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Crowfall is Shipping July 6!


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On 6/7/2021 at 2:19 PM, APE said:

I've seen streamers sell out for some horrendous games so wouldn't be surprised to see a few sponsored streams soon. Usually streamers tongue n cheek the stream though so not sure it always goes the way the sponsor planned. Crowfall is far better then some I've seen sponsored, but MMO is a hard genre to stream to thousands, assuming it's an actual popular streamer. 

There are plenty of games that even larger streamers enjoy but don't stream because they're just boring to stream. Animal Crossing is a good example of this, widely beloved but always has a very small streaming footprint outside the occasional "here is my house" events. Minecraft, despite being one of the biggest marketing footprints of any game ever, does far better on youtube than twitch for the same reason. Sure there's plenty of minecraft on twitch but when you look at the content presented what is that content? Its generally not one of the core pillars of the game, placing blocks one by one for hours.

Virtually any time you have game with extended periods of slow burn they just don't do good numbers for streamers unless that streamer is already a well established entity that can fill that time with chat interactions to make up for the lack of exciting action on screen.

Using twitch views as a metric to gauge the quality of a game is just a bad metric as it is a metric of how much fun it is to watch a game rather than how enjoyable it is to play. That doesn't mean I think crowfall has some hidden army of silent hypebeasts, but it does mean twitch viewership isn't exactly a make or break metric.

Hell, Among Us was a game literally nobody had ever heard of for over a  year before it somehow because a thing on twitch. The game didn't change at all, it just suddenly because a popular thing to stream because some popular people streamed it.

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Crowfall is Shipping July 6   Highly anticipated Throne War PvP game announces launch date, and unveils animatic, “Eternal Heroes, Dying Worlds”   AUSTIN, Texas, June 3, 2021—Today, Ar

Has any MMORPG ever launched been "ready" to launch when it did?  I played through sb.exe, I played through F5ing the Darkfall store for days, I played through DF2 launching without 1/4 of the cl

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On 6/7/2021 at 12:47 PM, APE said:

Are you ignoring the tons of games on Steam that are free/cheap that have made a good deal of money that aren't scummy?

No I'm not.  Unfortunately scummy or not F2P is carried upon the backs of whales.  Irregardless of how much money folks have, most simply will not pay.  They'll put 1,000 hours into a non-scummy game and at most toss them like $5. As long as F2P is whale based it doesn't matter if it's scummy or not, most people are not paying.

Path of Exiles is a good example.  It's about as ethical as you can get and most people still won't give them money just to support them, they have to be baited into it with something that is "worth it".  Because they're not looking at it as giving the devs money most times, they're looking at it as "I pay X and I get Y in return".  When in reality it's not about giving them $20 for that cosmetic item, it's about giving them $20 for the hundreds of hours you've played and the cosmetic item is just bonus.

If POE didn't sell stash tabs they'd prolly lose half their income.  Because people are willing to pay for stash tabs but ironically not the 200 hours they've played.  It's a weird psychological thing with monetization.

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19 hours ago, Ralathar44 said:

No I'm not.  Unfortunately scummy or not F2P is carried upon the backs of whales.  Irregardless of how much money folks have, most simply will not pay.  They'll put 1,000 hours into a non-scummy game and at most toss them like $5. As long as F2P is whale based it doesn't matter if it's scummy or not, most people are not paying.

Path of Exiles is a good example.  It's about as ethical as you can get and most people still won't give them money just to support them, they have to be baited into it with something that is "worth it".  Because they're not looking at it as giving the devs money most times, they're looking at it as "I pay X and I get Y in return".  When in reality it's not about giving them $20 for that cosmetic item, it's about giving them $20 for the hundreds of hours you've played and the cosmetic item is just bonus.

If POE didn't sell stash tabs they'd prolly lose half their income.  Because people are willing to pay for stash tabs but ironically not the 200 hours they've played.  It's a weird psychological thing with monetization.

Because the microtransaction model is designed to create users that are having a bad time. If you can not somehow make your game a bad time you can not successfully sell microtransactions. The entire enterprise is inherently consumer hostile. It started with "make sure free users are having a bad time" and it worked so well it is now "make sure the people that just paid us 70 dollars for the game are having a bad time so they buy the battle pass"

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22 hours ago, PopeUrban said:

Using twitch views as a metric to gauge the quality of a game is just a bad metric as it is a metric of how much fun it is to watch a game rather than how enjoyable it is to play. 

I agree, but twitch is a great platform to get eyes on products. While I'm sure companies don't mind if their game blows up on Twitch, that does nothing for them unless gamers are buying their products. Which I have done plenty of times due to one off plays by streamers I watch.

