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Games with item malls should put free stuff in them

QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,092
As you surely know, there are a lot of games that have an item mall and rely on it as their primary or even only way to get revenue for the game.  Such games obviously want people to buy stuff from their item mall.  I've recently concluded that many games are going about this all wrong.

Games want to direct players to go look at what is in the item mall.  Sometimes they do this by having pop-up ads that advertise various things in the item mall, especially something new or discounted.  For example, perhaps you get some ads that cover much of your screen when you log in, or at certain other times that the developers think that you won't be busy.

The problem is that people hate pop-up ads, and have for decades.  That's hardly unique to gaming, and is the reason why web browsers added pop-up blockers early in this millennium.  Advertising item mall contents by shoving them in players' faces when they want to do something else teaches players to think of the item mall as an annoying source of pop-up ads, in addition to whatever else they might dislike about it.

If you want players to have a serious look at what is in your item mall and maybe even buy something, you don't want to teach them that your item mall is really annoying.  Rather, you want players to think of your item mall as a place to go get stuff that they want.  And the way to do that is to have players go get stuff that they want from the item mall--even free players who don't pay money for your game, or at least haven't yet but might in the future.

Any free stuff that you're going to give players should be run through the item mall.  Daily login rewards?  Make players open up the item mall to claim them, like how Dauntless does.  Downtime compensation?  Put the bundle in the item mall.  Events that give out some item mall stuff for free?  Add a limited purchase quantity entry with a price of "free" to the item mall where players can get the freebie right next to where they can buy it in unlimited quantity for money.  If you've got a ton of cosmetic items to sell, make one free for a short time every once in a while so that players have to have a look at what is there to go claim it.

You can also take the Tree of Savior approach of giving players a small amount of item mall currency for free, and making a few minor items available from using just the free currency.  In Tree of Savior, you got $0.10 worth of item mall currency every four hours, and it was capped at $0.50.  That way, players get used to not merely opening the item mall and claiming free stuff, but actually shopping there regularly.  And that applies even to currently free players that the company hopes to convert to paying players.

For the most part, this advice is for the benefit of game developer and publishers, not so much players.  But it would still be better to go claim your daily login rewards at a time that is convenient for you, rather than having stuff shoved in your face when you're busy.  If you're in the middle of something and get disconnected, having to take a few seconds to click off the pop-up ads for item mall junk when you log back in is a nuisance.
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Comments

  • WizardryWizardry Member LegendaryPosts: 17,835
    I don't want free stuff,i want only one thing a HQ game or a game that offers me something i haven't seen before.

    If a game is any good ,it can rely on nothing more than a subscription.However the majority,like 99% of these games are rubbish,if they had to sell them and charge a sub fee,nobody would play them.However people are suckers for small increments at a time,spend 5 then maybe 10 next week,by the end of the month you have spent more than a subscription fee,the veryu idea people scoffed at yet are spending WAY MORE on CS's.
    delete5230Xodic

    Never forget 3 mile Island and never trust a government official or company spokesman.

  • rojoArcueidrojoArcueid Member EpicPosts: 10,401
    Wizardry said:
    I don't want free stuff,i want only one thing a HQ game or a game that offers me something i haven't seen before.

    If a game is any good ,it can rely on nothing more than a subscription.However the majority,like 99% of these games are rubbish,if they had to sell them and charge a sub fee,nobody would play them.However people are suckers for small increments at a time,spend 5 then maybe 10 next week,by the end of the month you have spent more than a subscription fee,the veryu idea people scoffed at yet are spending WAY MORE on CS's.

    The problem i see with your comment is that you want to force everyone to pay a subscription if they want to play a good game. A good game that is designed from the ground up to be based on a subscription is fine. Every game requiring one is not fine.




  • boris20boris20 Member UncommonPosts: 391
    I can agree, that any form of pop up, or sparkly "shop" tabs is a turn off. It really kills the vibe of the game for me. Nothing like trying to immerse into the world and seeing "cash shop" reminders on the screen. 

    In general I hate cash shops and would much rather buy the entire game out right, or pay a sub. The only game Ive purchased stuff from a shop is Path of Exile, and it was not cosmetics. I bought the stash tabs for quality of life while playing. 

    I feel a lot of companies spend too much time with adding content to the cash shops and not the game itself. 

    If a game was truly a good game, it would be able to make profit selling the game on launch, a box price, then selling expansions and post launch content, without having to crutch on a in game cash shop. If the game is truly good, it will sell, by word of mouth, and reviews. 
  • newbismxnewbismx Member UncommonPosts: 272
    edited December 2019
    Quizzical said:
    As you surely know, there are a lot of games that have an item mall and rely on it as their primary or even only way to get revenue for the game.  Such games obviously want people to buy stuff from their item mall.  I've recently concluded that many games are going about this all wrong.

    Games want to direct players to go look at what is in the item mall.  Sometimes they do this by having pop-up ads that advertise various things in the item mall, especially something new or discounted.  For example, perhaps you get some ads that cover much of your screen when you log in, or at certain other times that the developers think that you won't be busy.

    The problem is that people hate pop-up ads, and have for decades.  That's hardly unique to gaming, and is the reason why web browsers added pop-up blockers early in this millennium.  Advertising item mall contents by shoving them in players' faces when they want to do something else teaches players to think of the item mall as an annoying source of pop-up ads, in addition to whatever else they might dislike about it.

    If you want players to have a serious look at what is in your item mall and maybe even buy something, you don't want to teach them that your item mall is really annoying.  Rather, you want players to think of your item mall as a place to go get stuff that they want.  And the way to do that is to have players go get stuff that they want from the item mall--even free players who don't pay money for your game, or at least haven't yet but might in the future.

    Any free stuff that you're going to give players should be run through the item mall.  Daily login rewards?  Make players open up the item mall to claim them, like how Dauntless does.  Downtime compensation?  Put the bundle in the item mall.  Events that give out some item mall stuff for free?  Add a limited purchase quantity entry with a price of "free" to the item mall where players can get the freebie right next to where they can buy it in unlimited quantity for money.  If you've got a ton of cosmetic items to sell, make one free for a short time every once in a while so that players have to have a look at what is there to go claim it.

    You can also take the Tree of Savior approach of giving players a small amount of item mall currency for free, and making a few minor items available from using just the free currency.  In Tree of Savior, you got $0.10 worth of item mall currency every four hours, and it was capped at $0.50.  That way, players get used to not merely opening the item mall and claiming free stuff, but actually shopping there regularly.  And that applies even to currently free players that the company hopes to convert to paying players.

    For the most part, this advice is for the benefit of game developer and publishers, not so much players.  But it would still be better to go claim your daily login rewards at a time that is convenient for you, rather than having stuff shoved in your face when you're busy.  If you're in the middle of something and get disconnected, having to take a few seconds to click off the pop-up ads for item mall junk when you log back in is a nuisance.
    Thats how I would do it- 

    I know my wife plays some tablet monster/taming type game that does something sort of similar (ca$h $hop tickets or something?) and they manage to 'help' her to find something 'cute' while shes there grabbing the "free" loot.

    Fortunately she doesnt play competitive and doesnt really care about 'best stats' or anything- Shes been playing this game for a few years and has spent a couple hundred dollars - Which is really not bad considering how much time she spends playing... From what ive seen it would cost literally thousands to 'play' competitive or 'for real' but you would be hooked on the game before you realized that fact.

    Before she found this game- Cant remember the name of what she plays- She would never buy games or use cash shops or anything...So they got her hooked, handed out samples and now shes addicted- And I never thought I would see her spend cash on a game.

    I would take that to the extreme- I'd pump Fentanol into them directly throught their phone if it were permissible.

    Then I'd buy a ferrari, a mansion and an Idris and my bucket list would be nearly complete.
  • AAAMEOWAAAMEOW Member RarePosts: 1,352
    Or you can make people earn item mall stuff by doing task. 

    Many games give people ways to earn item mall stuff by playing.  It just so tedious many choose to just use money.
  • rojoArcueidrojoArcueid Member EpicPosts: 10,401
    edited December 2019
    AAAMEOW said:
    Or you can make people earn item mall stuff by doing task. 

    Many games give people ways to earn item mall stuff by playing.  It just so tedious many choose to just use money.

    that's how games used to be before mmos became so popular, you used to unlock cosmetics by playing. Now they want to heavily monetize every possible bit because they want the whole thing to run on a server. Or i should say, they want to make most games run on a server just so they can heavily monetize it. I'm looking at Ubisoft straight in the eye.




  • newbismxnewbismx Member UncommonPosts: 272
    AAAMEOW said:
    Or you can make people earn item mall stuff by doing task. 

    Many games give people ways to earn item mall stuff by playing.  It just so tedious many choose to just use money.

    that's how games used to be before mmos became so popular, you used to unlock cosmetics by playing. Now they want to heavily monetize every possible bit because they want the whole thing to run on a server. Or i should say, they want to make most games run on a server just so they can heavily monetize it. I'm looking at Ubisoft straight in the eye.
    I remember when it started, and people would say "Its JUST cosmetics" as if that negated everything.

    The days of seeing a cool looking outfit or weapon 'skin' and then ask around to figure out what quest/task you can do to be able to look like that- Now you already know that its in the cash shop
    rojoArcueid
  • iixviiiixiixviiiix Member RarePosts: 2,131
    edited December 2019
    Instead of free stuff , i prefer they offer fixed gold price for the items .

    For example you can direct buy a cash item from cash shop for $10 or 1000 in game gold (that may worth 4 or 5 hours of farming ) .
    My main problem with F2P game is the free market price (controled by the whales) that keep rise up until the game's economy broken

    Most F2P with cash shop make you feel like price of everything that you need to play the game keep rise up while your salary still the same . And at some point you just "f**k it , i quit" and move to newer game .
  • TheocritusTheocritus Member EpicPosts: 7,663
    Wizardry said:
    I don't want free stuff,i want only one thing a HQ game or a game that offers me something i haven't seen before.

    If a game is any good ,it can rely on nothing more than a subscription.However the majority,like 99% of these games are rubbish,if they had to sell them and charge a sub fee,nobody would play them.However people are suckers for small increments at a time,spend 5 then maybe 10 next week,by the end of the month you have spent more than a subscription fee,the veryu idea people scoffed at yet are spending WAY MORE on CS's.

    I've never spent anywhere near in a cash shop what I had to pay to sub, not even close. I'd rather buy what I want from the cash shop than be forced to sub.
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,092
    iixviiiix said:
    Instead of free stuff , i prefer they offer fixed gold price for the items .

    For example you can direct buy a cash item from cash shop for $10 or 1000 in game gold (that may worth 4 or 5 hours of farming ) .
    My main problem with F2P game is the free market price (controled by the whales) that keep rise up until the game's economy broken

    Most F2P with cash shop make you feel like price of everything that you need to play the game keep rise up while your salary still the same . And at some point you just "f**k it , i quit" and move to newer game .
    Game developers don't need your in-game gold.  They need real-life money in order to pay the bills.
  • iixviiiixiixviiiix Member RarePosts: 2,131
    Quizzical said:
    iixviiiix said:
    Instead of free stuff , i prefer they offer fixed gold price for the items .

    For example you can direct buy a cash item from cash shop for $10 or 1000 in game gold (that may worth 4 or 5 hours of farming ) .
    My main problem with F2P game is the free market price (controled by the whales) that keep rise up until the game's economy broken

    Most F2P with cash shop make you feel like price of everything that you need to play the game keep rise up while your salary still the same . And at some point you just "f**k it , i quit" and move to newer game .
    Game developers don't need your in-game gold.  They need real-life money in order to pay the bills.
    Nah , when the game closed down because of  economy depression , they don't even have anything to pay the bills .
    All game need to remove the gold in one way another , and when the gold run out you will have to pay with hard cash.

    Before you talk about F2P stuff , i think you better re read stuffs that around 10 years ago .
    That said , when in game resource run out , people will pay hard cash , and if they don't even care to grind , they will pay cash.

    This tactic is widely used by eastern F2P MMORPGs for long term develop while western market prefer B2P trap for quick cash


  • AAAMEOWAAAMEOW Member RarePosts: 1,352
    edited December 2019
    iixviiiix said:
    Instead of free stuff , i prefer they offer fixed gold price for the items .

    For example you can direct buy a cash item from cash shop for $10 or 1000 in game gold (that may worth 4 or 5 hours of farming ) .
    My main problem with F2P game is the free market price (controled by the whales) that keep rise up until the game's economy broken

    Most F2P with cash shop make you feel like price of everything that you need to play the game keep rise up while your salary still the same . And at some point you just "f**k it , i quit" and move to newer game .
    I dont' see that big of a difference.  (weather to buy from whales or trade gold for cash shop item)  Developer can put outrageous gold tag on store item too.

    I do get your point.  When a game is new, it seemed F2P player can get by grinding gold.  But after a while every price keep going up and they can't sustain any more.  That is especially true for cash shop item.

    But I think that is most likely done on purpose.  Game company keep the cash shop mild at the beginning so they can get more people to play.  But keep getting more aggressive as time goes by to milk more money.


  • iixviiiixiixviiiix Member RarePosts: 2,131
    edited December 2019
    ?
    when the price of item mail rise , the whale will buy less to sell . How they can milk more money with it ?
    For example a mail item fixed price is 1000 , if the whale need 4000 gold , it will have to buy more than 4 items and sell it for players cheaper than 1000.
    But if there are no fixed price , they can rise the price to 2000 , or even 4000 with only 1 item

    In first place , most earning time of F2P games was early stage when in game currency price have high value. And the whales have to buy more .
    Most game colapsed when the value drop so low that it not worth the time of player to play .


  • AAAMEOWAAAMEOW Member RarePosts: 1,352
    edited December 2019
    iixviiiix said:
    ?
    when the price of item mail rise , the whale will buy less to sell . How they can milk more money with it ?
    For example a mail item fixed price is 1000 , if the whale need 4000 gold , it will have to buy more than 4 items and sell it for players cheaper than 1000.
    But if there are no fixed price , they can rise the price to 2000 , or even 4000 with only 1 item



    Good point, so that is probably why developer use supply and demand.  So seller have to compete with other seller to undercut each other.

    It is a far more complicated issue.  There are also in game economy, and increasing lucrative way to farm gold easier etc.

    I think the main problem is game company use more aggressive way such as making weapon/armor upgrade material which break etc.  Making loot box item incredibly rare etc.

    iixviiiix
  • maskedweaselmaskedweasel Member EpicPosts: 10,639
    What you're describing is the Mobile Game model.  If you've ever played a mobile game, a free one specifically, you'll notice that many times, they have shops where the first tier of items is free. These items are free for daily, weekly and sometimes even monthly intervals. 

    In fact, there are games that rely on dozens of menus, with different currencies, rewards, and shops, all of which boast free items, or earnable items over time. 


    Pop-ups are also a major point of selling, but it's done intelligently, in most cases. One example of this is the situational pop-up. 

    Let's say you're new to the game, you just started, and have been playing a few days, and for whatever reason, you run out of currency to upgrade a new character you just got. You spend your last gold piece, and boom, a pop-up says there's a fantastic introductory deal for new players, for 99 cents. 

    Most players may click off of it, but for some players they buy in, knowing they can get what they want immediately, instead of having to wait a couple days, but it doesn't stop there.  The scale slides, if you purchase the first one, you'll get the next tier of spending.  

    I've been in mobile games and have spent money to where the first two tiers are 1.00 and 5.00s respectively.  If I didn't spend money on the next tier of 15 - 20 dollars, they'd reuse the smaller deals after a week or two.  


    But pop-ups aren't the only way in which they force players to check the shops.  Simply putting an indicator light that something is there that you haven't checked is enough to have people attempting to clear all the little red indicator lights on each shop every time they log in. 

    Most of the time, the indicators notify you of something free that you haven't picked up.  But there are times when you may log in, and notice an indicator light, that simply takes you to the shop to show you deals they figure are worthwhile. 


    These monetization schemes are effective. They work.  Part of spending in a game is knowing what the shop has that you can spend your money on, so having people check these shops on the daily boosts sales substantially. 

    Mobile games have had this down, and is the main factor in why mobile gaming is making so much money.  Even bad games can generate income this way, because people can easily be caught up in small monetary purchases that don't seem like much. 


    Usually I stick to the small purchases.  Primarily because google opinion rewards pays out a decent amount for me on the monthly, so I actually don't spend much money as long as I keep purchases under 10 dollars. Most of the time the purchases are free.  But it also gives me good insight into how the monetization schemes work and why they work so well. 


    MMO's could make these kinds of shops better, and some have. But in order for them to truly capitalize on making money this way, the games have to be geared around features that time gate things, and that means we head dangerously close into pay 2 win territory.  Even worse, standard PC and Console games haven't traditionally went this route because the platforms aren't ideal for time gated content.   

    In fact, that's one of the reasons Bless was so terrible. They time gates PvP experiences, many people couldn't get in, and that was the main focus for the game.  In games that rely on community like that, you can't cut out content to push monetary agendas, community is the selling point.
    iixviiiix



  • NanfoodleNanfoodle Member EpicPosts: 8,541
    I like how ESO has done it. They do have a sub and like most games where a sub is optional, you get free Crown's each month to buy what you want. They also give you a housing item each month for free. As far as in game cosmetics, I have yet to feel I can't make my char look cool without spending Crown's. To be honest I have never had so many options to earn in game. Cash shops like this don't bother me for that reason, I don't need to give ESO anything beyond my sub and people who want to go nuts in the cash shop for whatever reason, well they are speeding up new content. There is much freedom in how you support ESO or you can decide to just play for free. SW Old Republic was much the same. 
    Xodic
  • TheocritusTheocritus Member EpicPosts: 7,663
    Nanfoodle said:
    I like how ESO has done it. They do have a sub and like most games where a sub is optional, you get free Crown's each month to buy what you want. They also give you a housing item each month for free. As far as in game cosmetics, I have yet to feel I can't make my char look cool without spending Crown's. To be honest I have never had so many options to earn in game. Cash shops like this don't bother me for that reason, I don't need to give ESO anything beyond my sub and people who want to go nuts in the cash shop for whatever reason, well they are speeding up new content. There is much freedom in how you support ESO or you can decide to just play for free. SW Old Republic was much the same. 

    Isn't that just a clever way of disguising the cash shop? You pay the $15 sub and they give you crowns to spend in the item mall?
    iixviiiix
  • Jamar870Jamar870 Member UncommonPosts: 457
    Theocritus, you sound like someone who believes games you should either be B2P or F2P with cash shops to support further developement and user support. How each company decides how they monetize their game is their decision. Myself I see B2P or F2P approach eventually will have you spending more than your initial investment.  It will probably be in most cases to avoid the GRIND, they offer what you want/need to move further along in the game in their cash shop. So I'm partial to sub based setups from the viewpoint that there wont be any excessive grind for items need to "progress" in a game with a sub.
  • KyleranKyleran Member LegendaryPosts: 36,348
    edited December 2019
    Bethesda's Fallout 76 uses several of the OPs suggested methods to promote their cash shop.

    First, players regularly earn the in store currency, Atoms for free just by playing the core game.  

    Upon logging in the game the cash shop spash page is prominently displayed though can be quickly removed with the tab key.

    They originally "hid" free items within the store pages, but recently began displaying a banner on the store page saying "free item" whenever new ones were added though the player still has to tab through everything to find them as before.

    With the addition of FO 1st they also add exclusive free items for subscribers but these haven't amounted to much yet IMO.

    Bethesda may not know how to code a well made game, but their cash shop execution has improved greatly over the past year.

    One might argue one of the chief reasons to keep the game going is it makes a good, low risk environment to test how well various monetization strategies work out in advance of future game releases.


    "See normal people, I'm not one of them" | G-Easy & Big Sean

    "I need to finish" - Christian Wolff: The Accountant

    Just trying to live long enough to play a new, released MMORPG, playing FO76 at the moment.

    Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions. Pvbs 18:2, NIV

    Don't just play games, inhabit virtual worlds™

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  • IselinIselin Member LegendaryPosts: 14,398
    Kyleran said:


    Bethesda may not know how to code a well made game, but their cash shop execution has improved greatly over the past year.




    It's also the most robust and bug-free part of the Elder Scrolls Online. Weird how that works :)
    “Microtransactions? In a single player role-playing game? Are you nuts?” 
    ― CD PROJEKT RED

    "... the "influencers" which is the tech name we call sell outs now..."
    __ Wizardry, 2020
  • laseritlaserit Member LegendaryPosts: 6,298
    I like to play video games, I don't like to shop in them. I want to pay upfront and be done with it.

    I hate shopping, just ask my wife ;)
    IselinrojoArcueidKyleranH0urg1assiixviiiix

    "Be water my friend" - Bruce Lee

  • H0urg1assH0urg1ass Member EpicPosts: 2,380
    Games shouldn't have item malls.

    Period.

    But since that ship has sailed and fools are easily parted with their money, then sure, I guess why not have free stuff in them too.

    Whales have simply made it too profitable not to include them.  Even Magic the Gathering has started harpooning for whales in their last few physical expansions.  Releasing the normal product for the normal prices but also releasing premium products right beside them for absurd prices that only the wealthy or truly dedicated can afford.


    Nilden
  • BruceYeeBruceYee Member EpicPosts: 1,947
    OP, what game are you playing that has frequent pop ups? The only ones I play with pop ups are mobile or if you count ESO's log in advert a pop up.

    Along with what you suggested which I think is a good idea I think they should do two other things...

    1. Add cash shop items as "jackpot" drops in the game. Imagine you just kill a random mob and get a cash shop item as a drop. They should be rare drops of course but being able to get that feeling of winning big just by playing the game may be incentive for certain players to possibly make a cash shop purchase.

    2. Make deals in the shop too good to resist so players are motivated to go there. ESO does a decent job of this but they can still do better with more frequent lower cost deals imo.
  • KyleranKyleran Member LegendaryPosts: 36,348
    Iselin said:
    Kyleran said:


    Bethesda may not know how to code a well made game, but their cash shop execution has improved greatly over the past year.




    It's also the most robust and bug-free part of the Elder Scrolls Online. Weird how that works :)
    I suspect the two games are quite similar in their monetization approaches.

    "See normal people, I'm not one of them" | G-Easy & Big Sean

    "I need to finish" - Christian Wolff: The Accountant

    Just trying to live long enough to play a new, released MMORPG, playing FO76 at the moment.

    Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions. Pvbs 18:2, NIV

    Don't just play games, inhabit virtual worlds™

    "This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon






  • goboygogoboygo Member RarePosts: 2,140
    Great idea, lets take even more content out of the game and put it into the cash shops for "free" to get more people to go the cash shops.  Yes, lets think up ways to enable even more micro-transactions to occur. 

    How about instead, creating posts that actually benefit gamers not publishers, like thinking up ways to get rid of cash shops altogether. This cancer started in Korea where so many cheeze games were being created they could no longer sell them, the market was absolutely flooded.  So they had to give them away and lure people into spending money they originally didnt want to spend, so the cash shop was born.  And it turns out people are so bad with math and economics in general, coupled with addiction and obsessive compulsive disorders, they stumbled on the perfect formula to milk money out of gamers.  The cancer spread to the West and now Bobs your Uncle.
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