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  • Microtransactions is working

    Kyleran said:
    As the article defines micro-transactions as player recurring investment, or the sale of in-game items, DLC, season passes, and subscriptions, since developers are shifting increasing amounts of content out from the base game does it surprise anyone revenues from them are increasing?

    In my example above, in Fallout NV the ability to make your own ammo was part of the core gameplay, in Fallout IV I have buy a $4.95 DLC to gain access to a module which includes a bunch of other content I don't really care about to do so.

    As for complaining about it not impacting the bottom line, these are clever folks, I'm likely to give in at some point and pay the fee as it's a pittance, and that's what they are relying on others to do.

    But if people did stop buying (and they might, the recent EA example is a decent test) then perhaps developers would once again consider not nickle-diming us to death.

    Yeah, that's not the way to bet.  ;)

    It depends on whether a "better" developer / publisher can come up with a better model for monetisation. 

    Microtransactions are a short sighted solution. They allow devs to get increased money out of a single game at the expense of alienating portions of their target market. With each successive game that gets released with microtransactions, the gaming market becomes increasingly aware that they are being delivered sub-par games that only get good once you've shelled out additional money. 

    The long term consequence is reduced anticipation and reduced initial sales of games in the future. More and more people are willing to wait months / years for a sale that includes all DLC or simply reduced the price to something they think is the correct value. This waiting is made possible by the shear amount of games available to us across a vast array of platforms. 

    The alternative (old) model is to package everything together for a single upfront cost, perhaps with expansions later. The first game will not make as much money as a first game with MTs, but the reception will be better. The second game will make more money. The developers build a reputation for delivering solid games with honest prices. This then helps them shift more and more boxes in the future, assuming they can continue making solid games. 

    Another alternative model might be going back the original intention of free-to-play: breaking up a game into affordable chunks. So, can't afford £40 for the whole of SWBF2? No problem! Give us £10 to unlock the single player campaign. Give us £20 to unlock basic classes and maps in multiplayer. Give us another £5 to unlock all heroes. £10 to unlock arcade mode. That way, the barrier to entry is reduced (so more sales in general), players feel they're getting value for money on a timescale they control. The cost of buying everything separately is more than the bundle, so you can still make more than just a single price for the full game. Everything is transparent. 
  • Star Wars Battlefront II AMA Happening Today - 'This is Fine' - News

    immodium said:
    immodium said:
    immodium said:
    And all that without even acknowledging the elephant in the room that makes digital lootbox much, much worse than any physical trading card game:

    If Magic stops making cards, you still have the cards in your possession.  In fact, those cards are likely to objectively increase in value.

    If EA shutters BF2, they can literally reduce the value of the items won to abso-fucking-lutely nothing, to the point of legally and actively preventing you from enjoying any value out of them.  Just as the lootbox winnings in Overwatch, and just as the lootbox winnings in any other online game.  Wizards of the Coast can't force you to send them their cards back.
    That's not unique to lootboxes. Look at the amount of MMO's people own that they can't play due to being shutdown.

    You can argue that many games with purchasable loot boxes are prolonging the life of the product they've purchased.
    It's not, but it's a key difference that makes the comparison to physical trading cards inaccurate and misleading.
    But labeling loot boxes gambling is also inaccurate and misleading.

    Gambling implies you can lose, you never lose with loot boxes. Whether you got what you wanted from it is irrelevant. You get something of cash value regardless.

    If it is classed as gambling it's the best form of gambling as you always win.
    Many casinos offer free VIP cards that accrue points as you lose that can be redeemed for items/comps.  So you technically never lose there, either.  Doesn't affect the regulations they must adhere to.
    So should trading cards then as well, they need to adhere to gambling regulations.

    Despite their differences there's more in common with loot boxes and trading cards than casinos.

    Whether your "winnings" last forever or not is irrelevant.
    Its important to distinguish between gambling as a concept, and types of gambling that are regulated by law. 

    Anything where you pay real money for a chance at a return is gambling. That includes lotteries, trading card packs, raffles, loot boxes. This is pretty much globally recognised and all legal investigations have shown this to be true. 

    However, gambling regulations in the majority of countries only cover gambling activities where the return is either money or can be converted into money in a guaranteed manner (e.g. exchanging tokens for cash). This is how game developers get away with it. In the EU for example, the Isle of Mann is the only country that follows a different model in that it doesn't care what format the gambling return comes in - money, cards or digital goods. 

    So, in the Isle of Mann, SWBF2's lootboxes are illegal. 

    The legal investigations being launched by Belgium and other countries are generally not focusing on whether in-game gambling breaks the law or not. They already know it doesn't. The investigations are mostly focusing on determining whether other laws have been broken (in the UK, for example, EA can get prosecuted for aggressively pushing lootboxes on players under other consumer protection laws) and also on how to create new legislation to regulate in game gambling. 
  • Embattled Star Wars: Battlefront II Microtransaction System Taken Offline - News

    cheyane said:
    Phry said:
    Belguim? i think it is that is currently looking into this game as gambling, if they determine it is, and with the terminology they were using it seems possible that it will be, then EA faces huge fines. It may be that they don't intend to reintroduce microtransactions until after the case is resolved, one way or the other.
    I see so the celebrations are premature and what prompted it was not the backlash but real fines.
    The backlash against BF2 is what has directly caused micro-transactions to be turned off. 

    The legal investigations are another matter entirely. They have been going on for a while now. Shadow of War, Overwatch, Forze 7, Fifa and NBA 2k18 have all been officially investigated. Belgium is currently making the most publicity with their investigations but the UK government is running it's own too. 

    Unfortunately within the EU, gambling laws only apply if the items won can be converted into real money. This is how the games industry is currently getting away with it - if you were able to sell your Star Cards in BF2 for money, the game would be instantly fucked. 

    There are also additional consumer protection laws that apply. In the UK, we have Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. This specifically requires business not to, ‘anyone to misleading or aggressive marketing practices, or, for example, direct exhortation to buy products, such as games content, including in-game purchases such as loot boxes.’

    This tends to be the main focus on investigations against individual games, but the consequences aren't great. This law basically allows gambling in lootboxes as long as the devs aren't pushing their players to buy them, and even if you are found to be pushing them you generally just have to change your marketing messages. Its rare that you get fined. 

    With all that said, there are many governments around the world who have now acknowledged gambling within computer games as a problem and are considering new legislation. The UK secretary of state is currently running a commission with the goal of coming up with new consumer protections against lootboxes and microtransactions. So, from my point of view, the writing is on the wall. Whatever new legislation comes through won't remove microtransactions or lootboxes entirely but they will likely protect us against their overly predatory nature. I expect to see more items being sold directly in shops or simply other monetisation methods (more expensive games) to cover the loss of income. 

  • How many people buy MMOs together?

    The guild I used to run was really tight knit. We had somewhere in the region of 50-75 active members at any given time. 

    When a new game was announced we would usually have a group discussion about whether we wanted to play it or not. For most of us, the guild was more important than the game so we would only move if a new chapter of the guild would be started. 

    So, when I was playing LotRO and WAR was announced, about 20 of us made the move and I ran the new WAR branch of the guild. When WAR turned out to be shit, most of us moved back LotRO. When RIFT came out, most of us didn't want to go so I think only 2 people bought it and moved. When SW:TOR came out, most of us wanted to move so about 30 of us moved, including most of the leadership so our LotRO guild had to end. When Wildstar came out, we decided against it so only 1 went. 

    These days, the guild is no more so my decision making is singular again.
  • Thoughts on the prospects of the survival genre

    Sovrath said:

    You have to differentiate between content-driven games and sandboxes. 

    In a content driven game, I would guess most single player games become boring in under 100 hours. Games like Skyrim, Final Fantasy 7, Grid Autosport or whatever else, you can complete 95% of the content within 50 hours of average gameplay. After that, you're either hunting down rare achievements / bosses or repeating content, both of which the majority of gamers find boring. 

    hmm, skyrim doesn't fall into that category, it is for some (myself included) a sandbox game. At least one can "live a life" in it.

    If you are talking about hunting down rare achievements/bosses then you are only playing it as a "game".

     A guy came to the forums years ago and couldn't understand why people were playing 100 hours as "you could beat the game in 5 hours".

    I have well into 1500 hours and I know Geezer Gamer has well above 2000 hours.

    I suspect that replay-ability might more up to the person playing for some of these games.

    But then now we are arguing what a sandbox is as i do agree that a "sandbox" allows for a greater amount of time in game over, say, "Dishonored".

    On the weekend I played a bit of the Morrowind Expansion for Elder Scrolls Online. After a few quests I was "done". Then, I got the bug to reinstall the single player game and played for hours exploring, at one point I was in pitch dark trying to figure out how to get out of a sunken boat while drowning.

    Was a great gaming session.

    As I said, "replay-ability" might be more up to the players with some of these games.

    I should add that survival games are "sandbox game" as you are allowed to build what you need to survive/live in the world.

    Skyrim is an interesting one and is great for debating sandbox vs themepark. 

    I would personally call it a themepark. Assuming you are running an unmodded version of the game, it doesn't really give you the tools to create content. You can choose the order in which you do quests, or visit caves, but once there you are still just along for the ride. It may be a non-linear themepark because you can choose which rides you want to do, but you are still just picking rides and going on them. 

    For myself, I've probably put in ~250 hours into Skyrim, but that covers about 10 different playthroughs. It doesn't take long at all to work through all the main content - guilds, main story, imperial vs nords etc - so after that you're just left with hunting down side quests and exploring all the map. None of that is sandbox content. You also quite quickly discover that exploring caves is a complete waste of time due to lack of variation and crap loot. 

    Finally, remember we're talking about averages here. With any game in existence, you can fall in love with it and rack up 1000s of hours replaying it and skyrim is no different. But, the average gamer will be done with it in 50 hours or so, as 50 hours is more than enough to complete all main content, most side content, buy all houses, max out most of your skills and get gear that trivialises all content. After that, all you're left with is hunting down remaining side quests, exploring the odd cave and maybe grinding out your remaining skill trees. Hardly compelling content, which is why most people move on or start again with a different character focus.