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[HP]

Anthem and the peculiarities of modern monetization.

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An aside to what @[HP] was saying: player retention has been the target for big publishers for many years: when G4 was still a thing, I remember Geoff Keighley interviewing Jade Raymond along a couple others during an E3, must have been like 6-8 years ago. The main topic was player retention and how the publishers were aiming to increase that as much as possible: to limit the losses from the used game market, as playing and finishing Gears/COD/[whatever 8hrs game] on release weekend would cause massive losses as people could buy a used game at like -50% after a week from release… and they wouldn’t see a penny of it. That’s why sandboxes became so popular, along collectibles of all kinds, and of course most of all multiplayer experiences that would keep players playing. Would they also buy accessories afterwards? Awesome! The result are loot boxes and micro transactions like a red-dot for $1

well at least the first laws against loot boxes have been  approved in recent months.

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All this could be mitigated by increasing the price of a video game overall. The used games market is not a problem anymore and gamestop will become the next blockbuster in the next couple of years. Games have been costing 60 bucks since the NES days, that's 3 fucking decades.

If the cost of game is raised to 80 bucks and said game takes 10 hours to be completed, that averages at $6 an hour! To go to the movies you pay $20 a ticket plus coke and popcorn, it could easily set you back $35 a person for a 2 hour movie, and everyone is more than ok to pay for that kind of entertainment. 
Of course, this all psychological, it's easier to ask people to pay $5 here, $10 there a few times than it is to ask for a bigger chunk of money, it skews the perception. People actually spend more money without realizing it... And this is why the bottom line of it is, vote with your wallets. Supply and demand, as long as there's a demand for this kind of stuff, that's what you'll get.

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7 hours ago, [HP] said:

All this could be mitigated by increasing the price of a video game overall. The used games market is not a problem anymore and gamestop will become the next blockbuster in the next couple of years. Games have been costing 60 bucks since the NES days, that's 3 fucking decades.

If the cost of game is raised to 80 bucks and said game takes 10 hours to be completed, that averages at $6 an hour! To go to the movies you pay $20 a ticket plus coke and popcorn, it could easily set you back $35 a person for a 2 hour movie, and everyone is more than ok to pay for that kind of entertainment. 
Of course, this all psychological, it's easier to ask people to pay $5 here, $10 there a few times than it is to ask for a bigger chunk of money, it skews the perception. People actually spend more money without realizing it... And this is why the bottom line of it is, vote with your wallets. Supply and demand, as long as there's a demand for this kind of stuff, that's what you'll get.

Nitpicking here, but I remember a 10 EUR spike in prices for games (in Germany) with the beginning of the PS3 generation. What used to cost 60 EUR now costs 70 EUR. And I find that to be a lot of money to shell out on a game*. 

You are writing "$5 here, $10 there a few times" which makes me wonder how much higher the price for the base game would have to be to mitigate the lack of microtransactions? Because unless you are going F2P, it isn't like the base game has gotten any cheaper. And I am wondering how many players are put off from purchasing the game completely by microtransactions for stuff that can be unlocked through playing (yes - sometimes A LOT OF playing but still). It seems like bonus money for the publisher right now. This way they can keep the price for the initial offering as it is and depending on how sales go decide to develop/offer more content over time (or not). Developing and offering everything at once (at a higher price) seems riskier to me. I also don't think that the messaging "NO Microtransactions included!" would be something that either Marketing or shareholders would be excited about. All of this only applies to a big publisher and not a company that caters to a hardcore niche ofc (in case you are reading this, Devolver) :)

*It's probably because I'm cheap and would rather rent a movie at home 3 months down the line than watch it at a multiplex on launch for similar prices you mentioned. 

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Raising the prices would not work so well, I believe. Like Friechamp mentioned, 60-70 eur is quite a lot to spend on a game, especially if you have 3-4 games that you want to play and they all come out in a short window of time. Compared to going to the cinema, where a ticket costs 5 euros, it can seem pretty costly. Myself and a bunch of other people sometimes just wait until the prices drop for some games. If it's a single player game it will most likely drop 50% a year later. Also, if the said single player game has microtransactions or xp boosters that affect the core gameplay, it's pretty much a no buy for me. This ties into the issues I brought up earlier about big companies trying to retain players for the long term in all of their games. I think that's a mistake that ultimately leads to a lot of extra cost on their part and which forces them to adopt bad practices in order to recuperate their money. Take most of the recent sp open world games for example. They are so massive and littered with content, albeit repetitive, and take up so many resources to produce, all with the motivation of retaining the player for tens or hundreds of hours. There's just no balance, no small scale or shorter game experiences. Every game has to be just as large and last just as long. The more, the better. And there's nothing wrong with having some games be like that, but when almost every game is designed like that, there's something not quite right. Maybe it's just me having an open world fatigue. Maybe that's why I've been enjoying some of the recent shorter - more traditional games like Titanfall 2(4 hours), DUSK(10 hours), FAR: Lone Sails(2 hours) etc At least the indie scene still has it going. That's something I wanted to point out. Why can't big companies have smaller teams to produce something similar to an indie title? Hasn't the recent Spyro Reignited Trilogy been received positively? 

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Totally disagree that increasing price is better for the industry, I see even more justification for people to buy used, where a lower entry price just appeals to more. At least as far as I’m concerned I don’t buy games at more than £20/€30. Few games would be a D1 purchase for me, no more than two per year anyway.

I find very unfair that a full priced game also pushes microtransactions on you, whilst I’m ok with expansions-dlc.

Opem world fatigue is clearly there and I’m sure that’s the reason why many smaller titles have done very well.

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Look, I just think this is one of those situations where you don't get to keep your cake and eat it too. I really don't see any way out of this for publishers, they pushed themselves into a corner with this micro-transactions stuff, it got them unimaginable amounts of money, and they want more. And it's not just money, it's a continual stream of money coming in. In a capitalist world economy, you don't get to grow your business ten fold in a handful of years like they just did, then go back to the old way of doing things. A year where profits are the same as the year before is already considered a failure, let alone losses.

To be clear, I think we're all specifically talking about big AAA open games here, the kind of games like Anthem, that you can easily spend 50 to 100 hours in. Above I erroneously gave the hypothetical example of a game that takes 10 hours to be completed, in reality those kinda games are not the problem here, rather it's games like Anthem that don't have an "ending", they're designed for grind. I don't like the idea of raising prices either, I hate it even, most people that play games are students are they're usually broke, but if publishers don't do something about this, I don't know what's gonna happen, because the law is really taking notice at the predatory schemes AND gamers are getting tired of it, the cow is drying up...

Whatever happens dude, I just hope to see more SP games, because it's the kind of games that I like to play the most. I hate when I read stories like Eidos Montereal abandoning the DeusEx franchise because it didn't make enough money, or EA canceling the SP Star Wars because it wouldn't make as much money as the MP version would with lootboxes.

I think we can create an industry where grindy MP games still exist but don't canibalize on games with a strong story and that have a beginning, middle and end.

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Sounds like a golden opportunity for indipendent medium sized studios to produce this more focused games, the sales a big publisher considers a failure are a shower of gold for a smaller studio.

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Yeah, at this point this thread has been hijacked as an opportunity to talk about the sheer number of open world games, bad design practices and monetization.

Edited by Radu

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On 3/1/2019 at 12:39 PM, Radu said:

Yeah, at this point this thread has been hijacked as an opportunity to talk about the sheer number of open world games, bad design practices and monetization.

I think there is a connection there. You still see some interesting single player games and legacy multiplayer games coming out, but the battle royale trend of racing to the bottom of pricing making everything free, and all going for the same BR audience, everyone chasing that same fad... there is definitely an air of unsustainability IMO. 

Seems harder than ever to successfully attract an audience to a lower or mid-size game, and even huge studios are doing the same thing and immediately undercutting each other. I guess that was always the case but it’s really obvious now how the evolution played out in BR and how short each games window of access to the shifting attention span of the community really was. You better hope you can monetize them while they’re around, because otherwise I don’t see how the effort is worth it for these big studios let alone the smaller ones trying to create content outside of the big trend-seeking games.

Seems like a weird time for the market from a pure developer standpoint. 

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Amy Hennig has some things to say about this subject:

https://venturebeat.com/2019/02/22/amy-hennig-interview-surviving-the-trauma-of-making-a-video-game-and-inspiring-newcomers/view-all/

A quote of the part that specifically mentions Anthem but I'd recommend reading the whole interview:

Quote

GamesBeat: Anthem seems like the opposite, it sounds like.

Hennig: In a lot of ways. It’s more social and open. Everybody’s trying to crack that nut. That’s what I’m saying. Some of this is very personal resolutions or conclusions for me. I want to make sure that I’m still be objective enough that I’m not just imposing my own personal conclusions on the industry. But I feel like the experience I just went through is more symptomatic than isolated. It’s very hard to make this kind of content in a world and an industry that’s trying to crack this other nut, the live service model. How do we have a big game that’s ongoing and monetizable? I’m not trying to put a nasty spin on that word. It’s just a reality.

Then you try to sell this finite, crafted thing. What does that get sidecarred onto so it can exist? I don’t know. Or do you just go into a different area where that content makes more sense? That’s why I was exploring VR. Can you do a deliberate, crafted story in that space, more so than you can in the triple-A console space right now?

Again, when I say “finite,” I still feel like even these big games — single-player is not dead. Look at what’s nominated. But they still bear the burden of being bigger and deeper. We’re still raising the ante all the time. Seeing these games, people are working harder and crunching more. Development is longer and riskier. What if any of these things didn’t hit? If there was nothing there after five years? That would tank a studio. These are massive, terrifying bets.

 

 

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A new games crash is coming if they keep this up. We are currently in an age where a triple A (and I hate the term triple A) game can sell 7+ million copies and have "under-performed in expectations" slapped on it. That is fucking ridiculous.

Seven Million copies.

Under Performed Expectations.

Seven fucking million.

Take me back to the 90's before corporate suits, SJW's and politics got involved in games and fucked everything up. What happened to the days where the norm was a company for gamers, run by gamers, wanting to make games for gamers (Looking Glass, Ion Storm, Black Isle, Bioware, Blizzard, Valve, Bullfrog, Shiny, Interplay, Irrational Games? Want a game in a style to what these guys used to make? Kickstarter is the best bet because EA and Activision are here to milk the soul out of the games industry. Woo.

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In the meantime, ours truly, Jim Sterling, has  made yet another video on the matter:

@FrieChamp yeah, that was a good read - long though. After these discussions I'm starting to realise why I wasn't invested in Far Cry 5's story, even though on paper it's a neat story to tell, and was overall a chore to complete. For me it's hard to get into single player games that take more than 12-15 hours to complete. When they start to hit 30 hours it becomes too much.

Edited by Radu

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More on the topic of the game itself, looks like it is causing hard crashes and problems on consoles, with drives that get corrupted by the crashes etc., apparently some machines get bricked even.

 

Edited by blackdog

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