 


 

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20 hours ago, Ralathar44 said:

No I'm not.  Unfortunately scummy or not F2P is carried upon the backs of whales.  Irregardless of how much money folks have, most simply will not pay.  They'll put 1,000 hours into a non-scummy game and at most toss them like $5. As long as F2P is whale based it doesn't matter if it's scummy or not, most people are not paying.

Path of Exiles is a good example.  It's about as ethical as you can get and most people still won't give them money just to support them, they have to be baited into it with something that is "worth it".  Because they're not looking at it as giving the devs money most times, they're looking at it as "I pay X and I get Y in return".  When in reality it's not about giving them $20 for that cosmetic item, it's about giving them $20 for the hundreds of hours you've played and the cosmetic item is just bonus.

If POE didn't sell stash tabs they'd prolly lose half their income.  Because people are willing to pay for stash tabs but ironically not the 200 hours they've played.  It's a weird psychological thing with monetization.

Who are the whales playing Fortnite, League, Dota 2, and other such games? Seems like the better and more popular the game, the less scummy a F2P model has to be. 

I can clearly tell when a game and its monetization model have been designed to get people to continually pay a little to a lot despite marketing a product as F2P/B2P.

It's one thing to have to change models/design post launch when numbers are hurting and doing so from day 1 because the game design isn't enough to carry the product.

I see nothing wrong with gamers paying nothing when a game is marketed as F2P. The pay model is entirely up to the company and their belief in their game. Despite how popular and financially rewarding F2P is, it isn't like B2P no longer exists. The amount of DLC and extra fluff has increased greatly on games that in the past wouldn't have such things, but buying a full experience still exists, now there is on going support and content that players can choose to purchase or not.

There is a lot of factors at play but battle passes and optional subs along with cash shops can be harmless to very scummy.

I'm curious what ACE plans to do as AFAIK there hasn't been a "PVP" MMO with B2P, cash shop, and perk sub launched for a while that were able to stay away from crossing what I consider the scummy line.

Games like EVE and Albion Online both have pay for advantage subs/shops that might be relatively "fair" prices for the time one gets out of the game, but in a PVP environment, those that don't pay are at a disadvantage and the games aren't marketing that way for obvious reasons. 

 


 

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1 hour ago, PopeUrban said:

Because the microtransaction model is designed to create users that are having a bad time. If you can not somehow make your game a bad time you can not successfully sell microtransactions. The entire enterprise is inherently consumer hostile. It started with "make sure free users are having a bad time" and it worked so well it is now "make sure the people that just paid us 70 dollars for the game are having a bad time so they buy the battle pass"

I mean that's how it's designed NOW.  But it took some time for it to get there.  There was a large amount of adjustment, study, and iteration that happened between people freaking out about horse armor DLC for $2.50 (which is honestly a very reasonable skin price!) and today where skins often sell for $20+ and microtransactions are exploitative.

They tested alot of models and things between now and then and as it turns out exploitative practices are the ones we'll pay for and if given the option to play something completely free then people will almost exclusively give that game either $0 or very low amounts of money nowhere approaching a game's buy to play price.

And here is the ultimate irony of alot of the cosmetic stuff.  If it didn't exist and the game was just free or buy to play people would never notice it didn't exist and would enjoy the game just fine.  But if you put in extra cosmetics for money or in a battlepass then suddenly people feel pressured to get it.  People's vulnerability to FOMO is truly remarkable lol.

Take Fortnite BR.  All Cosmetics.  Completely free.  Makes stupid amounts of money.  Like egregiously stupid amounts of money.  That's how much people suck with FOMO.  And ofc that's the non-shady version of that monetization.  Shadier versions actually sell power or "time savers".

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1 hour ago, APE said:

Who are the whales playing Fortnite, League, Dota 2, and other such games?

Everyone/anyone.  Rich/poor doesn't actually seem to matter much.  While richer folks are more likely to be looser with cash the lack of money actually doesn't really seem to stop more poor people from being whales at all.  F2P is largely based off of victimizing a small % of society that is excessively vulnerable to gambling addiction and impulse buying.
 

1 hour ago, APE said:

I see nothing wrong with gamers paying nothing when a game is marketed as F2P.

I do.  If you like a game and you have the means you should pay the devs for their work.  When people play a game for large amounts of time and don't pay then ofc the logical reaction from devs is going to be "how do we get those people to pay if a game they enjoy is not enough?" because game development unfortunately needs more than good feelings and artistic passion to run and/or fund new projects.  And every person who plays free and doesn't pay raises the amount others need to pay to make a product financially viable.

This is not a controversial thing.  I'm not saying people should give money to scummy practices.  Just simply: if the game is fun and they are not doing something morally repugnant (like scummy microtransactions) then you should pay and support the devs.  That's ironically a much more fair deal than even crowdfunding where you're only paying for a potential game to exist one day.  Paying for a fun game that exists now is about as fair as it gets and by not paying you're basically letting down your end of the bargain.  Again...if you're enjoying the game and it's not morally repugnant in some way.

