Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
 
Letting somebody else write for me

I was planning to write a long response to a recent comment on this blog: People often mindlessly repeat the mantra that having a Free2Play business model always affects a game negatively, and I wanted to point out that EVERY possible business model can affect a game negatively, and that whether a game is exploitative or not doesn't depend on what business model it uses. Before I could finish writing that, Gamasutra published an article stating pretty much exactly that, and better researched than I could have done in the available time.

If you believe that games which have upfront payment or a monthly subscription do not suffer from exploitative game design practices, you are deluding yourself.

Comments:
I feel like he didn't really talk about the problems with the sub model.

Boring, repetitive gameplay; stuff like daily quests, rep grinds, trash mobs, and all the other stuff designed to generate cheap content while manipulating the players' OCD-esque need to complete everything. Not to mention the tendency to repeat the same 7 quests in jungle zone, then ice zone, then desert zone, then jungle zone, then ice zone to create the illusion that the player is in an expansive virtual world because they've reskinned the monsters and changed the color scheme.






 
The Gamasutra article is probably the fairest article I've read that also criticizes f2p but keeps the balance. I've fended for a long time now that f2p isn't "the devil". it absolutely can be and there just happen to correlate many bad games with f2p. yet, there are games that are f2p without the exploitative aspects - just like there are games with a sub and lots of exploitative features on top.
 
IMO, the solution is the "wait for customers to die." I.e., as the next generation of gamers comes along for whom 99% of their first 500 games were mobile f2p, I am not sure they will see f2p as a religious issue to be decried at every opportunity.

I don't find it odd that sub model developers are doing things that maximize profits (and as you say they clearly are.) Depending upon your tastes. some are good values and some are not.

Again, my prediction is "consoles are the f2p of 2014" - announcing a game that also runs on a console will get some visceral criticisms, irrespective of whether it was a good or bad cross-platform effort.
 
It's a decent article, but there was one quote that I highly disagreed with:

"And no medium is as much plagued with sequels as videogames."

How many movies are original stories, versus sequels, remakes, or adaptations? How many TV shows are brand new versus new seasons of existing shows? How many of the biggest comic books from last year are original concepts, versus familiar brands like Batman, Superman, X-Men, etc.?

I think it is crazy to pretend that videogames have some unique problem with unoriginality. You see that everywhere, it obviously isn't a result of any business model.
 
Tobold,

I can only assume the comment you planned to write a response to was mine. If so, I'd just like to say that you've thoroughly missed the mark.

First, you say this:

Nobody believes that The Elder Scrolls Online would be hurt by its business model if it had a Free2Play model with a subscription option.

Now, obviously you can't say that and expect to be right--case in point, myself. I believe TESO would be hurt by such a business model.

So, I responded:

Do you honestly believe that a F2P model does not have a detrimental effect on the design of a game?

And then we had a little back and forth with nobody convinced of anything they weren't before. But then in this most recent post you say:

People often mindlessly repeat the mantra that having a Free2Play business model always affects a game negatively

I didn't say "always." Who said always? I made it quite clear in my comments that I wasn't saying "F2P is always worse" by using qualifiers like "in most cases." If anyone is painting in too-broad strokes here, it's you. See your first comment, above.

Further, you say:

If you believe that games which have upfront payment or a monthly subscription do not suffer from exploitative game design practices, you are deluding yourself.

If you're implying I said anything of the sort, I'd like to make it clear that I didn't. I simply pointed out that F2P game designers are more likely to engage in what you and the Gamasutra writer term "exploitative" design practices. A point with which, by the way, she seems to agree:

Shallow and exploitative games are not just the result of a business model. It takes a certain mindset to create them. It takes a different kind of mindset to consciously resist and overcome the corruptive aspects of a particular business model. There are good reasons to be critical of the hubris and exploitation of F2P games.

Emphasis mine. As for this:

But it is wrong to categorically dismiss the entire idea as evil at its core.

Perhaps. League of Legends and TF2 are examples of F2P done well. But, for the most part, it sucks.
 
@Adam: Not everything I write is directed at you, don't flatter yourself. ;) The Forbes and Dancey articles are currently discussed on many blogs and forums, and my answer was in general to everybody who thinks Free2Play is the devil, and not directed at you specifically.

And I don't believe in your argument that Free2Play is a business model which is more likely to be exploitative than other business models. 100% of subscription MMORPGs I played (and I played pretty much all of them) contain some exploitative, repetitive content created purely out of economical reasons to make people subscribe for longer.
 
The thing with sub MMOs is that since they came along first, their exploitative aspects (such as being designed to exploit players obsessive tendencies) are considered normal parts of the game.
 
What is the negative impact that f2p could have on design?

That the game isn't as much fun if you don't buy from the cash shop? Well duh of course.

The game isn't "free". Your experience has to be less than perfect when freeloading.... But it has to be good enough just by a fraction to make you want to remove the negativity by paying as opposed to quitting.

The question is how much do you have to pay to not feel the negative impacts. That is a very personal question as it depends on your tolerance of grinding or lack of bag space etc.

What you are then left with is either a cheap game, an average priced game or an expensive game. Again that is a personal judgement.

The sub model is arguably worse in a way as it is "one size fits all" . Id rather pay more to remove the negative grinding in WoW but can't. Others complain that the Leveling speed in WoW (in lower zones) is too fast but they don't have the option of freeloading so they can see the full zone stories instead.

Of course freeloaders with a glut of spare time will anyways whine about f2p mechanics because they want to leach in a game without the patrons who fund the darn thing getting anything more useful than a hat!
 
... always ...
Do you really believe, Tobold, that anybody said that a Free2Play business model always affects a game negatively?

Or is this just yet another strawman of the kind you are fond of: putting words in the mouths of people you disagree with, and then attacking those words rather than the words that they actually used?

And don't forget, Free2Play isn't Pay2Win.
 
In defence of Tolbold I do see that view expressed all the time on forums and blogs.

 
'Always' is a big word. I just believe that the F2P model imposes design constraints that tend to be pernicious compared to the design constraints imposed by sub models.
 
@Woody: Id rather pay more to remove the negative grinding in WoW but can't.

Can you tell me exactly which grinding would you remove and why? (i.e. which part of the game it prevents you from accessing).
At the same time, I'd like to hear in which F2P games you DID pay to remove the grind and why, because in the F2P games I play I never felt the urge to do it (I just stopped playing).
 
I've spent money in the cash shops of Rift and Tera. They are both grindy when Leveling - worse than Wow. I've also bought cosmetics in Rift and other utility stuff in Tera.

Actually in both Tera and Swtor I paid for the sub despite it being free as that offered a multitude of benefits.

In WoW I found MOP Leveling terribly grindy even on my first toon. My alts were absolute torture.

JP (that granted doesn't matter at this stage) was terribly grindy at the start of MOP where you got a ridiculously small amount of JP for a dungeon versus gear cost.

Then there is the big one! Rep!

On top of that VP grind was a pain at the start.

So yeah I'd have paid for xp, VP, JP and rep boosters. Ain't like you had to have skill to acquire all those; you just had to have no life - and I'm fortunately not in that situation! There say a time when I had no life but I'd still have paid back then.

I'd also pay for more unique cosmetic gear in WoW if the graphics were better. I bet I'd pay more under f2p than I would under a sub model. I definitely did in Rift. But Trion put more into it. Loads of interesting cosmetic sets, mounts etc.
 
Do you really believe, Tobold, that anybody said that a Free2Play business model always affects a game negatively?

Now you are splitting hairs. Of course people don't use the exact word "always" in their phrase. But unless I call them out on it, they also don't use moderating phrases like "tend to" (like in this thread) either.

Lots of people make negative remarks about the evils of Free2Play without mentioning all the exceptions of the numerous games which are Free2Play without being exploitative. The "always" isn't explicit, but their blanket statements sure make it seem as if those negative effects were inherent, when in fact they are not.
 
I really thought 4c's "The thing with sub MMOs is that since they came along first, their exploitative aspects (such as being designed to exploit players obsessive tendencies) are considered normal parts of the game" was insightful.



@Helistar - for me, the worst thing in MoP was professions and rep. A tailor, that I wanted to be a crafting alt, had to do all sorts of things including get to max level, grind golden lotus rep up and then grind another faction's rep up just to make the bag of the expansion.

Most games let you max your profession on low level toons, most give xp for crafting. There is a lot of pointless grinding in WoW (perhaps because they are an evil sub and not a player friendly f2p game? :-) ) But the parts that are in to consume the time of raiders are much more annoying on alts I don't want to raid or even go into combat with.




 
A lot of the grind in WoW etc. is self-inflicted - with the rare exception of hard-core raiding guilds you don't need to be in any hurry to maximise anything. Maybe the intention is that certain crafted items should be rare and made only by a fraction of individuals. But no, everyone has to max out tailoring or whatever.
 
Ok, soeme of the stuff I agree wigt, some don't.
For the F2P games, I also paid for several of them, but it was for utility/perks, notto skip any grind (swtor skill bars, lotro bags, etc.).
In WoW I didn't really find the leveling to be grindy, at the same time I'm in a big guild, so the leveling was a one-day affair with lots of people to joke and talk with on TS... Alts I leveled exclusively through the dungeon finder, and since I'm on WoW for the instanced group play, it's not really a problem for me (I also level alts VERY slowly).
I agree completely on the reputation grind: MoP had rep gating on a lot of non-rep stuff like craft patterns and gear. Independently of if was really "needed", it was definitely bad design.
@Woody: At the same time I'm not sure I understand all the problems... For JP/VP why exactly did you have to grind them? Instances provide enough gear that the vendor one was irrelevant, if you were into raiding that gear was irrelevant almost immediately. So what was the activity you wanted to do which needed that grind?
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool