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  Free To Play/In-App purchases  (Read 1745 times)
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Offline erikd

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« Posted 2013-04-24 20:54:15 »

There is this trend for these so-called "Free To Play" games with in-app purchases as there are some stunning success stories there.
This model is quickly getting a bad rep in some circles because these types of games are often sort of 'skinner box' type games where the actual game play seems to be quite cynically intertwined with the business model. As such, all too often these games' enjoyment is actually hindered by the business model.
Still, for some types of games it can be interesting and there are some games that don't seem to be any less enjoyable by following this model.

So have you considered going down this route? If not, why? If so, how do you prevent letting the payments get in the way of the actual quality of the game play?
Any other thoughts about this? Or even experiences?

Offline tyeeeee1
« Reply #1 - Posted 2013-04-24 21:07:20 »

My opinion is that, as long as the things that you can buy are purely cosmetic items or items that don't have much of an effect on gameplay, then they're perfectly fine.
Offline deepthought
« Reply #2 - Posted 2013-04-24 21:18:44 »

I was thinking that if you could get people to create themed advertisements those could be used in-game.

jocks rule the highschools. GEEKS RULE THE WORLD MWAHAHAHA!!
captain failure test game
Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
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Offline princec

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« Reply #3 - Posted 2013-04-24 21:34:53 »

We're absolutely going down this route.

Cas Smiley

Offline gouessej
« Reply #4 - Posted 2013-04-24 21:38:17 »

I haven't chosen this route mainly because I'm not interested in earning money from my game but anyway, I don't like it. When I play with some of these games, I feel really annoyed by ads and in some of them, the concept is so deeply exploited that players who can afford expensive items are noticeably advantaged. In other words, capitalism enters the game, rich people have much more chances of enjoying the game than me. In the game "D-Day", some items are even more expensive than a classical game that you would pay once for all. Freemium/F2P/In-app purchases are crappy in my humble opinion. Some editors consider it is both a nice way of limiting piracy and of surreptitiously selling games at a bigger price. For me, it is not democratic, people should decide how much the whole society is ready to pay and should elect those who deserve being paid, that's why I defend the collectivist cooperative global patronage.

Offline erikd

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Medals: 16
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Maximumisness


« Reply #5 - Posted 2013-04-24 21:46:19 »

Quote
My opinion is that, as long as the things that you can buy are purely cosmetic items or items that don't have much of an effect on gameplay, then they're perfectly fine.
I agree, but there's a pretty delicate balance there between being commercial and delivering a good game.

But IMHO these cosmetic items really only make sense if the game has a social aspect where other people can see your cosmetic upgrades (why else would someone invest in those?).

Personally I think Temple Run has struck a pretty good balance here. They just provide the option to speed up grinding in order to score higher, but in the end it's still primarily a fun little skill game.
At the other end of the stick is a game like Megapolis, which seems to be purely focused on making people pay to just get on with the game (which in itself is rather shallow).

We're absolutely going down this route.
So can you share anything about how you're going to not let the business model invade Puppygames' core gameplay values?

I was thinking that if you could get people to create themed advertisements those could be used in-game.
I'm not sure I follow. Could you elaborate? How would that work?

Offline erikd

JGO Ninja


Medals: 16
Projects: 4
Exp: 14 years


Maximumisness


« Reply #6 - Posted 2013-04-24 22:06:16 »

I haven't chosen this route mainly because I'm not interested in earning money from my game but anyway, I don't like it. When I play with some of these games, I feel really annoyed by ads and in some of them, the concept is so deeply exploited that players who can afford expensive items are noticeably advantaged. In other words, capitalism enters the game, rich people have much more chances of enjoying the game than me. In the game "D-Day", some items are even more expensive than a classical game that you would pay once for all. Freemium/F2P/In-app purchases are crappy in my humble opinion. Some editors consider it is both a nice way of limiting piracy and of surreptitiously selling games at a bigger price. For me, it is not democratic, people should decide how much the whole society is ready to pay and should elect those who deserve being paid, that's why I defend the collectivist cooperative global patronage.

I'm not at all surprised with your feelings towards this Smiley

But I largely agree with your objections in games that seem to be just a calculated ploy to extract money at the expense of good gameplay.
But since we're living in a world that for better or for worse is targeted towards consumerism and capitalism where people need to earn money to make a living, F2P with IAP has a place. I'd like to explore ideas where it can work without resorting to purely cynical money-grabbing.

Offline princec

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Eh? Who? What? ... Me?


« Reply #7 - Posted 2013-04-24 22:07:14 »

We're absolutely going down this route.
So can you share anything about how you're going to not let the business model invade Puppygames' core gameplay values?
We don't have any gameplay values as such, we just make games that we want to play. However the traditional model, which goes something like:

1. Attract customer to site
2. Convince them to download your game
3. Let them play the game for a while
4. Then attempt a one-time upsell to unlock the rest of the game

is totally broken now. Every step of the way is thwarted:

1. We pay a minimum of about 10 cents to just get someone to visit our site. To get any significant numbers of people to visit we're looking at spending, literally, thousands of $$$
2. Convincing people to download something once they've got there is extra difficult. In fact, we're recording that approximately 0.7% of people who we manage to visit through an advert actually subsequently install a game.
3. The demo then does a double-stupid: it gives people 99 reasons not to buy your game. Not least because they might get an hour's entertainment out of it for nothing. WTF? Why are we giving away an hour's entertainment for nothing? There is no investment in effort from the punter, and we give away all the delight and discovery for nothing. Of the people who are downloading our demos, about 10% of them are buying the games.
4. Then finally, the ultimate stupid: we set a price and other than making new games that manage to get past hurdles 1-3 each time, that's it. No more money. Our fans can't give us more money if they wanted to for a product. They can't go on changing the way the game works by buying things for it to make it, or their experiences, different. We simply send them on their way.

We have a multi-pronged approach in progress.

Firstly, we're heavily revamping our website to make sure that if someone visits, the site is pretty clear about what they need to do: download a game.
Secondly, we're going to tune our advertising so that it attracts more of the sort of people that actually click because they're looking for something to play.
Thirdly, no more demos. The games will simply stop at a paywall which is unlocked using in-app purchase. There won't be any website involved. Then we'll find out at what price people will buy them using a series of dynamic A/B tests until we home in on the one that makes the most money.
Fourthly, we're making a free-to-play game. The base game is limited only in variety for free players. Players will be able to grind away to get a bit more variety, but we also understand that many players are time poor but financially rich. These players we want to give the opportunity to give us as much money as they want to get as much variety in their game as possible. Variety simply opens up new tactics and sometimes just "looking cool"; but fundamentally there is no "pay to win".

We have plans for a joke skinnerbox game too but that's top secret Cheesy

Cas Smiley

Offline HeroesGraveDev

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« Reply #8 - Posted 2013-04-24 22:52:11 »

The best solution is one that favours people both rich in time and rich in money equally.

(my best example)
In the case of Multiplayer First Person Shooters:

The trick is to make nothing the affects gameplay only available to one group. (eg: better weapons)
But of course if you make it take 5 months to get an item that costs $1 then something is seriously wrong.

As long as hardcore cheap people can beat casual rich people, it has been done right.

Offline erikd

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Medals: 16
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Maximumisness


« Reply #9 - Posted 2013-04-24 23:39:19 »

Quote
...We don't have any gameplay values as such, we just make games that we want to play....
...fundamentally there is no "pay to win".

Sounds like pretty strong gameplay values to me Smiley

But thanks for your detailed reply. It seems like a very sensible approach you're taking, and I very much agree that the traditional "demo for the full game" approach really doesn't work anymore. There have even been studies that have shown that releasing a demo for game actually hurts sales usually.

Quote
We have plans for a joke skinnerbox game too but that's top secret
Is it inside the Curiosity cube? Smiley

Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline Jimmt
« League of Dukes »

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Exp: 3 years



« Reply #10 - Posted 2013-04-24 23:41:30 »

F2p/In-app? No better example than tf2(team fortress 2). The most valuable currency of the game is hats/miscs, which are obviously only cosmetics, except in a very few cases, and even then they don't make much of a difference. Anything you can buy from the store, you can trade for, except for 1 item.
Offline deepthought
« Reply #11 - Posted 2013-04-25 02:08:45 »

The most valuable currency of the game is hats/miscs

don't even bring that up! If they even add 1 hat, the WHOLE game has to be re-downloaded.

jocks rule the highschools. GEEKS RULE THE WORLD MWAHAHAHA!!
captain failure test game
Offline Jimmt
« League of Dukes »

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Exp: 3 years



« Reply #12 - Posted 2013-04-25 02:13:59 »

The most valuable currency of the game is hats/miscs

don't even bring that up! If they even add 1 hat, the WHOLE game has to be re-downloaded.
What are you talking about? You just download the update through steam. It looks like it's the entire game, but if you look at the download time it's not. Roll Eyes
Offline deepthought
« Reply #13 - Posted 2013-04-25 02:24:16 »

unless it takes all day for a small update...  It happened to 3 of my friends too. maybe Valve just hates us persecutioncomplex.

jocks rule the highschools. GEEKS RULE THE WORLD MWAHAHAHA!!
captain failure test game
Offline Grunnt

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Complex != complicated


« Reply #14 - Posted 2013-04-25 15:10:55 »

Personally I do spend quite a lot on games but I avoid "free to play" like the plague and I doubt more than 0.1% of my gaming expenses have gone towards buying things in "free to play" games. The "free to play" label is an instant turn off for me and I never bother to check out those titles anymore.

Personally I'd rather call those games "differentiated spending" games, since they're not free but rather you can choose how much you want to spend. Calling a "differentiated spending" game free to play is a bit like calling a paid game with a demo "free to play". I like gaming because it allows me to escape for a while to a different world, much like a good book (e.g. fantasy or science fiction) does. In-game purchases bring the big bad outside world, with all its unfair inequalities, into the game world. No longer is buying a game buying a nice safe fantasy world to play in. Instead you enter a world in which there's aggressive salesmen lurking around every corner wanting to relieve you of some of your real-world cash.

Anyway, since it apparently is the hype thing these days and it appears to be a profitable approach to game development, I can't even really exclude the possibility of publishing a game based on this model at some point in the future. After all, bread's gotta be on the table. But I don't like the model for how I play games.

Offline gimbal

JGO Knight


Medals: 25



« Reply #15 - Posted 2013-04-25 15:43:26 »

I wouldn't mind the model, if the games themselves wouldn't become so obtrusive and ultimately - boring as hell.

Games where you can buy extras are fine with me as long as the possibility to buy stuff isn't shoved in my face at every corner. The other way is also loathsome: where you don't really know when you are touching a pay to play feature and you get yanked out of the game to go to some website, only because you pressed the wrong confusingly named button.

But what the heck, games are like music to me. When there is nothing decent coming out I return to the past and I play/listen to the old stuff. Nothing beats the classics.
Offline Jayhost

Junior Newbie





« Reply #16 - Posted 2013-04-25 15:50:21 »

I think Chris Pruett of Robot Invader wrote a really fantastic article about the F2P model.

Wind Up Knight (by Robot Invader) does a really good job of making all of the game accessible to those who are TIME RICH.

http://robotinvader.com/blog/?p=322

I'm new here btw. Looking to collaborate with some people and grow as a game/rogue developer/artist.

Offline novasharp

Junior Member


Medals: 1
Projects: 1


Gamemaker


« Reply #17 - Posted 2013-04-25 19:04:10 »

Are there any games that are advertising supported by way of advertisments playing on billboards, etc... in game. So like the user walks by a "holo-ad" projector (or whatever the equivalent would be) in game and it plays an actual ad sponsored by an actual company?

novasharp
Offline gimbal

JGO Knight


Medals: 25



« Reply #18 - Posted 2013-04-26 07:24:58 »

I believe some Battlefield game (the futuristic one) had something like that. At least I remember reading about it, I don't play the games myself.
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