Vague Patch Notes: Mobile MMOs, Free-to-Play MMOs, and the Microtransaction Path

Oh man.

When I first started playing Magic: the Gathering, Revised was the new hotness and I got used to the idea of ​​Serra Angel being considered an overpowered creature. We’ve come a long way since then, but I remember when I first started buying Mirage cards and realized they weren’t just one little better than the cards I already had, but a a lot of better. Some of that was because my collection was junk, but some because Mirage as a whole was a more cohesive set.

Then I remember the Urza block, then the Tempest block and things that circle out of legality. And I remember thinking even at that young age that it felt like the designers were trying to get me to buy more cards by making them more and more powerful and also making sure I didn’t buy my older cards could use more . What you know was Type of game’s main business model.

Of course, now that I’m a bit older, being overweight doesn’t really bother me anymore… not least because we have a lot, a lot of worse examples of the same basic problem to point out. And that’s what I want to talk about today, as another exploration of predatory monetization that I’ve already railed against.

Seasoned readers will know that I have criticized the term pay-to-win for omitting a much more important discussion of when a game’s monetization becomes predatory. And the thing is this predatory Monetization is usually when I start quitting a game entirely…or even start taking action furious at the game. Unfortunately it is something that will happen very common with mobile games, and a lot happens when a game is first developed based on monetization and a theme is added later.

During a recent stream I was playing a game by Ubisoft called Horse Haven World Adventure. The thing is what pissed me off about the game Not his core formation there. I wholeheartedly believe, without an ounce of mockery, that not only is it possible, it is easy to make a fun game about raising and caring for horses that treats its audience with respect. No, I don’t have a particular fondness for horses, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a favorable perspective given the subject matter.

However, what made it a low-rent title was the simple fact that the actual gameplay was not existent. You had the obstacle courses that came closest to “gameplay,” and that was just tapping the screen to jump over things during an endless run can, which you rated based on how far you got before you ran out of stamina . Breeding horses was all about hugging two horses together and hoping you get the result you want. That’s it. This is the gameplay.

Oh, and you can Pay money for a better chance at a rare horse breed.

Pictured: A much better game.

That was the moment when I got angry. Not only was there no gameplay from the start (and I’ll note that I’m not screenshotting the game here, I’m pretty sure of that star stable is a far superior game about horses), the totally random mechanics here itself could be circumvented by flipping more money. And that was one of them at least major parts of the game.

Well… I say game. It wasn’t really a game; It was a means of getting a certain demographic into the path of as many microtransactions as possible. There was no mandatory Game here. There was no fun experience to be had. There was a way to buy things with the loose framework of a game.

That is predatory. and This is when my eyes start twitching at everyone involved.

I openly admit that Ni no Kuni is not my franchise, however Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds earned my instant side eye from the association. But that also seems to put you right down the path of microtransactions based on your positive associations. Regardless of whether you like the gameplay or not, the idea here is clearly to create an environment where all you want to do is pay money little little money. Come on… it’s not expensive. It only offers a little Thrust. It’s only a few dollars, right? What can it hurt?

You don’t really have to look for it either. Not you to have spend money Diablo immortal. We’ll happily and promptly sell you locker keys and get you straight on the inevitable path by making you pay for it open Of course you will still get the lockers. It’s a psychological trick that makes these lockers harder to ignore on the go because instead of just having them as a thing to buy, you already have the locker. Now you don’t have to decide whether to buy one or not; You have to choose not to do that potential Rewards you already have.

Come on. It’s only a few bucks, right? You are so close.

You are not funny!

I won’t mince words when I say that this stuff bothers me a lot more than power. When a game sells power, well…that in and of itself is bad, yes, but mostly it’s bad because it does the same thing where you’re placed Celebration down the path of microtransactions no matter what you do. There is no exclusion that you can pay money for it, no Select to pay because you enjoy the game enough that it feels like a worthwhile investment.

MMOs are by no means immune to this. Remember Star Wars The Old Republic and sell you hot bars? There I will definitely do it. But even this game isn’t one of the most egregious examples, simply because it was a game that was originally developed as a subscription title, and not something always designed from the top down to set you on the path to more challenges Your money and more barely adequate gameplay loops just to squeeze a few extra bucks out of your wallet.

Business models always involve some degree of tension between actors and marketers. That’s just the nature of the relationship. The people running the game as a company want you to spend as much money as possible on the title. The people paying for the game want to get as much game as possible for as little investment as possible. This is not a problem or a mark against anyone. I wait for games to go on sale before buying them just like everyone else.

But when you play a game, ask yourself how much time it spends getting you down the path of microtransactions. Ask yourself how much of the game you would play if you were not invested in it up to this point. And keep a close eye on whether this is a fun game that you’d play no matter what… or an engine to take something you’re interested in and ask you to throw in a few bucks on the side shell out, just as part of that core loop.

blankSometimes you know exactly what’s going on in the MMO genre, and other times you just have vague patch notes letting you know that something has probably changed somewhere. Senior reporter Eliot Lefebvre likes to analyze these types of notes and also vague elements of the genre as a whole. The strength of this analysis can be adjusted under certain circumstances.

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Lindsay Lowe

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