Thursday, October 26, 2017

Loot and Fools, Part Two

So there's a way to be fair about this?


#1 Pay-to-win game modes should be walled off from other modes. 
Pretty simple, isn't it? If developers have a mode where paying extra increases the power or skill of a character, just label it as such. Leave the other modes alone.

#2 In non pay-to-win modes, in-game purchases should be limited to cosmetic items only. 
Again, it's just not that complicated.

#3 Have players pay for additional content, not ability. 
Add content (side missions, alternate story lines) that people pay for instead of selling a "+7 Sword of Unwavering Purchase Price in Conjunction with Cheetos and Mountain Dew."

Now I'm afraid that someone in game marketing will read this and go "Wait--an RPG where the final battle is on a mountain. Mountain Dew!"

On, the horror.

I'm just waiting for the driving game five years from now where the initial purchase price gets you a set of tracks and a character.

No cars.

You have to buy the cars as in-game purchases, but no worry! If you don't want to do that, you can just earn them through regular gameplay, walking your character from car lot to car lot. On average, it's only four hours in real-time between lots. Except the people who did buy cars get bonus experience points if they can find you and run you down, which resets your journey back to the beginning.

I don't people will mind. Unless we see data that says they do, of course. Until then, it's just random people complaining on the Internet.

Now, will big companies willingly do this? Of course not. So, for consumer protection, this falls on the software ratings boards (ESRB in the U.S., PEGI in Europe). Games shouldn't just be listed as having IAP, they should be listed by types:
IAP-S in-app purchases related to story content
IAP-C in-app purchases of cosmetic items
IAP-A in-app purchases of character ability

Something like that would give us the clearer information on what we're buying (and what we haven't bought yet). Right now, it's just too easy to confuse the paying customers.

Whenever someone in the game industry tells you this is "complicated", don't believe them. It's not. What's complicated is squeezing every penny out of our pockets. Being even-handed, and clearly labeling a game and what's inside, isn't complicated at all.

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