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The Almighty Buck Entertainment Games

Is Free Really the Future of Gaming? 230

Posted by Soulskill
from the works-for-me dept.
TRNick writes "Is the future of gaming more or less free, perhaps funded by advertising or micropayments? A bunch of MMOs have pioneered the way, and now they are being followed by the likes of EA, Sony and id Software, each of which is offering some form of free gaming. But it's not just the big guys. TechRadar talks to a new generation of indie developers who are making names for themselves. 'I make most of my money from sponsors,' says one. 'We're all here because we love making games first and foremost,' says another. But can free games ever make enough money to fund the really ambitious, event games that get the headlines?" While paid games aren't likely to be on their way out any time soon, more and more developers and publishers are experimenting with cheaper pricing, and the results so far seem positive.
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Is Free Really the Future of Gaming?

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  • by MrNaz (730548) * on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:08PM (#27169247) Homepage

    Personally, I'm not interested in the varying methods that big game houses can extract revenue from their sweatshop produced big titles. I want to know about the future of Open Source game development, and where that'll go in the next decade. The Linux kernal and other big projects prove that large, complex projects can be accomplished under the FOSS model.

    Given the right leadership and drive, I would really like to see an MMO spring up around an unlicenced universe (not one of the done-to-death and copyrighted to hell ones like Star Wars or LoTR) but one that is perhaps by an obscure author and in the public domain. This would allow content developers to develop the game's stories without needing to buy expensive licences so they can use the name "Harry Potplant" or whatever it is.

    Perhaps an FPS with some new twists that the big houses are too gutless to try due to the uncertainty associated with stepping away from The Formula. Perhaps something like the original System Shock, where you truly do get cerebrally challenged. Most FPS games now have to appeal to 14 year olds with ADHD. Oh, how I miss the days when you actually had to *think* between firefights.

    Where are games that break the moulds the way XCom, Syndicate, System Shock and Bioforge did? We just don't get that level of innovation in the gaming industry any more, and I think that FOSS should come to the rescue. We've put a gigantic thorn in the side of the likes of Microsoft, now let's stick it to EA and Rockstar. They're no less stifling to innovation than Microsoft so why should we let them get away unmolested?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)

      Personally, I'm not interested in the varying methods that big game houses can extract revenue from their sweatshop produced big titles.

      Personally, I'm less interested in the buisness or the open-source aspect of it and more interested in getting frags in Quake Live and still having enough money to buy necessities. Like porn and beer, which should also be free. Someone should work on that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by thesazi (1245210)

        Personally, I'm less interested in the buisness or the open-source aspect of it and more interested in getting frags in Quake Live and still having enough money to buy necessities. Like porn and beer, which should also be free. Someone should work on that.

        you're obviously doing it wrong.

    • by MBGMorden (803437) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:23PM (#27169503)

      The problem with this is that open source tends to excel at function and suck at polish. Despite excellent function, most OSS developers can't develop an interface or decent icon artwork to save their lives. It's just not where their strength lies. Now, for many applications - compressing video, burning a CD, etc, this is something that we can easily live with. Our goal in using the app is to complete a task and so long as the task gets completed then everyone is happy.

      Games are the opposite though. The artwork, interface, and general polish are essentially the main component. The actual background engine is just a minor piece.

      Not to mention that you necessarily MUST maintain variety in games. As long as the OSS manages to produce ONE decent web browser then the rest are nice, but not really required. If we get ONE good OS kernel then that niche is covered. It leads to a consolidation of resources to make sure each particular need is taken care of. And the community can spend YEARS tweaking and modifying a single product to become progressively better. Games don't work that way. People play them for a while, and then get bored and want a new one. While purchasing dollars can keep them churning out fast enough to satisfy the masses, I'm not sure pure goodwill can make games fast and varied enough.

      There's also an issue for things like MMORPG as to maintaining a unified authority. I don't have to choose which WoW service to subscribe to. All the players are consolidated into 1 place, and I can trust Blizzard to keep all the data trustworthy and not tamper with it (like giving their buddies free epics or the like). For certain types of multiplayer games without some authorative source, a lot of people wouldn't be interested in them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ShieldW0lf (601553)
        The problem with this is that open source tends to excel at function and suck at polish. Despite excellent function, most OSS developers can't develop an interface or decent icon artwork to save their lives. It's just not where their strength lies. Now, for many applications - compressing video, burning a CD, etc, this is something that we can easily live with. Our goal in using the app is to complete a task and so long as the task gets completed then everyone is happy. Games are the opposite though. The a
        • by Shakrai (717556)

          It's the flashy, pop-culture references and glitzy, trendy looking artwork that give games replay value...

          Huh? The game that I've found to have the most replay value is Civ2, hardly known for it's "glitzy trendy looking artwork". I've also found that DOSBox [dosbox.com] and Snes9x [snes9x.com] are two of the coolest pieces of software ever written. To each their own I guess.....

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by BlitzTech (1386589)
            Not to mention that the two programs you mention are emulators, and the games you play on them were likely commercial games at some point in their life...
          • OK now you've got be interested in DOSBox... now recommend a front end!

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by bami (1376931)

              I used to have a frontend for mine, but when switching to ubuntu, ditched that.
              In both windows and linux is pretty easy to just make shortcuts, dosbox supports a lot of command-line arguments so you can just make each shortcut automount your dir and run the appropriate file.

              But here are my recommendations for windows:

              First, all frontends listed here:
              http://www.dosbox.com/wiki/DOSBoxFrontends [dosbox.com]

              Then:
              D-fend: Pretty easy to use, has dosbox profiles that is basically just a different config file for each dosbox ga

        • How exactly does "polish" in any way mean "flashy, pop-culture references and glitzy, trendy looking artwork"? Go beat your strawman elsewhere.
          • by Chabo (880571) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:57PM (#27170001) Homepage Journal

            No kidding. Polish people are cool enough that they don't have to rely on glitz.

          • How exactly does "polish" in any way mean "flashy, pop-culture references and glitzy, trendy looking artwork"?

            Yeah, I can't figure it out either. Guess that's why I'm not one of the guys making modern commercial games... I'm so stupid about these things, I just play games like Wesnoth and Teeworlds and OpenArena. I'm probably not nearly as efficient with my fun time as I could be...
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Rycross (836649)

              Hey if that works for you then that's great, but I personally don't want to play the same three games all the time, especially if they're equivalent to what the commercial gaming scene put out ten years ago. I like variety and polish, and when FOSS can put out the depth and breadth of the commercial sector without re-using old commercially-developed engines, then I'll start looking at it as a viable option. Just because you enjoy the FOSS gaming scene doesn't mean its good enough for everyone.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Chabo (880571)

        All the players are consolidated into 1 place, and I can trust Blizzard to keep all the data trustworthy and not tamper with it (like giving their buddies free epics or the like).

        Are you sure? [penny-arcade.com] ;)

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by RCanine (847446)

        Personally, I'm not interested in the varying methods that big game houses can extract revenue from their sweatshop produced big titles. I want to know about the future of Open Source game development, and where that'll go in the next decade. The Linux kernal and other big projects prove that large, complex projects can be accomplished under the FOSS model.

        The problem with this is that open source tends to excel at function and suck at polish. Despite excellent function, most OSS developers can't develop an interface or decent icon artwork to save their lives. It's just not where their strength lies. Now, for many applications - compressing video, burning a CD, etc, this is something that we can easily live with. Our goal in using the app is to complete a task and so long as the task gets completed then everyone is happy.

        I think this is ready to change. The field of User Interface Design is really only starting to blossom. Programming has been around for a few decades now. Once UID becomes as mainstream as programming is, there will be many more designers and architects with the same incentives to build free software as there are programmers now. We're just not there yet.

        • by mjeffers (61490) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:46PM (#27171837) Homepage

          As a UI Designer, let me say I really doubt this. There just simply aren't the incentives for a designer to work on OSS as there are for a developer.

          Working on an OSS project without the ability to code means my ability to get design done depends on influence. Influence that will likely have to be accomplished across chat or VOIP with people I've never met who may have worked on this for a while or have strong opinions about how it should be designed PLUS the ability to completely ignore me and check in whatever they want. Additionally, while a draw for a developer to work on OSS might be that you're working absent the processes and influences of other less-programmy groups (marketing and design for instance), this removes any organizational leverage I may have as a designer to get things done.

          While my dev friend gets a cool way to try out stuff they want to play with absent all those annoying rules at work, I get stuck in a situation with so little ability to do my job that if it were something I was being paid for, I'd likely quit. I'd rather spend my free time either selling my skills to clients (allows me to build up a network if I ever want to go out on my own), working on my own projects (fun + might be better for the portfolio than the game where I struggled for 6 months to get something I'm really not happy with in the end), or just relaxing.

          Perhaps in an OSS company focused on building games you could get the structure you need to make OSS design work for designers, but the traditional "give away the code and charge for service/support" model doesn't seem too workable for games so I'm struggling to see how a business would work.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by KDR_11k (778916)

          Having designers is one thing, having programmers listen to them is another. A common attitude for opensource software is "you can get the code, implement it yourself!". People implement their own ideas, not those of other people and most people suck at having good ideas.

      • Another big thing in games are sound effects and music. Which usually don't come very free (at least to get really good, immersive music/effects). Then again, a lot of amateur composers (me!) are willing to do stuff pretty cheaply, but it's not going to sound like the LA Phil playing a soundtrack. :)

        Electronic music is a cheaper route, as well, but genre/style of music has a huge impact on the style/feel of the game. I can't imagine playing Baldur's Gate with electronic music as its soundtrack :(

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Shakrai (717556)

      so they can use the name "Harry Potplant" or whatever it is.

      I always knew the Harry Potter franchise was missing something..... ;)

      • I seem to remember Harry passing out plenty of times at school, typically when he was in divination staring into some smoking cauldron...

    • Oh, how I miss the days when you actually had to *think* between firefights.

      Depending on what kind of think you mean, Nexuiz (especially played 1v1) may be for you.

      You can hear items picked up, even when not picked up by yourself. By remembering where items are placed and how they're clustered, you can figure out where your opponent is and which direction he's going in; this allows you to ambush him and avoid getting shot in the back.

      Also, keeping track of armor pickup times and respawn rates lets you take the armor instead of your opponent more regularly.

      Then there's opponent mod

    • coding is the least part of a game. creating all the graphics, animations, sounds, textures, models and what not are what makes a world. And you need consistent quality for a cohesive vision of a world, and that usually takes someone working for money, most artists don't want to work for free and take direction from someone they don't know. Where as getting people to write code for free is much easier. The "creative" side is about 80% of the effort for a AAA title.
    • by Krater76 (810350)

      Given the right leadership and drive, I would really like to see an MMO spring up around an unlicenced universe (not one of the done-to-death and copyrighted to hell ones like Star Wars or LoTR) but one that is perhaps by an obscure author and in the public domain.

      This has been done and they were called MUDs. Any MUD worth it's salt was a fork in one of the many OS MUD codebases and was highly customized. A lot of them were based on private domain IP (Star Wars, LOTR, D&D, etc) because they flew under the radar by being free to play.

      The problem with MUDs, and OSS in general, is management. People come and go, make good decisions and bad, and it can all disappear overnight because a few of the devs just aren't interested in continuing working on or hosting th

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Draek (916851)

      Given the right leadership and drive, I would really like to see an MMO spring up around an unlicenced universe (not one of the done-to-death and copyrighted to hell ones like Star Wars or LoTR) but one that is perhaps by an obscure author and in the public domain.

      Why not one that already belongs to F/OSS? the Wesnoth [wesnoth.org] universe is quite rich, story-wise, and the setting's lack of legendary uber soldiers (read: Jedi) would make it perfect for a MMO, in my opinion.

    • Unlikely to happen, for the same reason you don't see FOSS movies. A large fraction of the work that goes into an MMOG or movie is work for which FOSS makes no sense.

      FOSS makes sense for a kernel or a compiler, because if I contribute to making the kernel or compiler better, that gives me back a tool that I use in my future work, and I can also take code fragments from others that contributed and use them in my future work--due to the modularity of software.

      For games, an FOSS engine makes sense. FOSS artw

  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spazztastic (814296) <`spazztastic' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:08PM (#27169253)
    Greed is always going to overpower ambition, if not by the developers then the parent company.
    • Not Greed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by StevenMaurer (115071) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:38PM (#27169759) Homepage

      Definitely no. But Greed and Ambition have nothing to do with it.

      As a customer, I want a game that just works. Not a game with five dozen incompatible interfaces, two half broken configuration interfaces, inscrutable documentation written by an engineer who never took a writing class in his entire six years in college, untalented artwork, and random crashes justified by the credo "if you don't like it, dig through 100,000 lines of poorly commented code to fix it yourself".

      For the non open-source "free" games, I want a game I can play, not one that's a one screen flash-animation that's really just an add for whatever is the latest kid-fluff being pushed on Nickelodeon.

      As a customer, I want my GTA, Oblivion, Project Gotham, and a dozen other high quality games that could only be developed by paying real programmers, artists, and writers real money to work on them. So I am perfectly willing to shell out real money to pay for them to do so.

      In fact, given the price of a couple of movie tickets and a family night out, I figure video games are still the best dollar per hour entertainment value out there.

      • "In fact, given the price of a couple of movie tickets and a family night out, I figure video games are still the best dollar per hour entertainment value out there."

        World of Goo
        Mirror's Edge
        Fallout 3
        F.E.A.R. 2
        GTA IV
        Crysis/Crysis: Warhead.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Draek (916851)

        As a customer, I want a game that just works. Not a game with five dozen incompatible interfaces, two half broken configuration interfaces, inscrutable documentation written by an engineer who never took a writing class in his entire six years in college, untalented artwork, and random crashes justified by the credo "if you don't like it, dig through 100,000 lines of poorly commented code to fix it yourself".

        Wesnoth has none of that, and neither does Warsow. There's probably others though, they're just the two I've been playing the most lately.

        For the non open-source "free" games, I want a game I can play, not one that's a one screen flash-animation that's really just an add for whatever is the latest kid-fluff being pushed on Nickelodeon.

        So, you haven't researched the freeware gaming scene either, have you? if all you know is whatever flash-based crap Nickelodeon et al push on their webpages, then I'm sorry for you, but they're *not* the only, the best, or even representative of the average game that's available for free.

        As a customer, I want my GTA, Oblivion, Project Gotham, and a dozen other high quality games that could only be developed by paying real programmers, artists, and writers real money to work on them. So I am perfectly willing to shell out real money to pay for them to do so.

        Didn't you just say that you wanted something that "just works"? because neither GTA4

  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:20PM (#27169455) Homepage Journal

    While free games are certainly an option, I find it very difficult to believe that you are going to have a team of 10 developers working 5 days a week, for nothing to develop a game. If you want free games, then expect them to use last year's technology, be late and not necessarily have the same amount of finesse.

    Don't get me wrong, I will take a free game if I am given it, but I don't expect to get everything for free. If you do, then give up your day job, join a commune and don't cry when you don't have money to buy your next PC.

    • by Chabo (880571) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:59PM (#27170055) Homepage Journal

      If you want...games, then expect them to use last year's technology, be late...

      Cool, more Valve games!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rary (566291)

      While free games are certainly an option, I find it very difficult to believe that you are going to have a team of 10 developers working 5 days a week, for nothing to develop a game.

      Who said anything about not paying developers? The article is about companies finding a different way to make money besides selling the game. They're still game companies, and they still pay their employees.

    • by Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @02:00PM (#27170067)
      Did you even bother to read the summary? This is about publishers going to games that are free but supported by ads or microtransactions. This has nothing to do with asking for people to work on games without pay. I know this is slashdot, but seriously you could read the first fucking sentence of the summary at least.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yvanhoe (564877)
      In South Korea, I played a CS clone where ads were displayed while waiting to respawn. I thought that this was a really neat idea. Ads can really be targeted, and with a decent deployment base, paying a few developers fulltime is not out of question.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Free games are actually very bad for new development. Large game dev houses can afford to make free game because they are widely known, they can get the sponsors, they can get advertisement deals, and they have the capitol to kick start game projects. This is however not the case with starters. In an economic stand point of view, free games are very bad for diversity and competition. I remember testing this theory out in one of the games I played. I made a high level blacksmith in an MMO, and offered people

    • by mcgrew (92797)

      don't expect to get everything for free.

      Not everything, but I do expect to get a lot free. I also expect to give a lot of stuff away for free, too.

      See the forward to Cory Doctorow's Little Brother. It's online, and free, but it still managed to sell enough copies to get on the NWT's best seller list.

      Generosity will often garner one far more than selfish will.

    • by westlake (615356)
      I find it very difficult to believe that you are going to have a team of 10 developers working 5 days a week, for nothing to develop a game.

      The geek sees everything as code.

      The gamer doesn't see the game engine. He sees the game world. The stage, the setting. The character he plays.

      Creative teams have to be as strong as your engineers --- even stronger, perhaps, because their contributions can't easily be recycled.

  • I don't see it. I still see a lot of value in games worth me spending money for a high-production value game. On the other hand, I don't think I'd be willing to put up with as much advertising as would be necessary to offset what I'm willing to pay WITHOUT ads.

