Tobold's Blog
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Turning fun into work

I started up Genshin Impact today, and then didn't feel like playing it. I'm not stuck anymore, I managed to kill the fire elite boss twice, which enabled two more of characters to reach level 50. So my favorite fire character, at level 50 with a level 50 weapon, has over 1,000 ATK when equipped with my best artifacts. I'm at adventure rank 28, and I think I could ascend the rest of my characters before reaching AR 30, where I can raise the level cap again. And I know exactly what I would have to do, day after day, to get to that point. I just don't want to. It's such a precisely laid out path, that it feels like a lot of work, not like fun.

I've seen a few reviewers who liked Genshin Impact more than they liked Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Instead of Breath's level-free game, with infrequent character progression, and constantly breaking weapons, Genshin Impact offers a much clearer progression path, which only ever goes upward. If you felt a bit lost in Hyrule and weren't too sure where to go, the world of Teyvat will give you more incentives to do this activity, or farm that resource. However, personally I liked the freedom of Breath of the Wild; I liked that I could do a lot of the game without having to engage in major execution-based challenges. Genshin Impact in comparison feels a lot less forgiving: You get blocked at certain points, for example at AR 25, where you have to solo a difficult dungeon before being able to continue to advance in adventure rank. But when doing that, you also increase the world level, and all the monsters in the world become harder to beat. In the end I felt like playing catch-up: I'm trying to get my characters more powerful in order to overcome the challenges, but that makes the challenges harder. There is no easy difficulty level for casual players, the game gets increasingly hardcore after adventure rank 25.

I also made the mistake of buying the battle pass. Don't get me wrong, the battle pass gives out pretty nice rewards for the cost (and you can play a free version for less reward). But that added a list of things I had to do every day to collect the points I needed to increase my battle pass level. So when playing casually for an hour or so, the whole session was filled with must-do chores. Instead of going and exploring to see what lay behind the next hill, I did the grind of commissions, domains, and collecting specific resources.

So I decided to stop doing that, and instead went to collect all Anemoculus, a task that made me explore pretty much every corner of Mondstadt, the first region in the game. After having done that I realized that there is only one more region left that I can explore like that until a third region gets patched in. And even with a third region, the number of hours I could possibly spend to explore everything is limited. Just like many MMORPGs, the game is filled with lots of repeatable chores you need to do for character advancement, in order to hide that the content is otherwise limited.

But somehow in Genshin Impact I don't feel good about character advancement. Not if the world just levels up at least as fast as I do, and I never really become powerful. Not if I do things like running the same domain 8 times in a day, to get both artifacts to level up my other artifacts, and points for my battle pass. I think I need to get off that particular train. I don't think I want to play Genshin Impact every day anymore. Maybe play it from time to time, do a couple of quests, explore a little, but don't concentrate on character advancement anymore. Genshin Impact started to feel like a MMORPG, and to me that was not a good thing.

Do you regret spending money on it?

This is my fundamental problem with these types of games. The entire game is designed around these systems to keep the players always grinding. Always logging in for that daily reward. Always doing X activity because you only have Y time to do it.

I wonder if you would still be having fun in Genshin if it wasn't designed in that way and instead just offered it's gameplay and story and a cost of $60.
> I wonder if you would still be having fun in Genshin if it wasn't designed in that way and instead just offered it's gameplay and story and a cost of $60.

Yes, this is yet another game that follow this "hamster wheel" scheme. I am a bit surprised that Tobold had the incentive to spend money on it, to be honest. Two weeks into it and things seem to smell bad already.

How much money did you spend so far?
Genshin Impact had an offer where for your first purchase you got double the in-game currency, so I took the largest bundle for over a hundred bucks. However, I don't regret that, because I didn't just spend the money in the hope of becoming more powerful in the game. I have a long-standing interest in the monetization of games, and the first triple-A gacha game is interesting to me for that. It doesn't matter if I drop twice the price of a full game, as long as I end up understanding the underlying systems better. Because, believe me, this is just the tip of the iceberg. We will see a lot more big games with this business model.
> this is just the tip of the iceberg. We will see a lot more big games with this business model.

It makes sense, to be honest. If people spend money on these games then... why not. There is a huge market out there and companies will try their best to profit from it. I just hope more parents will teach their kids about these hamster wheels that turn fun into work. My two boys usually move to a new game as soon the hamster kicks in. That's good, because feeding their gaming passion costs almost nothing (aside from the hardware, of coursE).
> It doesn't matter if I drop twice the price of a full game, as long as I end up understanding the underlying systems better.

What exactly do you (still) need to understand, at this point? This is nothing new. I honestly don't understand how you didn't see it coming. Did you expect to get hundreds of free gameplay hours out of this waifu game? You're not a teenager anymore, neither I am. You should have seen this sh*it right when the game was announced.

