Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Loot and Fools

An interesting article: Loot boxes: Future of AAA or a monetisation misfire?

Takeaway: boy, the gaming industry is clueless about this.

A few excerpts:
Hidden Path's Jeff Pobst, who previously discussed this subject with us, says the audience has contributed to escalating costs.

"What players may not realise is their expectation that each game in a series gets bigger and better and has more content and looks more modern than before... means it is likely going to cost more to make. The creators are going to want to find a way to cover those new costs as well."

So it's our fault, apparently.

Does the very presence of microtransactions in full-price games really affect that many people, especially when so many publishers stress that they are optional?

"I don't know the numbers, but my experience tells me this is probably the case," says Cousins.

He continues: "Until we have hard data that the presence of loot boxes in a given title is negatively affecting sales and profitability, rather than just being a thing people talk about on the internet, we should not worry about messaging issues."

Oh, my. So things that your customers talk about on the Internet are nothing to worry about.

"Personally, I'm not sure that individual game mechanics or features such as loot boxes are themselves the driving issue for players when you see outcry or concern about the fairness of a game, its feature set, or its monetisation," Pobst explains.

So what people are saying they're angry about is not really what they're angry about. Interesting.

This is also a message that sometimes gets lost in the outrage: in most cases, microtransactions in full-price games are entirely optional. Following the initial outburst, Shadow of War design director Bob Roberts told our sister site Eurogamer that the team had developed the entire game without the loot boxes activated in order to ensure balance.

Sure, that happened. I totally believe that.

Just quoting what these people are saying makes them sound like echo chamber fools.

Here are two postulates.
#1 In-game purchases for non-cosmetic items will, by definition, affect gameplay and game balance.

#2 Adjusting game balance to maximize in-game purchases will, by definition, worsen the quality of the experience for the non-paying player.

Those postulates are immovable.

The gaming industry is trying to min-max the expenditure, not the experience. For them to claim that it's not affecting gameplay is embarrassing. The chances of that not affecting the experience are exactly zero percent.

This isn't gaming. It's behavioral psychology for the sole purpose of increasing the likelihood of a player spending additional money.

Pretty bullshit, huh?

But wait, there's actually a way to be fair about this. We'll talk about it tomorrow.

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