Microtransactions, DLC, Games as a service

Saw the BF V thread going a bit off the rails, and feel like we could with a space to talk about industry practices.

Also aware that the topic appeared to be getting a tad heated, so please, let’s try to agree to disagree if we don’t see eye to eye?

Right, with that out of the way…

It’s quite apparent that beyond just the mechanical aspects of games these days we have to be wary of/pay attention to the business models of them.

We’ve all had this experience in some form or another via the BF franchise, and many of us have played F2P games like War Thunder, World of Tanks etc. With the recent news about Battlefront II and legislation that may be coming from Europe regarding Loot boxes, it seems more important now to discuss what we really think about the whole monetisation of the online aspects of this hobby.

So here’s my main question: regardless of the method of implementation, whether cosmetic, game play adjusting or simply a pay to shortcut vs. time, what are people’s thoughts on this monetisation? What would be best way to support a game franchise if it focusses on being a constant “live” service? Should big name franchises even try if they’re just going to be a Sequel in a year anyway?

I, personally, see lootboxes as unnecessary cash grabs, regardless of content. There’s better ways to sell content that don’t require a chance mechanic. My biggest grievance with the business models being implemented is they override any discussion about the game, the mechanics or whether its fun or not. They’re distracting from what makes us play games in the first place - not to gain shiny gear but to have a good time, whether it’s playing as a soldier with magical first aid abilities or driving a tank through a building with fancy FX.

Other DLCs though, and direct payments for shiny skins? Sure, I’m ok with that. That’s fixed content and a fixed price. So long as what I’m buying ain’t ruining the balance or someone else’s day that’s grand. Titanfall 2 had an excellent model. So does, in a way, BF before “Premium” became a thing.

2 Likes

Loot boxes, (FIFA) Ultimate Team packs and all other variants, indeed are a complete cash grab, I hate them… But in same cases like Rocket League, a percentage of this goes to creating free game content for all and also funds cash prizes for tournaments.

Fornite BR has a good way dealing with skins etc, you have a base level of challenges you can complete for rewards. But you can also buy a “Battlepass” for about £7.99 which lasts the whole season, you have a whole bunch of challenges to complete daily and weekly to go up tiers (all the way to 100) I think when you get to tier 51 you have enough currency rewarded to fund next season’s battlepass.

Paid for skins I’m totally okay with. XP boosters are a grey area depending on the game.

Short cut kits like found in BF strangely I’m okay with, as these tend to come out a few months after release (correct me if I’m wrong)

But all in all, I favour CD Projekt Reds stance on DLC. Quests, gear etc free then big meaty expansions for a very reasonable price. But I guess only single player games can really do this and all should IMHO.

1 Like

I’m (as I have said in other threads) against any sort of pay to win or short cut packs. I dont think its fair on the people who want to play the game proper, and/or can’t afford to pay for these. If you want to pay for a skin to have a stupid colour gun, then work away. Doesn’t affect me, apart from me thinking some of them are stupid. Personally, I dont like gun skins that are stupid, if they fit the game (woodland camo/sand camo/etc) then yeah, I can see the point in them. A bright pink hello kity M1 Grand while storming D-Day, WHY???

AS for Loot boxes, I dont mind them to a degree> I enjoy getting them and seeing whats inside, but thats just the gambler in me. I’ll never pay for them but if there is in game money that you earn, i’ll spend it on that. Paying for them is just praying on younger gamers who what the same skins as their friends, and as we have seen, can lead to all sorts of trouble by using the rents credit card and I dont think they should be in game. I know I have just said I like and dont mind them and then said they should not be in game but only if they are “free” or earned not paid for with really money.

