Microtransactions: the Future of Games? (LootBoxes and Gambling)

Discussion in 'Console Industry' started by Crayon, Dec 29, 2007.

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  1. Billy Idol

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    This is exactly what the guy in the video argues: the publisher changed their model to have more stability, in contrast to e.g. the high risk of the movie industry.
    So I agree, that this is the reason the did it and the reason we have less games per year.

    However, it is unclear to me if this is really the only path one could follow. I can still remember the little game called Blood Dragon, kind of a Far Cry spin off. 10h of fun for small money. Could the publishers have reduced the risk also by going the opposite direction and release more smaller games at a cheaper price, which maybe even share the same base platform as in the case of Blood Dragon to reduce cost?
     
  2. Nesh

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    Yes this shows again the illusion of choice and how false the statement "this is what the market asked for" is.
    In addition I would like to add that the acceptance of microtransactions is conditioned in the newer generation of gamers. The previous generation of gamers know their rights and have experienced gaming when such nonsense did not exist. People like us are more vocal against these tactics. The new generation of gamers have proportionately less experience with the older gaming compared to the newer. Younger gamers are growing with superficial mobile gaming which is infested with microtransactions and many are joining multiplayer for the first time with games that have microtransactions.
    These guys are conditioned to accept these models as normal and the businesses are using them to push this distractive model. They have no past experience to contrast.
    This is one example where history shows how important it is and how the lack of it, leaves newer generations more vulnerable to psychological consuming behavior
     
    #222 Nesh, Nov 14, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
  3. Shifty Geezer

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    Sorry, does not compute.

    Theory - games don't cost more to make.
    Evidence - far less games are being produced at slightly less overall total cost.
    Conclusion - ?

    Surely, because games were becoming more expensive, publishers had to take less risks and spend their budget on fewer titles. Average game cost is total expenditure / number of titles. Total expenditure has reduced 30%. Number of games has reduced 80%. Mathematically, costs must have gone up, or profits have sky-rocketed.
     
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  4. Jupiter

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    I see no problem with the opportunity to buy something with money. The possibility of unlocking gameplay relevant elements is the fundamental problem in these type of games. But the video players always said that they need that for motivation.

    Whether someone comes to the unlockable material through 100 hours of nonstop playing (because he has much time) or someone gets it because he has the money there is no difference at all. Both would have an advantage over a normal player. Abolishing the payment system would therefore be illogical because it would only reward those who can permanently play. Both types are only a small part of the playerbase. This problem would be solved by removing the lockable material with gameplay-relevant influence but then many of these achievement hunters would be angry.

    Apart from that the maps are now free and DLC heroes could not be unlocked even in billions of hours in BATTLEFRONT I.
     
    #224 Jupiter, Nov 14, 2017
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  5. iroboto

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    Let's level set on some things before we move forward in this discussion. Mainly definitions:

    cost of the game: all costs associated with the development of a game. This can be simplified to the loaded rate of an employee if we include licensing, materials, training, benefits and labour rate.

    Profit: revenue - cost of game

    Revenue : amount earned from game.

    So: let's full stop on the idea that costs can ever go down. Cost formula can be purely dictated by loaded rate x hours. This can be simplified to the loaded rate of the whole studio figure out cost per day and multiply out. Whether you build a game or not, DLC or not, small or large titles, the cost of building anything at all is just the studio loaded rate x time.

    If you have 200 employees. You build 1 game in 5 years or 5 games in 1 year the cost is the same. 200 employees x 5 years. Yes there will be other costs but those aren't going to be major in any way.

    If we agree on that, the cost of a game can never drop unless you make the same game in less time. It doesn't matter if you own your engine or you reuse assets, or however you want to build the game, the cost of the game is how long it takes to deploy.

    This is a critical piece to recognize because the creation of DLC, lootboxes and other things still cost the studio time.

    The only other way is to completely remove people from the studio as they finish their job. This isn't reasonable at all, you will have no workers left and cost of acquisition to hire them back would be massive.

    Revenue and therefore profit can be increased by lootboxes and DLC however.

    If we are okay with that let's address some things.

    If the cost of building a game is directly related to time to deploy you can either choose to churn them out annually or bi-annually which is what happened quite frequently before microtransactions and DLC entered the market. The major problem with pumping games out every 2 years has to do with quality. And burn out. Workers are citing impossible work conditions and you really only have a limited pool of people to work on these things.

    Before that when games were in their infancy, there was significantly less
    Content to build. 2D sprites and animation are easier to make than 3D models with textures and animation. Sound was easier. No voice acting, no cutscenes. No direcion, no motion capture. It was an easier time and the payout and cost of building a game was significantly less because there was overall way less labour involved. Where we are today and where we were back then are no longer comparable, but the price point of games has not matched the increase in labour costs.

    Secondly, don't confuse lowering costs of development to meaning overall less costs. There are a multitude of methods to lower costs, like engine re-uses, asset reuse, but these companies in turn are also creating more work not less. This is no different than a node shrink for a wafer. Yes shrinkage reduces costs and power per transistor. But the reality is we take that shrinkage and cram more into their to build a faster and better product, so even though cost per X is reduced, we put in double X and it goes back up.
    Game content can be like this. The games just keep expanding in size and fidelity which constantly requires more work to Wow gamers and drive purchasing.

    You can look at the MTX market in many different ways. The first way is to build a vast game that costs more than the price to sell it. Such that there is Little profit made from selling the product. The rest of the revenue is made back from MTX. The second way is to see it as this product that already profits from its purchase point and lootboxes are just greed.

    And by greed I only mean obtaining more profit to minimize risk to the company for their next project. If conpanies are to take more risk, they cannot only survive off the profits of their last game.

    Back In the day we had a great deal of many great studios that have gone out of business. And it's because if they ever released 1 failed title, everything else fell apart. The big publishers here are responsible for keeping a lot of folks hired. A failed title doesn't necessarily mean layoffs for them, they can absorb some losses due to the profits of other games particularly through DLC and MTX.

    In the case of EA, all Games on EA will move to EA Access. They make MTX in games so that you buy MTX with your cheap EA subscription. It's 1-2 combo. You get their games for $35/yr and ideally you may buy some loot boxes.

    Mind you, I don't like loot boxes. But I see where the industry has gone. There will be another model soon I imagine. Perhaps the easiest one is to just pay to play for all your games. Sounds sort of crazy but I'm pretty sure that's what's going to happen in the near future.
     
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  6. Billy Idol

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    I think the confusion is: you guys thinking on a per game basis, whereas the video and my questions are about the total amount of game dev costs. Example:

    1 game costs 1$ to make per year. So 10 games 10$ a year.

    Publisher decides to make bigger but less games.

    Only 4 games per year. But bigger, so the cost per game is 2$.

    Yes, the cost per game has doubled.

    Yes, the overall game dev costs per year have decreased by 20%.

    Perspective.
     
    #226 Billy Idol, Nov 14, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
  7. Shifty Geezer

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    The question is "do (AAA) games cost more to make now than they used to?" The answer is 'yes' hence publishers are managing costs by producing less games.

    No, that's publishers spending less per year.

    I buy 10 packs of Maoam a month at £1 a pack for a cost of £10.
    Maoam price increases to £2 a pack.
    I decide to spend less on Maoam, only buying four packs a month for £8.
    Does that mean the price of eating Maoam has decreased? No. The price has increased so I've adjusted my spending to reduce my costs.

    The way I see it, MT (from the perspective of additional content) had to happen to fund development, but publishers are finding they can be pushed in profitability and are taking advantage of that. I think it fairly reckless to suggest pubs and devs could ditch MTs and carry on producing games as they used to 20 years ago. If gamers actually believed that and boycotted content, the market would have a crash and turn into something very different. Though that's never going to happen because gamers whinge a lot but don't act. :p

    Complaints against MT's need to be moderate and fair, criticising the exploitative and poorly balanced ones but accepting and supporting the fair ones that are good value.
     
    #227 Shifty Geezer, Nov 14, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
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  8. DSoup

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    Go to Haribo rehab before it's too late.
     
  9. Nesh

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    They are deliberating increasing the requirements to gain unlockables to "motivate" microtransactions.
     
  10. Billy Idol

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    Still missing another aspect imo. I try to explain why your Maoam story has the wrong perspective (customer driven, not producer driven):

    1.) Publisher spend less money for game development per year.

    2.) The reason is that they have less games per year. They are bigger and hence cost more, but in total money spend on game development is still less.

    3.) Here comes the first aspect I think not captured in your Maoam story: you said prices go up to 2£ (whatever non-EU fantasy currency that is?!?). You argue that the price increase is forced and there is no other choice.

    That is not applicable in this case according to the video maker: the argument is, that even with the old strategy with more games per year, publisher had very (very) positive revenues. There was no pressure to immediately react and change the strategy. They choose to up the price of single games (by making few bigger ones), because they want to (could be the hope to decrease investment risk even more). You argue that there is nothing a publisher can do against higher game dev costs per game...hence, publisher need other methods to make money. I argue that the case is different here: it is a free business choice from profitable companies to change strategy to be even more profitable. They could have kept for instance the strategy with more games, as it was profitable.

    4.) Another important aspect: the argument that game dev costs per game goes up hence poor poor publisher either die out or have to increase money per game is a bit odd imo, when the biggest publisher were extremely successful with their old strategy and are now even more profitable than before according to the numbers presented in the video. That is imo also a very important aspect: the big game publisher make more money than ever although they make less games per year.

    Summarizing: game publisher spend less money per year on game development, have fewer games in their portfolio but make more money than ever.

    If this is all true, gaming for the customer has never been this expensive :)

    If games would be Maoam, you would not spend 8£ per year on Maoam...but 12,15 or 20£. Otherwise, the Maoam producer would make less money with your story...

    PS: need to buy either a game or Maoam now after talking so much about it, confused?!?
     
  11. Billy Idol

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    Another aspect of MT: the way publisher implement it now is based on RNG, that is clear gambling imo.

    Back in the days, I could buy directly a booster package for the assault class in Battlefield games, no RNG. Furthermore, it was balanced as unlocking the full gadgets for each class didn‘t take extremely long and was rewarding on top.


    Now, you can even spend 100€ on top of the standard price and end up not getting what you want. This was forced upon us in a big way by Blizzards Overwatch and after its extreme success, everyone copies it.

    But lets talk about the rng based system a bit on itself as I am very curious about the target audience of this system.

    I strongly believe that it is not the typical cheap ass B3D user that spends no money at all during the year :)

    So who is the target audience of these MTs?

    These games offer by construction an almost unlimited mechanism (rng) to spend money.
    If a gamer wants the bulk of the content, he is basically forced to spend more money than the basic price...or he commits his life for the next years to the grind (literally years as it takes thousands of hours to unlock everything).

    This means that those games are absolute premium products were indeed silver members get the basic product with less functionality, and gold members have the chance to get everything (or more than silver). Note, that in SWBF2 we have now a first very prominent example were the gold members get substantial advantages over silver members, meaning that silver members are cannon fodder for the rich :) The brilliant aspect about this two class citizenship is that gold members get positive feedback from their investment, making it easier to spend more money. At the same time silver members have to deal with the benefits of gold members in every game...making them maybe transition and spend money as the progression system is to slow.

    In conclusion, the target audience are people that have unlimited amount of money and don‘t care, or, the second target group: people that don‘t have lots of money but are prone to gambling addiction. They‘ll spend all their money even if they can‘t afford it, because of their gambling/completion/gaming addiction.

    That is a brutal conclusion imo!
     
  12. Globalisateur

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    Microtransactions: the present of Games?
     
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  13. Billy Idol

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  14. Shifty Geezer

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    I think they had to due to competition. Imagine if Ubisoft kept to the many small games model while EA moved to the big blockbuster model. Customers would be more interested in EA's games than Ubi's, because they look better. So Ubi has to spend more on titles to get the production values to compete.

    It's the same with movies. Big blockbuster titles with massive budgets get more bums in seats, with the costs rising way above inflation to pay for more Win. Try making a movie with the budget of the 1980s. Sure, using modern effects you could get more for your money than back then, but the final product will be weak versus the competition and no-one will come see it. You have to spend large to win large.


    I've been unable to find data showing the publishers profits since the 1990s. However, many many publishers and developers have gone under, suggesting it wasn't at all profitable and safe. Only the biggest survived.

    See above point. Plus they are bigger than they used to be (bought more talent). You'd expect them to be bigger. In fact, that's the core of free-market business. You have to become more and more profitable. A fair assessment would compare game publishers to other industries for growth. But that's going too far IMO. Just really needs the financials of these publishers, including the ones that went under, to track how profitable they were through the 90s and 00s up to 2010 and the New MT Order.

    My story is only showing the difference between games costing more and publishers spending less. It wasn't an analogy for the game industry.

    Going back to your question, "are we 100% sure that dev(elopment) costs increase?". Yes. To make a 10 hour AAA game now costs more than it did in 2010, costs more than it did in 2000, costs more than it did in 1990, above inflation. Same with movies. Arguing if publishers should change business model is a different question. I don't think you've intentionally moved the goal-posts, but you haven't concluded one line of reasoning before starting another and they've become muddled, AFAICS. You seem to have accepted that costs to develop a game have increased, so now the discussion can be moved to 'should publishers be making more profit and taking less risk' or something.
     
  15. Bondrewd

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    Goddamit, no, FUCK microtransactions.

    Especially FUCK them in $60 games.
     
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  16. iroboto

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    We need to be realistic here. Something has to give.

    Would you be willing to pay say $90 dollars for a title then ? Or a sub service to play and no MT?
     
  17. Bondrewd

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    Eh, no. Publishers need to learn how to tame their greed.
    We're already doing that anyway.
    Depends on the price.
     
  18. tongue_of_colicab

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    I'm not sure if its all greed (though with the likes of EA I have no doubt that plays part in it) but if a certain type of game proves unprofitable or unsustainable devs/pubs could of course also try and make a game that is more viable.

    The likes of EA just rehash the same formula and hardly ever come up with something really new. Or everything has to be MP and you get a couple of hours of SP if you're lucky. If big AAA games don't make sense they should look into smaller games. Personally I'd be much more inclined to buy a fun 10 hour SP game at 20 or 30 bucks than some big AAA game. Of course AAA games like Witcher and GTA are great but I can really only play one, maybe two of those a year because they consume a lot of time and a relatively expensive. Shorter but equally high quality games would be great for me. I can finish one every 1 ~ 2 months and move on to the next fresh game.
     
  19. ToTTenTranz

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    You mean like targeting gamers instead of their beloved binge-spending whales, or using microtransactions for cosmetic stuff only?
     
  20. iroboto

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    Oh yea, I agree with that.
    I don't think in any way should game play be impacted by lootboxes. That's a farce.

    I just mean that at the end of the day devs aren't going to leave money on the table when they are desperate for it.
     

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