Welcome to the Future of Gaming, where in-app purchases cost more than a game does today.

Malor wrote:

Because they squeeze out the games we want to play.

Eh, that logic never works for me. There are still plenty of music, movies, games and books that I love - too much for me to consume, regardless of how overwhelmingly popular Rascal Flatts, Transformers, and Twilight become. It'll always be that way. Sufficient demand creates supply.

Might be that we have to do more digging to find what we like, though. Or just more ignoring what we don't.

Malor wrote:
Not sure why anyone should be complaining about other people spending $12M on in app purchases in some F2P game. If they are having fun then whats the issue with that?

Because they squeeze out the games we want to play. Pay-to-win games suck.

They also use it as an excuse to end up charging you far, far more for a game than just buying it. So it's rather deceptive in that regard, as well. They give us a lot less for our dollars. see: Horse armor.

In addition to that, in order to progress at a reasonable pace in the game - to actually just play it - you often have to purchase things in game, otherwise you play for ten minutes and then wait two days to be able to do anything else. If you're impatient, or you want to play through (or both) - you pay. As Malor said, it's a way to make more from a game than just simply buying it and playing it. It's sneaky and dishonest (imo) and it works.

I don't have any problems with DLC because generally, I have the option of not buying it if I don't want to and I'm not punished in terms of not being able to play the rest of the game (this has been true for the games I've enjoyed playing so far, like Fable II - and I bought the DLC for that because it was fun).

Blind_Evil wrote:
Malor wrote:

Because they squeeze out the games we want to play.

Eh, that logic never works for me. There are still plenty of music, movies, games and books that I love - too much for me to consume, regardless of how overwhelmingly popular Rascal Flatts, Transformers, and Twilight become. It'll always be that way. Sufficient demand creates supply.

Might be that we have to do more digging to find what we like, though. Or just more ignoring what we don't.

To use one example, C&C Generals2, EA decided they didn't want to make a sequel that all the people who liked Generals 1 wanted, and decided to pursue a different audience with a F2P/e-sports version.

I don't think it's the whole future, just a part of it.
The real backlash of ingame purchases and dlc (when not a real old fashioned expansion), is that the game will never reach it's maximum potential from the start.
Design of the game will be held back, with in mind that gamers should pony up money for certain items etc etc.
And that's just harming any game. It's not about the game even anymore, it's about generating money over the experience offered.

Sparhawk wrote:

Design of the game will be held back, with in mind that gamers should pony up money for certain items etc etc.
And that's just harming any game. It's not about the game even anymore, it's about generating money over the experience offered.

Which for myself means the game as a whole is worth pretty much what they initially charge..nothing. The only way I find this acceptable at all is if I can sit down and decide in advance how much money will get me the experience I want, and that that amount is within reason (to me). LOTRO is kind of like that. (acceptable methods, but I lost interest somewhere along the line).

Zynga style games I pretty much hold in contempt.

If everything WERE to go the social/Zynga method, I would spit (metaphorically) on the games industry and find another hobby. I doubt this will actually happen. There will always be a few niche strategy games and simulators around to interest me. EA, Activision, Ubisoft and their ilk can blow me, though. I'm already about as tired of their BS as I am of election year politics.

kuddles wrote:
Scratched wrote:

To use one example, C&C Generals2, EA decided they didn't want to make a sequel that all the people who liked Generals 1 wanted, and decided to pursue a different audience with a F2P/e-sports version.

You are assuming that if F2P didn't exist, EA would be making exactly the kind of sequel people liked, instead of it never existing in the first place or being outright cancelled.

Right, like I said above, see Tribes Ascend. It most likely wouldn't exist without a F2P that funded the ongoing development. And I don't think a Kickstarter would have funded the growing infrastructure required for a game like that, either.

Without F2P, I'm convinced Tribes would still be dead.

I will agree it's a very fine line the developers walk to keep a F2P good and prosperous. Get too predatory with your pricing and gamers will leave, don't monetize enough and you can't continue to throw resources at the game. And there has to be some quality in the game to convince people to keep coming back and maybe even give you money.

Scratched wrote:

To use one example, C&C Generals2, EA decided they didn't want to make a sequel that all the people who liked Generals 1 wanted, and decided to pursue a different audience with a F2P/e-sports version.

You are assuming that if F2P didn't exist, EA would be making exactly the kind of sequel people liked, instead of it never existing in the first place or being outright cancelled. The market for traditional RTS titles is rather niche and Blizzard, Relic and The Creative Assembly seem to be catering to them with much greater success than any recent C&C game has.

Blind_Evil is right. These same arguments about development of "the games I like" being forced away has already come up multiple times, including but limited to: Wii vs traditional consoles, PC vs consoles, and FPS vs point-and-click adventure games.

But the framing is based on a false premise, because it's actually the other way around. New Wave did not destroy disco, reality TV did not destroy sitcoms, and F2P is not destroying development of the full priced title. On the contrary, some things either stagnate or become less popular, and as a consequence the resources move on to something else that is growing.

What this generation has made clear is that there is a limit regarding the audience of people who are willing to buy $60 games, and there is a limit to what they are willing to part that amount of money for. Whether free-to-play existed or not, we would still find ourselves in a period of time where fewer of these types of games get made.

MannishBoy wrote:

And there has to be some quality in the game to convince people to keep coming back and maybe even give you money.

That's just not true. Cow Clicker is an existence proof that there is a sustainable market for just about any awful "game" you can imagine. Successful businesses go where the money is. If the best return for the least effort is in soul-suckingly awful things (I can't even call them games) that exist solely to separate fools from their money, that's what developers will be forced to make.

Remember that Cow Clicker started as a joke, and gradually became less and less funny, until its creator had to forcibly destroy it, against the desires of a not insignificant number of "fans".

BadKen wrote:

Cow Clicker

That was actually a "Thing" ?!

*Google-fu, activated *

Really...

Does this person have a donate link? 'Cuz I'm pretty sure I got a $1 laugh out of his, um, parody.

KingGorilla wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:

Not sure why anyone should be complaining about other people spending $12M on in app purchases in some F2P game. If they are having fun then whats the issue with that?

I think the issue is that the industry tends to follow the latest pied piper.

The "industry " follows only one piper. Money.

While I think Skinner Box games are gross, I don't have a problem with them and as others have said, I've had some great free-to-play experiences on PC (Tribes: Ascend and Blacklight Retribution with PlanetSide 2 and DUST 514 on PS3 also looking pretty hot). The only market segment I worry about this mucking up is single-player, story-driven games because those are the kind I love the most and I don't see how you could make something like say a Sleeping Dogs or Grand Theft Auto V work on a microtransaction model without it costing the player hundreds of dollars to finish it. I can only play so much twitch multiplayer stuff and I'm only a fan of a handful of mobile games and the Skinner Box ones are just dumb to me (seriously, how is Pocket Planes in any way fun, I just don't get it). That's just me of course and yeah, publishers will follow the money. But we're still in the fashion trend period for mobile and that bubble hasn't burst and settled yet. As Certis said, it's very much a gold rush and it will eventually settle out into something that's sustainable over a longer period.

BadKen wrote:
MannishBoy wrote:

And there has to be some quality in the game to convince people to keep coming back and maybe even give you money.

That's just not true. Cow Clicker is an existence proof that there is a sustainable market for just about any awful "game" you can imagine. Successful businesses go where the money is. If the best return for the least effort is in soul-suckingly awful things (I can't even call them games) that exist solely to separate fools from their money, that's what developers will be forced to make.

Remember that Cow Clicker started as a joke, and gradually became less and less funny, until its creator had to forcibly destroy it, against the desires of a not insignificant number of "fans".

Who's to say what's fun for people? If people like it and give the company money voluntarily, it's good for them.

Just because you and I think it's stupid doesn't mean it's without merit for others.

I think the lottery is stupid, but others enjoy playing it.

Blind_Evil wrote:
KingGorilla wrote:

Activision has made good on annual costs for Call of Duty. Unless you want to never buy the updates, then I think you have a coaster you used for 6 months, and paid 60 bucks for.

Every Ubisoft game has followed that trend. In order to continue playing any sort of online shooter requires that you keep up with premium map packs or you quickly find that you cannot play with very many people, let alone friends who bought it.

This isn't really on-topic, but how much do you expect for your $60? New, free content each year? That's not sustainable.

I think that is too subjective and comfort based to really answer. Looking at the PC vs the Xbox 360. I don't pay for what Steam has to offer.

But I am not exactly certain that in the modern financial climate wringing more out of a diminishing base is the most prudent course. Over ten million seem to think the monthly fee or annual fee for WoW is worth the price, maybe a box price on major expansion content. That game truly occupies a singular status among MMO titles.

But on the flip side, sales of Madden are down year over year. 60 dollars for annual roster changes do not seem to entice people the way it used to.

Presently I am finding much more enjoyment overall to the 20 dollar and under independent games, not just as a proportion relative to 50 and 60 dollar games. I genuinely enjoy Mount and Blade more than any other RPG out there. I found tremendous value in Borderlands, so much that I got it for the PS3 and PC. The Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo brands are closed off and isolated systems. You have 60 dollar games, and 5-10 dollar diversions (many I say are better suited on the mobile market).

Overall game sales have been on a steady decline all year in the retail space. I do not blame fright or experimentation. But overall retail is up this year. Overall movie ticket sales are down as well. And I see the same thing looking at IMAX and 3D trends, bleed more from a declining market.

That is sound business, for now. But as a passionate film and videogame hobbyist, I want that market expanding. This is not the way to expand the markets. So I, like everyone else, begin to turn away to alternative sources, or you just abandon it altogether. And I am really sad at what will be left when the skeleton is picked clean. I do not see many games coming out that were labors of love over several years. I think 9-10 months is a "long development" and it shows.

BadKen wrote:

That's just not true. Cow Clicker is an existence proof that there is a sustainable market for just about any awful "game" you can imagine. Successful businesses go where the money is. If the best return for the least effort is in soul-suckingly awful things (I can't even call them games) that exist solely to separate fools from their money, that's what developers will be forced to make.

Is the only television you watch talk shows and pornography? Is the only music available to you Justin Bieber? You're taking a popular trend you don't like and trying to envision an industry-wide catastrophe based off of it.

Also, Cow Clicker's success wasn't exactly this gigantic wave people make it out to be (if Zynga put it out it would have been shut down far sooner due to poor sales) and who knows how many people were in on the joke when they purchased it. We're talking about a small segment of people who bought it and didn't see the irony, which happens with any type of satire.

KingGorilla wrote:

I do not see many games coming out that were labors of love over several years. I think 9-10 months is a "long development" and it shows.

That sounds very hyperbolic to me. I could only buy into that with a select few franchises. Call of Duty, sports franchises, and Assassin's Creed are the big yearly games right now. Even then CoD and AC are worked on by separate teams, so each gets at least 18 months of development.

Right now I'm playing the Last Story, which took three years. Next I'm playing Darksiders 2, 2.5 years. After that, Dust: AET, one guy's project over four years (how's that for a labor of love?).

What are some other big releases lately? Sleeping Dogs, I don't think that game would have endured the development hell it went through if the people weren't passionate about making it. It was announced in 2009, must have been at least a year in development by then, so call that one four years as well.

No, the sides of gaming I care about seems healthy for now. I expect that to be the case for a long time, regardless of what other people are into.

kuddles wrote:

Is the only television you watch talk shows and pornography?

Funny you should ask that, because I don't watch television any more. I mostly stream movies and BBC shows or shows that are shot or produced in Canada. The money (cheap production) is in reality TV. Every year, there are fewer sitcoms and dramas that I enjoy. That could be partly because I'm turning into a grumpy old bastard, though.

Same here on the cable networks. I wouldn't even have cable if I was a bachelor. Shame, too. I used to love Science Fiction Channel, History Channel, Discovery....mostly garbage now. Still an occasional good series on the networks though. I'm paying a lot for what little I get that's worthwhile these days in television.

Too bad TV doesn't have Steam Sales.

BadKen wrote:
kuddles wrote:

Is the only television you watch talk shows and pornography?

Funny you should ask that, because I don't watch television any more. I mostly stream movies and BBC shows or shows that are shot or produced in Canada. The money (cheap production) is in reality TV. Every year, there are fewer sitcoms and dramas that I enjoy. That could be partly because I'm turning into a grumpy old bastard, though.

I'm not going to say there's a direct correlation between reality TV and mobile games but they share similar traits that are making them popular among content producers. They're both a lot cheaper to make (though that's changing for mobile with every new phone/tablet generation, not so with reality TV), they both have much lower goals to be considered a success and they can be cranked out in rapid succession with a missed hit not potentially killing a company. There are still very high production value, story-driven, well-acted, IQ requiring programs available but they are becoming fewer and fewer.

As someone who likes largely single-player, heavy story games (and occasionally but not always ones with high production values), this is a concern to me. I can appreciate a good mobile time waster as much as the next person but if those are the only kinds of games available to me, I'd probably end up exiting from gaming and since I've been gaming since I could read, it would sadden me greatly to have to do that. I don't have a problem with the platforms these games are on (though we aren't going to see a Grand Theft Auto, Sleeping Dogs, Halo, Call of Duty or whatever on a tablet any time soon) but I do dislike how much of a certain type of game (and monetisation strategy) is being primarily made on that platform and how clueless investors and analysts are thinking that's the only way games can go instead of remembering that the world is still in a massive and worsening recession and that no one's buying luxury items right now. Smartphones are an exception but they aren't going to remain one for long as the market gets more saturated and people have less and less money.

I suppose it's frustrating to think that as a gamer who has been around almost since the dawn of the medium and who could probably put a hefty down payment on a house with what I've spent on gaming stuff in my life, that the industry seems to be moving in a direction that's the opposite of what I enjoy and that one day soon, there may just not be a place in this hobby for me any more. With the progress games have made as an storytelling medium that also drives technology forward, I feel like a lot of what we're seeing in the mobile space is a step backwards in some ways. I think catering to "the masses" makes a lot of money in the short term but when they've all gotten bored and gone elsewhere, it's the hardcore passionate gamers who make or break this industry and it looks like the inclination is more and more to ignore them. But my opinion is an increasingly minority one and that's just something I have to accept.

I'm still amazed at threads like this...I can literally spend hours scrolling through all sorts of gaming options...from F2P, Subscription, Triple A, Indie, Budget, Casual, Mobile, Handheld...with games in all sorts of genres...even genres that are niche as can be will have a few devs still churning out games.. Hell I just found a Dev still making new games for the Neo Geo and Dreamcast.

Yet people will bitch and moan and claim the sky is falling because some other people might enjoy a game where DLC is the only source of revenue for a company.

I get that you might be unhappy with some of the games out there..I can't stand any of those facebook clicking games...I can't fathom why anyone would play let alone pay for them...but their existence and success doesn't ever bother me or for that matter enter into my conscience other than in a professional setting.

I think you have a point, Parallax Abstraction. It also has concerned me in the past when FPS came on the scene; my worries and stories then that I read rightly predicted its domination of the game scene and how it would kill platformers of all stripes. It saddens me that 2D platformers aren't being made anymore.

LarryC wrote:

I think you have a point, Parallax Abstraction. It also has concerned me in the past when FPS came on the scene; my worries and stories then that I read rightly predicted its domination of the game scene and how it would kill platformers of all stripes. It saddens me that 2D platformers aren't being made anymore.

One thing I do like about the resurgence of mobile and indie games and indeed the rise of digital distribution in general is how some genres are slowly coming back. Platformers are a good example of that. FPS still dominates because people still shooting people down iron sights (me among them to a point) but we do have a new Sly Cooper coming, plus we got Rayman Origins last year and another iteration in that series coming for the WiiU and the mobile space has a number of good platformers. I do hope that this and the larger amount of "shooter fatigue" I keep hearing about will encourage publishers to revisit that genre and others.

Blind_Evil wrote:
Parallax Abstraction wrote:

Look at what the gaming press and analysts are spouting now about how there's no real future in AAA, how consoles are obsolete, how nothing can succeed that isn't $0.99 or free to play and how mobile's going to take over the world. You don't have to look far to find these stories, I see at least 2 or 3 of the sort in my Twitter feed every day. These are people who are paid to write about this stuff (though admittedly, to also generate clicks) and it's what they're saying.

