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Businesses The Almighty Buck Games

Cliff Bleszinski: Vote With Your Dollars 369

silentbrad writes "Cliff Bleszinski, formerly of Epic Games, posted a blog entry titled 'Nickels, dimes, and quarters' yesterday, advocating that gamers dissatisfied with the current trend toward DLC and microtransactions should vote with their wallets. Quoting: 'The video game industry is just that. An industry. Which means that it exists in a capitalistic world. You know, a free market. A place where you're welcome to spend your money on whatever you please or to refrain from spending that money. ... Adjusted for inflation, your average video game is actually cheaper than it ever has been. Never mind the ratio of the hours of joy you get from a game per dollar compared to film. To produce a high quality game it takes tens of millions of dollars, and when you add in marketing that can get up to 100+ million. ... I've seen a lot of comments online about microtransactions. They're a dirty word lately, it seems. Gamers are upset that publishers/developers are "nickel and diming them." They're raging at "big and evil corporations who are clueless and trying to steal their money." I'm going to come right out and say it. I'm tired of EA being seen as "the bad guy." I think it's bulls*** that EA has the 'scumbag EA' memes on Reddit and that Good Guy Valve can Do No Wrong. ... If you don't like EA, don't buy their games. If you don't like their microtransactions, don't spend money on them. It's that simple. ... The market as I have previously stated is in such a sense of turmoil that the old business model is either evolving, growing, or dying. No one really knows. "Free to play" aka "Free to spend 4 grand on it" is here to stay, like it or not. ... People like to act like we should go back to "the good ol' days" before microtransactions but they forget that arcades were the original change munchers. Those games were designed to make you lose so that you had to keep spending money on them. Ask any of the old Midway vets about their design techniques. The second to last boss in Mortal Kombat 2 was harder than the last boss, because when you see the last boss that's sometimes enough for a gamer. ... If you don't like the games, or the sales techniques, don't spend your money on them. You vote with your dollars.'"
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Cliff Bleszinski: Vote With Your Dollars

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2013 @03:41PM (#43048277)

    I remember buying many new and re-release full price games for £1.99 in the 80's.
    Console games seemed ridiculously expensive my comparison.

  • Exactly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2013 @03:59PM (#43048471)

    My favorite game? Mechassault. XBox. I bought three copies. I paid for online gaming. Microsoft promised emulation with the 360, then didn't deliver. It really is just like voting -- when your candidate loses because the game is rigged.

    The only voting with my dollars I do now is not spend it in the direction of Microsoft. For that matter, with the PS4 not being compatible with the PS3 (much less the PS2) Sony won't be getting any of my gaming money either.

    When a new console design treats my existing game library as if it's irrelevant, I'm going to ignore the new console design. Either incorporate the required hardware, emulate, actually design as backward-compatible, or I'm not buying.

  • Re:Doesn't work (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <ChristianHGrossNO@SPAMyahoo.ca> on Friday March 01, 2013 @04:00PM (#43048483)

    Of course it works. It just takes time. Here is what happens when you and people boycott:

    1) Company writes you off as a loon
    2) Company keeps creating crap that people keep consuming
    3) You get angry because you feel like you are the only one who is wrong
    4) Sales slow down by company and they blame it on [fill in the blank]
    5) Company grows sales by acquiring the upcoming company who has "solved" the [fill in the blank] problem
    6) Company still can't grow like they used to, and they now blame it on [fill in the blank with reason 2]
    7) People begin to look at the hot new thing
    8) Company tries to get a foothold in new thing and comes out with revolutionary crap that nobody wants
    9) Company goes downhill!

    Case in point Microsoft and Linux. In the mobile game, the cloud game, and HTML game Microsoft has become IRRELEVANT! Yes people still use their devices due to legacy, but Windows 8 sucks, Windows mobile is a statistical error in market share and Microsoft keeps jacking up the costs and changes plans more often than I change my underwear.

    I manage a portfolio of stocks and follow the tech industry closely. Microsoft is not in the game whatsoever. They think the problem is mobile. HA that is the least of their problems. The real problem is big data (a'la IBM and Watson), it is micro devices (a'la Raspberry Pie) and a couple of other smaller niches (eg 3d printing, M2M, etc). In all of these niches Microsoft has ZERO, and I mean ZERO footprint! What does have footprint? Oh yeah Linux! Companies are now asking for Linux admins, and Linux developers.

    The same will happen with the games folks. The problem is our society demands immediate change, but change takes time...

  • Re:Not really (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashikiNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday March 01, 2013 @04:01PM (#43048497) Homepage

    Actually it was more of a sales nightmare. Go look over their SEC filings numbers, and you'll see that their PC division had lost nearly 55% of it's business right up until last year when they decided to scrap it.