    That said, variable game pricing needs to happen. I should be able to buy the *new* physical copy for $60 or a digital copy for $30 (no resale) or digitally rent it for a week for $5. The game publishers don't make much on me buying used games or rent

  • A false dichotomy. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pushing-robot (1037830) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:31PM (#27169641)

    Free games from independent developers won't "replace" current games any more than YouTube "replaced" Hollywood.

    My amazing prediction is that in the future, people will indeed get a lot of entertainment from free and/or indie games, but at times they'll want the high-budget spectacle that only a major studio can provide.

    (And by the way... If you think micropayments are the same as "free", you must think a credit card is some kind of magical money tree.)

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Of course it's a magical money tree, just look at what all the top economists where saying 2 years ago. Nothing bad came out of that, right?

  • Isn't Planeshift completely free? I've always wondered how good the game is. The screenshots look decent. The engine is GPL. There are no upgrades or micropayments. The game is just 100% free. I keep getting tempted to install it (especially since they have native Linux clients, including 64-bit clients) except I try to avoid most MMOs on principle.

  • by VinylRecords (1292374) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:34PM (#27169685)

    I'd pay $500 at the very least for a copy of Virtua Fighter 5R or a sequel to Chrono Trigger.

    Starcraft, Unreal Tournament, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Super Turbo, Virtua Fighter. These games and series I've gotten thousands upon thousands of hours playing single-player or with others either locally or online. The measly $20-$60 I paid for those games has been overly worth it if you consider how many hours I got worth of entertainment out of those. I might spend $15 on a movie (NYC prices) at the theater and never see it again. My copy of Final Fantasy X was $55 new the day it came out and I've played 500 hours beating the game multiple times and writing an extended FAQ for it.

    But for shorter games, or multi-player games with little variety that get very boring quickly, the cost of paying full price for them is just simply not worth it. I'll use Dead Space as an example. I was sold on the hype of the game, and paid $60 in full for a console version of the game. After the first playthrough, through extremely exciting, I new I wouldn't return to play the game probably ever again. So for one playthrough was $60 worth it? Probably not. I could have rented it and then returned it after beating it in two or three days.

    But for Virtua Fighter 5? I specifically purchased an X-box 360 and multiple arcade sticks for the game, grand total let's say $1,000 between XBL gold over the years, 360 and accessories, and the game and DLC. But was it worth it? For me absolutely. I play the game for hours upon hours every week. I have people over to my house, I've even flown to other countries to play the game against international players which brings the grand total to even more (yikes).

    How about Starcraft II? There are some people (including myself) who have been waiting for Starcraft II for a decade. When Starcraft: Ghost was canceled, part of my soul died. But now with SCII right around the corner, I'll be building an adequate gaming rig to play the game. Let's say that with the monitor and speakers the total cost to play SCII is $1,500. Worth it? For me, absolutely without question. After playing SC:BW and WCIII:TFT for years I am fully confident that Blizzard will deliver a long lasting and timeless RTS for the community to play for years. Also I'm sure my rig will get loads of Diablo III in it as well.

    Lastly I'd rather pay for game than have it for free but chalked full of advertisements. I don't want to see any advertisements in-game in a respectable series like Virtua Fighter or Starcarft.

    My point is that if you get hundreds or thousands of hours out of game it's easily worth the entrance fee of $60 if not way more than that. If you play a game for a couple of hours and then it's over...probably needs to cost less at retail. I always found it annoying that a game designed to be played in under ten hours was the same retail price as something designed to have unlimited replay value or extensive multi-player.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by dark42 (1085797)

      I'd pay $500 at the very least for a copy of Virtua Fighter 5R or a sequel to Chrono Trigger.

      So, will you buy Chrono Cross from me for $500?

      • Chrono Cross is not a sequel to Chrono Trigger. It's a game that starts with Chrono and has a few loose ties to the original, that's it. I'm not saying anything about the quality of the game, it's fine, but I hardly consider it a sequel.

    • You are willing to shell out serious bucks to play the latest and greatest games in the best settings possible - so yeah you're willing to pop $500 for a really good game, above and beyond the standard $60 release. Heck, game companies should consider that there is indeed a market for narrow-release, high-dollar games (just like any other luxury goods category).

      I'm not a hardcore gamer. I'm not gonna drop even $60 on a game. Content with good games of the past, I'm happily working thru a $5 used copy of Max

  • by pzs (857406) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:36PM (#27169723)

    Sometimes, you need a professional touch on these things. That costs money, just as many of the professional touches in Linux have cost money.

    A few years ago, I played and really enjoyed the Freespace 2 [wikipedia.org]. I enjoyed it so much, I thought I would try some of the free contributed content from enthusiastic fans. I played the campaign that was generally rated as the best and it was good fun, but there was a huge gulf in quality from the professionally produced content. The amateur stuff was laden with fan-boy excitement - the mission descriptions were far too long and the in game dialog chattered on and on. This was particularly tedious when you had to replay missions and listen to it over and over again. Also, the voice acting was incredibly hammy and it was so obvious that it had been recorded in geeks bedrooms.

    These guys were doing their best, but they are not writers or actors. Maybe other projects are better at recruiting these kinds of people to work for free, but I suspect the overenthusiastic geek effect is probably quite difficult to mitigate.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by fprintf (82740)

      I played a lot of the Portal add-ons, which are available for free, and they are quite variable in quality. However there is one that is something like 47 levels of goodness and is every bit as professional as the original game. It is based on Flash Portal (can't link to it from work now anyway).

      So this is my one data point that freely available content, developed using a robust structure, can be just as good as the commercial stuff. My only investment was $20 for Portal and a few cents downloading the add-

    • These guys were doing their best

      I doubt that... I imagine they were slapping it together in their free time, just trying to get something reasonably complete, rather than refining the ideas in committee for a year before executing to the highest possible standards.

      The tools are getting better, and easier to use, and cheaper, but the thought processes required to tell an interesting story succinctly and entertainingly still cost time and effort, even if you're a pro.

  • by mcgrew (92797) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:41PM (#27169783) Homepage Journal

    id Software... offering some form of free gaming.

    Wolfenstien 3-D? Doom? Duke Nukem (2D side scroller, Apogee and Id were once the same bunch of guys)

    Surely you guys remember "shareware?" Free is what made Id the powerhouse it eventually became.

  • How many of you play muds anymore? Time to build the castle in the swamp again I guess.
    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      How many of you play muds anymore?

      I do.

      Time to build the castle in the swamp again I guess.

      I've played MUDs, MUCKs for years but I have no idea what you are referring to. :(

      • How many of you play muds anymore?

        I do.

        Time to build the castle in the swamp again I guess.

        I've played MUDs, MUCKs for years but I have no idea what you are referring to. :(

        My guess is that it's a reference to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

        King of Swamp Castle: When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp.

        In other words: "Been there, done that, failed miserably."

        But, a glimmer of careful optimism, perhaps? The quote finishes

        But the fourth one stayed up. And that's what you're going to get, Lad, the strongest castle in all of England.

  • by Mo0o (1499045)
    While a lot of things free can be exceptional, free games will never be the best. A lot of the times the 'monthly prescriptions' you pay to play an MMO is never really the money-maker for the company; it's all of the essentials either needed to play the game or the 'gift shop' items you can purchase from the game or even the conventions you hold and use the game as advertisement to get more people to show up. Really, games are just another form of active-marketing; get the customers involved and hooked into
  • by DdJ (10790) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @02:00PM (#27170085) Homepage Journal

    Some players actively avoid free games, particularly for MMOs.

    I know players who want to make sure that everyone around them has at least something invested in the game world. They want some barrier to keep out dabblers, people whose commitment to the game is below a certain point, overly casual players. For big, shared worlds, when there's a lot you can't do solo, when you're forced to team up with people, there's something to the idea of ensuring that the people you're teaming up with take things at least little seriously.

    And thus, the population of people who consider "free" to be a signal to stay far, far away from an online multiplayer game.

    Honestly, I think this is one of the reasons some people honestly prefer the XBox Live network gaming model to the PS3 one.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Why would someone give a damn if another player is just a casual player?

      Cost ahs nothing to do with it. Good luck getting 10 random people in WoW together and not have one of them not taking it seriously.
      hmm, that last sentence could be better.

      I ahve played Pay and free, and I really haven't noticed a different between how people behave.

      However, I ahve noticed a difference when you take size into account. New games tend to ahve a lot few assholes, regardless of the monthly cost.

