Super Meat Boy Creator Hates Freemium Games

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Super Meat Boy Creator Hates Freemium Games

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Free-to-play mobile games have a "lack of respect for players."

Edmund McMillen's Team Meat has been one of the recent indie success stories with Super Meat Boy, which launched across multiple platforms in 2010 to critical acclaim and commercial success. Team Meat is looking to bring the fiendishly-difficult SMB experience to mobile devices with the touch-based Super Meat Boy: The Game - but on the Team Meat blog, McMillen lambasted the "free to play" model that runs predominant on mobile devices these days.

"As many of you may have noticed, there is a whole shit load of wrong [with the mobile market] out there these days, from abusive and manipulative money making tactics, to flat out stealing," wrote McMillen. "To us the core of what is wrong with the mobile platform is the lack of respect for players, it really seems like a large number of these companies out there view their audience as dumb cattle who they round up, milk and then send them on their way feeling empty or at times violated..."

McMillen said that too many games dangled a carrot in front of the player that could be obtained with some repetitious actions, only to dangle another once the player had succeeded. This time, though, the player could pay a dollar to automatically get the carrot, or "better yet pay [$10] and unlock all your goals without even having to ever play the game!"

"[This] business tactic is a slap in the face to actual game design and embodies everything that is wrong with the mobile/casual video game scene," said McMillen. "[We] want to make a game that we would love to see on the platform, a feature length reflex driven platformer with solid controls that doesn't manipulate you with business bullshit in order to cash in."

SMB:TG would offer players a real challenge, said McMillen, and a "real sense of fulfillment when they have achieved something that's difficult... you know, like real games do."

I'm not sure I entirely agree with McMillen's sentiment that "real" games have to be super difficult to offer a sense of fulfillment, but the dude did make Super Meat Boy, so at least he's being consistent.

Source: Team Meat

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I agree with him, casual gaming these days is less about playing a game and more about seeing how much money you have to pay to actually beat the damn thing within any amount of time

So is he talking about all freemimum games, or just the ones on the mobile market? Because believe it or not a company can make a free to play game and still treat their customers as human beings (Super MNC/Uber Entertainment being one of them).

And the idea he considers "real game" to mean "insanely difficult so you have 'a sense of fulfillment'" doesn't bode well in my eyes. I mean sure if I beat a level/game that was incredibly hard/unfair in game X I'd feel a little "fulfilled" over doing it. But that doesn't mean I would feel the game was a satisfying experience just because it was difficult and I beat it. There's much, much more to a good game than just fulfilling the challenge in my eyes.

Not to say the man doesn't have a point, but I think the creator of Super Meat Boy may be a little biased in terms of what he considers a real game.

While I don't think there needs to be a particular death grip challenge, I feel that any game in order to succeed needs some conflict that the PC needs to solve. An example would be Farmville, compared to Harvest Moon. Neither of them are particularly challenging, but the latter requires some planning and thought to succeed. If there's a shortage of money, you need to forage, if your crops die, that means a lot of painful economic losses and so on so on. This may be the case with farmville too, particularly the latter.

However the challenge of restarting with less capital is removed by the ability to simply spawn more with the power of a credit card, or sharing with your friends that you need a cow or something. Conflict and thought are what make a videogame in my opinion and that conflict needs to have a resolution that isn't 'throw money at it to win'

Everytime I see an article like this, it makes me fall in love with LoL's system even more.

All the runes for stat boosting are purchased with in game currency. Champs can be bought with either. The only thing that can be exclusively purchased with real live money is skins.

What's annoying is that the unlock cost for everything isn't one, two, or even three times as much as you would have payed for the game. Often, it's anywhere from ten to fifty times what a similar paid game would cost.

I want to support companies that make good freemium games, but they do make it so damn difficult.

He's right, so many of these games basically punish the player with boring repetition in order to try and milk them into paying to get through the game - and even worse this buisness model is making it's way into full-priced retail games.

I've been a fan of rpgs since forever, so I have a very high tolerence for grinding, but even for me the scale of farming required in a lot of freemium games is down right abusive.

It's sad. The subscription model basically creates an endless "pay to play" scheme in which you eventually pay well more than the content is worth... but the free-to-play model, by offering you premium "time savers," nearly always ends up as "pay not to play."

Frostbite3789:
Everytime I see an article like this, it makes me fall in love with LoL's system even more.

All the runes for stat boosting are purchased with in game currency. Champs can be bought with either. The only thing that can be exclusively purchased with real live money is skins.

My thoughts exactly. I've yet to see a f2p get even close to the LoL model... it's strange, but true. I entered LoL thinking it'd be a crap f2p like all the others, but it actually has a model that makes it stand on its own, and god forbid, even MAKE YOU WANT to pay for stuff on occasion of your own volition.

So in a nutshell, yes I do agree with the dev on most cases; there are rare exceptions though

I kind of agree with him. I hate the whole freemium model. It is mostly crap games who want the player to do copious amounts of menial tasks or you pay to get ahead and skip all the crap. They withhold the meat of the game while only giving it to people who pay or spend a ridiculous number of hours doing something horribly repetitive. That is why I do not play them. They are not worth my time, most F2P games are absolute shit anyway. I will gladly spend some hard earned money on a good game.

Also, this does not replace the concept of a demo by any stretch of the imagination. I can see that thought rattling off as people read this (if they do): You can try the game for free so just give it a chance. I don't need to try the game for free, I know it's shit because of the model it uses. And even if it's good, I can guarantee that I can buy a game outright that IS better than it.

I'm pretty tired of this notion that "FREE TO PLAY IS THE FUTURE".

It's just not.

The only way it's managed to get this far as the majority of Free to Play games have been published in the US and developed in (usually) Asia. This means the development team does not need paying for the game, and as long as the freeium service is making more money than the licensing costs, they're in profit.

Licenses are much cheaper than salaries.

While these games may turn a profit, it's not quite comparable to a full development team, a development team needs a constant wage, the profits coming in need to be consistent and recurring. They can't depend upon the randomness that is cash shops and what-not.

Pay to play games offer less randomness, they offer the ability for a development team to be funded, updates to be produced more regularly by a larger team, and generally allow for a better game.

This may change as gaming gets more popular and Freemium services can be relied upon better, but, presently, it's too hit and miss.

[..] it really seems like a large number of these companies out there view their audience as dumb cattle who they round up, milk and then send them on their way [..]

The problem is, a large amount of the audience is exactly like this. They obviously don't mind being 'exploited' like this. The companies he complains about are just filling a demand. He should be complaining about those people, if he wants his point to have any merit.

He's right, to a point, but he fails to take into consideration games that come in Free with ads and Paid without ads varieties. Or games whose paid content is as pointless as TF2 hats. Or games who are free but have paid level packs.

I don't think the problem represents as large a portion of mobile gaming as McMillen is suggesting.

P.S. Thanks

antipunt:

Frostbite3789:
Everytime I see an article like this, it makes me fall in love with LoL's system even more.

All the runes for stat boosting are purchased with in game currency. Champs can be bought with either. The only thing that can be exclusively purchased with real live money is skins.

My thoughts exactly. I've yet to see a f2p get even close to the LoL model... it's strange, but true. I entered LoL thinking it'd be a crap f2p like all the others, but it actually has a model that makes it stand on its own, and god forbid, even MAKE YOU WANT to pay for stuff on occasion of your own volition.

So in a nutshell, yes I do agree with the dev on most cases; there are rare exceptions though

I realllly want Sona's Pentakill Skin... And Katarina's desert skin... And my broke friend is seriously considering buying Akali's nurse skin

Yeah LoL's system has got to be the best F2P model I have ever seen.

Also Hecarim needs a unicorn skin... Asap

The Wykydtron:

antipunt:

Frostbite3789:
Everytime I see an article like this, it makes me fall in love with LoL's system even more.

All the runes for stat boosting are purchased with in game currency. Champs can be bought with either. The only thing that can be exclusively purchased with real live money is skins.

My thoughts exactly. I've yet to see a f2p get even close to the LoL model... it's strange, but true. I entered LoL thinking it'd be a crap f2p like all the others, but it actually has a model that makes it stand on its own, and god forbid, even MAKE YOU WANT to pay for stuff on occasion of your own volition.

So in a nutshell, yes I do agree with the dev on most cases; there are rare exceptions though

I realllly want Sona's Pentakill Skin... And Katarina's desert skin... And my broke friend is seriously considering buying Akali's nurse skin

Yeah LoL's system has got to be the best F2P model I have ever seen.

Also Hecarim needs a unicorn skin... Asap

Officer Caitlyn.

Nuff said

edit: OK, unicorn skin would be pretty awesome though

"To us the core of what is wrong with the mobile platform is the lack of respect for players, it really seems like a large number of these companies out there view their audience as dumb cattle who they round up, milk and then send them on their way feeling empty or at times violated..."

Yeah, it's not just the freemium games
Or the Mobile games.

And this is why we love Super Meat Boy and Team Fortress 2 so dang much. Well, I've never actually played Super Meat Boy... yet. But, I can definitely see where this guy is coming from. This was certainly a lot more intelligent and correct than that whole thing about the creator of Braid and how he thought the industry was going awry.

Frostbite3789:
Everytime I see an article like this, it makes me fall in love with LoL's system even more.

All the runes for stat boosting are purchased with in game currency. Champs can be bought with either. The only thing that can be exclusively purchased with real live money is skins.

That's how it should be, you can purchase things with real money or you can get rewarded for playing the game enough.

OT: Yeah another game that can be rendered almost unplayable by touch screen controls. Give me a game pad or keyboard/mouse any day.

Agreed completely. The only thing worse than these people creating games that are worth (at best) five bucks and expecting us to pay $100+ in "premium" content is the fact that people actually WILL pay $100+ in premium content. Now, don't get me wrong, if someone actually enjoys the game enough to get their $100's worth, then more power to them. It's just that the price points are so ridiculously high that you basically HAVE to love the game in order to justify the asking price for anything.

It's part of why I'm in favor of games like Killing Floor (yeah I know, not a free game), where all the paid DLC is purely cosmetic, meanwhile all the map and weapon additions are just free. So everyone can play on the same maps with the same weapons, and people who like the game enough to want to spend more money on it have the option to buy new skins without gaining any actual gameplay advantage.

A recent offender of this (recent for me, at least) is the Avengers Alliance game on Facebook. There are plenty of powerful weapons you can buy, but they all cost $10+. Meanwhile, if you don't have friends who play the game, there are a ton of other things that cost money to access. It's a fun little game, I enjoy playing it, it's just that they ask WAY too much. I'd gladly put $5 or $10 into the game if I felt that it got me something decent, but instead it gets me next to nothing. It's a cheap-o little Facebook app, and their "recommended" purchase is a $50 amount of Gold (the in-game premium currency). No, I'm sorry. I am NOT paying a Triple-A price for some cheap little Facebook app; especially since even $50 worth of in-game gold would go fast. Just not worth it.

Frankly, I think Tribes has a good idea. They have an in-game gold system where you can buy real money to unlock things, but A) You can unlock EVERYTHING with in-game experience (the only exception is cosmetic stuff). Granted that it's a bit of a grind for some of the items, but when a lot of games will make some items premium-only, it's nice that you can at least get everything without paying. And B) As soon as you buy gold once, even the cheapest amount ($10), your account is listed as "VIP", which gives you a boost in the amount of experience you earn. On top of that, it activates "Boost" status on your account, which doubles your experience for a limited amount of time (depending on how big of a gold pack you bought).

So in other words, not only can you get everything without needing to pay, but you get a lot of bonuses even when you buy the lowest amount of gold. Oh, and on top of that, it's a game where you can justify buying the $50 gold pack because it feels like a game that should cost $50.

John Funk:
I'm not sure I entirely agree with McMillen's sentiment that "real" games have to be super difficult to offer a sense of fulfillment, but the dude did make Super Meat Boy, so at least he's being consistent.

I don't think that's what he meant, John. Challenge and fulfilment is not the same thing as super difficult. A challenge involves difficulty, yes, but without it it isn't a challenge. If you didn't overcome anything, I don't know where you'd get that fulfilment.

Does he understand how free-to-play games work? I think he just described paying money to unlock features of a game... which is different from the core free-to-play model. I mean a good free-to-play sells time saving and convenience items making paying a trade off of time over money usually. I suppose he can argue that some companies do it wrong but just attacking the whole concept is short sighted there buddy. Maybe he think convenience items are cheap? I'd hate to see what he thinks of RPGs then since every level up is a sort of convenience measure, improving your character. I wish the guy was more clear with his blind rage so I could better argue against his opinion.

everyone hates freemium games. but they are still played because they are free.

and he is right. you get one 'charge' in one game where you can, lets say massive damadge and then you can recharge it again by paying 5 dollars. if you dont you have to play wit the feeling of having a massive disadvantage.

look at the android game six guns

it looks cool, right? and therefore must be pretty good to play

why? because every damn enemy is a goddamn bullet sponge. yeah you can do headshots that do not kill your enemies but lower their health faster. but it is almost impossible to accomplish since you have to deal with clunky controls and a tedious camera while running away from the enemies that charge you.

plus if you run out of bullets you are fucked.
you get once a day a new box of ammo (60 shots) if you need more you have to pay for it with in game money.
every mission has at least 10 enemies. the weakest one needs 6-7 bullets to kill (not counting in headshots).

and if you are hurt you can purchase a potion with real money. the weakest potion is around 2 dollars.

you earn the lowest ammount of in game money with every mission and leveling up is only accomplished by spending fucking hours with missions. and that only to get your cowboy to level 2.

fuck this game. and fuck freemium games.
the only one i do not hate is uno. but it can be a hate/love relationship since you have to de-activate a reminder screen that pops out every hour to ask you if you want to play uno and the ads are placed so that you might accidently click on it while playing.

edit:
and fuck those, install this shit you have no interest in to get x amount of stars so you might be able to get the second weakest shotgun in the game. or a funny hat.

antipunt:

Frostbite3789:
Everytime I see an article like this, it makes me fall in love with LoL's system even more.

All the runes for stat boosting are purchased with in game currency. Champs can be bought with either. The only thing that can be exclusively purchased with real live money is skins.

My thoughts exactly. I've yet to see a f2p get even close to the LoL model... it's strange, but true. I entered LoL thinking it'd be a crap f2p like all the others, but it actually has a model that makes it stand on its own, and god forbid, even MAKE YOU WANT to pay for stuff on occasion of your own volition.

So in a nutshell, yes I do agree with the dev on most cases; there are rare exceptions though

Tribes Ascend is actually very very similar. Ill grant that some items youll absolutely want which are a bit of a pain to get, but you dont technically "need" anything, and everything in the game bar skins(same as LoL) can be gained without paying a cent.

Twilight_guy:
Does he understand how free-to-play games work? I think he just described paying money to unlock features of a game... which is different from the core free-to-play model. I mean a good free-to-play sells time saving and convenience items making paying a trade off of time over money usually. I suppose he can argue that some companies do it wrong but just attacking the whole concept is short sighted there buddy. Maybe he think convenience items are cheap? I'd hate to see what he thinks of RPGs then since every level up is a sort of convenience measure, improving your character. I wish the guy was more clear with his blind rage so I could better argue against his opinion.

he is targeting freemium games on mobile devices.
and these are 95% of the time as he describes.
if you have a smartphone, go and try out gun bros.
its a wave shooter.

rhizhim:

Twilight_guy:
Does he understand how free-to-play games work? I think he just described paying money to unlock features of a game... which is different from the core free-to-play model. I mean a good free-to-play sells time saving and convenience items making paying a trade off of time over money usually. I suppose he can argue that some companies do it wrong but just attacking the whole concept is short sighted there buddy. Maybe he think convenience items are cheap? I'd hate to see what he thinks of RPGs then since every level up is a sort of convenience measure, improving your character. I wish the guy was more clear with his blind rage so I could better argue against his opinion.

he is targeting freemium games on mobile devices.
and these are 95% of the time as he describes.
if you have a smartphone, go and try out gun bros.
its a wave shooter.

Please, elaborate on what he is saying because I really don't understand what issue he is pinpointing, I see 3 or 4 potential issues he could be talking about.

Twilight_guy:

rhizhim:

Twilight_guy:
snip

he is targeting freemium games on mobile devices.
and these are 95% of the time as he describes.
if you have a smartphone, go and try out gun bros.
its a wave shooter.

Please, elaborate on what he is saying because I really don't understand what issue he is pinpointing, I see 3 or 4 potential issues he could be talking about.

look some post upwards.

rhizhim:
everyone hates freemium games. but they are still played because they are free.

look at the android game six guns

it looks cool, right? and therefore must be pretty good to play

why? because every damn enemy is a goddamn bullet sponge. yeah you can do headshots that do not kill your enemies but lower their health faster. but it is almost impossible to accomplish since you have to deal with clunky controls and a tedious camera while running away from the enemies that charge you.

plus if you run out of bullets you are fucked.
you get once a day a new box of ammo (60 shots) if you need more you have to pay for it with in game money.
every mission has at least 10 enemies. the weakest one needs 6-7 bullets to kill (not counting in headshots).

and if you are hurt you can purchase a potion with real money. the weakest potion is around 2 dollars.

you earn the lowest ammount of in game money with every mission and leveling up is only accomplished by spending fucking hours with missions. and that only to get your cowboy to level 2.

fuck this game. and fuck freemium games.
the only one i do not hate is uno. but it can be a hate/love relationship since you have to de-activate a reminder screen that pops out every hour to ask you if you want to play uno and the ads are placed so that you might accidently click on it while playing.

edit:
and fuck those, install this shit you have no interest in to get x amount of stars so you might be able to get the second weakest shotgun in the game. or a funny hat.

so in short.

