Jimquisition: Fee to Pay

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Fee to Pay

It's time to talk about why "optional" microtransactions in games aren't really optional, and why they're especially gruesome in games we already paid for at retail.

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Do you have any specific examples to where this principle works really well and where it does not (Dead Space 3 obviously)
Why, and why not?

What would your opinion be on things like League of Legends, TF2 or Dota 2?

To me, optional should really REALLY be very damn optional.
Even "convenience" to some extent i dont believe to be all that optional really especially not in a f2p game like World of Tanks where convenience IS the game and IS a huge part of it, the difference between a standard account and a premium can be like night and day despite all the "optional convenience" that the devs claim has little to no impact even though it very clearly does.

Well they needed to find SOME way to make Dead Space 3 scary.

So once again it would seem the optimal solution would be to burn the Publishers in a fire. ...or at least the executives that run them.

I think the people who are worst affected by the fee to pay are the ones who could only afford just the game only at bargain prices, and have no money for the fees.

Being like that when I was growing up, that shit hurt me the most when games frequently remind you you're poor

Jim, what could they really sell you if they added such elements in a Dynasty Warrior game anyway? An ability to one-shot Lu Bu? The ability to climb ladders faster? Mounting horses in midair like in the opening sequence?

Then again, I am sure they'd just use it for uninspired "quality of life" crap. If John Riccitiello published a Dynasty Warriors game he'd probably let players pay a dollar to add an extra ten seconds to the Musou.

Sadly, I can believe all to well that the developers don't want any part in this. I used to work for a high street chain who shall remain nameless. Said chain mandates from head office that every customer must be asked whether they want "Any of our special offers" from the till. Needless to say, the customers usually say no. Some are more vitriolic in their dismissal. But when a member of the board was being interview on the radio or TV or something (I forget which), someone phoned in the question on why they insist all cashiers ask that question every time. Their response? "On no, our cashiers LIKE asking you that. They ENJOY it."

I have no problem with free to play games but when you put cash shops in games you have to pay up front for, that's when I call BS! Putting a cash shop in WOW when you still need to subscribe, makes zero sense until you look back at last's weeks news of the game losing subscribers. So just like Jim said Blizzard is trying to leach the diehard wow fans for all there worth(if they want to and the word is even they hate the idea of a cash shop) until having to have wow go f2p while blizzard is kicking and screaming.

For the record, not to play devil advocate but when I did play wow, I did buy a mount for all my characters through battle net but that was only so I didn't have to grind out gold in game for a F***ing mount, since I suck at crafting, and use the in game money I saved towards paying my class trainer.

This is why I am getting into the indi scene rather then even attempt to hop aboard one of the sinking ships that are the current giants of the industry. Not only will I not get to make the games I want to make, the way I want to make them, but all of this has the stench of death. Nothing could be so obviously desperate and indicative of a coming crash then the ridiculous things the industry is currently doing just to try and stay afloat.

I want to make games one day, but I don't want any part of this "house of cards" that makes up the industry of today.

Fappy:
Jim, what could they really sell you if they added such elements in a Dynasty Warrior game anyway? An ability to one-shot Lu Bu? The ability to climb ladders faster? Mounting horses in midair like in the opening sequence?

Then again, I am sure they'd just use it for uninspired "quality of life" crap. If John Riccitiello published a Dynasty Warriors game he'd probably let players pay a dollar to add an extra ten seconds to the Musou.

Like I said, the "buy level ups for gold" thing is something that sounds designed ENTIRELY for free-to-play. Never used to, but it'd be the perfect way to add microtransactions into DW, given how many characters they are and how long it can take to get them all to level 99.

However, since DW is a real videogame, it didn't do that.

Jim, you're right on the money in this episode! :P

I'm actually curious about your opinion of Guild Wars 2. It matches a similar kind of model... you buy the game at $60, and it has microtransactions all over in it like many F2P MMOs... and yet, it seems to do it right. Most of the items you buy are cosmetics, services, and convenience items. At the same time, however, in-game gold can be purchased with Gems (Money currency), and vice versa.

Weresquirrel:
Sadly, I can believe all to well that the developers don't want any part in this. I used to work for a high street chain who shall remain nameless. Said chain mandates from head office that every customer must be asked whether they want "Any of our special offers" from the till. Needless to say, the customers usually say no. Some are more vitriolic in their dismissal. But when a member of the board was being interview on the radio or TV or something (I forget which), someone phoned in the question on why they insist all cashiers ask that question every time. Their response? "On no, our cashiers LIKE asking you that. They ENJOY it."

Ew. That reminds me of how some abusive relationships work.

Never really liked the idea of free to play elements in games you do pay to own, but this has sold me on the idea that they shouldn't ever be used in non-FTP games.
At least not when trading on convenience, or power. Because then it's just too tempting to abuse that, and I don't trust anyone not to abuse that kind of influence.

Thank God for you, Jim. =w= b

Chessrook44:
I'm actually curious about your opinion of Guild Wars 2. It matches a similar kind of model... you buy the game at $60, and it has microtransactions all over in it like many F2P MMOs... and yet, it seems to do it right. Most of the items you buy are cosmetics, services, and convenience items. At the same time, however, in-game gold can be purchased with Gems (Money currency), and vice versa.

Guild Wars 2 is an interesting case, especially since it's also an MMO, which brings with it its own set of considerations. On the whole, I feel like GW2 is full of examples of how to both do F2P *and* MMOs correctly. I've not spent one thin dime on anything on GW2, but had a total blast, and if I get back into it, I may well buy things -- not because I feel I have to, but because I want to.

And that's when you know a game has done microtransactions correctly -- when you want to go out of your way to buy a thing, not when you were bullied and funneled into doing it.

i refuse to play fee games like this -the problem i have is that its set up so you can't make any real progress without paying. i tried playing the shin megami tensai one and not only was it buggy as hell but it also had nothing i could get that would be anywere near as good as the pay items. all the ones in game are bad -they don't work well and don't do much damage at all and the game is built so you have to buy the other ones or just get killed over and over again. plus people seem willing to buy this shit and constantly get pillaged. so i say we ignore these game all together its games with that kind of system are evil and should be shunned.

If i buy something i don't want to keep buying it-its the same reason i don't like on disk dlc

Jimothy Sterling:

Fappy:
Jim, what could they really sell you if they added such elements in a Dynasty Warrior game anyway? An ability to one-shot Lu Bu? The ability to climb ladders faster? Mounting horses in midair like in the opening sequence?

Then again, I am sure they'd just use it for uninspired "quality of life" crap. If John Riccitiello published a Dynasty Warriors game he'd probably let players pay a dollar to add an extra ten seconds to the Musou.

Like I said, the "buy level ups for gold" thing is something that sounds designed ENTIRELY for free-to-play. Never used to, but it'd be the perfect way to add microtransactions into DW, given how many characters they are and how long it can take to get them all to level 99.

However, since DW is a real videogame, it didn't do that.

This reminds me of a recent trend I've noticed in some 3DS RPGs that sell "grind" DLC. I suppose that's sort of the same principle. If you're not familiar with it it's not much of a departure from what you discussed in this episode. Basically you drop an extra $3 and are transported to the land of super fast grinding (such was the case for FE: Awakening and SMT IV). I'm kind of on the fence about it as these kinds of shortcuts never existed in JRPGs before (that I am aware of) and the game doesn't seem balanced around their existence. Then again, I kind of feel that it sullies the spirit of the game a bit.

Would you say it qualifies as a dirty money-grubbing tactic, or can it be justified?

Developers being forced to include freekium elements, and then subsequently forced to say that it was all their idea is honestly the part of this whole pile of smelly poo that sickens me the most.

Edit:

Fappy:
This reminds me of a recent trend I've noticed in some 3DS RPGs that sell "grind" DLC. I suppose that's sort of the same principle. If you're not familiar with it it's not much of a departure from what you discussed in this episode. Basically you drop an extra $3 and are transported to the land of super fast grinding (such was the case for FE: Awakening and SMT IV). I'm kind of on the fence about it as these kinds of shortcuts never existed in JRPGs before (that I am aware of) and the game doesn't seem balanced around their existence. Then again, I kind of feel that it sullies the spirit of the game a bit.

Would you say it qualifies as a dirty money-grubbing tactic, or can it be justified?

Dirty money grubbing, hands-down. I do not want to play a game that's set up for that sort of thing.

Jim you are right on the bloody button with this episode and im glad you brought it up.

Publishers know damn well that games are addictive and they are looking at mainstreaming microtransactions in games the same way the tobacco industry looks at smokers.

This is sadly going to infest the console market bit by bit until paying more in a game for a game you have already paid for becomes the norm.

On the subject of said unnamed publisher. It's not theory. They've done it already. (See Final Fantasy IV: The After Years) We're too late.

JarinArenos:
Developers being forced to include freekium elements, and then subsequently forced to say that it was all their idea is honestly the part of this whole pile of smelly poo that sickens me the most.

Edit:

Fappy:
This reminds me of a recent trend I've noticed in some 3DS RPGs that sell "grind" DLC. I suppose that's sort of the same principle. If you're not familiar with it it's not much of a departure from what you discussed in this episode. Basically you drop an extra $3 and are transported to the land of super fast grinding (such was the case for FE: Awakening and SMT IV). I'm kind of on the fence about it as these kinds of shortcuts never existed in JRPGs before (that I am aware of) and the game doesn't seem balanced around their existence. Then again, I kind of feel that it sullies the spirit of the game a bit.

Would you say it qualifies as a dirty money-grubbing tactic, or can it be justified?

Dirty money grubbing, hands-down. I do not want to play a game that's set up for that sort of thing.

Like I said, having played both games I sited I can tell you neither are balanced around the grind DLCs. I didn't even know about them on my first playthrough of Fire Emblem and the only reason I can think of that you'd need them in SMT IV is if you wanted to cheese it up with a level 99 Pixie or didn't want to spend the time grinding the money for the end-game super items (that are not necessary, but cool).

That awkward moment when you hear someone say something that should be common sense but it feels fresh new and innovative in our modern world.

AKA: When Jimquisition comes on.

Show should be renamed: We're all thinking it, but i guess someone has to say it.

So what is the solution? Don't buy Dead Space, I already did that?

To offer a dececenting opinion, I can't help but think thing will balance out. Publisher do have to make money so they will do things to make money. The consumer can only afford to pay x amount and will flock to games that they can afford and satisfy them.

Tribes:Ascend is the PC super races' ultimate dream, where F2P is TRUE! though leveling/gaining is slow, but they DID offered a complete package; like $40 bucks to unlock EVERYTHING. This game is designed/executed under the grounds of "Side grade" instead of up grade; "Skills to win" instead of P2W; Classes/load out are designed for play-style/tactic changes, not "winning combo". I loved this game last year, and will go back to it when I finish my stack of unfinished games...

I've always hated when I spoke to my mother about gaming, she claims that games are "drugs", I call them hobby, and they hold nothing over my will. But I can't say that anymore, when games are sold to us like buying drugs off a drug dealer... Much like selling drug, they boast "free to enjoy", but in reality, the moment you exit the first few levels, the game instantly become a "grind fest" or "P2W > F2P". Once they got you in to that mode, you'd either cough up some cash, or be a perma-noob(NOT BY SKILL, but by STATS). MMO-games I stay away from, but shit like EA pulling P2W on AAA titles? nasty, just nasty... good thing my bro and I found a game broken bug where you can quick farm HELLA resource, and generally, we pown this game, (when you ONLY use rocket launcher, the game tends to give you more rocket ammo than not...) and we felt unattached after the DLC, this franchise is now DEAD SPACE in our memories of game titles... the second ending was pure shit...

Over all... F2P CAN happen, but usually not.. P2W games should be avoided by all players... remember... when you buy/pay/play(YES, EVEN WHEN YOU PLAY, or CONTINUES TO PLAY) a game, you are casting a vote, that you support the kind of game mechanics, marketing style, business practices, and how they balance that game...

"A serpent around the neck" is an amazing analogy. Whether its yours or not, well done.

I really appreciate you addressing this. I've become increasingly more frustrated with this and occasionally even disgusted while playing a game that tries to coerce me into this practice. Great work, Jim. Not that you needed to hear that from me.

Haven't we been over this before? Well, it's a consistent problem, so it's work bringing up again. Hell, Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time is supposed to be free-to-play, but as soon as it was announced that, even BEFORE people knew that you could buy stuff in-game, they were already fearing the worst... Which I guess makes sense, seeing as you pay for the additional plants, and they cost, what $3-4 each? That IS grotesque!

That's why I don't play free-to-play and will never buy Dead Space 3 for example. I like my games complete and fun experiences. I'm not objecting to optional DLC, more often than not I will buy all DLC for a game I loved, shit like saving time/reducing boring part of game is not optional.
Publishers don't see reason though. Most big ones don't know shit and will go the way of THQ. FFS I've decided to 100% skip/never buy Watch Dogs because Ubisoft confirmed it's being made with sequel in mind.
Death of a big franchise is never instant. But once they kill all the good stuff they had... Well, look at the indies, those will grow into future big studios.

Why are the suits and shareholders so hell bent on increasing profits? Is regular income of "loadsa money" not enough? Oh wait, i forgot they cant budget properly can they so they dont make loadsa money, so they try to scrimp on us instead of learning how to spend money proportionately.

Fappy:

Like I said, having played both games I sited I can tell you neither are balanced around the grind DLCs. I didn't even know about them on my first playthrough of Fire Emblem and the only reason I can think of that you'd need them in SMT IV is if you wanted to cheese it up with a level 99 Pixie or didn't want to spend the time grinding the money for the end-game super items (that are not necessary, but cool).

Like I said, having played both games I sited I can tell you neither are balanced around the grind DLCs. I didn't even know about them on my first playthrough of Fire Emblem and the only reason I can think of that you'd need them in SMT IV is if you wanted to cheese it up with a level 99 Pixie or didn't want to spend the time grinding the money for the end-game super items (that are not necessary, but cool).[/quote]

To be fair with Fire Emblem, the DLC maps felt more like extra campaigns(or expansions, if you will) rather than just simply "grind here for easy levels," which was already easy enough to do with reeking boxes. Though the one where it was just about getting a fuck ton of gold was nothing more than a blatant cash grab. But, again, to be fair, the island where you get the DLC maps was out of the way, and unless you really knew about it and really felt "hey, this is something I could do which would be fun and add on to the experience after I beat the base game."

I feel like the same could be said about SMTIV, at least with the DLC not being directly in your face. Hell, I only JUST found out about there being DLC. They don't even tell you in game about it, at least not from my knowledge.

Short term greed from the higher ups. It's what's eating up the creative industries. Mid level shills just want a promotion and a bonus. How do they get those? Quarterly charts pointing up!

Fuck whatever X industry is about! Show me the money! Who cares if the ship sinks in the mid or long term?

That's why PR bullshitters, CEO's and mattricks get tossed around like hot potatoes among a failing model that is incompatible with creativity. I don't know what pisses me off the most: the cynical bastards in charge or the servient ghouls that eat it up.

You know, there's another downside to all this. I recently made a mod for Skyrim that adds 10,000,000 gold to one of the chests in Helgen Keep because I hate grinding for cash. Imagine Bethesda introduced a way to buy Septims with microtransactions, that would technically brand me a pirate for modding a game I bought fair and square.

Jimothy Sterling:

Chessrook44:
I'm actually curious about your opinion of Guild Wars 2. It matches a similar kind of model... you buy the game at $60, and it has microtransactions all over in it like many F2P MMOs... and yet, it seems to do it right. Most of the items you buy are cosmetics, services, and convenience items. At the same time, however, in-game gold can be purchased with Gems (Money currency), and vice versa.

Guild Wars 2 is an interesting case, especially since it's also an MMO, which brings with it its own set of considerations. On the whole, I feel like GW2 is full of examples of how to both do F2P *and* MMOs correctly. I've not spent one thin dime on anything on GW2, but had a total blast, and if I get back into it, I may well buy things -- not because I feel I have to, but because I want to.

And that's when you know a game has done microtransactions correctly -- when you want to go out of your way to buy a thing, not when you were bullied and funneled into doing it.

Compared to SW:TOR, especially. You have to pay for just about everything. I honestly wish I could get into GW2 more, because it did so much right. I honestly find it hard to put into words why I didn't keep playing it.

I'm beginning to think we need a wider array of descriptors for free-to-play games and pay-to-play games with free-to-play-style elements.

The problem with games that allow you to buy advantages that you can get in-game is that they almost always by necessity fall into one of two camps: either you can't really succeed without buying into the real-money aspect (particularly insidious in multiplayer online games) or buying those assets makes the game so much easier that you're effectively paying to shorten and lessen your own experience with it.

By contrast, some free-to-play games only have you spend money on purely cosmetic details, unlocking the full experience of the game for everyone and assuming that the quality of the game itself will be enough to inspire people to pay the creators for the benefit of allowing them to participate in the experience. I tend to feel this is the preferred model, but I also understand there's an enormous leap of faith involved, a leap which will not always pay off. Even good games can get slighted, especially in a highly saturated market.

There's something of a middle ground in games that "rotate in" options you can pay for (character classes, etc.), through the "completely free" playerbase, and this has some benefits as well. I think ideally, barring the aforementioned cosmetic options, it would be nice if one couldn't immediately tell the difference between a free and a paying player- the paying player might have chrome that proudly attests they've contributed to the game's creators, but they aren't firing some kind of explosive minigun the free player will never see in a million years.

As I said, though, as even the border between AAA- and free-to-play- games gets fuzzy, I think we may need more descriptive terms to explain all this stuff.

As this whole freemium market is becoming more established, I get older and become more fringed in terms of game selection. I find myself clinging the niche games, and being very selective of what I play. The games I play tend to be free of these practices and when I do run into Freemuium games on say iOS, I tend to find them very unpleasant experiences. It's as if my brain isn't suspect to these models so I find the core games very drab and uninteresting. I'm 32 years old and I come from a long history of playing games in an established fashion. I wonder if in say 10 years that there won't be anything for me in the new markets, no Dragon's Crown, Dark Souls, Ni No Kuni, Legend of Grimock, classic Nintendo franchisers, and other games that are generally free from these tactics. What will I play? will I have to be upheld by the few indie/niche games that release? Or is there always a market for the gamer demographics that seems to not pay for this shit, but still has dollars they want to spend?

Tribes: Ascend is not a good example of Free to play because you only start out with a tiny part of the content unlocked and have to grind for months or pay for the rest.
Better examples:
Dota 2- you can only buy skins and nothing else
Team Fortress 2- mostly just hats

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