  • Wow proves that people are willing to pay as long as the product is what they wanted. Like the folks above, I've played SC and WC3 in different spans of 6-7 years each. I keep bragging about the price/entertainment-value I got: $70 (with expansions back then) for 6 years. Even with just average of 10 minutes a day, it comes down to about 20 cents per hour (excluding utilities).
    • Anecdotal, but I for one would have never played WoW had I not been a serious Warcraft II junkie back in the day. (played III, but didn't like the identity crisis of RTS versus RPG). WoW would probably have little appeal to me had I not been engrossed in the rich Warcraft story line that preceded it.
  • You could house the hardware in a large single unit box and provide a slot to put coins in! You would let someone play until they have had a set number of characters expire- if they want to continue playing they can put more money into the slot to get more 'lives'

    Should I patent this idea?

  • Indie developers pursue this because its hard to get people to spend $50 or even $25 for a game they haven't read a review of, from someone or some company they never heard of before. Low prices (or free with another revenue stream) allow the game to go viral.

    To me the last gaming revolution occurred 12 years ago in the form of shareware games. You see the evolution of that today on the iPhone app store with $5 (expensive games) that have free or $0.99 "Lite" counter parts. I expect various similar appro

    • by mcgrew (92797)

      To me the last gaming revolution occurred 12 years ago in the form of shareware games

      Dude, in 1997 shareware games had been around for at least ten years. IIRC the first Wolfenstien came out about 1988 or so, and it wasn't the first shareware game by far.

  • rocket scientists... all of them... it only took them from the inception of gaming to realize their prices are assinine...

    http://www.joystiq.com/2009/02/20/steams-left-4-dead-sale-increased-purchase-infection-by-3000/ [joystiq.com] 50% off 3000% increase in sales...

    http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2009/03/ut3-steam-sale-extended-due-to-2000-play-increase.ars [arstechnica.com] 40% off 2000% percent increase in sales
  • I work for (I guess I should say DID work for as I'm on my two week notice...job laid off half of us last week) a small game company that makes free to play games for the PC. We have a loyal following but not NEARLY enough to entice advertisers in this economy into spending money for ads in our games. We don't use the most recent engines. But we use a very stable and powerful one for what we do. And lemme just say that free gaming, while possible will never have the quality of a large budget console or
  • It started when I reformatted my drive and started using Linux exclusively and gave up TV about 10 years ago. Up until then, I used to buy games and had game consoles around. I last remember playing Metal Gear Solid like a man obsessed and getting a sound beating or two playing Starcraft online.

    On Linux, there were plenty of games - GNU Chess [gnu.org], Same Gnome [gnome.org] and so forth. There was no buying any games for Linux at that time, so I learned to like these games a lot. I imagine people must have had a similar experi

  • From the first time I saw the ability to spray-paint "graffiti" on walls in Team Fortress Classic, I wondered when we would see in-game advertising in the virtual world the game created.

    When I played later games of Half Life and saw soda and vending machines in the virtual world, I wondered why those virtual vending machines did not have real-life logos on them, and why money did not change hands to make it happen.

    How many millions upon millions of people are in virtual gaming worlds every day? Why not hav

    • by edremy (36408)
      Googling "virtual advertising in games patent" seems to come up with more than a few hits, so methinks your dreams of riches might be a bit late.

      In all seriousness, this will work but only for some things. TF, Counterstrike or something like that? Sure, Coke machines on every corner. EVE? Well, maybe you could have ships towing "Eat at Joe's" banners or something.

      Lord of the Rings Online? Umm, ya. Not quite sure what you're going to be able to advertise there. I don't think "Uncle Gandalf's Gold

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Mostly because getting rights is a PITA. Think of each product as an actor, and the parent corporation as their overzealous agent.

      Say you're a game developer with a brilliant vision, and you think it would be realistic to put a Coca-Cola logo on the side of some vending machines. Now you might think "Hey, Coca-Cola would love that! I'll contact them and see if they'll pay me to put their logo in as I see fit!"

      Not exactly. Some guy at Coca-Cola's marketing department contacts you back and says "All right

  • I started playing MapleStory [wikipedia.org] last year but my son has been playing for several.
    "MapleStory is a free-of-charge, 2D, side-scrolling massively multiplayer online role-playing game".
    It's free to play but there are shops everywhere to buy stuff for the game to make it more interesting. It's great for casual gamers and serious alike. I don't get much down time to game so it's nice to have a MMORG that I can play for a couple of hours and maybe not pick up again for weeks or longer.

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