As for DLC/expansion packs, if they give good content and at a good price, I dont mind. What I dont like is games giving 2 maps, one is a reworking of an old map from the game before and then charging £50 quid.

f2p games are different all together. I under stand why they sell stuff to keep the game free, but again if they turn in to pay 2 win, I dont like it and will stop playing

1 Like

loot boxes that have only cosmetics i couldn’t give a shit whether they’re earned, bought, hacked or whatever. When i see someone with a garish pink and gold skin that they paid for, i don’t feel annoyed, i feel pity. That sucks for the people who put time in to those things to earn them as it devalues their achievement, but that’s for them to have thoughts or feelings about. The ones paying money are ‘funding game development’ (clearly not the case, they’re funding publishers and their share prices). When i see someone else using them it doesn’t ruin my enjoyment of the game; if it did i think i’d reconsider whether i enjoyed that game enough to be playing it.

Expensive versions of games doesn’t bug me either; it’s not new, it’s just you get more than the game now. SF2 on the megadrive was 65 quid at launch in '93, that’s around 110-120 quid with inflation, for a single game with no future support, no additional content (you have to buy a new copy of the game for that). It was the first one that high (60 quid had happened), and wouldn’t stay the most expensive (virtua racing was 70 quid).

The issue with kids ‘gambling’ on lootboxes, that’s not a videogame issue, videogames are just a more recent medium for this behaviour. When you were a kid, as now, you could buy things where the contents were random and there was a marketed desire to collect all of the things. You might not have collected them, but the ‘exploit the children’ behaviour is unchanged.

If you are a listed company, you have one product, your share price. Everything else is marketing; whatever form of stuff to get people to see your company as successful and raise it’s value accordingly. This applies to all industries that make things, including videogames, so the same behaviours will be present.

Expecting greed to stay out of any industry is unrealistic; greed is human culture, so it’ll be a driving part of everything we do. If you can change that, i suggest making whatever sacrifice you can to do so, but I can’t so I don’t spend much time hung up on it; the demographic most publishers choose to target now is much larger and more profitable than any containing myself so I’ve no way to effect change.

BF shortcut kits i have no issue with; they have been delayed until after launch like Pip says and they don’t provide anything particularly game changing; as Reno mentioned in the BF5 thread, in BF1 the guns are sidegrades at best, there isn’t a ‘better’ kit you can buy, just more choice.

Trying to change the industry won’t do shit because you’ll still have the same people with the same behaviour; both those willing to exploit, and those willing to pay them for being exploited. And we’ll always have children/stupid people around to be exploited. Any decisive action would need to be undertaken across multiple nations and cultures, so that’s extremely unlikely to happen.

I guess my suggestion would be we all stop giving a shit about it and just focus on finding things we can enjoy playing, but i respect some people want to put a lot of effort into discussing but not doing anything about the problem, especially all the people that think typing their opinion on the internet makes them some kind of journalist (yes you, gawker/future), and have a vested interest in trying to wind people up so they can claim what they wrote was revelatory or of significance or some kind of public service when they’re really just trolling the public to get their jollies.

DLC works fine for me, we had addons in the past with physical media and DLC allows more flexibility for the same. If stuff gets taken out of what should be a core game and you have to pay extra it depends what the total cost is i guess; as with SF2 and every ‘expensive’ game in the following 25 years, it’s all relative and down to what you feel a game is worth.

Games as a service is tricky; subscriptions can be overpriced. No way WoW cost blizz anywhere near that per player account per month, but by launch had a large sunk cost to cover the development, and has continued to develop content for years. Other stuff is harder; F2P games need monetisation somewhere so they can afford to run infrastructure, and one time purchases aren’t guaranteed to provide funding for hosting theirs . It would suck to buy a game, enjoy it, only to found out it sold poorly so the servers get taken down while you’re still playing it. You can’t expect whoever’s making a profit to sacrifice their profit for your entertainment, and you agree that you’re okay with that when you make a purchase.

I suspect there are actually plenty of communities that avoid these issues entirely, ZiiP happens to be in the space where we’re larger than most games provide groups for (3, 4, 5 players seem to be the ideal target but can be insufficient for us), but not large enough to warrant our own servers for things (we can’t populate a 60 player BF/Arma server effectively), but there are clearly games which do support communities operating ‘behind closed doors;’ as it were, to avoid all the grief you get when you interact with the general public and so that (where supported) they can run servers in accordance with the way they want to play the game. Few of these are FPS shooters though, so we have little interest in playing them, or we need to try and fit into someone elses server/ideal of how they want to play the game.

I agree with you on titanfall having a very solid model, if only the skill level in the multiplayer for pilot combat didn’t have a ridiculously high ceiling I’d probably play it more. I’m fine with BF1 too as the boxes are cosmetics (ignore) and there’s no pay to win. Premium makes it costly, but not beyond reason. Overwatch is another solid example; there’s a lot of cosmetic stuff and the emotes that i’m not fussed about, while the game is solid, and you get the whole thing for the single (reasonable) fixed price.

I think a lot of people care a lot more than I do, but i also feel like these are all symptoms of how people behave in general, it’s just gaming is now large enough exhibit them wholesale and we still remember when it was niche enough not to. You’ll find the same in any hobby/industry/thing that involves enough people for someone to have noticed and thought ‘i could profit from that’. Consider when cars were what people had just invented, then became things that hobbyists worked on, before becoming widespread based on profitability. same with aircraft, tv broadcast, pre-prepared food, lightbulbs, radio, books etc. I have no expectation that gaming would be any different because it’s still humans running the show, making it inevitable.

I apologise for my wall of word thoughts.

2 Likes

There are multiple factors that need to be looked at in my opinion.

Let’s take a game. Let’s call it BattleDuty: Unknownwatch It has an RRP of £39.99

It has multiple guns and unlocks for certain weapons as well as unlockable abilities. Everything is achievable by playing the game. That’s the first rule: You should be able to achieve everything that affects the gameplay through normal play.

It’s Day 1 on launch. Everyone starts with a basic loadout and looks forward to the long slog of unlocking everything over the next year or so. Awesome. But the publishers have also released booster packs that allow you to complete a character classes range of weapons for just £8.99.

That’s not good - and ultimately unfair, so rule two is don’t give advantage to people when the game is new… say within the first 6 months.

But flipping that forward… the game is now 2 years old. Everyone who plays is a master of it and has unlocked everything. The publisher does a special weekend deal of £9.99 and lots of new players join. Whilst the game balance is good in BattleDuty: Unknownwatch - and it is still possible to play effectively with the entry level weapons - the new players still have a distinct disadvantage - this is where the packs for £8.99 are valid - They can buy a couple of booster packs in areas they enjoy, match those that have been playing longer (but won’t be as good, because they don’t know the maps etc) and end up paying towards the original RRP price in total.

That is how I think paid items should work. There is definitely 2 sides to the coin.

As for cosmetic lootboxs and stuff… They are all bollocks - especially when the game ships for a premium RRP. In many games over the years, there have been skins for characters and guns… I normally scroll through until I find something that vaguely catches my eye, and select it… or… I don’t - some things have no visual customisation at all because I can’t be bothered. So in games that cost a lot upfront, I consider it a cheek. In F2P titles, or cheaper games… I think it is a bit of harmless fun that you either pay and join in with… or don’t.

1 Like

Want to spend a bit of time putting a proper response together but thought it was worth touching on something Adrock mentioned:

I do have a bit of a problem with other people buying them, it’s a slippery slope argument, but an argument I feel is valid when the success of mobile game microtransactions spurred the wider video game market to pick up the same business models and the subsequent successes of these adopters have further spurred each other on.

But the bigger problem I have is when the microtransactions are placed in prime screen realestate so frequently - It is impossible to play even a single game of BF1 without encountering EA’s push to get you to part with your cash. This sort of practice begins to border on the predatory when it strays further towards the likes of Destiny 2 where players were forced through a market front plastered with microtransaction ads as part of the core game.

A lot of gamers have been desensitised to microtransactions to the point where they miss that the content being sold to you is old content repackaged behind a paywall.

Done properly, there are scenarios where I don’t have problems with DLC, Loot boxes or other microtransactions. Where this breaks down for me is the greed at the expense of any part of the experience, cosmetic or not. Some feel this is entitlement - maybe it is - but when content that used to be free has a price tag added and it is sold to me under the banner of ‘player choice’ or ‘paying for more costly development’ when in reality it is an attempt to create a new revenue stream on top of the huge profits already being made from the base (now incomplete) game, someone is pissing in my pocket and telling me its raining.

I’ll write something more substantial up later that highlights my issues, highlights who/what I feel are the worst offenders and highlights areas where I feel it is being done if not well then at least in a far more palatable way.

And sorry to @adrock, quoting one sentence from your post wasn’t intended to be any sort of attack or shit flinging, it prompted a brain fart I wanted to contribute.

1 Like

no bother, didn’t take it that way at all.

i think you’ve touched on something i maybe failed to convey; I find it really easy to ignore this stuff and it doesn’t tend to affect my enjoyment of the game. Sure, it occasionally bothers me when a game seems to be adding non-stop cosmetic stuff rather than fixing issues or adding non-cosmetic content (R6), but not to the point i stop enjoying the game, if it did i don’t imagine i’d keep playing it.

What's wrong with R6 is a different issue for me

They can’t fix R6 because they’ve added too many variables (characters and maps) to be able to do so. All they can do now is keep changing things in the hope that over the lifetime of the game it achieves some kind of equilibrium from customer feedback which no individual player is ever likely to experience in-game. I have an issue with them choosing to take that path to keep pushing the optionally paid-for content each ‘season’, but again that’s an issue with people being dicks.

Even stuff like warthunder where the interface is entirely built around trying to sell you the premium aspects of the game (seriously, you can just let people buy the regular base currency, or the actual items, but having an additional paid-for in-game currency on every menu seems excessive), i don’t find these things detract from the actual game, they’re a minor annoyance that occurs between me deciding to play a game, and actually playing it. but then so is having to launch the game, connect to voice comms, navigate menus designed by a clown, mute in-game voice comms, join a party/group, find a server/endure matchmaking; and some of those bother me far more.

I never noticed anything in Destiny 2. I was aware people took issues with it, but i honestly don’t remember encountering anything in game or in the menus. I’m assuming i must have, and skipped over them, or that there would’ve been stuff on the launcher maybe? But i can’t remember any. I mention that to illustrate the point i made above rather than to debate the point you’ve made regarding it.

1 Like

I have paid hundreds of pounds into Wargaming - MY choice. If it’s free, then expect to pay - it’s a business model and fair enough for us lot - we’re adults.

Would I rather have paid £60 and no more? HELL yes. I don’t like the whole “pay to win” shit. Also, cosmetics is aimed at kids, so for me is an absolute not “for a look”.

O and anyone seen Star Citizens top package…? IIRC, about £13k. And yes, you read that right. It’s exploitation. Or is it opportunity for the buyers?

I suspect it will only get “worse” due to epsorts. And IF I was good enough to be able to exploit it - would I? HELL yes! if I can “invest” a few quid in summat to get £££ out, I would. But for “casual” gamers, it pisses me off. At least the companies should be open about WTF they are doing…

1 Like

$27,000 package was just announced…

1 Like

I MAY or may not have had a drinky, so the real figure eluded me :wink:

1 Like

the whole unlock packs or short cut kits argument is weak to me as if some one wants to either save them self time and spend cash to get a gun or unlock. Thats up to the as they may value there time more then there money some people are in positions to do that and more power to them.

Also the point stands if say i don’t get BFV for a year for what ever reason and every one eals plays since day one and i then join in i have nothing they have every thing is that fair? yes/no depends on your point of view but having the option to catch up to my mates is fine or like i did in BF1 i play in a squad and catch up by playing the game as a squad either way the situation is the same in the end.

It’s all about choice and whats more important to the individual there time or there money.

No, it’s not, Rich. As per Amazon thread, data and business models show that since “mugs” will still pay, there is no reason to change the business model from a “now” business perspective. Why the need to change if the return on investment is still so large? When it reduces, then spend on looking at / devising different models.

Welcome to capitalism. :wink:

It’s not capitalism. It’s about greed. The two are entwined, but still distinctly different.

i get easily annoyed with theses arguments so img gonna say one last thing and call it with this

if you don’t like this practice then DON’T buy games with this type of model in there simple but if you do buy the game in knowledge that the game has this system in place shut up and move on. Fuck them companies making money right? what a bunch of cunts then right? You vote with your wallet if people did want and use the system it would change or get replaced but people do use it and it is there CHOICE nothing is forced on some one so who fucking cares what some one eals wants to do?

also call me a mug then as i spend my money on loot boxes in Overwatch and a few other games i had the cash spare this month so i spent some on a game that i have already had my fair share of value from so thats that ok?

FFS is a sodding video game at the end of the day who fucking care if you can spend more money on something and if some one CHOOSES to. Not your cup of tea fine but stop the bitch and leave it or live with it.

BFV does seem to be stopping all this. Is this a start of a change back to how it was before?

I couldn’t careless how people spend their money, its theirs, do with it as you want. My issue comes when someone can throw money at a game that gives them an advantage from the start. That’s not fair. Not everyone can buy a game at 50 quid and then throw more money at it after a week or 2 and get all the unlocks that make you better. That’s bullshit to me. If the games been out a year or more, less worried about it, as long as its done in a fair way.

New laws coming into some regions, will have a big effect on loot boxes. I can see a lot of games dropping them if these laws start to spread. People will always spend money on games they like. I do it with Arma, but thats for new content. I’ve no issues with that.

Far, far more to it than what you’re boiling it down to and you’re suggesting that any discussion about the ins and outs of each implementation or the moral and ethical aspects of these systems be shut down.

That isn’t what this thread is about, this thread is explicitly discussing them, not discussing if we should.

is it 2004? no time change and as i point out time and time again hammy that you seem to be ignoring havign access to some guns early makes next to no diffrence at all if thats such a problem for you don’t play games with that in there then

I think we agree that people can spend what they want, how the want on what they want. For cosmetic stuff - that makes no difference to the gameplay, only the visuals. I personally see no difference to people paying for that as any different to someone spending money on designer accessories or on music or on a car. For me, not my cup of tea. Gaming is a hobby most of us love, spend a lot of time on - and when you breakdown cost vs hours of enjoyment - it does work out generally good value for money.

For things that do adjust the dynamic and balance of the game, it is a problem. Sure - don’t buy it is one argument - and to be honest, there are many games that I (and probably others) don’t because of it. However, people are still entitled to an opinion on such games and the way the market adopts them. Afterally, if it is found to be a successful model once, it is usually replicated elsewhere.

Finally, please keep this thread amicable.

the argument that if some one buy a short cut pack is ‘unfair’ is silly as i ahev said time and time again, lets use BF4 as a example.

jes plays the game from launch say and has unlocked alot if not all the content he can

i start playing 4 years after the games out i have nothing unlocked is it fair jester has more guns then me now? by your logic yes he has more then me so thats unfair?

xander plays at any poiint in the games life buys shortcut pack for class has guns he wants and plays the game is that unfair ? no, he hasn’t got a super ak47 that shoots magic dragon bullets that tear holes in reality he has the same gun jester has and the same gun i will get it makes no diffrent as the gun is in the game from the start and would onyl be an issue for a short time if any PLUS wanna lvl quick PLAY THE OBJECTIVES and SQUAD play lots of points = unlocks faster and said guns?

have i said the clearly?

Reno, you have completely missed my point. I’ve said in case where it gives you an advantage early in the game, so maybe I haven’t been putting that across well enough or you’ve misunderstood me.