Archive for category: Gaming

The Inevitable End Point for Free To Play

16 Apr
April 16, 2014

As one twitter user commented – “Finally, the last semblance of fun is removed from F2P”.

Lego robot plays F2P games while its owner sleeps

CCP halts World of Darkness dev

14 Apr
April 14, 2014

Awww :(

WoD could have been something really interesting. Even in MMO form. CCP’s design sensibilities run more to social sandbox than WoW-like theme park, so I was more than happy to at least see what they could come up with. Guess we’ll never know.

Let’s take a moment to consider what could have been with this ubercool trailer.

(Thanks to Rampant Coyote for the heads up)

Free to Play Revenue and Player Spending

09 Apr
April 9, 2014

Seen a bit of a buzz around this Gamasutra article about F2P Revenue on my feeds lately.

The gist of the article is that the revenue from F2P games comes from a very small fraction of players (~2.2%). And a small fraction(10%) of those who do pay, make up about half of all revenue made.

Which is interesting, if unsurprising. Now, much of the commentary involves some version of saying “look, see here, here’s evidence of how unhealthy and exploitative F2P is!”


Let me preface this by saying that I’m not the biggest fan of the F2P in the world. My views have softened a bit since I saw it implemented well (I thought), in Dungeons and Dragons Online, and further since I got my Android and started downloading apps, some of which do F2P reasonably, some of which don’t. But I still overall prefer the buy-once, unlock-everything experience.

And I won’t defend the games that are basically gambling, or aimed at exploiting children.

That being said, I’m not sure that those stats are really very much worse than the pay-once market. Everything I’ve read pegs piracy rates, indie or mainstream, at 95-99%. Which means that effectively, only a small core of the people playing your game are paying you, regardless of your monetization strategy.

So is F2P really that much worse (excluding the ones that are a thin layer of paint over a gambling engine) than pay-once?

Of course, we can talk about the other number, how certain paying players are the “whales”, the ones who contribute a disproportionate amount of the income. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though.

Take, for example, Kickstarter. Clearly, some people are jumping on Kickstarter projects at the top tiers, which amounts to investing more than any ten other backers. Sure, part of that is the urge to support, but some of it is surely that some people want more of the reward knick-knacks. The extras. The collector’s stuff.

Which is fine. In fact, I think it’s a great idea, offering extra value for people who are more into an artistic product or output. It’s like a band selling t-shirts, cds, signed posters, personal performances. It’s really, really hard to make a living creating art, so I really think artists should exploit these potentially untapped sources of income as much as possible. And I don’t mean exploit in the mustache-twirling villain way, I mean in the sense that “we need to power our cities, and oh look there’s all this wind blowing about, why not build some wind turbines to exploit that?”

So why do we feel that it’s not exploitative with Kickstarter, where people are investing before ever seeing a product, but it is exploitative in F2P, where at least people are playing the game and making a decision on how much to invest based on tangible experience?

It’s likely down to the fear that F2P games are using psychological tricks to extract that extra money. Which, no doubt, is a valid fear, one based on first-hand experience with some of the tricks F2P games often pull.

But I’d argue that, even without playing mind-games, you’re going to see exponential drop-off in engagement (and willingness to spend) with any product or fan-group. In other words, the really deeply obsessed fans will be a tiny fraction of the whole, but will spend a disproportionate (relative to their numbers) amount of money on their obsession. The number of people for whom Elvis’ sweaty used jumpsuit is a piece of collectable memorabilia worth months of salary to own are always going to be much fewer than the number of people who would plonk down cash for an Elvis CD.

It would be extremely unusual, I think, if mapping the number-of-fans to the degree-of-fandom-and-corresponding-willingness-to-spend on a graph didn’t result in an exponential curve.

So, really, to conclude, while I think the fear of F2P mechanical-exploitation is valid, the fact that only 1 in a hundred or so F2P players pay for the games doesn’t seem unusual overall, and the fact that the largest share of revenue comes from a minority isn’t, in itself, that concerning.

Great Zeus! It’s a (not really) new Age of Mythology!

03 Apr
April 3, 2014

Well, it’s really just the old Age of Mythology with a new coat of paint.

Behold! Spiffyness!

Where all mah Egyptian Lazer Crocodiles at! Lazer croooocccss!

Ok, sure, I also want to see these genres revitalized with new, exciting blood rather than just repackaging old classics, but…AoM is one of favourite RTSes from the days of yore. So I’ll take it!

As Microsoft knew I would, those bastards.

The Establishment

27 Mar
March 27, 2014

Apparently, if you are critical of the F2P business model, it’s because you’re a member of “The Establishment”. Which appears to consist of anyone who was a gamer before 2007.


Game Changer

19 Mar
March 19, 2014

Hell’s Bells, this is a game changer.

Unreal 4 to move over to a $19 / month subscription model for full tools and updates, share of revenue that goes to Epic set down to 5%, and full source code access.

Unity just received a MAJOR challenge to its dominance in the indie sphere.

Personally, I think it’s awesome! More competition is great for us, the end users of these engines. Let the giants in the engine space duke it out, and in the process deliver a better product to devs.

Fight Club As An 8-Bit Brawler

11 Mar
March 11, 2014

Rather good.

Crawl looks fantastic

04 Mar
March 4, 2014

Steam allowing developers to create their own sales

27 Feb
February 27, 2014

Huh. Ok, this is (maybe?) a big thing.

Steam is now letting developers create their own sales. It won’t get you the eyeball-boost of being on the frontpage, but you can certainly trumpet it around the net.

I wonder if this makes a difference, compared to simply having discounts on your own direct sales portal? I know some people will only buy on steam.

Would be interesting to get feedback from any devs already on steam who try this in comparison to sales on their own sites, gather statistics. Let’s hope someone tries the experiment!

“It created a void. The publishers through their actions created a void that the indies have stepped into and…

Ed Fries, discussing why he stepped down as XBox lead.