Google Europe to End Calling Microtransaction Titles "Free"

 Pages PREV 1 2
 

Scrumpmonkey:

WhiteTigerShiro:

Scrumpmonkey:
The game may be free to download but the actual play of it encourages and even stresses payment.

Wrong. The game brings it up once, and then pretty much never mentions it again outside of the option just being there. If you consider the mere option to spend money as "stressing", then that's on you. I have no problem playing these games without giving a second glance to the payment options unless I find something that's at least vaguely intriguing. Sometimes I decide that the game is worth tossing a few bucks, usually I don't; my ability to play and enjoy the games is rarely effected either way.

Oh, and here's the big twist: Dungeon Keeper isn't even the most intrusive of these games about "forcing" you to pay. There's plenty of games that full-on roadblock you until you pay to unlock the rest of the content. Meanwhile you can get into Dungeon Keeper's endgame perfectly fine without spending a single cent. Heck, Dungeon Keeper doesn't even force you to watch ads to continue playing, something that games which have gotten nothing but praise do!

No "*yawn*" this time?

I was talking about Free to Wait games in general. Plenty of people have made very valid points as to why you are wrong. Even official bodies like the UK ASA and now the EU commission.

Your point is becoming less and less tenable as more and more regulators come out against these practices.

No, I agree with him. The game is free to play, it is marketed as fre-to-play. I think one of the games I have recently put more hours in than anything else is World of Tanks, and as yet have not invested a cent in. Although I may make a cosmetic purchase or two just out of support to the developers, this game has been entirely free to play.

For someone that wants to play for maybe 15 minutes a day on public transport on the way to work, then a game whose only restriction is time would be perfect and, again, entirely free.

The fact is that 100 percent of the game content can be accessed without paying for anything, and that the ones I've encountered have non intrusive advertising for the transaction elements.

I'd say EU law is not the final say in an argument of the spirit of false advertising, and using it as an argument tool could easily be countered by finding somewhere else in the world that has a different litigatory view as back up.

Either way, whether or not the European Union says it can be marketed as such, for me these are still free games with optional transactions for the most part.

Fancy Pants:
Europe is asking a seller of a free product not call it free, because it gives you the option to pay them. Not exactly a stunning victory.

I find the fact that you say seller of a free product hilarious.

Also the games aren't free. See Hagi's post.


Just because it has free elements doesn't mean it's a free game.

BiH-Kira:

Fancy Pants:
Europe is asking a seller of a free product not call it free, because it gives you the option to pay them. Not exactly a stunning victory.

I find the fact that you say seller of a free product hilarious.

Also the games aren't free. See Hagi's post.


Just because it has free elements doesn't mean it's a free game.

The content is free. Taking longer to see or requiring more grinding does not change the zero dollars required to own and play it. No amount of argument will change that fact.

Fancy Pants:
EA owns the Old Republic MMO I love a lot and do in fact put a lot of money into (hundreds of dollars, probably). Hmmm.

That game had so much potential. I own the Collector's Edition, which is something I quite regret.

First they tore out a lot of their actual interesting ideas during development, because focus-testing said the game needed to be more like World of Warcraft, at the expense of it actually being like the Knights of the Old Republic games.

Then they failed to keep the game updated with new content; especially of the story-focused kind which was the point of the game.

Then they went Free To Play, which meant that most of the new content (such as armor that actually looked decent) ended up stuffed into the equivalent of trading card booster packs, or even sold completely separately from the game's new digital currency (like the first DLC expansion). Even the most loyal of subscribers could only got to a tiny fraction of the content without paying up or spending their days grinding credits to buy the stuff from other players who were more willing to cough up the dough.

And then we can get into how EA apparently didn't understand the concept of microtransactions, as they charged the equivalent of a 30-day subscription for a single rather generic-looking set of armor. Macrotransaction is a more apt term.

Eventually I just had enough and stopped playing. I don't need a game that asks me to choose between paying out of my ass or treating content-unlocks like a full-time job.

Scrumpmonkey:
Your point is becoming less and less tenable as more and more regulators come out against these practices.

Which again proves nothing. You need evidence outside of "other people agree with me", because guess what, other people agree with me, too. Oh, and no, the level of authority behind the people who agree with you doesn't mean squat. Authority doesn't make them right, it just gives them the power to do what they're going to do. Lord knows that people in power have never been wrong, either.

BiH-Kira:

Fancy Pants:
Europe is asking a seller of a free product not call it free, because it gives you the option to pay them. Not exactly a stunning victory.

I find the fact that you say seller of a free product hilarious.

Also the games aren't free. See Hagi's post.


Just because it has free elements doesn't mean it's a free game.

Has "free elements"? The entire freaking game is free! You have the option to pay money for the premium currency which you can then choose to spend on whatever you want, but you aren't obligated to spend money on anything, nor does the game "pressure" you into spending money. They tell you that the ability to spend the premium currency exists, and then that's it. If you don't like the game, you don't have to pay. If you don't like the genre of game, then you don't have to pay. If you are enjoying the game though, the option is there. If you want to bypass the intended mechanic of the game, then fine. If you want to pay for something more long-term like the Imps, then great. None of it is obligatory, and none of it "forced".

Fancy Pants:
The content is free. Taking longer to see or requiring more grinding does not change the zero dollars required to own and play it. No amount of argument will change that fact.

And the content of coke is lemons.

Containing something doesn't make it that thing. Containing free content doesn't make a game free. There's obviously an abstract quality to things that determines what they are, rather than merely one of their parts.

I can't tell you the exact nature of all things.

I can tell you that a game whose gameplay, presentation and marketing all revolve around getting players to spend money quite obviously isn't in the nature of a free game.

Fancy Pants:

Ark of the Covetor:

Fancy Pants:
Being a shit game and being made easier or better with money doesn't mean it can't be free, though.

That's not free though. At best, it's a free trial or demo of the actual game, which you can only access by paying money.

If the game puts a hard stop up and says no, you can't play more than this one level without paying, then sure, that's a demo and the game is not free. But only being able to do a level a day or some such thing is still free.

I'm not arguing these are good things or that I wish to support them. I just find it odd that something that does let you access all of it, albeit slowly, can't be called free.

Because there's a difference between technicality and practical functionality, one which the EU's lawmakers thankfully grasp. You could argue that technically, by the strictest definition of the word, a game which only let you progress for one day out of 365, providing that cumulatively, over time, it would allow you to access all of it was "free", but is that actually free in any practical, experiential sense for any particular user?

Of course not, functionally the only way to play the game on anything approaching a reasonable timescale would be to pay real money, so it's not free. Now of course, actual mobile games don't progress quite that slowly, even if it sometimes seems like it, but given that we are talking about mobile games, there's typically far less content to actually be experienced, and the games are designed to be completed in the much shorter periods of time that you can only access by paying real money. There's doubtless a "sweet spot" for each style and genre and length combination in which a game could legitimately call itself "free" while also limiting access in the way that many mobile games do, but from a legal standpoint it's completely impractical to consider a market of such scale in that way; quite apart from the amount of time & effort it would take to classify, even in very broad terms, all the games available on the various mobile app stores, the EU would be opening itself up to an endless series of legal challenges by the bigger companies involved as they attempt to force their own games into the most favourable definition.

The only practical solution is the one the EU adopted; draw up criteria that are so broad they encompass essentially all of the type of games they're trying to regulate, and then apply the regulations without fear or favour. Is that unfair to those games which meet the criteria but would have fallen into the "sweet spot"? Perhaps, but that's the sad fact of market regulation; sometimes the regulations which are necessary to protect the consumer from the most predatory and unscrupulous operators can also impact on entirely fair and legitimate businesses, that's the price that has to be paid if we don't want to live in some mad Objectivist dystopia.

Hagi:

Fancy Pants:
The content is free. Taking longer to see or requiring more grinding does not change the zero dollars required to own and play it. No amount of argument will change that fact.

And the content of coke is lemons.

Containing something doesn't make it that thing. Containing free content doesn't make a game free. There's obviously an abstract quality to things that determines what they are, rather than merely one of their parts.

I can't tell you the exact nature of all things.

I can tell you that a game whose gameplay, presentation and marketing all revolve around getting players to spend money quite obviously isn't in the nature of a free game.

The game doesn't contain free content. It is free content. If you don't pay for it and you can experience it without paying, it is free.

Hagi:

Fancy Pants:
The content is free. Taking longer to see or requiring more grinding does not change the zero dollars required to own and play it. No amount of argument will change that fact.

And the content of coke is lemons.

Containing something doesn't make it that thing. Containing free content doesn't make a game free. There's obviously an abstract quality to things that determines what they are, rather than merely one of their parts.

I can't tell you the exact nature of all things.

I can tell you that a game whose gameplay, presentation and marketing all revolve around getting players to spend money quite obviously isn't in the nature of a free game.

Let me ask you something: Is League of Legends free? I'll speed this up by assuming that your answer will be "Yes", since unless you are completely married to what you're talking about, that's what your answer will be. Alright, it's free. I'll just download it, join a match, and select my... wait, I can only play as certain champions? And if I want to play as a specific champion, I have to wait around until that champion is available? Well, what other options are there? I can play as a champion I don't like and grind-up IP to eventually earn the champion (which will take a while if I want to play as a 6300 IP champion), or I can spend some money and- WAIT! How can Riot have the right to advertise this game as free when roughly 90% of the content is locked-out to non-paying customers? Sure the game has "free content", but that isn't the same thing as being free if I'm being forced to spend money to unlock the Champions I want.

Oh, but Riot isn't EA, and MOBAs are popular in the general gaming community, so it's okay for them to set-up a game that "pressures" you into spending money on content that's otherwise advertised as "free".

WhiteTigerShiro:

Hagi:

Fancy Pants:
The content is free. Taking longer to see or requiring more grinding does not change the zero dollars required to own and play it. No amount of argument will change that fact.

And the content of coke is lemons.

Containing something doesn't make it that thing. Containing free content doesn't make a game free. There's obviously an abstract quality to things that determines what they are, rather than merely one of their parts.

I can't tell you the exact nature of all things.

I can tell you that a game whose gameplay, presentation and marketing all revolve around getting players to spend money quite obviously isn't in the nature of a free game.

Let me ask you something: Is League of Legends free? I'll speed this up by assuming that your answer will be "Yes", since unless you are completely married to what you're talking about, that's what your answer will be. Alright, it's free. I'll just download it, join a match, and select my... wait, I can only play as certain champions? And if I want to play as a specific champion, I have to wait around until that champion is available? Well, what other options are there? I can play as a champion I don't like and grind-up IP to eventually earn the champion (which will take a while if I want to play as a 6300 IP champion), or I can spend some money and- WAIT! How can Riot have the right to advertise this game as free when roughly 90% of the content is locked-out to non-paying customers? Sure the game has "free content", but that isn't the same thing as being free if I'm being forced to spend money to unlock the Champions I want.

Oh, but Riot isn't EA, and MOBAs are popular in the general gaming community, so it's okay for them to set-up a game that "pressures" you into spending money on content that's otherwise advertised as "free".

Except there's one MASSIVE difference you're missing: There's nothing stopping you from playing LoL matches as long as you want. You simply can not compare locking off exclusive content to "Nope, time's up for today, you can piss right off until you bring back a credit card".

The issue is not so much that "free" games are locking content behind a paywall, it's that they are not offering a reasonable experience to people who decide to keep their wallets shut. And I dare say most people would be okay with not being able to play X fancy character in an otherwise fleshed out and entertaining game as long as they're not being told to fuck off entirely.

Edit: That said, I'm perfectly fine with this being marked as "Free to Download with In-app purchases", since that's pretty much the truth.

Infernal Lawyer:

Except there's one MASSIVE difference you're missing: There's nothing stopping you from playing LoL matches as long as you want. You simply can not compare locking off exclusive content to "Nope, time's up for today, you can piss right off until you bring back a credit card".

The issue is not so much that "free" games are locking content behind a paywall, it's that they are not offering a reasonable experience to people who decide to keep their wallets shut. And I dare say most people would be okay with not being able to play X fancy character in an otherwise fleshed out and entertaining game as long as they're not being told to fuck off entirely.

Edit: That said, I'm perfectly fine with this being marked as "Free to Download with In-app purchases", since that's pretty much the truth.

Yes, I'm aware that you can always play LoL matches, but if I don't have fun playing with any of the currently available champions, then I'm not getting a "reasonable experience" if I "decide to keep [my] wallet shut" until maybe next week. I would also note that while room upgrades and training can start to take a long time, training-up an army to go raiding generally doesn't take much more than a half-hour, and rarely much longer than an hour. So it's hardly a matter of "That's your lot for the day unless you pay-up", and more a matter of "come back in a half-hour or so and you can raid another poor sap; or come back in a couple hours if that's what suits you".

Now, you could argue that designing an entire game around requiring a timer for things to get done makes for bad gameplay, and that's just fine, as I've said often, no game is for everyone, and every game has someone who hates it now matter how good or bad it might be. I would contest, however, that it does not make for false advertising. I've enjoyed plenty of these games, most of them without feeling the need to crack-open my wallet, and none of them made me feel obligated to do-so.

In short, not liking a game's intended design doesn't make it false advertising to call it "Free to Play", nor does the presence of an optional "premium" currency.

FalloutJack:

Strazdas:
i am very happy about the need for verification each purchase. my sistem often misclicks on the "special money" items in games and some games are so agressive in trying to sell you then that the only reason she does not end up buying them is because i blocked that access (shes 6, dont have account of her own yet). She understands the concept and know to avoid these items, but they are not always as obviuos as they should be.

capcha(after telling me i entered wrong one): a wild capcha appears!

I think its making fun of me now.

Strazzy, one question. How does a game even start charging you without information to siphon currency from?

game has "paid items" to "help you". to help you it puts said items near the top of the screen in parts of game where these items may be used. if you click on them you use it, but if you dont have any, instead of using it, you buy it. as soon as you click it starts contacting google store for transaction, however since i blocked it from doing that it retunrs an error on "purchase failed because was unable to contact google store"

Strazdas:

FalloutJack:

Strazdas:
i am very happy about the need for verification each purchase. my sistem often misclicks on the "special money" items in games and some games are so agressive in trying to sell you then that the only reason she does not end up buying them is because i blocked that access (shes 6, dont have account of her own yet). She understands the concept and know to avoid these items, but they are not always as obviuos as they should be.

capcha(after telling me i entered wrong one): a wild capcha appears!

I think its making fun of me now.

Strazzy, one question. How does a game even start charging you without information to siphon currency from?

game has "paid items" to "help you". to help you it puts said items near the top of the screen in parts of game where these items may be used. if you click on them you use it, but if you dont have any, instead of using it, you buy it. as soon as you click it starts contacting google store for transaction, however since i blocked it from doing that it retunrs an error on "purchase failed because was unable to contact google store"

Well, what I'm saying is that you would have had to enter payment information in order for a thing to charge you, right? This thing can't just peek at your wallet for your credit card number. So, where would it be demanding that information for payment in the first place?

WhiteTigerShiro:

Hagi:

Fancy Pants:
The content is free. Taking longer to see or requiring more grinding does not change the zero dollars required to own and play it. No amount of argument will change that fact.

And the content of coke is lemons.

Containing something doesn't make it that thing. Containing free content doesn't make a game free. There's obviously an abstract quality to things that determines what they are, rather than merely one of their parts.

I can't tell you the exact nature of all things.

I can tell you that a game whose gameplay, presentation and marketing all revolve around getting players to spend money quite obviously isn't in the nature of a free game.

Let me ask you something: Is League of Legends free? I'll speed this up by assuming that your answer will be "Yes"

You know what they say about assumptions...

I'd call League of Legends Freemium or something along those lines. Not free.

Hagi:
I'd call League of Legends Freemium or something along those lines. Not free.

At least we know you're consistent; though that didn't prevent other people from biting into the analogy in more-or-less the way I had hoped. Still, you do bring-up an interesting point. Perhaps "Freemium" is a term that App Stores need to start adopting. A catch-all phrase that means "The game is free to acquire, but has optional in-game purchases". I don't necessarily love the idea[1], but I'm not as automatically opposed to it, either.

Still though, you do see my point. LoL is a game that you would be hard-pressed to find someone arguing against it being advertised as "Free to Play", yet it's model isn't entirely removed from how Dungeon Keeper works. The difference being, as I stated, that MOBAs are a popular genre (where games like Farmville or DKM are heavily reviled, right down to the only genre labels given to them are openly mocking), and EA is a popular target (where most people don't even know who Riot is unless they're LoL fans). The fact that Dungeon Keeper is seen as sacred in the eyes of most gamers (especially long-time gamers) would be the third strike as far as gamers out on a witch hunt are concerned. Meanwhile Riot could ritualistically sacrifice puppies to ensure that their game stays profitable and no one would bat an eye at the news because it would mean having to admit that they might have to stop playing a game they like.

[1] I still don't see any problem with a game being advertised as "Free" while having in-game purchases as long as the player isn't barred from playing the game when said purchases are ignored.

FalloutJack:

Well, what I'm saying is that you would have had to enter payment information in order for a thing to charge you, right? This thing can't just peek at your wallet for your credit card number. So, where would it be demanding that information for payment in the first place?

Its using google store to get money. and if you ever bought anything on google market (android market) google remmebers. it always remmeber.

Strazdas:

FalloutJack:

Well, what I'm saying is that you would have had to enter payment information in order for a thing to charge you, right? This thing can't just peek at your wallet for your credit card number. So, where would it be demanding that information for payment in the first place?

Its using google store to get money. and if you ever bought anything on google market (android market) google remmebers. it always remmeber.

Ah, so if I never entrusted Google to save billing info, or even never bought anything on google ever (because I haven't), this could never work anyway.

FalloutJack:

Strazdas:

FalloutJack:

Well, what I'm saying is that you would have had to enter payment information in order for a thing to charge you, right? This thing can't just peek at your wallet for your credit card number. So, where would it be demanding that information for payment in the first place?

Its using google store to get money. and if you ever bought anything on google market (android market) google remmebers. it always remmeber.

Ah, so if I never entrusted Google to save billing info, or even never bought anything on google ever (because I haven't), this could never work anyway.

yes, then it would just load some kind of page with google asking for that info. it cant read your mind, yet. not even EA games.

The point of the law is to protect those who could be easily confused by the label "Free to play". Despite what some people say, the word 'free', like most words, has an ambiguous meaning that is decided largely by the context it is used in. It can happen, and has happened, that people get confused (maybe not you, but someone, so all you narcissists cool down). "Play this awesome game and it is totally free!" is the message that game studios hope you hear, not the honest message which is "This game is free to download and play but some game features are significantly different depending on how much you are willing to pay".

I think this will help consumers find what they are looking for. I personally don't much care for free to play. I find the money grabbing tends to guide the game-play, and I feel it spoils some games. It would be nice to see games with ads or truly non-profit games filtered out of the swamp of micro-transaction games.

Im all for this, but what about mobile games where the only micro transactions are cosmetic (dont know if they exist though) I think it would be fair to classify that as a free game.

 Pages PREV 1 2

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here