  • Re:Doesn't work (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Spectre ( 1685 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @05:04PM (#43049095)

    Every year the licensing for enterprises gets more complicated. If you have a few hundred users on Windows computers, all of whom need licenses for OS, Office Suite, access to corporate SQL servers, and varying levels of access to Dynamics CRM, some users need access to Dynamics GP, ...

    Talking with one MS rep you get one answer for the licensing you need.
    Talking with a different one and you get a completely different answer. ... for the same people with the same usage profile, for the same period of time.

    If Microsoft's VAR's can't figure it out deterministically, and Microsoft's own employed reps can't figure it out, it is too effin' complicated.

  • Re:Exactly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bbcisdabomb ( 863966 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @06:29PM (#43049929)

    The only reason that ended is to resell you the same games again and again. I have several game systems in my living room, if I buy a PS4 the PS3 will have to go or the cube, or the n64 or the PS2, I have no room left.

    I would have bought a PS4 at launch if it included backwards compatibility and sold my PS3. Now I will not likely be buying one.

    Yes, that's the only reason. It's not that the Cell processor was a non-starter and extremely difficult to code for, it's not that Sony is trying to reduce the cost of hardware manufacture and software development, and it's sure as hell not to make ports of PC or Xbox-centric games easier. It's so they can resell games. Yes, they can emulate the PS3. I'm sure emulating a 9-core processor on an 8-core processor will work perfectly at full speed with no sync issues! Or they can include the PS3 hardware and jack the price up by another $250. That will go over well with consumers! You have the option of buying a backwards-compatable PS4. I simply refer to it as "A PS4, PS3, and a roll of duct tape." Toe-MAY-toe, toe-MAH-toe, right?

  • Re:Doesn't work (Score:2, Interesting)

    by paulpach ( 798828 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @07:05PM (#43050339)
    I have a game in google play [google.com] and I am strongly considering doing micro-transactions for my upcoming MMO. The questions you ask, while reasonable, don't have a simple answer:

    1) How much is this going to cost me at the end of the day? I may outlay $60 when I buy the game but then get an incomplete experience because 1/3rd (exaggerating) of the game has been held back for DLC. Call of Duty games now cost up to $180 for all the content. I'd rather everything be included up front with that price tag so I can decide if I want to blow my money or not.

    If you do micro-transactions correctly, the price can be anywhere between $0 and infinity. The reason people choose micro-transactions over say subscription is that the revenue per customer is unbounded. It should depend on the customer and how much value he gets from the game. A person that just plays a few minutes a day would most likely not pay anything. A person that would like to enjoy the better features would pay more

    If a game costed $180 up front, very few people would buy it. You would be paying $180 for features you don't care about (how many different hair styles do you need?). However a lot of people would consider paying $0.10, $0.20, etc for their favorite hair style, shirt, scar, etc... So instead of paying $180 for pointless things, some people end up paying $2-$5 for the features they care about the most. Notice this is a win-win: the developer can target a bigger audience, and the customers maximize the value they get for their $2-$5. The reason this model is successful is that it does a good job at maximizing value for both the developer and the customer over say subscription or upfront purchase

    It is not like the developer can charge whatever they want. Price things too high, and only a handful of people would buy, yielding poor revenue. Price things too low, and one doesn't get much revenue even if with millions of purchases. There is a sweet spot, where the value is maximized for both the developer and the customers, and the best entrepreneurs are the ones that find it.

    2) How long are the servers going to be online if the game has multiplayer - give me a date at the beginning, I don't care what it is but let me know

    While it would be great to know, it is impossible for the developer to determine. A game can be kept online as long as he has the funds to do so. If people buy the game, this can be for a long time, if people don't buy the game, it would go offline quickly. So the only reasonable answer is "as long as people buy it"

    3) If it is micro-transactions am I realistically going to be able to complete the game without outlaying shit tonnes of cash? No one really has an issue with optional content - pay to be able to progress is what really pisses people off.

    This is a very reasonable question. It is true that not every company will tell you this upfront (I know I will). But you can usually get the answer by looking at reviews from the game, So this information is usually readily available.

    The recommendations from the experts in the industry is to use micro-transactions only for optional content to maximize revenue. Why? because if you sell a god sword, you ruin the game for both the purchaser (no challenge), and others as well (unfair advantage). If people need to buy something in order to move forward, they will often lose interest and unistall the game right there, with no possibility of selling anything to him

    So the developers that want to maximize revenue are recommended to do exactly what you want: use micro-transactions for optional content only

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents