Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A damning verdict for the traditional business model

Time is going by, and the buzz around the two Pokémon F2P spin-offs, Shuffle and Rumble 4, is simply not dying down. We're fast reaching the point where the only Pokémon spin-offs that had that kind of weight were the ones from the 1998-2001 era when Pokémon was absolutely freaking everywhere. Snap, Stadium, that TCG game, that sort of stuff. And I don't think this is a coincidence: I believe it has everything to do with the games being F2P. And it's not like both games use the same general backbone in terms of microtransactions: while Shuffle is known for its voracious appetite for your hard-earned pay (elevating the boiling hatred many people bear towards Mega Mawile to a whole new level in the process), you can buy Rumble 4 altogether for less than the price of a new copy of Rumble 2 almost four years after release.

And I'm at a complete loss as to what causes this. Is it because of the possibility to try out a game before buying it? Maybe? I have no idea. What I do know, though, is that whenever greedy pigs like higher-ups from Activision, EA or Ubisoft tell you gamers are embracing F2P, they're not talking out of their asses to piss off so-called "hardcore gamers". They're making a statement that, like it or not, was proven true time and time again. It's almost certain it has more to do with consumers in general being morons that are easily parted with their money because they don't want to do their research than with the merit of the F2P model or the quality of the F2P games themselves (a large percentage of which easily fall in the shovelware category).

At least I can't see another reason why Shuffle and Rumble 4 are so much more popular than other spin-offs, especially in the latter's case since there were three other Rumble games before this one, and no one gave a crap. Heck, we've had some damn fine spin-offs over the years. Conquest and MD2 were both absolute masterpieces, despite the latter being a critical disaster (WHY?!?). Ranger 2 and 3, as well as Rumble 2, were also pretty solid games. And yet no one gave them a look because they weren't part of the main series. People are just now discovering the Pokémon spin-off universe, and it just so happens to occur at a time when it starts exploring the F2P realm. Does it mean that if your game isn't AAA material, it's better to just have it be F2P instead? Maybe not to that extreme, but the fact that this is happening is rather disheartening.

4 comments:

  1. I was listening to a podcast with a small game developer recently, and they were talking about how they think it's possible we're going to start seeing regulation of F2P games with exploitative microtransactions. The science behind these games involves manipulating people into becoming addicted, and video game addiction is starting to be viewed as a serious health issue. It's even worse when this addiction is exploited to essentially trick people out of their money.

    Regulation or not, this is not a sustainable long-term business model. We're seeing cases now of people going broke over these kinds of games, people who are in the hole of addiction as deeply as drug addicts. Awareness of this problem is growing, and the whole F2P model is starting to be viewed as inherently negative. They're almost like the cigarettes of gaming, and I'm predicting we're going to see a similar decline in use on a much smaller timescale.

    I'm actually thinking this problem and a lot of others within the game industry might lead to another crash soon. Big publishers like EA are very clearly unconcerned about making quality products, but rather cheap products designed to get as much money from you as possible using whatever tactic necessary to that end. Consumers are catching on, though.

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    1. SV's first paragraph: AKA why modern mobile games can be successful, no matter how mundane or simplistic their design is(coughFlappyBirdcough). I'm all for laissez faire and the inexorable progress of science, but at what point does using the science for business ventures become excessive and cheap? I mean, sure, as far as capitalism goes, consumers should do some research and gain knowledge related to the product they want to purchase beforehand. However, when you start relying on one idea and don't try to make backup plans in case of imminent or not completely foreseeable failure, human intention can only excuse so much before it leaves a detrimental stain on your reputation.

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    2. Important enough for South Park to cover, even...

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  2. I apologize for the off-topic comment, but WOW... people can't process through their thick heads that the storyline of a Pokémon game makes little to no difference in terms of the quality of the games. All I'll say is: Don't scroll through some of the comments of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhOKrW9t9H8

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