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Who Killed Videogames?

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the zynga-in-the-cloud-with-the-microtransactions dept.

Businesses 401

jjp9999 writes "Video game developer and novelist Tim Rogers exposes the underbelly of free-to-play games that use real-world currency. They're not trying to entertain you — they're trying to get you hooked. Every minute you play is being analyzed by men in suits reeling you into a cycle of addiction so they can keep you coming for more, and hopefully opening your wallet to buy premium points here and there. To do this, they intentionally give you an hour's worth of gameplay dragged out over the course of a week to keep it on your mind, dropping coins here and there for you to pick up, and playing on your own sense of work and profit to keep you coming back."

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same as with everything else (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727026)

capitalism

Re:same as with everything else (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727046)

Its not capitalism its greed.

Re:same as with everything else (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727218)

Enhanced by capitalism and the need for money.

Re:same as with everything else (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727302)

Is there a difference?

Re:same as with everything else (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727308)

capitalism is a manifestation of greed, by definition

Re:same as with everything else (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727314)

Its not capitalism its greed.

There's a difference?

Re:same as with everything else (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727404)

Capitalism is greed. Eliminate greed and it becomes communism.

Re:same as with everything else (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727422)

4/10

would not troll again.

Re:same as with everything else (2)

maguxs (2350904) | about 3 years ago | (#37727434)

same thing

Re:same as with everything else (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 years ago | (#37727100)

More subtle than that, arguably.

Consider this bit from TFA:
"An ex-drug-dealer (now a video game industry powerbrain) once told me that he doesn’t understand why people buy heroin. The heroin peddler isn’t even doing heroin. Like him or not, when you hear Cliff Bleszinski talk about Gears of War, he sounds — in a good way — like a weed dealer. He sounds like he endorses what he is selling. When you’re in a room with social games guys, the “I never touch the stuff” attitude is so thick you’ll need a box cutter to breathe properly."

With the traditional, boxed lump-'o-retail game, there was a certain necessary straightforwardness, possibly even honesty about the thing: You make the game and either get my $50 or not. Even if you are merely calculating, you still want to make a fun game, because you need me to buy it. If you are genuinely enthusiastic about games, you also want to make a fun game.

Once you get into the world of DLC and MMORPGs and such, you are in a sort of intermediate position: There is still the upfront purchase; but you have a constant nagging incentive to see what you can get away with in terms of sucking me in for another month's grind, or making some downloaded component semi-obligatory.

Once you get to "freemium", our interests are more or less at odds: I'm a net loss to you as long as I play for free, so you have an incentive to try every dirty trick in the book to 'monetize' me, and create a game that induces payment without ever overtly demanding it.

It's ironic, actually, that the "casual" games would be the ones where this rather ugly dynamic is strongest. The stereotype(not 100% without supporting anecdotes, but rather overplayed) is that the 'serious' gamers are the ones where the hardcore addictions are; but that is the area where the publisher's incentive to create addictive gameplay is weakest: You already have my $60, you want me to enjoy myself so I'll buy the sequel; but you gain nothing from sucking away my life. On the casual side, you start with nothing from me, and you have to scrape it out one microtransaction at a time...

Re:same as with everything else (5, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about 3 years ago | (#37727384)

I was hooked on Mafia Wars for a few months, until I realized how much time I was wasting for nothing. So-called "social media" games are anything but. There is no social aspect to them at all -- no in-game conversation, no player messaging support, nothing. Anyone with a headset and an XBox experiences more social interaction while gaming than on Crackbook.

Once I stepped back from them, I realized you couldn't even really call them "games". There is no winning or losing, only perpetual grinding for enough points/items to accomplish a mission, after which you eternally move on to the next mission that they've added in the meantime.

There is no skill involved, no choice involved, and no thought involved. Just keep clicking long enough, and you'll get to the "next level."

I'd call them Ponzi schemes, except you were never promised anything of use or value if you choose to spend real money on them.

Re:same as with everything else (1, Insightful)

TechLA (2482532) | about 3 years ago | (#37727406)

The funny thing is that it's pretty much direct result of piracy. Do you remember all the posts on Slashdot that told record labels and developers to adapt to changing times? Well quite frankly, they did. The results is this - free games with microtransactions, impossible to pirate. All of you actually demanded it, so don't cry now.

Just as a side note, even though I owned TF2 before, it's really enjoyable even as free2play and the item store.

Re:same as with everything else (1)

mikkelm (1000451) | about 3 years ago | (#37727464)

People didn't demand negative adaptation. People demanded positive adaptation. You're really straining to be insightful if you're trying to claim that people asked to have it worse.

Re:same as with everything else (1, Insightful)

TechLA (2482532) | about 3 years ago | (#37727516)

That still doesn't change the fact that it's a direct result of it, and people actually demanded the adaption. Actions usually have consequences, sometimes bad (even though Valve has shown that you can do f2p model good way too). Development still needs to be funded, and people wanted free games. Well, here they are.

However, you do still have lots of normal games too. Those aren't gone even though Facebook has casual games for other people. It just means the gaming market has grown, especially with girls and women.

Re:same as with everything else (2)

digitig (1056110) | about 3 years ago | (#37727518)

Clearly the free games with microtransactions are adaptive. People didn't realise what they were asking for, but yes, they asked for it and are rewarding it.

I think Quake modders hit all the potential games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727512)

I think a bunch of the various, popular genres were hit within a few years by Quake modders. Carmack and company selling the technology, and many semi skilled modders, making the simple gameplay types, worked very well. I miss the days of the various quake mods, and the full servers. I think I'll play some unreal right now :)

Re:same as with everything else (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | about 3 years ago | (#37727524)

The funny thing is that it's pretty much direct result of piracy. Do you remember all the posts on Slashdot that told record labels and developers to adapt to changing times? Well quite frankly, they did. The results is this - free games with microtransactions, impossible to pirate. All of you actually demanded it, so don't cry now.

That is so completely unrelated that I can't even be sure you read the summary. Social games are a different sector of the industry than conventional games. In fact, one could probably consider them a completely different industry given that their demographics have nearly no overlap and their business models are completely different. Social games are not designed to be "fun", but addictive. They hire psychologists and shit to determine the most effective ways of getting people hooked on their crappy sort-of-games. The conventional gaming industry profits on making fun games... they don't need you to be addicted to make money off you because they already have your money. Piracy has nothing to do with the social games industry because it's not like game designers stopped making conventional games and switched to social games in response to it..... get it?

Just as a side note, even though I owned TF2 before, it's really enjoyable even as free2play and the item store.

Also completely unrelated. TF2 is a conventional video game that started as pay-to-own. Valve only switched to F2P after they had already made millions selling the game to nearly everybody who would ever in their lives wish to play it and came up with a different business model as a way to profit further from those who have hundreds or thousands of hours in-game (I myself have almost 600 hours... but haven't played it in probably over a year). TF2 is not a game designed solely with addiction in mind like social games are.

Re:same as with everything else (1)

TreeInMyCube (1789238) | about 3 years ago | (#37727466)

Calling them games is similar to calling Solitaire a game, or calling the various betting-related activities in a casino "gaming." Yes, poker and blackjack require a measure of skill, but craps and roulette are just contests against random events. People derive enjoyment during the "pastimes", and that keeps them coming back. The obvious difference between casino games and social online games is that the casino stacks the probabilities so that the house always wins, and the player always loses, in the long term. For social games, the player does win ... the farm gets bigger, the points pile up. Would you call pinball a "game"? Can you win anything in solitaire/freecell beyond the satisfaction of clearing all the cards?

Re:same as with everything else (0)

andresa (2485876) | about 3 years ago | (#37727566)

Poker is also just a game based on pure luck. In the long run you will only end up losing and the casino collects the rakes and profits. The cards that come out are random, the cards that other players have are random, and the cards you have are random. If hit and play until end of the hand, it's completely random which cards come out. You can't win the game with skill, so it's almost like lottery. You can only increase your changes of winning, like in lottery if you buy more tickets. But in the end, the house always wins. You cannot control it.

I haven't read the article, but hear me out here.. (5, Interesting)

intellitech (1912116) | about 3 years ago | (#37727036)

This summary quite literally illustrates exactly what is driving away gamers, and which nothing to do with the games but instead the various companies behind it and their various little pay-as-you-go niches (map packs, songs, excessive subscriptions, etc.). It's all about the various companies involved in the development and marketing of a game, who nearly always turn out to be greedy little pigs. Take, for instance, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and their Double XP Promotion [pcgamer.com] . This really pisses off real gamers (the ones who play a lot and get better through time and practice), and especially pisses off those who had to work hard for their last prestige. One mere example, but, regardless, they really need to knock it off.

Re:I haven't read the article, but hear me out her (2)

oakgrove (845019) | about 3 years ago | (#37727056)

One of the main reasons I stopped playing games is I couldn't stomach the level of intellectual insults I was enduring anymore. And I moved to Linux. That too.

I keed. I keed!

Re:I haven't read the article, but hear me out her (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727262)

The parent poster is obviously not the kind of guy you listen opinion about video gaming since he use MW3 as an example to explain how REAL GAMERS feel about it.

He even add insult to injury by noting that real gamers are those who play a lot AND GET BETTER THROUGH TIME AND PRACTICE, still do I have to remember you that hes talking about MW3 ?

Re:I haven't read the article, but hear me out her (2)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | about 3 years ago | (#37727394)

I am not sure I can agree with you.
You talk about MW but you clearly think of something else than Mech Warrior. I can not support that.

Re:I haven't read the article, but hear me out her (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727290)

wordup oakgrove. nothing like coming home from a long days work, playing some counter-strike to unwind, only to find yourself amidst a gaggle of 13 year olds with names like pizzacunt and pussywrench threatening to lose their virginity on your mother.

Re:I haven't read the article, but hear me out her (3, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#37727088)

You don't have to buy their games. Fortunately the games market - at least for PC's and smart phones - is fairly easy to get into. Yeah ok if you want to talk retail distribution then it's harder if you're not doing it online - getting your game into brick and mortar stores around the world is next to impossible unless you sign with a major publisher. But even the major publishers are moving to online distribution, so the independent has no excuse. The market is coming to expect to be able to download games and apps now. And many, many independent games have achieved surprising success.

Therefore there will always be some game genres that don't follow the mainstream trend - if everyone is monetizing, at some point they are not going to be getting new customers because everyone will be busy playing the non-monetized games. Apart from the occasional idiot who never learns, you can only take people for a ride so often. Eventually people are going to get a feel for these cash-sucking parasites, just like people get a feel for telemarketers or infomercials and instantly switch off, and this "industry" will extinguish itself. I think good games are never going to die because human creativity is never going to die.

Re:I haven't read the article, but hear me out her (1)

TechLA (2482532) | about 3 years ago | (#37727454)

Team Fortress 2 is a great example of a well done f2p game with microtransactions. It feels far from crap game and because you can get those items by just playing, crafting or trading, you don't feel like you're constantly pressured to buy something. However, many people do if they really want some item now, providing the developer with income. I have also used the store a few times when I wanted a specific item for the spy (to complete a set and improve it how I wanted to play), but don't feel like I was pressured to do so even though I also originally bought the game when it came out.

Like with the usual games, many f2p games will be shit. Some will be top-notch. The f2p model doesn't change that.

What comes to games market being easy to get into, sure you can now distribute your game more cheaply. But you need to get financing to actually develop the game, even more so if you plan to work with it full time and have a time. Publishers are still highly required for that, as I doubt you can walk to a bank and ask a few million dollars loan to create a game (and you would still get the risk of the game not selling, and hence you would be unable to pay back the loan).

Re:I haven't read the article, but hear me out her (2, Informative)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | about 3 years ago | (#37727128)

I was actually about to comment on how surprising it is that it took this long for the games industry to mutate to this model. Games have always been ripe for psychological manipulation of the customer, but for the most part until recently game developers had focused solely on the "pure" goal of providing a great experience. Eventually this led to publishers milking franchises to maximize profits, but usually those sequels (like the Elder Scrolls and Fallout) were actually quite good. Now we have "achievements" and "trophies" and other bizarre and meaningless "rewards" mostly unrelated to the actual game experience.

Re:I haven't read the article, but hear me out her (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 3 years ago | (#37727458)

Now we have "achievements" and "trophies" and other bizarre and meaningless "rewards" mostly unrelated to the actual game experience.

When video games started out, we had points and high scores with three-letter winner boards featuring winners like ???, TIT, and POO. Those were pretty meaningless. Then we moved on to computer games, and they kept the arcade style leader boards, which were even more meaningless, then the "send in a letter to the publisher in care of 'I won!' with a self addressed, stamped envelope to receive your certificate of completion of the game. Congratulations!". And then that went away too, so the end cutscene was the reward. Let's face it, no game is going to give out a real reward like a space alien coming to recruit you to be a starfighter in a great galactic battle. We were lucky to have a brief period where good storytelling was the goal of a game. We might get it again, but in the mean-time, just play the old games like I do.

1,450,700 AS_

Re:I haven't read the article, but hear me out her (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 3 years ago | (#37727480)

This has been done in MMOs since the very start. Companies have evolved this over time but from the beginning there have been micro-managed quests doled out in bite sized pieces to provide quick periodic positive feedback.

Re:I haven't read the article, but hear me out her (1)

TechLA (2482532) | about 3 years ago | (#37727486)

It has always been popular model in Asia.

And I don't really agree about achievements.. I think they're nice addition to games, if well done. For example in TF2 the achievements grant you items which you can then use in gameplay, so they're a bit like quests. It also provides more objectives in games - Defense Grid is awesome tower defense game, but I've finished it long time ago. I am, however, still playing it to finish all the missions to get gold medals out of them, or play with specific style (no upgradable towers, use only laser guns etc..) to unlock achievements. Sure, it may be artificial, but in the end what game objectives or quests aren't? They still provide extra value and I actually enjoy doing them, and that's what count. Of course it wont help if the game itself is bad, but it provides nice amount of extra stuff to do.

Re:I haven't read the article, but hear me out her (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about 3 years ago | (#37727184)

There's something wrong when you use "working hard" in a sentence about gaming. Gaming is supposed to be fun, it's not supposed to be work.

Re:I haven't read the article, but hear me out her (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727416)

Tennis is a game. People work at it.

Re:I haven't read the article, but hear me out her (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 3 years ago | (#37727260)

Take, for instance, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and their Double XP Promotion [pcgamer.com]. This really pisses off real gamers (the ones who play a lot and get better through time and practice), and especially pisses off those who had to work hard for their last prestige.

Sure, but you'll still buy it, mate? [penny-arcade.com]

Re:I haven't read the article, but hear me out her (1)

n00bCarnivore (2485852) | about 3 years ago | (#37727368)

That promotion pissed me off to no extent. Any game developer who really cared about his game wouldn't ruin the balance of gameplay with cheap marketing schemes. This guy [wikia.com] seemed to get it right. Too bad the poor sap won't make a dime.

Re:I haven't read the article, but hear me out her (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727414)

You didn't have to "work hard" for anything. Does your XP meter ever go down? No. You sit there and push the buttons, and the game tells you you're good at it.

Re:I haven't read the article, but hear me out her (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 3 years ago | (#37727468)

It's up to the players to recognize this and just avoid what they don't like. This attitude of "omg they just want money!" is naive and stupid. They've always wanted money, they're no more or less evil than they were 10 years ago. The game companies have never been their pals.

If people don't like it they should vote with their wallets. Support good games with good replay value.

This is different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727040)

This is different than any other game? Granted, they're trying to make their $60, but isn't any game designed to "hook" you into "liking" their game? (Or, I should say, "shouldn't any game...")

Re:This is different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727070)

yes nothing new here

Re:This is different? (2)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#37727188)

The difference, according TFA, being that these games intentionally provide variable stimulus (the most powerful type of stimulus according to behavioral psychologists) and diminishing returns in order to maximize profits. A regular game which you paid up front is designed to entertain you. Whether or not you actually finish the game depends on the perceived difficulty of the game, the appeal of the game view (world, story, graphics, physics system, etc) presented to you and your own desire and willingness to keep playing. Whether you actually finish the game or not makes no difference to the creator, he has been paid up front.

What these guys are doing is intentionally manipulating your emotions by constantly dangling candy in front of you, but just out of reach. Every time they see you starting to lose interest, they might move the candy a little closer, every time they see you are really interested they move it a little further. Therefore you are being intentionally manipulated not to achieve satisfaction with the game but rather to achieve you sending them a credit card authorization. Satisfaction will come later, we promise.

Re:This is different? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727224)

"Every time they see you starting to lose interest, they might move the candy a little closer, every time they see you are really interested they move it a little further."

Sounds like /. Every time I log out for a few days, and then log back in, I get mod points; else, not.

Re:This is different? (1)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | about 3 years ago | (#37727450)

The original Civilisation provided variable stimulus enough to never stop playing it. Just another turn syndrome. And it was pretty successful.
It did not, however, use this marketing scheme.

I played the original Counter-Strike for years almost exclusivly and on a daily basis. And that game never really changed, there were no dangling fruits, no mastermind that carefuly crafted my gaming experience. Just the same game every time, about 20 minutes of rahter simpple action and the final scoreboard.

So I don't think that addicting game design and the free to play model are the same thing, or that one is the result of the other.
They just show up in the same games often nowadays.

Re:This is different? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 3 years ago | (#37727488)

So is that how they do it in Farmville? Honestly I don't get that fucking thing, I swear its like crack to females. I've even had women come in and base their computer on how well it would play Farmville!

I saw the same thing with the original Age Of Empires. i thought my old boss Doug was fricking nuts when he brought in a whole box of AoE discs and told me to start installing but he said "Just you watch" and put one of our all in one units in the window playing the demo of AoE. sure enough it wasn't 20 minutes before we had females coming in going "What is that? Age Of Empire?" and our sales went up 25%.

I don't know if they've figured out "the formula" for guys yet but that damned Farmville/Frontierville/Mafia Wars sure does have the females addicted. I've even been paid to make house-calls simply to get Farmville working on a system. man that thing is nuts!

League of Legends (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727052)

I play League of Legends and I don't mind the company selling everything with real money or experience points.

You can pretty much get anything you want by playing the game normally, except for non-game-changing things like skins.

I think there is nothing immoral in trying to make money off a game...

They have to make money somehow.. (1)

thelonesun (2438194) | about 3 years ago | (#37727054)

While I don't approve of the skinner box techniques, they DO have to make money.

Re:They have to make money somehow.. (2)

bmo (77928) | about 3 years ago | (#37727092)

No, they don't have to make money. Profit is not a right.

--
BMO

Re:They have to make money somehow.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727138)

No, they don't have to make money. Profit is not a right.

Neither is having new titles created by talented professionals available to consume.

Re:They have to make money somehow.. (3, Insightful)

Cruorin (1453909) | about 3 years ago | (#37727146)

Neither are games.

Re:They have to make money somehow.. (2)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about 3 years ago | (#37727200)

They have to make money in order to keep the business going dumbass.

Re:They have to make money somehow.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727240)

You're confused. They need to make money in order to keep the business going. Profit is not a right, it's a reward.

Re:They have to make money somehow.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727152)

Gotta agree. In my opinion, this is pretty well the direct result of:

A) Gamers pirating/copying/whatever euphemism makes you feel good about getting games without paying for them, and
B) Said gamers laughing at the publishers and developers, calling it a "new economy", saying technology has rendered their old market obsolete, and telling them to deal with it.

Well, they're dealing with it. And it's making them money. And, going on current trends, this'll drive "traditional" games into a niche. Happy now?

Re:They have to make money somehow.. (1)

bky1701 (979071) | about 3 years ago | (#37727352)

It is making them money by further exploiting the people who aren't pirating. Just like DRM and every other inane scheme they came up with. Pirates still pay what they always did: nothing.

The logical response to losing your business to copyright infringement does not involve pissing off the people are are buying your products.

Re:They have to make money somehow.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727510)

It is making them money by further exploiting the people who aren't pirating.

The target market for FPS and complex strategy video games is males aged 14-26 (roughly). What demographic is most likely to pirate their software? You got it, males aged 14-26. BTW what is Slashdot's demographic, and what is the opinion of the vast majority of posters here on digital piracy laws and enforcement?

If their aren't enough purchasers to fund development and provide a healthy profit margin (remember it has to be greater than average because of the investment risk), the title won't be made.

"Industrialisation" killed Videogames (1)

CmdrEdem (2229572) | about 3 years ago | (#37727058)

That's an easy one. When videogames became a profitable industry they started to focus on be more and more profitable. And there are "cheap" tricks to do that with a broader spectrum of users than the average gamer (as seen in causal market). As videogames get more profitable they try to reduce risk using psychological rewards and known mechanics that players approve. Money killed videogames, and we, gamers, gave the poison.

Re:"Industrialisation" killed Videogames (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 3 years ago | (#37727104)

so ever since Atari and pong, pretty much day one for real video games

Re:"Industrialisation" killed Videogames (1)

CmdrEdem (2229572) | about 3 years ago | (#37727164)

Well... there was no "mind tricks" used in Pong. Players get hooked because our little brains are conditioned to look for rewards and invest effort (or the human equivalent: money) to get some reward and social games use every trick in the book to do so for money. All games want money? Sure they want. But the amount of effort they spend trying to convince you that they deserve your money is important too.

Re:"Industrialisation" killed Videogames (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 3 years ago | (#37727226)

so no mind tricks in pong and yet pong provides a mental reward in exchange for money... sorry I don't see how that is different other than being more subtle.

Silly. (3, Insightful)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 3 years ago | (#37727060)

Video games have been about making money since the beginning. Arcade games used to last approximately 26 seconds a play, and you put in a quarter every game. If you want I guess you could couch it in really loaded terms: "business men in suits crawl out of the gutter and analyze player behavior to get more and more quarters into their greedy hands."

And are there actually businessmen in suits looking over the computer-generated databases on player behavior? If there are, is this a bad thing? This whole article is bullshit with some kind of weird nonsensical anti-establishment bias. Perhaps you'd be better off occupying Wall Street.

Re:Silly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727086)

The complaint isn't about them making money, it's about the way in which they try to make money ruining the game. And yes, you don't have to play the game then. That is what's being said, that it drives gamers away.

Re:Silly. (5, Interesting)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 3 years ago | (#37727090)

I was watching a old computer chronicles from 88? anyway there was a game designer talking about arcade games

"Its almost like inventing a drug, and finding that balance between letting people play forever and not frustrating them so they keep dropping the quarters in, is the key, just give them a big enough dose that they cant stop"

Re:Silly. (1)

sackvillian (1476885) | about 3 years ago | (#37727210)

Video games have been about making money since the beginning.

Well, so what? You could say something similar about music, film, and literature. Fine - that doesn't mean that the increasingly focus-tested, mass-appeal garbage we're getting in all of these media isn't worse than it used to be.

Find me any 1950's equivalents to Justin Bieber, like Elvis for example, and I will guarantee they will have more artistic merit than the Biebs.

Re:Silly. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#37727254)

Video games have been about making money since the beginning. Arcade games used to last approximately 26 seconds a play, and you put in a quarter every game

And as a direct result of this, home video consoles like the Fairchild and Atari were born, as parents figured out it would be cheaper to pay $180 and buy one of those for the kid for Christmas instead of feeding him $10 bills every weekend...

Re:Silly. (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about 3 years ago | (#37727270)

Not all arcade game producers were like that. Many games such as 'The New Zealand Story', 'Pang', 'Super Wonderboy', 'Strider' or 'R-Type' would last quite a while, especially if you were good. These games were created out of a love for their craft, rather than purely just money.

Sure they made them tricky, and often short. But in any case, often I wish more games these days had more quality over quantity like that, where you get a better run in a shorter time frame.

So you're partially wrong in 2 different ways.

If only (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727078)

there was something in your brain to keep you from spending too much money.

Well...yeah. (3, Interesting)

chemicaldave (1776600) | about 3 years ago | (#37727080)

They're not trying to entertain you — they're trying to get you hooked.

From my perspective as a consumer, what's the difference? It's all the same to me as long as I'm satisfied.

Re:Well...yeah. (1)

CmdrEdem (2229572) | about 3 years ago | (#37727122)

From my perspective as a consumer, what's the difference? It's all the same to me as long as I'm satisfied.

The difference is in how you do that. Behaviorism techniques, like the ones used in facebook games, are easy to put into a game but hollow. Players used to higher reward points are numb to this kind of trick. So there is people that is not satisfied.

Real video games haven't changed (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 3 years ago | (#37727094)

I play plenty of video games on consoles and the PC, and have for over 30 years. You know what? I don't see any difference (beyond all of the technological innovations) because there are just as many *real* games out there as there have always been.

So a bunch of middle-aged homemakers are now sucked into Farmville - these are *new* customers who have never played the "traditional" video games that existed before the glut of free-to-play Facebook crap, and will probably never be a part of that market.

Face it, the markets for "real" console and PC video games and free-to-play social network games have very little overlap, so there is no reason to think the popularity of the latter will kill the former. It's like claiming hamburger sales are doomed because the vegetarians are eating more tofu.

Re:Real video games haven't changed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727246)

Depends on whether the ranchers decide they'ed rather keep their market or go for the tofu market, but yes, if they go for the tofu, someone else will move into the meat market.

We may seem Mario, Zelda, Sonic, Mega Man, Dragon Warrior, Metroid, Phantasy Star and other established franchises become absolute crap. Perhaps we'll never again see a good Zelda. (Maybe all the rest will be using horrible controls, making them no longer fun, I certainly found the last two portable Zeldas more annoying than fun, didn't even finish the last.)

Still, assuming everything is either bad-controlled to death or stupidity like Capcom and the one-play-through with the upcoming Resident Evil becomes standard... you can bet that someone else will make a similar game without that nonsense. You may not have the game you want, but you may have the start of a new franchise which may become even better. Compare current Zeldas to the early ones. The alternative may not be polished today, but 2-3 more games in the series and watch it change! (Although the move to the SNES also helped the look of Zelda a great deal)

Re:Real video games haven't changed (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 3 years ago | (#37727494)

I think the issue there may not be as much a matter of video games in general, but of sequels that should just die and developers who should take a risk once in a while :)

Re:Real video games haven't changed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727296)

actually the problem (for me) is the games then shoot for being accessible long term to the lowest common denominator long after release, which dumbs down the top end of the games by removing things people get good at enough to gain advantages. It doesn't matter if the game has been out for years with the same mechanics. You see it in things like cones of fire and increases for popular weapons, slow game play, larger delays on popular abilities etc... The term game "balance" in everything but MMO's is a synonym for we cater to bad players at this point. At least in games where everyone has access to the same abilities.

It's the result of them trying to be accessible to the equivalent of the middle-age homemaker. The people funding the games easily forget that having a high top end can actually increase the amount of players and longevity of the games. For everything but subscription service though that is a bad thing if they want to sell you the sequel.

Re:Real video games haven't changed (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 3 years ago | (#37727478)

It's possible to cater to more than one skill level, though. In fact, I just picked up Forza 4 and it's a good example - it has 5 difficulty levels that let beginners have fun and experts experience accurate racing techniquies. I haven't played a decent driving game in a while so I started at "medium". If I get into it, I'll probably bump it up to hard/advanced, but may never go to expert since I just don't have enough time to practice these days. Same with some of the better FPS shooters, etc - you can choose if you want aim assist or not. Honestly, these days I usually leave it on because again I don't have the time to put into it, and just want to experience the story, etc.

Re:Real video games haven't changed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727426)

"Face it, the markets for "real" console and PC video games and free-to-play social network games have very little overlap"

Really? I do both and I'm not a homemaker. I dick around in the facebook games because they are something I can do for a few minutes at a time. I plan on getting Battlefield 3 but that is the sort of game you have to plan a few hours for. I used to play Warcraft but that was the worst time vampire ever made and I got sick of its demands.

Back up a minute (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727096)

Since when were video games dead?

Why post here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727108)

This is for women. Ask this on Oprah. People with testicles do not play shit like farmfuckingville and mafiacunting wars.

More nostalgia goggles (4, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 3 years ago | (#37727112)

How is this fundamentally ANY different from what video games have been doing since the dawn of time?

Shareware games->designed to get you hooked on the first few levels so you buy the game

Those little SNES consoles they set up at stores back in the day->designed to get you hooked on the game so you guy it.

hell even a lot of arcade games were intentionally designed to be really easy for the first stage or two so you would get hooked and feel compelled to pump more quarters in. This guy has some serious nostalgia goggles, the model has, and always will be to get gamers to spend money on the game by tempting them with a little taste of what is in store if they do spend money on the game. Free to play has just added another method for achieving the same objective.

Re:More nostalgia goggles (1)

LazyBoot (756150) | about 3 years ago | (#37727190)

Those little SNES consoles they set up at stores back in the day->designed to get you hooked on the game so you guy it.

I believe they still got those (Only with xboxes and playstations of course...)

Is that what they're for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727424)

I thought they were to display the class of people in an area.

For example, I've been to Walmarts in upscale locations where the demo consoles and laptops were out in the open, unprotected, and intact.

I've been to Walmarts in other areas where laptops had keys ripped off and demo consoles had controllers broken.

Finally, I've been to Walmarts where I don't recall seeing demo consoles, and the laptops were locked up behind a centimeter thick shield of some sort. ...Uh, also, what's the plural of Walmart? I'm using Walmarts, but it makes me sound barbaric and plebian. Walmarti? Yeah, Imma use Walmarti from now on.

Re:More nostalgia goggles (2, Insightful)

sakari (194257) | about 3 years ago | (#37727194)

How is this fundamentally ANY different from what video games have been doing since the dawn of time?

It is fundementally different, because of the design objectives. They are designing the game to hook the player in by putting monetary gain as the primary motivation of design, not playability or making the game fun for the players. Monetary gain is the objective of this game.

This creates very different kind of games than those that were originally designed for just the love of making videogames!

Re:More nostalgia goggles (1)

edremy (36408) | about 3 years ago | (#37727338)

You never played Gauntlet back in the arcade days, did you?

Yeah, it was a great game. Yeah, the guy who wrote it probably loved videogames. But damn, did he like quarters just as much, because there's never been a wallet vacuum like that game.

Re:More nostalgia goggles (1)

Raenex (947668) | about 3 years ago | (#37727562)

You never played Gauntlet back in the arcade days, did you?

I remember being a poor boy going to the video arcade, and watching this guy plunk down like $10 worth of quarters on the machine and start playing. I was so jealous.

ps: "Remember, don't shoot food!"

Re:More nostalgia goggles (4, Funny)

Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) | about 3 years ago | (#37727568)

Programmer needs quarters . . . badly.

Re:More nostalgia goggles (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about 3 years ago | (#37727398)

If the game is decent or gives me some enjoyment for a few hours at a time then why is it wrong for them to try to get me to spend money on it? Still cheaper than going to the movies in most places and more fun than watching TV.

Re:More nostalgia goggles (1)

vitaflo (20507) | about 3 years ago | (#37727400)

How is this fundamentally ANY different from what video games have been doing since the dawn of time?

Shareware games->designed to get you hooked on the first few levels so you buy the game

Those little SNES consoles they set up at stores back in the day->designed to get you hooked on the game so you guy it.

hell even a lot of arcade games were intentionally designed to be really easy for the first stage or two so you would get hooked and feel compelled to pump more quarters in. This guy has some serious nostalgia goggles, the model has, and always will be to get gamers to spend money on the game by tempting them with a little taste of what is in store if they do spend money on the game. Free to play has just added another method for achieving the same objective.

You didn't actually read the entire article did you.

Re:More nostalgia goggles (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 3 years ago | (#37727470)

Yes I did, and guess what, the author still offers 0 evidence to say how these games are fundamentally different from what has happened in the past. What is your point other than trying to be a smartass?

FUD in light of industry history (2, Informative)

otaku244 (1804244) | about 3 years ago | (#37727144)

I think what is lost in this conversation is that the game industry HAS been here before. Does anyone remember arcade games? Play Time Crisis and try to tell me with a straight face that that series was a well made, complex strategy shooter that you could play for more than 5 minutes on less than $1 of coins. I agree to an extent that the pay-as-you-go model is getting pretty pervasive and it should be implemented in more moderation. Just don't try to sell me that this will take over the WHOLE industry. It might fill the niche market of mobile apps, but I don't see this being the model of choice for console and PC markets. They are different audiences. And, even if you're right, the likely result is that history will repeat itself like it did with arcades and the model will collapse in some measurable amount of time.

Re:FUD in light of industry history (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727312)

Er...you CAN clear Time Crisis in one credit. A lot of players did that in my local arcade, while everyone watched excited.
No one would watch a Zynga game being played with excitement.

Re:FUD in light of industry history (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about 3 years ago | (#37727462)

All hail the great Zynga! They get people to pay more money to build a single virtual structure than a WoW player pays for an entire month of play. Magnificent bastards.

Re:FUD in light of industry history (1)

Commontwist (2452418) | about 3 years ago | (#37727546)

Meh. I tried Mafia Wars without paying anything and eventually got sick of waiting--so I quit.

Really, when you start paying to get ahead of someone else that's not skill and thus zero achievement/satisfaction. Sadly, too many people don't care.

Re:FUD in light of industry history (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 3 years ago | (#37727330)

Regarding arcade games, for me that is why it is so nice in recent years to be able to play games of my youth via emulator + roms without having to spend anything! Back in the day it really galled me that to even get a little bit proficient I had to spend a lot of money. In hindsight I see that the 'cool' guys who were really good at the games spent crazy amounts of money and in my experience, these were usually not the sharpest tools in the shed. Back then, arcade games, while fun, always did seems like a big cheat to me.

"A strange game." (1)

zenasprime (207132) | about 3 years ago | (#37727202)

"...The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?"

The indie game scenes is still out there creating some wonderfully beautiful, challenging, and meaningful games, and making money to boot. The universe remains in balance.

Nothing New (1)

paleo2002 (1079697) | about 3 years ago | (#37727204)

The name of the site hosting the article pretty much says it all: "Insert Credit". Free-to-Play models harken back to the coin-eating arcades of our youth. Why did you have a limited number of lives or continues? Why was there a time limit to clear a board? To get you to pump more coins into the machine, to make money. Enticing you to keep paying to play is nothing new. Some companies have simply discovered a new way to develop a sustainable revenue stream from modern console and PC games.

As much as the F2P model is applauded for boosting interest in lagging MMO's and giving gamers a chance to see if they're interested in a game without putting money into it, its a very shady deal. I'd honestly rather pay a subscription fee. At least then I know exactly how much I'll be paying for content and I don't have to contend with constant in-game come ons to buy diamonds, doubloons, etc. Or, how about Valve's Steam Trading system or the real-money auction house in the upcoming Diablo 3. Both are optional ways to buy something extra for your gaming experience, but they also allow you the opportunity to get something back - either by trading or outright selling virtual items. They're optional, there's opportunity for a two-way exchange, and the companies still get their cut of transaction fees, etc.

This reminds me vaguely of Graham Watkins' Virus (2)

brokeninside (34168) | about 3 years ago | (#37727232)

Except instead of a computer virus that is trying to optimize users so that they supply a steady input of data, it's businessmen trying to optimize users so that they supply a stead input of cash. In both cases, through trial and error the would-be optimizers eventually discover the secrets to getting users to play over and over and over until they're absolutely drained.

Gosh, when I put it like that it also sounds like the golden age of video games. Pong, Space Invaders, Q*Bert, Pac-Man, etc. were just big excuses to get users to put in quarter after quarter.

Depends on the Game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727252)

Pick your games. I can think of plenty of games that are great free to play games, Team fortress 2, league of legends, heroes of newerth all have acceptable free to play models. If someone picks up any of these games they wont be disadvantaged if they don't shell out money and they can work towards in game goals in any way they want.

So they are making there game fun and engrossing.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727280)

So they are making there game fun and engrossing in the hope that, upon playing it, you will decide that it is so much fun and engrossing that you are willing to part with some real world money for some additional perks- rewards as it were for keeping the game going.

This is a bad thing, or will 'kill the video game'.... how exactly?

Near as I can tell this will only spurn on development as each game attempts to be different from its peers so as to carve it's own niche (since you ideally want a completely separate market for free to play, so that you get exclusive access to your players wallets). By having multiple free to play games carving niches we see indie games seeing a potential niche and building a game revolving around that as well. Finally the large studios may, possibly, see new game markets and FINALLY make something that is not 'FPS game with narrow boxy corridors #X'

That's not true! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727300)

We don't wear suits!

Everything else is true though...

Terrible writing (2)

solferino (100959) | about 3 years ago | (#37727310)

He wasn't kidding about being 'The Worst Journalist In The World'.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37727412)

He didn't.

We get the games (1)

Seriman (775126) | about 3 years ago | (#37727474)

that we deserve. Some developers make games they want to play and others make games that they think will sell. Oddly enough, they probably have similar ratios for success and miserable failure. Do you think Bay 12 or Notch studied demographics before making wildly fun and popular games? Equally, some of those FTP shooters are pretty fun right up until the point you realize that the only reason L33tb3@v3r69 killed you was because he dropped 20 bucks on the AK 47++. Then you get some extra gratification from the revenge of penetrating his puny douchebag hitbox with your bullets made of hate and Internet. Somewhere behind the scenes there is a developer who cares and against all odds they put out a good game for a greedy company, meanwhile some indie dev manages to code his or her dream in spite of limited time, limited motivation, and spiteful software patents. Those are the games we remember.

A fool and his money... (1)

bashibazouk (582054) | about 3 years ago | (#37727548)

A fool and his/her money are easily parted.

The rest of us get a surprisingly good entertainment return on video games compared to movies/cable/clubs/whatever even with DLC...

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