Wednesday, June 26, 2013

(Not so) Free to play games...

Does anyone remember arcades?  You know, those locker room smelling, dusty, grimy, sawdust floored dens of iniquity that our parents hated and loved at the same time?

Why the mixed feelings?  Well, because they knew they were going to shill out some cash when we saw one, but at the same time, for a few quarters they could leave their kids unattended (yeah they did that in the 80's and 90's) and get some errands run, or some shopping done, or whatever.

The reason I bring up arcades is simple.  Developers have figured out how to get back to the money making scheme that arcades represented.  Bear with me.

You see, for 25¢ at a time, I could play a game, right up until it got hard enough that I couldn't, but alas, I could continue for another 25¢.  And I did so readily, pumping in quarter after quarter.

Want to take a guess as to how much I spent on games like Donkey Kong, Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat and Tekken?  I would put the estimation in the thousands.  That's not exaggeration on my part.  I'm being literal.  Now, want to know how much I payed for Street Fighter X Tekken?  $19.99

This is the problem facing developers today.  They can charge you one price for the original and like so many gamers, I'm only interested in a select few DLC offerings.  I certainly don't buy all of them, and I'm certain that I'm not the only one, so that $19.99 (that went into Gamestop's pocket not Capcom's since the game was purchased used) is all I will ever spend on that game.  Let's say I go all out, and pay full price and even preorder (Tomb Raider was awesome, by the way), even then I won't necessarily buy the DLC, so that $59.99 is all they will ever get from me.  EVER.

The money men (check any of the developers' CFO's out and see if they are actually gamers) know that this business model is limited, because you will usually only get a single purchase per customer.  This is unacceptable to them.  They want you paying again, and again, and again, for the same content.

It's just like being in the arcade again.  Yeah, it only costs a quarter, but multiply those quarters by several years, and you start talking in terms of thousands of dollars.  Multiply that by millions of customers...

Yes.  THAT much money.

And make no mistake, companies like Zynga aren't charging you quarters.  They're charging dollars upon dollars.  EA got bit in the ass with their approach to Dead Space 3, and layoffs ensued because the customer s spoke out, and didn't even hesitate to let EA know that they thought this was a bullshit way to deal with loyal patrons.  OF course all anyone wants to talk about is how outrageous it is that EA was voted worst company 2 years running.  Maybe instead of making excuses, they should take a step back and realize that people aren't nearly as stupid as they thought, and that we DO know when we are getting screwed.

I know.  That argument is WAY too logical.  It has no place in the Game Business world.

The fact is, the gaming companies that are using this business model are no longer nickel and diming you, or even quartering you - no they're now 5 and ten dollaring you.

Let me know how that tastes, because I want none of it.

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