giving people with a veritable battalion of max-level characters the ability to pay for their subscription with in-game currency instead of real money. Hell, I know a lot of people who used gold to buy tokens and use the converted balance to pre-order the next expansion.

The key things here are that the loot boxes don't have keys and the loot and microtransactions are bind-to-account cosmetic stuff. There's no gambling market to be had here.

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Posted on 03-03-18 09:59:40 PM (last edited by Lunaria at 03-04-18 05:36:57 AM) Link | Quote
Second market value is honestly pretty secondary to me. It's a problem, but it's only really a problem in the sense that it allows people to cash out.

I think the bigger issues here is simply put how it operates under the same psychological effects as gambling. Game design has always been, and always will be, about psychological manipulation of the player. This is not bad per say, it leads to better games then ones where the player is not properly thought mechanics, etc. But using the same concepts to bring forward addictive behaviour is insidious. It's not at all by chance, companies know what they are doing and what they are aiming for with these kind of systems.

If a game features loot crates or other insidious "progression" (or otherwise) systems then that raises a lot of warning flags for me. And most of the time makes the game in question not at all attracting for me to play.


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Posted on 03-03-18 10:39:37 PM Link | Quote
I don't play a lot of games nowadays (especially non-Nintendo ones), but it's been hard to avoid hearing about things like the Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot box thing. I think the most startling things for me have been seeing Pokemon games dabble in free-to-play stuff with the spin-off titles because of how popular it is with young children.

The people at Extra Credits made a number of videos about this exact issue from the perspective of game developers who want to see video games grow as an art medium. I think the videos are worth checking out, even if you don't agree with them, because we mostly only see the perspective of the people who buy and play the games.

Here are some of their recent videos, made in response to the Battlefront situation.

Games Should Not Cost $60 Anymore - Inflation, Microtransactions, and Publishing
Why Do Games Cost So Much To Make? - AAA Game Budgets
The Loot Box Question - Designing Ethical Lootboxes: I
The Legality of Loot Boxes - Designing Ethical Lootboxes: II
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Posted on 03-03-18 11:29:46 PM (last edited by DigitalBasic at 03-03-18 11:31:39 PM) Link | Quote
Originally posted by Kazinsal
The key things here are that the loot boxes don't have keys and the loot and microtransactions are bind-to-account cosmetic stuff. There's no gambling market to be had here.

Incorrect. It is a gambling market, just instead of other users it is directly between the user and Blizzard.

They have had multiple timed events with timed exclusive skins and emotes. They also throw in TONS of voice clips and sprays to make it even harder to get a skin. It tempts people to buy more boxes due to the limited nature of skins AND the satisfying feel of opening a loot box. It's a literal slot machine in a premium game you already spent $40-60 on.

Yes, you don't have to spend money, but that option is there to prey on people who are susceptible to gambling tendencies.

In the AAA gamespace they have become so ingrained in the gameplay that they actually impact the game itself. Look at Star Wars Battlefront II. There were a lot of issues with that to the point they said they removed the loot boxes entirely, and it turns out that to unlock things normally ended up taking THOUSANDS of games before unlocks were completed. Guess what? Loot-boxes were the only thing you could use to speed that up. Middle-Earth Shadow of War also made loot boxes an integral part of the game, forcing you to go to the in-game marketplace with a notification you have free boxes to open. Even worse, they said they help speed up the end-game because it apparently becomes a complete slog without spending MORE money to spend it up. They designed the game with the sole intent of making it more tempting to buy a loot box.

If you haven't watched any of Jim Sterling's Jimquisition videos on microtransactions and loot boxes, please do so. You don't have to agree with his humor but he does make good points on this topic very well to show how predatory they actually are.

Also if you believe there are too many microtransactions in video games, just jump into Indie games instead. There are so many of them these days and a lot of the best ones don't even have microtransactions or loot boxes or even DLC. This year alone had Iconoclasts, Celeste, and Into The Breach.

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Posted on 03-04-18 06:12:30 AM Link | Quote
Originally posted by Peardian
Here are some of their recent videos, made in response to the Battlefront situation.
Actually, outside of the latest one it was not made in response to the BF2 thing, or at least so they say. I have been following EC for years, and I do think they make a lot of good stuff.

But, on these issues I have to cordially disagree with them. When you're sitting with companies turning really large profits and avoiding taxes using tax heavens, then any claim that they don't make enough money is a load of horseshit. This industry has a lot of issues, employees in game companies are treated like shit with the working conditions and are generally payed less than similar jobs in other industries. Many face the real possibility of getting fired due to some arbitrary product expectation (meta-critic score, profit margins, etc), despite the product being profitable.

