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This week there seemed to be a lot of conversation around the gaming industry and the practice of early Access and Paying for broken products. Where does the blame lie and how to fix this mess, if it indeed can be fixed? And yes, the irony of having these conversations while also displaying new videos from Alpha/Bet products is not lost on me.
This week we debate the around our interests with H1Z1 and the current controversy surrounding Early Access issues and the Airdrop Mechanic. WE were both on different sides of this debate; IZZy the defender of the Apocalypse and Me, the dejected Hater. It was a mostly respectful debate though and no where near as hostile as you might think.
A video from the Extra credits team that i hadn’t seen until recently and seems rather apt at the moment. It’s an episode that looks at the issues with early access games and in times like this I found myself nodding to a lot of the points, having experienced and being worried about them.
As they mention there are benefits. That early influx of money can be very helpful for developers as can getting in a number of people that have no prior knowledge to actually test the product. This can help after the close work of development as many issues can be often overlooked. It’s also nice when these companies really do take community ideas and thoughts into practice, and incorporate these within the games. Games like project zomboid that I’ve been following have actively done this, even incorporated mods within the game and it makes it feel like that much more of an involved and inclusive process.
The problems are rather numerous too, the main of course being that you may never receive a completed game which has happened a few times. From small and larger studios. It’s also a disease that has seemingly spread amongst the bigger publishers now who ask for, basically, an extremely early preorder with a constant side order of “but it’s in beta”. However for smaller, mostly single player titles I see it as a good thing. It’s just when you enter the multiplayer, and especially the MMO scene that I feel the issues far outweigh any supposed benefits.
I’m guessing everyone and their mmo addicted marsupials out there have heard the recent news that Elder Scrolls Online will be going Buy to Play in March, ahead of the June console release to which I’ll give a tentative… yaaaay???
A new segment I now christen in order to highlight complete and utter douchery within the industry when it comes to payment models. I’m just done with it.
Also, I swear I’m not trying to be Syncain on his crusade against ftp in general although I might be in the same fellowship for now haha.
This time I just wanted to highlight a comment over at reddit wherein Smedley tries to Defend the Airdrop mechanic. A mechanic which in essence comes down to being a paid for lockbox with the chance (and from what I’ve seen a reasonable one) at getting weapons, ammo and gear. Something that they originally said would never be sold within their cash shop.
Oh but you basically have a random chance of even getting the lockbox you paid for so that makes it ok.
The games industry has been seeing a lot of change these last years in how it both markets and presents games now and as I see it, this has both been a positive thing but also incredibly problematic. We have the ability to get into games much earlier now through the many early access type programs and support growing games companies and ideas that wouldn’t have been realised. We have seen a lot more diversity in the game being made and played now because of this. It’s a great time. But it’s a model that seems to be increasingly problematic in the way it is sold, presented and in the ways larger games are taking advantage of the good will gamers give.
Now here is where things get a little harder to determine the actual effect of the various payment styles. They certainly do well in bringing more people into the game and genre but, as was said by the writer, you don’t have the pressure to like the game. Easy for the potential player to jump in and jump out at will with little forethought about the game. It kind implies that you wouldn’t feel the need to stick around if you faced any sort frustration or inconvenience; in the face of those the potential FtP player is likely to give up and go on to other titles.
This is an obvious change in the style of development we see in these newer FtP mmo’s. Everything is made just a little more easy and directed with removing the chance of the player feeling lost or confused. Quest are more streamlined from one to the next, markers are that much more obvious.. they even have bright glowing trails to follow or in some cases it will take you to the right place for you. It is a system that is slowly removing any sort of player input to the circumstance as well as requiring little thought to complete. A simplistic pez dispenser in most cases; hop on the ride and enjoy the loot. Continue reading →
As the next wave of mmo’s gets ever closer the debate surround payment models seems to be a continuous conversation point In the community. It’s divisive part of a games appeal with many people claiming off a game based on its particular payment model and I don’t see this changing. There is no right way but there is one thing that has been bothering me in the debate.
Many of the subscription games claim to be premium products but it’s a rather odd phrase to still be using. In many ways games are still a luxury product and paying a subscription for them was to be this premium service. Free to play games and all their iterations were marketed as a way to contend with this premium image by providing an experience that everyone could jump in and enjoy and not just to someone willing to hand over a credit card.
The thing is I don’t think, at least in the west, that even our free to play games have really shaken off that image of being a premium product. Looking around at the cash shops in these games, and even the account management services such as server transfers the prices denote a product that is still perceived by the developers, producers, and investors as a luxury market. -Word Spam Ahoy>
I miss subscriptions..not the funky “here have some points off our crazy cash shop prices to unlock some restrictions” kind of subscription but the real kind of “here’s all your content” kind of subscription. I know they are still around and doing well but it seems that just about every mmo coming out these days is going free to play as some sort of miracle cure. And I don’t like it..I don’t like it at all.
I would have to say my mmo infatuation started with rift.. there were many before that but Rift was the one which really sucked up a lot of my time and brought me to the mmo promised land. It is not an amazing mmo, but it was enough to captivate me for a long time. Looking back on it all one thing that actually promoted my enjoyment and immersion was just how simple it was to play. Just pay that monthly fee, which in the end you usually forget about. I wasn’t having to worry about all these different types of currency, pay walls and restrictions, lockboxe’s, and stupid mechanics being put in solely as a way of getting people to spend money. I just had to play.
I like how everything in the game was accessible with time because in the end, an mmo is meant to be a time investment. I’m not talking about the overabundance of dailies and such as they are a cheap mechanic to expand content but just how my investment in the game is rewarded. Many mmo’s now are tying in the game currency with the real money cash shops so that core players can gain such items without resorting to real money however the average, and even above average player in terms of time would never be able to play enough to gain what they want through this method as there are always some arbitrary costs. With a subscription I can focus on a particular area to attain specific rewards that I want but with ftp it is often repeating the same mundane tasks. In Gw2 it’s all about running the same dungeon..over and over, or if you have the mental acumen playing the Trading post (which really isn’t playing at all).
Even when they do have this method of payment it still feels like there are too many restrictions and that too much content and customization is locked behind this pay wall. Day to-day frustrations seem like that are a part of the model, sometimes I think this is why WoW is often so popular with casuals as the subscription model just made it soo much easier to play and avoid this unnecessary frustrations.
hmmm…Although in subscription games the frustrations seem to be based on spending more time than more money.. which is better or is there a better way?
The other thing I think is that when it comes to a subscriptions if someone isn’t enjoying the game it seems easier for them to just stop paying and playing. That monetary cost to fun factor analysis is relatively easy and simple to make but ftp has created this weird new feeling of just putting up with the bad/terrible times and mechanics since it’s free. Like somehow being free negates the bad..I don’t think so. Star Wars wasn’t a very good game with a subscription and it’s worse now with all these new restrictions yet somehow it’s become popular again though so I’m probably just an outlier on this.
It is still very much a learning experience for many of these developers but so far it seems that the demands of making a large profit (greed at times) are dramatically outweighing any sort of consideration for the players experience. I like Free to play sometimes. It can and has been done well but I feel much more comfortable in games paying a subscription, it just feels… easier.
I just read a blog post (arrrg where) on the ftp model and it got me thinking as to what I prefer. There are a few different types of payment methods such as FtP, PtP, Btp, or the truckloads of DLC approach with each of these differing in so many ways that I really can’t decide…. But the thing is, I don’t think we should as there are far more important things to think about such as “is the product any good”. If that is a yes then I don’t think it matters how they are going about getting some cash of you, hell I would sign over my soul for a decent game at certain times. If it is a no then that game need not exist to me.
Now everyone of course has their percieved value of the product depending on their own interests and whether or not that product is worthy of throwing money at the screen. This is why I don’t understand people whom follow a dogma of a chosen monotenizstion strategy, every instinctively adds a value to a product or experience and just disregarding that by claiming to never touch a product of a certain payment style is going against the laws of nature. It’s just inhuman in a way. -Word Spam Ahoy>