 

1 hour ago, APE said:

There is a lot of factors at play but battle passes and optional subs along with cash shops can be harmless to very scummy.

Agreed.  I don't think the base models are bad, only developer implementations and player behaviors.  Both share responsibility since both together determine the market.

 

1 hour ago, APE said:

I'm curious what ACE plans to do as AFAIK there hasn't been a "PVP" MMO with B2P, cash shop, and perk sub launched for a while that were able to stay away from crossing what I consider the scummy line.

I mean that's Guild Wars 2.  And while I don't like loot box mechanics at all, that stuff is cosmetic or so extremely low value as to not matter.  (ex: exp boosts when leveling is already stupid fast).  So it can be done.  I think for $ loot boxes should prolly be illegal or at least regulated like the actual gambling it is but that's a whole nother kettle o fish.

 

1 hour ago, APE said:

Games like EVE and Albion Online both have pay for advantage subs/shops that might be relatively "fair" prices for the time one gets out of the game, but in a PVP environment, those that don't pay are at a disadvantage and the games aren't marketing that way for obvious reasons. 

Indeed.  If you don't multi-box you're simply not going to be competitive at EVE vs someone who does.  I can't speak to Albion much as I have not personally played it but even the defenses of it's microtransactions have been rather damning.

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37 minutes ago, Ralathar44 said:

I can't speak to Albion much as I have not personally played it but even the defenses of it's microtransactions have been rather damning.

Albion is an interesting case study for a number reasons.

  1. It was previously b2p and only exploded in population after it went f2p (and added more localizations)
  2. Sells mount skins for ~$15 and skin bundles for ~$30
  3. Some rare skins continue to appreciate and sell for the equivalent of about $3,000+ (via players only)
  4. Has a subscription for $9-12 per month that includes a significant xp boost, crafting focus for using less materials to craft, increased harvesting/farming yield, reduced market tax, and a monthly challenge that generally provides a mount and other rewards
  5. Subscription can be purchased with in-game currency (most veterans do not pay real money, so this operates as a silver sink)
  6. Can buy in-game currency from the cash shop, which can then be converted directly into power through XP, gear, or battle mounts
  7. Battle mounts are used regularly that are very powerful and can change the tide of ZvZs, some are worth upwards of $150 and can be looted just like any other item
  8. The game is full loot, but a portion of that loot is destroyed on death, creating another sink

It would be really interesting to know the breakdown in income for SBI, but this wasn't released with the financials during the recent acquisition

In a lot of ways the Albion monetization is literally pay to win, but people seem okay with it, probably because winning also requires skill, winning against a gear crutcher is very possible, and when the whale loses at PvP the winner is rewarded. 

Personally, I usually really dislike p2w games, but it doesn't feel so bad in Albion due to the above reasons. I look at max XP as baseline, and whales/gear crutchers as an opportunity to profit. 

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2 minutes ago, Ralathar44 said:

F2P is largely based off of victimizing a small % of society that is excessively vulnerable to gambling addiction and impulse buying.

I'd say that marketing in general is targeted at everyone and their impulses. Just the nature of people and business. Some are more vulnerable and some practices really go after that market, but is what it is. 

Plenty of F2P games do their best to offer quality products that require nothing in return besides playing the game. Player time is worth something because without them, whales or people paying a few pennies aren't going to play that game.

2 minutes ago, Ralathar44 said:

Just simply: if the game is fun and they are not doing something morally repugnant (like scummy microtransactions) then you should pay and support the devs.  

From my experience, most people pay something when games are designed this way. Looking around it is usually rare to see players without cosmetics.

Are gamers paying a "fair" price for their entertainment? Not sure how that can be quantified. Is a $50 game that players blow through in a weekend worth the same as a game that can take 100s of hours to complete or has actual replay value?

Doesn't seem to matter if a game is b2p, cosmetics or scummy pay wall based, people play them. We are a silly bunch.

2 minutes ago, Ralathar44 said:

I mean that's Guild Wars 2.

Almost 9 years after launch, GW2 is still basically B2P, $55 for the full game, no sub, and decent cash shop with some questionable boosts but no biggie overall. MMO wise, it is about as good as it gets for a player that wants the full game without having to fork over a lot of money over time.

2 minutes ago, Ralathar44 said:

Indeed.  If you don't multi-box you're simply not going to be competitive at EVE vs someone who does.  I can't speak to Albion much as I have not personally played it but even the defenses of it's microtransactions have been rather damning.

Which is why I'm curious how Crowfall plans to avoid that since they claim they won't be P2W or whatever term one wants to use. Seems very unlikely that they wont offer something that impacts in-game performance, considering the VIP perks they've unofficially announced do just that, doesn't seem like they are even making it to launch before walking back their early plans. 

