Modern gaming business practices

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Raid
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Modern gaming business practices

Post by Raid » Thu Oct 18, 2018 11:34 am

This is a rant I initially typed into the Black Ops 4 thread, but I think it's worth having it as a separate discussion.

CoD:BlOps 4 costs £50 for the standard version, and apparently £80+ for the version that comes with all of the content. The whole notion of charging £50 for an incomplete game leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. When editions above and beyond the standard £30-40 (I suppose I'm going back a few years here) full version started to be released, they were just supplied with extras, usually physical items and maybe a few digital bits of little consequence. Then publishers worked out that they could charge more for the promise of additional content at a later date with the season pass. The argument at the time was that it was content that couldn't be made prior to release. Well, now they're just charging more up front for the rest of the game's content, available at release so the previous excuse doesn't hold water. In CoD's case, they're even daring to charge the same amount despite stripping out the single player content. This is an absolutely vile business practice.

I think the days of me buying and playing AAA games are pretty much over. I'm keeping an eye on Red Dead Redemption 2, because Rockstar have a history of delivering an absolutely enormous game bursting with content for the same price as everyone else's pitiful-by-comparison offerings. I'm not pre-ordering it though, I'd need to see reviews and initial impressions first. Nintendo are continuing to buck the above trend by releasing full games and then either adding content for free, or charging for DLC at a later time. An up-front season pass did creep into BotW; to my knowledge that's the only time they've done it, and the initial game was massive and felt complete to begin with, so it didn't leave quite such a bad impression on me.

If I think of the games I've played and loved in the last five years, the majority have not been big releases. Breath of the Wild is the standout game, probably the one I've put the most time into (although it was doubled because my Switch was stolen and I lost my save file, but then very few games would be able to draw me in like that a second time), but titles like Enter the Gungeon, Rimworld and Lumines, all games that cost a fraction of £50 AAA titles, have held my attention for just as long.

Gaming has become too expensive, and I think it's largely down to corporate greed. I hate to sound like Jim Sterling, someone I have watched a lot of content from lately but whose overwhelming negativity I do not admire, but it really does feel like the games industry is trying to see just how much it can get away with. I'm told the most recent Assassin's Creed feels like it has been balanced around the player purchasing XP-boosting microtransactions. EA's Battlefront 2 caused such a stink that national governments took notice. All the while, small developers are creating absolute gold that, while possibly leveraging nostalgia too often, and bypassing the big publishers altogether.

I don't know how sustainable this industry really is any more.

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DjchunKfunK
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Re: Modern gaming business practices

Post by DjchunKfunK » Thu Oct 18, 2018 11:53 am

The £80 version includes stuff already made? I thought the premium versions were just the ones including the 'season pass'.

EDIT: I wouldn't believe that stuff about AC Odyssey I think it's way off base and manufactured to feed the anti-microtransaction agenda.

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Re: Modern gaming business practices

Post by Sly Boots » Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:42 pm

If I looked over my purchases this year I think the overwhelming majority will have been from smaller and indie publishers, and I've played some cracking games. That decision has only partly been due to price (I flat out refuse to pay triple-A launch prices these days as I can't justify that sort of cost), but increasingly these smaller devs/publishers are producing games that are matching an interesting premise with excellent design and production quality. Long may it continue.

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Re: Modern gaming business practices

Post by Achtung Englander » Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:58 pm

yeah Jim Sterling summed it up perfectly this week



I wholly sympathise and agree with your frustration Raid. I resigned to the fact that new AAA games is beyond my reach as I cannot afford to pay £40 plus for a game (actually I can but I will not out of an obligation to use my money more wisely). Most of the "new" AAA games I play are over 4 years old when they start hitting discounts. Similar to Sly Boot's comment about indies, smaller experiences that deliver great gameplay are more fun because they can be completed without investing hundreds of hours, no compulsion to buy DLC or MTX and there is no social media pressure to be "part of the conversation". I cannot even recall the last time I was part of the conversation for new games, only as far as talking about reviews and imagine I work in the industry. I have been working in games since 2008 and everyone around me plays the latest and greatest while I am playing something that released 4 years ago. You know what - I don't care because I am having fun with the here and now without any sort of bullshit pressure to "beat" a game or have bragging rights. Fuck that shit. Before I left NPD my fellow analyst, Mat Piscatella, go to game are baseball ones - Out Of The Park. He has put hundreds of hours into those games and he could not care less about the latest releases because he is too busy having fun. I have taken a leaf out of his book. I can understand the pressure if you are young and need to talk about it with your mates but to the life of me I do not know where people find the time and the money to play so much.