And you know what would happen if these companies would make more profits? They sure as hell wouldn't fix the issues in the industry.

A lot of these large costs in the industry is a bigger factor when dealing with smaller companies trying to break into the market. And that's always a risk, regardless of industry. I have a lot more respect and sympathy for all the small studies making great games but just die because their product never gets any attention in this market, than I have for large AAA companies bitching about not making enough money.

And that's not even getting into the effect these type of things has on games. Monetization is not a side part of a game, it is the game. Your choice in model decides on how you design your game from the ground up. A subscription fee based game needs to have recurring content expansions or otherwise something to keep players playing for long periods of time. (Though session length is irrelevant). You don't just put in lootboxes as some side thing in an otherwise "normal" game, you have to make changes to the formula to make them relevant.

To me, the type of gameplay lootboxes (and other similar models bring forward) is just very damaging to the experience. You're constantly pestered (both by the game and psychologically in your head) with a need to acquire these things, the game turns from playing a game into playing a game to acquire lootboxes. I didn't play hearthstone for three years(?) because I thought the gameplay was fun, in fact, I had a terrible time constantly. You didn't open cardpacks to play the game in hearthstone, you played the game to open cardpacks, because that was the most (and to me only) satisfying part of the game.

If AAA studios wants to turn all their game into that garbage (while on the same time charging up-front, lol), then I'm out, I want no part of that horse shit. There are still companies that makes games that aren't compromising the entire point of a game in order to make money, and I would rather support them.

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Posted on 03-04-18 01:45:24 PM Link | Quote
As someone who is very, uh, affected by gambling bullshit: Loot boxes in general are very much made to trigger the same responses that gambling does. And it fucking sucks.
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Posted on 03-07-18 07:16:04 PM Link | Quote
Being someone in this field, it's really not a good industry. I want to make a comprehensive essay in detail about these problems and I likely will and post it in this threat, but I will post an excerpt from my about page on my website that I did yesterday that is exactly about this sort of problem.

In a more figurative sense, I learned a lot about the landscape of game development. There's a vicious current within the professional world actively discouraging independent games and art. Most people who fall into this current have very flimsy reasoning that is rooted in the Capitalist status quo. It's not maximized quality or financially viable to many of these people, and they don't seem to like the ideology of many indie artists. Which, that last part merits its own longform essay. Just because it may be substandard within the framework of industry, it isn't beholden to producers who ultimately have full control over what you create; nor does it have to adhere to any sort of exploitative terms or compromising changes. More than that; industry game staff are subject to unstable work opportunities with common layoffs, multiple months in a row of 60-70 hour crunch time, and almost always now, a contractual relinquishment of all rights for all intellectual property created during employment, including personal art you create at home.
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Posted on 03-21-18 12:23:31 PM Link | Quote
Originally posted by Mirzaba
a contractual relinquishment of all rights for all intellectual property created during employment, including personal art you create at home.


That can't fuck off hard enough.


Potential rant about the above aside, I don't think it's that much of a waste I don't bother much with AAA stuff or mobile. Largely because I don't have much interest in specific games but I also tend to enjoy looking at all the stuff that happens over on amateur spaces ( mostly, includes indie as well) and older PC games that tend to be pretty cheap second hand these days. The former is fun for curiosity, but it helps if you can get compersion out of it as well. It's quite unfortunate though that there's apparently not much of a living in indie games unless you happen to get a surge of publicity.

This may be off topic: The latest AAA game I played (i think) was DOOM (2016) and the main menu for that was a weird tile thing that I think more games use these days. They resemble the menus consoles use and they feel disorienting. The only thing they seem to be beneficial for is ad space.

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Posted on 09-12-18 03:33:14 PM Link | Quote
Remember expansion packs? Like DLC before it was DLC? Cheaper than a new game, adds on to the existing one. Those were cool.

Then someone realized they can cut stuff out of the initial game to release as DLC later (or even on release day), sell stupid cosmetic things instead of actual new content, or just lock out content in the game and sell DLC that just unlocks it. And now it just gets milked to death.

And don't even get me started on mobile "games" that exist solely to show ads and/or manipulate you into buying virtual fruits. You know when a "free" game can afford elaborate TV ads, there's something going on there.

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Posted on 09-12-18 04:27:40 PM Link | Quote
The best kinds of that are the ones where, well, you could get this content for free if you just play the game enough, and grinded for hours... or you could pay us a few bucks here and there to skip that and unlock it right now~

This is especially sinister in multiplayer games in which EXP or the like is progression — literal pay-to-win schemes, or in some cases straight pay-to-play, with the clothing of "but they aren't required".
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