-they make you feel like you are in a disadvantage if you don't pay for better equipment with real money. they do that by giving you an appetizer (like crack, the first one is on the house)

- important stuff like health potions are bound to items with a 2 dollar tag.

- leveling is tedious and missions reward you a little. padding your game out more. leveling up in a mmo with your high level character is faster than leveling up your character in this
game to level 2.

- the missions are repetetive. the enemies are bullet sponges that only serve to deplete your ammunition faster (absolutely no tactic needed. the difference is only how much bullets you need to finish them off) and/or make you want to buy health potions with real money.

in order to be able to play more than half a mission you have to either wait 2 days until you can get enough ammo, buy it with in game money (which is okay if it would not be that you have to 'invest' 3/4 of your ammo on a single enemy. and the reward of the mission is a leaden handshake of in game money.) or download and play other games to get some sort of coupon.

its nothing but a grindfest. and one where you can only lose in the long run.

edit:
its like a restaurant in italy.
you can go inside to eat but you have to pay extra for sitting outside and even for using cutlery. and a bottle of water (o.75 l) costs 15 dollars. plus tipping. and a fee for a glas.

I personally love the idea of freemium and the potential it has, but he's right to say that most of the time it's done poorly.

If I had it my way, I would release all my iOS/Android games as completely free, start to finish. You would be able to download the game and play through every level on every initial difficulty level as well as alternate modes, and earn points and unlockables and such, BUT... the only way to use points earned to purchase unlockables would be to buy the "full" version, or activate your game via in-app purchase. The price would be fairly low, and you'll immediately have access to everything you would have had if you had purchased it from the start. That stuff would simply be game-extending and hardcore extras, such as extra characters, super tough difficulties, challenge levels, maybe level editor, and cheats.

See, that sort of system means you can play through the whole game with no problem, unlock achievements and stuff all the same, but the only thing you don't get is the many cool features you unlock for purchase and the points you earn to buy those unlockables are stored away until you actually purchase the game.

The freemium model isn't bad. Its that most mobile games are totally crap. Very few are worth paying anything for much less buying "buffs" in.

DDO showed how to do F2P right, its too bad mobile game makers haven't found that sweet spot yet.

Doom-Slayer:

antipunt:

Frostbite3789:
Everytime I see an article like this, it makes me fall in love with LoL's system even more.

All the runes for stat boosting are purchased with in game currency. Champs can be bought with either. The only thing that can be exclusively purchased with real live money is skins.

My thoughts exactly. I've yet to see a f2p get even close to the LoL model... it's strange, but true. I entered LoL thinking it'd be a crap f2p like all the others, but it actually has a model that makes it stand on its own, and god forbid, even MAKE YOU WANT to pay for stuff on occasion of your own volition.

So in a nutshell, yes I do agree with the dev on most cases; there are rare exceptions though

Tribes Ascend is actually very very similar. Ill grant that some items youll absolutely want which are a bit of a pain to get, but you dont technically "need" anything, and everything in the game bar skins(same as LoL) can be gained without paying a cent.

Oh. Interesting. I didn't know Tribes Ascend was f2p

I like Freemium, as long as it's not "pay to win."

I used to post on a forum Ed ran on his website about dead baby jokes, stayed friends and met with some of the ppls.

deadbabydressup was a fun flash game we had (jokey cartoon dead babies not like for reals dead babies.)

thisisacryforhelp.com was good back when newgrounds was cool and 56k was still around.

ot: yeah profiteering just ruins everything and makes every money making venture a vehicle for greed and poop

John Funk:
I'm not sure I entirely agree with McMillen's sentiment that "real" games have to be super difficult to offer a sense of fulfillment, but the dude did make Super Meat Boy, so at least he's being consistent.

What?
That's not what he's saying. At all.
What he's trying to say is pretty clear, and I'm not sure how you came to the conclusion that he thinks games has to be super difficult.

You said super difficult. He said difficult.

Journalism 101 folks, exaggerate.

I'm not sure I agree with him. F2p games where you can pay for certain things have a place in this world. But I will admit that most mobile phone games are rotten to the core.

off topic: What does the [inesertwordhere] in an article mean? I used to think it was the editor putting in a word to make more sense of a quoted sentence. But if you take those words away in this article the sentences makes so little sense I honestly don't believe they could have come out of the mouth of anyone.

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