AAA publishers are tapping into gambling mechanics to milk their customers out of more and more money and believe it or not, as sad as it is to say, its working. Their revenues are soaring due to MTX because there are always idiots who will buy more and more content either out of fear of being left behind or because the mechanics of the game compels you to buy more. Its sickening but it is not going away, so you kind of have to get used to it.

My biggest bug bear, on a side note, is when video bloggers or gamers say "there is nothing to play and I am waiting for x game to come out". Really ! :shock: There are literally thousands of games and hundreds of pretty decent good ones and several tens of amazing ones. I cannot abide such idiocracy or fickleness.
Games playing : ENSLAVED™: Odyssey to the West / RIME / S.T.A.L.K.E.R Shadow of Chernobyl

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Re: Modern gaming business practices

Post by Raid » Thu Oct 18, 2018 4:27 pm

I think what I like about indies and other low-priced titles is that I'm not too worried about not enjoying them or getting tired of them quickly. Kingdom Come Deliverance was the last full-priced title I bought, and I just didn't gel with it at all, and I hated the fact I'd spent so much on it which further soured my opinion. Still, there are so many low-priced titles that I'm interested in at the moment, I just don't see the need to spend £50 on anything. Even a title I was really looking forward to like Octopath Traveller I've just had to ignore because I couldn't justify the full price.

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Re: Modern gaming business practices

Post by Mantis » Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:05 pm

Welcome to the light side, indie gaming has been where it's at for five or six years now, if you can search through the deluge of piss poor titles there are some all time greats to be found. I think I play maybe one AAA title a year now, if that.
DjchunKfunK wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 11:53 am
I wouldn't believe that stuff about AC Odyssey I think it's way off base and manufactured to feed the anti-microtransaction agenda.
I'm sure it's been exaggerated slightly because the internet thrives on hyperbole, but I still don't doubt for a second that the experience is dragged out unnecessarily to allow for level-skip MTX to be implemented. Something like Assassin's Creed has absolutely no need to be 100 hours long when an enormous amount of it is built on repetition of generic side quests. It is dragged out with busywork to try and tempt people into spending money.

When I saw the pre-release material of the dev bragging that the new game was the biggest ever I immediately knew that I wouldn't be buying it.

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Re: Modern gaming business practices

Post by DjchunKfunK » Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:41 pm

Something like Assassin's Creed has absolutely no need to be 100 hours long when an enormous amount of it is built on repetition of generic side quests. It is dragged out with busywork to try and tempt people into spending money.
That is not true in the case of Odyseey. Yes there are standard missions that are just the same thing over and over, but they are just bounty board stuff that you can ignore. There is a lot of stuff in this game and most of the missions are akin to Witcher 3, not up to the same quality, but are similar in nature. Additionally you don't need to go to every island and do every quest to get to the end of the story. This is not your classic AC game, it is basically an RPG with the AC name stuck on it.

I know people can't see an xp boost for sale in a game and not think that the game has been tailored so that you are incentivised to buy it, but that doesn't make it true. Origins had the same microtransactions, but because more people enjoyed that game and it wasn't full of as much stuff, nobody made the same claim.

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Re: Modern gaming business practices

Post by Raid » Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:06 pm

Sterling's take on the matter does have a certain logic to it; you wouldn't sell something that players won't want or need to buy, therefore the availability of progression-quickening microtransactions does sorta suggest that they've artificially lengthened the grind to make the microtransactions desirable. To what extent is of course entirely debatable, but I have to agree that games boasting of a 100 hour length are most likely going to be a slog at times and such talk does put me off.

There's a certain logic to progression boosting when it comes to multiplayer games, where some aren't going to have the same amount of time to put in as others, and may feel the need to pay to remain competitive. In single-player games though you're effectively paying not to play the game, which is just utterly backwards for a piece of entertainment.

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Re: Modern gaming business practices

Post by DjchunKfunK » Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:11 am

Sterling's take on the matter does have a certain logic to it; you wouldn't sell something that players won't want or need to buy,
Disagree about the second part of that statement, there are tons of microtransaction things that players don't need to buy, cosmetics for instance. The whole idea behind microtransactions is that publishers are trying to sell you stuff you don't need.

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Re: Modern gaming business practices

Post by Achtung Englander » Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:20 am

Yes it is utterly bizarre. You pay money for something and then you pay more money to take some of that away :shock:
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Re: Modern gaming business practices

Post by Raid » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:43 am

DjchunKfunK wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:11 am
Sterling's take on the matter does have a certain logic to it; you wouldn't sell something that players won't want or need to buy,
Disagree about the second part of that statement, there are tons of microtransaction things that players don't need to buy, cosmetics for instance. The whole idea behind microtransactions is that publishers are trying to sell you stuff you don't need.
I think cosmetics are covered by the "want" part of that statement.

What I was trying to convey is that nobody wants to make a product that will not sell, so they have to ensure there is a market for that product. To ensure there is a market for a product like progression boosting microtransactions, the obvious way to create a market is to make the progression path longer.

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Re: Modern gaming business practices

Post by DjchunKfunK » Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:50 am

Raid wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:43 am
DjchunKfunK wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:11 am
Sterling's take on the matter does have a certain logic to it; you wouldn't sell something that players won't want or need to buy,
Disagree about the second part of that statement, there are tons of microtransaction things that players don't need to buy, cosmetics for instance. The whole idea behind microtransactions is that publishers are trying to sell you stuff you don't need.
I think cosmetics are covered by the "want" part of that statement.

What I was trying to convey is that nobody wants to make a product that will not sell, so they have to ensure there is a market for that product. To ensure there is a market for a product like progression boosting microtransactions, the obvious way to create a market is to make the progression path longer.
I would argue that time saving microtransactions were designed for the cash rich, time poor rather than designed around a game that was artificially lengthened.

When it comes down to it often nobody can say definitively whether a game with time saving microtransactions has been artificially lengthened and it will come down to the individual playing the game and how they feel. So they obviously have a detrimental effect and should not be there, but at the same time I think it is wrong to claim that time saving microtransactions automatically mean a game has been artificially lengthened.

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Re: Modern gaming business practices

Post by Raid » Fri Oct 19, 2018 12:07 pm

While I suppose you have a point, I would struggle to believe that a publisher would insist on a marketplace being developed and operated for what is surely a tiny niche product. It just isn't in their best interests. Perhaps the idea started off that way, but publishers like EA and Ubisoft don't get to the size that they are through altruism.

Isn't it telling that the games with the largest audience and largest budgets are the ones that are causing the fuss here? EA and Ubisoft pay their top execs tens of millions of dollars a year, so one could hardly suggest that they're in any financial trouble (spiraling development costs having been the primary reason given for microtransactions existing for a number of years). That sort of pay can't be justified unless they are making gains for their shareholders, and the way to make gains year on year is to find additional revenue streams. At least in my experience, smaller games don't have them unless they operate on a free-to-play model.

I can't recall ever hearing someone wishing there was a paid progression path in a game before. I've never once seen someone ask for an XP boost system for them to buy. What I have seen, on countless messageboards, for as long as I've been on the Internet, are players demanding the game be balanced correctly. I just do not believe that people *want* to pay to play the games that they have already spent money on.

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Re: Modern gaming business practices

Post by Achtung Englander » Fri Oct 19, 2018 12:37 pm

=D>
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Re: Modern gaming business practices

Post by Achtung Englander » Fri Oct 19, 2018 12:47 pm

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