 


 

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4 hours ago, Ralathar44 said:

F2P is largely based off of victimizing a small % of society that is excessively vulnerable to gambling addiction and impulse buying.

Isnt that to be expected? Any product that is free still has to have the ability to raise revenue during the product life or its not viable. They just call it microtransactions. There are a wide variety of products that fall into this category of free then needing a lil fix every once and a while; heroin, crack, casino's just to name a few. (oh the stories I could tell living in vegas). 🙄

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5 hours ago, Ralathar44 said:

I mean that's how it's designed NOW.  But it took some time for it to get there.  There was a large amount of adjustment, study, and iteration that happened between people freaking out about horse armor DLC for $2.50 (which is honestly a very reasonable skin price!) and today where skins often sell for $20+ and microtransactions are exploitative.

They tested alot of models and things between now and then and as it turns out exploitative practices are the ones we'll pay for and if given the option to play something completely free then people will almost exclusively give that game either $0 or very low amounts of money nowhere approaching a game's buy to play price.

And here is the ultimate irony of alot of the cosmetic stuff.  If it didn't exist and the game was just free or buy to play people would never notice it didn't exist and would enjoy the game just fine.  But if you put in extra cosmetics for money or in a battlepass then suddenly people feel pressured to get it.  People's vulnerability to FOMO is truly remarkable lol.

Take Fortnite BR.  All Cosmetics.  Completely free.  Makes stupid amounts of money.  Like egregiously stupid amounts of money.  That's how much people suck with FOMO.  And ofc that's the non-shady version of that monetization.  Shadier versions actually sell power or "time savers".

This is how gaslit they've been by this practice. All the way back to the beginning.

$2.50 for a horse armor skin you're calling a "reasonable price for a skin"

In a game that cost 60 dollars.

If each 3d asset were worth that amount all of oblivion could have only been made up of 24 skinned models. Total.

There is no "reasonable" price to sell a skin for. There is only the price you have conditioned to expect by a market that has by degrees normalized that behavior. You call it a "reasonable price for a skin" not because it in any way represents the cost aggregate to produce it versus units sold... but because the scale has moved to a normalized 20 dollars.

20 Dollars for a skin. A third the price of a whole ass video game. There is no "reasonable" foundation for that price point just as there is not "reasonable" foundation for the $2.50 price point.

 

People will now defend "it's only cosmetic" as if cosmetics were'nt a major part of the reward pool of video games or "It's only QOL" as if intentionally delivering annoyances to the player base that can only be overcome by whipping out that credit card is good, somehow. Like this is somehow perfectly fine and ethical and it's just plain not. There is no argument that backs up that value proposition to the customer. None. Zero.

This is an industry run amok on greed to the point its become normalized. A customer and developer base collectively gaslit by the machinations of people who work in games that don't even give a poorly made dergs about games. They're just "excited about the monetization opportunities"

An industry full of developers that don't even question this practice before implementing it any more because it's just "the way things are"

What you are calling "non shady" is the exact same business model. Fortnite's "only cosmetics" system is *still* designed to create users that are having a bad time.

In products with the sole function of amusement, a handful of greedy unpleasant people, by degrees, has normalized deliberately making sure users are having a bad time so they pay more money.

There is no version of that that isn't shady. There is no reason nor demand for this business model that was not deliberately engineered to make video games worse. And it has succeeded in normalizing making video games worse to the point people are happy to zealously defend video games being worse because "at least they're not as bad as I can possibly imagine"

Edited by PopeUrban

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4 hours ago, APE said:

Almost 9 years after launch, GW2 is still basically B2P, $55 for the full game, no sub, and decent cash shop with some questionable boosts but no biggie overall. MMO wise, it is about as good as it gets for a player that wants the full game without having to fork over a lot of money over time.

Almost 9 years after launch I am still using the same exact equipment I was using 9 years ago. The game is designed for me to do so. I have a set of ascended gear and it is still the best possible gear in the game. This is great from a game design perspective if and only if I have something else to earn. In GW1 that was skins. In GW2 that is also skins. GW2 is a textbook example of how "its only cosmetic" absolutely annihilates the reward pool of a video game in order to in stead sell it on the cash shop because it is a game in which cosmetics are the primary reward mechanism. It is joined by games like overwatch or a number of shooters that say "Our cash shop is only cosmetic so its fine" despite the rewards you actually play the game for also being... cosmetics. As a result, guess what, just playing the game is made intentionally grindy and unrewarding, rewards made unavaliable, and in general designed to make playing the game for those "only cosmetic" rewards a terrible experience.

You know, so you'll buy the "only cosmetic" rewards.

You don't get better equipment in GW2. Finish the main campaign, do a bit of crafting for ascended, that's it. That's as good as your gear will ever get. There are no non-cosmetic rewards to be had in any living story or expansion content. They're technically items with stats, but stats that you don't need and you did not go out of your wat to get the item for the stats.

Earning cosmetics is how the game's reward mechanisms are built, entirely. A game entirely built around acquiring skins, not additional power, as loot, has the balls to say "our cash shop is good because it only has skins in it."

I did this math back when I was playing the game regularly and wondering why I wasn't having fun in GW2 despite having fun for years in GW1. For every 8 skins added to the cash shop there's one in the game. The skins you can earn with any degree of reliability are attached to lengthy grinds. Imagine WoW, but the only items you could actually get by playing the game were orange. That's GW2's reward loop in a nutshell. It has been entirely ruined by its cash shop, deliberately. Gliders or mounts on day one? Guess how many skins you could earn in the game? Zero. Guess how many skins they sold in the cash shop? at least two. These were the major new features in the game, the thing you for a fact don't already have nice skins on because you just got them, and there was absolutely nothing to get outside the cash shop on the day of release. I expect its next expansion to follow suit.

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5 hours ago, PopeUrban said:

GW2 is a textbook example of how "its only cosmetic" absolutely annihilates the reward pool of a video game in order to in stead sell it on the cash shop because it is a game in which cosmetics are the primary reward mechanism. It is joined by games like overwatch or a number of shooters that say "Our cash shop is only cosmetic so its fine" despite the rewards you actually play the game for also being... cosmetics. As a result, guess what, just playing the game is made intentionally grindy and unrewarding, rewards made unavaliable, and in general designed to make playing the game for those "only cosmetic" rewards a terrible experience.

I wasn't having fun in GW2 despite having fun for years in GW1. For every 8 skins added to the cash shop there's one in the game. The skins you can earn with any degree of reliability are attached to lengthy grinds. 

Believe I played GW2 for 2.5 years or so and never bought anything from the shop and I enjoyed the game for the entire time.

When I played and enjoyed Fortnite, Apex, Paladins, Smite, etc, pretty sure I never bought anything.

I've been playing League of Legends: Wild Rift and have yet to purchase anything with cash but have thought about it.

I play Overwatch regularly and have never paid for a loot box and have ~90% of possible unlocks in the game. I probably play on average 5 hours a week since launch with more or less depending.

Team Fortress 2 ate up a few thousand hours of my life and while I did buy things from the shop, I actually managed to sell and make a decent profit (several times what The Orange Box cost and what I put into the cash shop).

Have played plenty of other games where I didn't buy cosmetics, but did buy convenience/advantage usually because I wanted to be competitive or the game design strongly encouraged it because of paywalls. Didn't like doing it but a means to an end for me at the time.

None of the games I listed ever felt overly grindy as I play them to PVP, not obtain an outfit to show off or be vain. As some point out about Crowfall and the lack of actual PVP rewards/progression, I play those games for the fun of it, not extra rewards that have no direct impact on my main goal.

I've been able to play countless hours for free to little cost across numerous games. If someone doesn't enjoy a game because it's "only cosmetics" then I don't know what would make the game more enjoyable in of itself which IMO is what is more important.

If someone played GW2 since launch for the cost of the game/expansions, they've got a pretty decent deal and buying a few skins once in a while seems very reasonable if that is what is required to make the game more enjoyable and rewarding. Obviously all of this is entirely subjective.

Edited by APE

 


 

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1 hour ago, APE said:

Obviously all of this is entirely subjective.

Certainly, but the undeniable fact is that if these cosmetics were as valueless and unimportant to people playing the game as many often claim they are they wouldn't be the monetization backbone of games that are designed primarily to sell them to whales. If selling "only skins" wan't leaps and bounds more profitable than just selling the game, it would have never caught on. Indeed back in the 2000s when the first experiments were being done with that model the prevailing wisdom was that there was no way it would work.

This should make it pretty clear that you're actually in the minority of users, based upon what users actually do and how this has shaped the way these things are monetized.

That arc becomes unsustainable the longer it goes on, games gets invariably less rewarding for the freeloader since they're not the customer, and the game gets invariably more expensive for its actual customers until the game is crushed under the weight of its own cash shop with precious little value added to the game itself as a result.

That's the problem. While its easy to say "I didn't buy any of the extra stuff" is there really an argument to be made that any of these products were improved for the end user by this monetization? The free player isn't getting a complete product and neither is the guy shelling out 20 bucks for individual skins. Its a bit like social media. Sure we have free services, but the cost of getting them was changing the relationship from buyer and seller to commodification of the majority of users to the detriment of everyone but the owner of the service.

The fact you can ignore a microtransaction doesn't change the fact that its existence absolutely harms the experience for everyone involved. It is designed to do that. It is designed to dangle a thing in front of your face, make you want it, and constantly badger you to buy it because not buying it will put you in line for a grind, or simply mean you never get the thing.

Again, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy games, or even understand that in many cases a developer feels compelled to engage in this behavior to keep up with what are now industry norms. However the end result has been clear. Battlefield 2042? Costs 70 dollars. Lacks any semblance of a campaign mode. Selling a battle pass at launch in a game that costs more than previous entries with less game to actually play. A game that will invariably be cast aside by its developers in a year, 2 years tops to sell the user another full priced product to wipe the slate clean and sell them the same slate of overpriced progression/cosmetic/whatever enhancers again not that they've acquired everything they want in a game that won't be updated so they can keep benefitting from the stuff they bought.

This envelope will be consistently pushed, pulled back a little to claim "your voices have been heard" and by degrees continue the trajectory of the last 20 years of taking a thing that used to be about delivering value to the customer and turning that good will in to profit to make another thing of value, and change it in stead in to a thing designed to withhold as much value from the customer as possible until the recurrent spending drops off and instantly dropping support to start the cycle all over again.

 

Edited by PopeUrban

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8 hours ago, PopeUrban said:

$2.50 for a horse armor skin you're calling a "reasonable price for a skin"

In a game that cost 60 dollars.

If each 3d asset were worth that amount all of oblivion could have only been made up of 24 skinned models. Total.

There is no "reasonable" price to sell a skin for. There is only the price you have conditioned to expect by a market that has by degrees normalized that behavior. You call it a "reasonable price for a skin" not because it in any way represents the cost aggregate to produce it versus units sold... but because the scale has moved to a normalized 20 dollars.

20 Dollars for a skin. A third the price of a whole ass video game. There is no "reasonable" foundation for that price point just as there is not "reasonable" foundation for the $2.50 price point.

Unfortunately this is just how the economics of skin sales worth.  For the $2.50 for the sake of profitability and for the $20 because that's what the market will bear.  tl;dr version is that only a tiny % of a % of a % of a % will buy an individual skin and it takes many many more hours than you think to make a single skin from creation to implementation so they have to be priced accordingly.  Also transaction fees, marketplace costs (steam, epic, apple, etc) and publisher fees often eat significant chunks of revenue.  And your skin needs to make enough to justify the opportunity cost of being able to use that staff elsewhere tl;dr over.  But let me explain more thoroughly.

Let's say we make a neato skin for a Crowfall minotaur.  Ok so we can sell that skin to everyone right?  No.  Only a % of people have a minotaur.  Only a % of those like their minotaur character enough they'd consider a skin for it.  Only a % of those would ever pay for a skin ever.  Only a % of those are interested in that particular skin.  Only a % those would buy it right now.  So realistically your viable purchasing population is going to be in the very low single digit %s for any individual cosmetic. (Functional items have better conversion rates since they have more universal appeal and usually you are pushed towards buying them via gameplay mechanics).  World of tanks has one of the best conversion rates in the industry (amount of people who will spend money) and it's conversion rate of people spending on ANYTHING is only 25% and it pushes people with gameplay affecting microtransactions.

So you're not selling those skins to everyone, you're selling each skin to a tiny tiny fraction of your playerbase.  The artist and moderlers have to make the textures, map them, adjust them, make changes according to feedback, fix any clipping or bugs or etc that crop up, etc.  Then it has to be put into the UI and the hooks added to it in the code.  Then QA has to go over them and make sure the skins are not broken and do not break anything.  Then it gets sent back to be fixed so QA can test it again and make sure it's fixed and no new issues happened.

I literally spent all day as QA doing testing skins yesterday.  Our artists/modelers made a handful of relatively simple and not too detail intensive skins across several in game vehicles.  We had prolly 10 people testing maybe 10 skins across a handful of vehicles for 2 different days and we'll be teeting more skins for different stuff soon.  Bug were found.  Backwards details/lettering/numbers.  Lettering/numbers being overlayed upon each other, lettering/numbers being cut off.  Parts of the skins clipping, parts of the skins being translucent, skins not following animations properly, crashes, skins not translating to the destroyed variant of the assert properly, skin not properly equipping or unequipping when selected, UI skin selection interface bugs, etc.  A good number of bugs are possible and happen.

So its far more than just the time for the artist to create the asset.  A single skin is an entire production pipeline.  The more complex the skin the more time it takes to make, the more issues that tend to arise, etc.  And you're doing this work on internal builds that are far less stable than customer facing builds.  There are multiple levels of builds before something even makes it to customer facing PTUs.  If you've ever been on a test server or PTU and it's an absolute garbage fire just think for a second...that's the build that made it through 2-4 levels.  Essentially you have a build for isolated features with everything else stripped out.  Then a build that those individual features get consolidated into once those are deemed "good enough" in a bubble (this build is typically highly unstable and it sucks to test on usually and sometimes you can barely get anything done around all the crashes and other bugs blocking your testing), then an internal build that's a cut above that often referred to as staging, then sometimes a build between that and internal player testers, then a build for internal player testers, then if it makes it that far it goes out to actual PTU, then if it passes PTU it finally goes live.  and ofc bosses, team leads, producers, etc helping coordinate and keep track of it all.

So after the original skin is finally done being built that skin is prolly run through 5-7 waves of testing at each level (prolly finding bugs each time that require fixing and retesting) before it's finally ready for live.  So a single skin could easily be hundreds of work hours from start of creation to live implementation from people making between 40k-70k a year (QA is a bit less, programmer/UI/artists are a bit more) you've actually got significant money to recoup.

So let's say collectively it costs 200 manhours to take a complex skin from creation to live implementation at 50k an hour.  That's roughly $24 an hour x 200 = $4,800 for a single skin.  So say you charge $2.50 a skin.  You're going to receive something close to 97% of that thanks to transaction fees so you're going to get about $2.42 a skin.  Obviously if you're on steam or another marketplace they're going to take their cut of 15%-30%, but we'll assume that isn't the case.   And if you have a publisher you'll also lose 10%-20% to the publisher as well but we'll also pretend that isn't the case.  So we'll stick with $2.42 per skin purchased.  $4,800/2.42 = 1,983 sales to break even.  Assuming that 1% of people in your game bought that single individual skin (which is prolly still high for an individual cosmetic item unless it's really popular) you'd need a population of 200,000 to break even.  And with a population of 1 million that skin would prolly make you about $20,000 over the course of many months and then sales fall off a cliff because basically all your population who wanted it already got it.  $20,000 sounds like alot but in game development terms it's pennies.  A single character in the skull girls fighting game cost $200,000 to make.  And there is an opportunity cost to tying up that staff testing and fixing that skin.  So cheaper than 2-3 bucks is basically completely not worth a developers time.


Now ofc the $20 skin math works a little different.  That's not about what you need to charge to be profitable enough to justify, that's about how much money you can make.  People say "if it's cheaper you'll sell more" and that's true.  But it won't make more money.  Example:  You sell a skin for $20 and lets say 5,000 people buy it.  If you sell it for $10 you need 10,000 people to buy it or you'll make less money and as covered above the interest range of each skin is a very very narrow demographic.  And of those people willing to buy the $10 skin quite alot of them would be willing to buy the $20 skin.  As well people who buy cosmetics in the first place are typically less price sensitive than the average person.
 

Edited by Ralathar44
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4 minutes ago, Ralathar44 said:

Unfortunately this is just how the economics of skin sales worth.
 

The point is that the economics are based upon a fundamentally flawed premise that doesn't do anyone any good at any point in the process except the people selling stuff.

Those economics are not a justification for, but rather and indemnification of the entire practice. I'll just paint you a word picture legally distinct from any personally identifiable experience I have had.

The economics, as stated, commodify the user base and the development team's man hours in a manner that annihilates the kind of iterative workflow required to release consistently high quality gameplay. You are constantly expected to push production ready micro-builds through every level of the pipeline at an insanely rapid pace to the point you have an entire art department functioning in a constant state of crunch to attempt to outpace an ephemeral recurrent spending target you will not, can not meet. Ever. Because the target is "growth" even though that growth, if achieved, somehow never seems to result in the "growth" of your department's budget, benefits, or wages. Update, update, update. Who cares if its fun as long as its NEW. NEW means logins, and logins mean revenue.

Often that art department is cannibalized in to multiple teams that are constantly being poached from, shifted around, projects started and stopped based on monthly sales figures of stuff that has no relationship to an actual thing anyone can play. That level of constant exhaustion and pressure SHOWS in the end product. It shows in the lack of polish on stuff that isn't skins. It shows in the lack of diversity in the content on offer. It shows in the end result of maps or game modes or characters or enemies or something as simple as the animation of a door that was designed to have a cool 12 part iris animation but nobody could be tasked with animating the custard thing because they all had to be moved to rigging 6 different armor skins in 2 weeks so you just had to change it to a 2 keyframe sliding door. It creates games that are absolutely, undeniably worse and results in work coming out of amazingly talented teams that just looks lazy. Not because the team is lazy or they don't have the capacity to do great work but because that workload now must be split between making a video game and making variant hogwash that has absolutely no connection or meaning within the scope of the challenges players are conquering. Just more poorly made dergs you expect less people to see but has to take absolute priority otherwise the handful of people that do buy it will be unhappy. custard the variant attack animations, we gotta rig more custard armor skins that the majority of players will never ever use and half of them will never even see outside of a shop window. custard the actual gameplay experience jimmy the whale needs something else to buy before payday.

This model of monetization makes worse games, upset customers, and burned out developers in service of an economic model that is fundamentally hostile to everyone involved so a small minority can cash massive checks that could have gone back in to development, or flex massive amounts of microtransaction purchases that could have been content.

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2 minutes ago, PopeUrban said:

The point is that the economics are based upon a fundamentally flawed premise that doesn't do anyone any good at any point in the process except the people selling stuff.

Those economics are not a justification for, but rather and indemnification of the entire practice. I'll just paint you a word picture legally distinct from any personally identifiable experience I have had.

The economics, as stated, commodify the user base and the development team's man hours in a manner that annihilates the kind of iterative workflow required to release consistently high quality gameplay. You are constantly expected to push production ready micro-builds through every level of the pipeline at an insanely rapid pace to the point you have an entire art department functioning in a constant state of crunch to attempt to outpace an ephemeral recurrent spending target you will not, can not meet. Ever. Because the target is "growth" even though that growth, if achieved, somehow never seems to result in the "growth" of your department's budget, benefits, or wages. Update, update, update. Who cares if its fun as long as its NEW. NEW means logins, and logins mean revenue.

Often that art department is cannibalized in to multiple teams that are constantly being poached from, shifted around, projects started and stopped based on monthly sales figures of stuff that has no relationship to an actual thing anyone can play. That level of constant exhaustion and pressure SHOWS in the end product. It shows in the lack of polish on stuff that isn't skins. It shows in the lack of diversity in the content on offer. It shows in the end result of maps or game modes or characters or enemies or something as simple as the animation of a door that was designed to have a cool 12 part iris animation but nobody could be tasked with animating the custard thing because they all had to be moved to rigging 6 different armor skins in 2 weeks so you just had to change it to a 2 keyframe sliding door. It creates games that are absolutely, undeniably worse and results in work coming out of amazingly talented teams that just looks lazy. Not because the team is lazy or they don't have the capacity to do great work but because that workload now must be split between making a video game and making variant hogwash that has absolutely no connection or meaning within the scope of the challenges players are conquering. Just more poorly made dergs you expect less people to see but has to take absolute priority otherwise the handful of people that do buy it will be unhappy. custard the variant attack animations, we gotta rig more custard armor skins that the majority of players will never ever use and half of them will never even see outside of a shop window. custard the actual gameplay experience jimmy the whale needs something else to buy before payday.

This model of monetization makes worse games, upset customers, and burned out developers in service of an economic model that is fundamentally hostile to everyone involved so a small minority can cash massive checks that could have gone back in to development, or flex massive amounts of microtransaction purchases that could have been content.

If a service is free, YOU the user of said service ARE the content. This applies to MMOs and many other things.

Why is facebook free? Because they make a fortune from advertisers who pay big to reach many eyeballs.

Why are most MMOs F2P? Because we need many other players in the game with us to have fun. This is especially true in a PvP focused game like Fortnight or Crowfall.

So, if ACE gives the game away to attract more players, how do they make money? VIP and other cash shop items like mount skins, armor skins, weapon skins, etc

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1 minute ago, MacDeath said:

If a service is free, YOU the user of said service ARE the content. This applies to MMOs and many other things.

Why is facebook free? Because they make a fortune from advertisers who pay big to reach many eyeballs.

Why are most MMOs F2P? Because we need many other players in the game with us to have fun. This is especially true in a PvP focused game like Fortnight or Crowfall.

So, if ACE gives the game away to attract more players, how do they make money? VIP and other cash shop items like mount skins, armor skins, weapon skins, etc

This is why we have so much free stuff now, and also why most of that free stuff sucks. You don't have to make a thing people would be happy to pay for if you don't expect them to actually pay for it.

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17 minutes ago, PopeUrban said:

This is why we have so much free stuff now, and also why most of that free stuff sucks. You don't have to make a thing people would be happy to pay for if you don't expect them to actually pay for it.

Yes, but free doesn't have to be 'bad' or 'poor'. I live in Denmark where we have 'free health care' and it's very high quality. If it wasn't high quality, we would toss out the government and get some folks in who would return it to high quality.

Of course, someone has to cover the costs of these 'free' services and we do that via high taxes. For example, our sales tax here is 25%.

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9 minutes ago, MacDeath said:

Yes, but free doesn't have to be 'bad' or 'poor'. I live in Denmark where we have 'free health care' and it's very high quality. If it wasn't high quality, we would toss out the government and get some folks in who would return it to high quality.

Of course, someone has to cover the costs of these 'free' services and we do that via high taxes. For example, our sales tax here is 25%.

Arent you guys leading the world for tax burden? Nonetheless, I wouldnt be the one to throw shade on denmarks health care system since it really is one of the better ones. But to claim its free isnt quite fair since everyone does pay with heavy taxes.

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