While GG's as charming as ever, I can't help but agree. I honestly don't hear much of that from core game journalists, but I probably follow fewer than yourself. What are some examples? They'd have to make some really solid arguments to shake my belief that we'll see just as much attention as we ever have, if not more, going forward.

John Davison (basically the head GameSpot dude) has advocated this point of view on a lot of podcasts. He believes all gaming will be on phones and tablets in a few years and that pretty much all other ways they are played will be dead by then. Granted, he also thinks a decent gaming PC still costs $3,000 and that the iPad 2 is as powerful as a 360, both of which are ridiculous. Ben Kuchera's a big advocate of that point of view too (though to a lesser extreme) and you'll read a lot of stories either writing about or quoting people talking about it on places like GamesIndustry.biz. Adam Sessler also said similar things on his Weekend Confirmed appearance a few months ago. Paul Barnett (a prominent figure at EA) also said on a Bombcast a while back that he thinks there will soon be no market for anything that isn't "$0.99 or free". I've heard all this stuff in the last few months but I don't know what episodes. I don't follow every site either so maybe this just happens to be the case among the group I happen to follow but among the outlets I view (and I try to pick ones that aren't sensationalist like Kotaku), Giant Bomb is pretty much the only place I don't hear this sentiment almost all the time.

They back this up with the fact that AAA publisher financials are largely not great and even the ones that are highly profitable have sagging stock prices as well as NPD numbers. They all seem to forget the current economic climate, that NPD's numbers are all but irrelevant now because they don't track digital beyond guesses and the fact that no one buys consoles when they know new ones are coming in a year. I think some of it is based around the gold rush mentality (the big successes and not the failures tend to be what makes the news with mobile and indeed indie titles in general) but I do see it a lot and some prominent people who are thought to know things seem to think it's the reality. They might be wrong, who knows yet but it's where some of my concern comes from. My life won't end if my only options for gaming in 5 years are games like Angry Birds and Infinity Blade, far from it. But if most of the content that's being produced in 5 years is stuff I don't care for (much like TV), that's will be unfortunate for me is all.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

Look at what the gaming press and analysts are spouting now about how there's no real future in AAA, how consoles are obsolete, how nothing can succeed that isn't $0.99 or free to play and how mobile's going to take over the world. You don't have to look far to find these stories, I see at least 2 or 3 of the sort in my Twitter feed every day. These are people who are paid to write about this stuff (though admittedly, to also generate clicks) and it's what they're saying.

While GG's as charming as ever, I can't help but agree. I honestly don't hear much of that from core game journalists, but I probably follow fewer than yourself. What are some examples? They'd have to make some really solid arguments to shake my belief that we'll see just as much attention as we ever have, if not more, going forward.

Edit: I can't even tell if you and LarryC are being serious about platformers, 2d or otherwise. They never went anywhere, as far as I can tell. Braid, Shadow Complex, all three (soon to be 4) NSMB games, Muramasa, Dust: AET, Limbo. Plenty of that stuff has come out through the whole generation. Before that we had Odin Sphere for PS2, all those damn Ratchet and Clank games, Sly Cooper, Viewtiful Joe, Monkey Ball. All over the place, really.

Space games, long thought dead, now we get a new one every month it seems.

Trends are cyclical, but there's always room for quality.

Blind_Evil:

I was being somewhat ironic. I thought it would be blindingly (see that? ;)) obvious to anyone that very excellent 2D platformers are still being made. You forgot Super Meat Boy. For shame!

Parallax Abstraction:

Muramasa was actually a bigger success than expected, from what I heard on the media. It always was a niche interest (technical brawlers generally are) group, so Vanillaware was careful to keep their sales expectations and costs low.

In fact, there was a such an unexpected clamor for it on other platforms that there was talk of bringing it over to PS3 and 360. My own take is that gamers who want it can just get a Wii. It's good enough to be a $200 game.

I may have read incorrectly about Muramasa. That's awesome if they did well with it, I hope they did. I think regardless of where we end up playing games in future years, the most successful developers will be the ones who can keep their scope and costs focus and find a niche to thrive in. The ones that try to be all things to all people are the ones with out of control costs right now.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

As for space games, well all of those are Kickstarters. Hopefully at least a few actually get made. :)

Nah... Poor ol' Veloxi can't keep up with all the space games coming out.

That's not a bad point about Shadow Complex... but I also have no doubt we'll see a sequel sometime. Regarding Vanillaware (Odin Sphere, Muramasa), sure those games weren't commercial smash hits. But you know what they did afterward? More weird ass 2D games!

I used to get worried, but no matter how badly I fretted about my favored genres, they kept kicking. How many times do you see journalists yam about how JRPGs are dead or stale and need to innovate! But they keep coming anyway. We get more niche titles in that space now than ever before, despite the genre having peaked in popularity 15 years ago. Sure, I have to venture outside of my comfortable gaming websites (here, Giant Bomb) for in depth coverage, but that's a thrill of its own.

EDIT: Removed. I basically just re-stated the same point but Blind_Evil proved me incorrect.

You know what drives traffic to blogs and editorial news sites? Audacious statements.

Call me cynical, but I have to believe anyone crying doom and gloom for PC gaming or other such crazy claims is on the clock, so to speak. Is PC gaming mainstream? Of course not. It never has been. But it's not going away any more than bow hunting is. Which is also not mainstream, but has plenty of supply and demand.

F2P is a good model for a lot of software. Some devs go a little far with the analytics driven development but some devs leave a lot of money on the table and others still hit the sweet spot.

Any business model can be taken toot far, sure. But when you're looking down the double barrel of another Steam sale paired with consumers so jaded that 25% off of a new title is just too expensive, you're probably going to have to find new ways to pay the rent.

If the extreme, audacious prognostications are true, bargain hunting gamers will likely not think, even once, if they had a part to play in the changing landscape of the electronic gaming market.

Don't blame "the industry " for trying to find a way to get the crowd that thinks a dollar is too much of a risk to take on a phone game based solely on reviews to part with a dollar or two. I'm guilty too. I think Titanium Backup and LastPass are the only mobile apps I've bought.

What a ramble.

duckilama wrote:

You know what drives traffic to blogs and editorial news sites? Audacious statements.

Call me cynical, but I have to believe anyone crying doom and gloom for PC gaming or other such crazy claims is on the clock, so to speak. Is PC gaming mainstream? Of course not. It never has been. But it's not going away any more than bow hunting is. Which is also not mainstream, but has plenty of supply and demand.

Right, right.

PA, interesting that you brought up John Davison, a dude I like to hear from occasionally. I think it's pretty clear that he's coming from a somewhat slanted place with opinions like that - he's been huge into iOS gaming from the day the App Store opened, literally. He was also pretty vocal about the whole "dedicated handhelds are a thing of the past" idea which turned out to be, I dunno, a bit premature (3DS is now outselling the comparably-aged DS in terms of both hardware and software).

Even if they're not hunting for clicks as duckilama points out, plenty of these editorial/analysis pieces are coming from less than objective spots. And so are mine, for that matter, but I'm trying to be as realistic as possible here.

Yeah, I would go with taking Davison with a grain of salt as well. I mean, isn't rabbit on our own site rabid about iOS gaming? He hasn't gone as far as Davison, but I think he'll be the first to tell you that anything he says is just his take on the situation from where he's looking.

FWIW, I've recently had a hands-on on a Vita. It's really sexy. Sexy enough that I'm thinking of buying one soon, even though I already have Nexus, an iPod, and an iPad. It's not just the hardware that's driving that decision. It's the software, too. You can't get that library of hits anywhere else, and I did not have a PSP.

In terms of experience, the demand for a one-time cash-in purchase for gaming isn't going to go away. What's going to change is where and when that cash is demanded of you and how.

Ghost Trick's got a LOT of its content for free up front. That's essentially F2P. You get a good idea of where it's going, and what it's about; and if you decide that you aren't really into it, you got a free game.