Mobile games introduced similar schemes many years ago. Candy Crush made a fortune out of virtual lollipops that lasted a few seconds. "Can't beat level 451? Here you go, take this super-duper temporary boost and jump to 452 so you can buy another one to hit 453".

Companies play with human psychology and compulsive buying problems. It's that simple.

I think that paying to get *any* kind of benefit (aside from cosmetic-only stuff) is a disguised form of cheating. Why not using any random cheat software to get unlimited life/energy/money, at this point? Where is the satisfaction if you can "buy" your way to victory?

If a game offers "100 hours of intense grind" versus "Zero hours for $10" it's crystal-clear that you're supposed to spend money to avoid insanity. Because that's how it works: they offer you a fake "free" model with a crappy drop rate to lure you into clicking the credit card button.

Genshin Impact is just one of the many variations of this business model.
What exactly do you (still) need to understand, at this point?

You seem to be under the mistaken impression that all loot box systems are the same. That is very far from being the truth. Think of loot boxes as having a win condition (you get the card you want) and a loss condition (you don't get the card you want). Different systems vary widely in the probability of the win condition, but even more widely in the quality of the loss condition. In my time playing Magic the Gathering with physical cards, opening physical boosters, I threw away thousands of commons, because you couldn't use any card more than 4 times, and any extras were just completely useless. On the other extreme, the Christmas loot boxes of World of Tanks contain at the very least as much gold as you would have gotten if you had spent the money on gold instead of a loot box. So as long as you need some gold anyway, WoT loot boxes are pure win.

In Genshin Impact there are several interesting systems at work for the loot boxes. The first is the "pity" system, which nearly triples your chance of getting a 5-star by guaranteeing one every 90 pulls. The second is how you can use the "loss condition" 3-star weapons you receive as upgrade materials. And third there is a system in which when you get a character more than once, the second to seventh copy transform into character upgrades as well. Also you get some starglitter and stardust, which you can exchange for other materials. All in all, Genshin Impact is far from having the worst loot box system that I have ever seen. It mainly sucks if for some reason you absolutely want one specific character.
However you look at those loot boxes, you still can't target a specific item and buy it. You can't pay X dollars to get a specific item you want. It's still a form of gambling. The ultimate goal is to make you waste more money that what you would spend if the item had a fixed price. WoW pets and mounts are expensive but if you want "that" golden dragon you can pay for it and be happy. No need to gamble or "hope" to get one "sometimes". and they're just skins/cosmetics.

The World of Tanks example makes more sense but it's still a way to lure you to spend money to shorten the grind and/or get added benefits. So, in my opinion, it still falls under the very old mechanic that plays with your psychology: "Will I grind for 20 hours or will I spend $5 to make it faster and gain some perks? Hell yes, $5 is nothing, I'll do it!".

As I said, all of these "added benefits" that differ from simple cosmetics are light-to-heavy forms of cheating, in my opinion. You pay to make your life easier, to be "faster", to be "more powerful", etc.

I am not saying it's immoral or anything like that, not at all. I simply don't understand why I should pay to make the game shorter, faster or easier. The main focus of a "grinding" game is indeed "grinding" to achieve something. In WoW there is an achievement called "What a long strange trip it's been" that required a full 12-months period to be complete. And if you skip one event during those months you will waste the entire year. It requires dedication but I can tell you it gives you a great sense of pride and accomplishment (if you like the game, of course). Would it make any sense if you could pay $100 and skip 6 months? I personally don't think so, I wouldn't be interested at all. I "earned" it over the years by playing the game and focusing on the missing parts each time. And the final reward was (at that time) the fastest mount of the game.

This is one of the reasons why I love playing "online only" games where you can't "hack" the client (you still can but it's very risky and you can get banned). They force me to "play" the game without shortcuts. If/when I feel the need to trick the system to make it faster then I will stop playing the game for a while. Because the fun would be gone. And that's one of the reason why I've always played 1-3 months (maximum) into every WoW expansion: because they become hamster wheels very fast.

Assassin's Creed Origins/Odyssey tend to become "hamster wheesl" too if you play them for a long time. Very similar quests, wood gathering, "special currency" and so on. But I didn't cheat/buy anything because it would feel like cheating at solitaire.
I got hundreds of hours out of Candy Crush *because* I never paid anything. Though the levels did eventually get nearly impossible.

I might try Genshin Impact, though it's not the sort of game I am ever likely to pay anything for. The impression I get is that the free parts, even if limited, are pretty good.
I'm having a very enjoyable time in genshin having not spent a penny.

There are differences in characters however most are viable and there are some very capable 4 star characters.

I have played through the main story quest and explored the world. I feel my characters are capable to complete all but the highest of content and certainly to enjoy the world and story.

I think spending money might actually ruin this experience.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool