1. #1
    Field Marshal Heffladin's Avatar
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    Thoughts on video game consumerism (long read)

    Hey guys, I've been mostly lurking, but I decided to post my thoughts here, I've been digging for my opinion for a while, but since I couldn't find it, I mean somebody has to start, expressing that opinion right? So I took some time to write the following. Please bear in mind english isn't my native tongue.
    I also make alot of speculations that, according to me are qualified guesses. Oh and I also didn't intend this to be in such a ... warcraft related forum.


    Thoughts:
    It’s kind of bizarre how a big industry like video game lacks so much consumer knowledge. Is it the freshness of the industry itself? It’s only been popular for so long, so it would make sense for there to be a lot of new consumers, who are not as accustomed to how things work. But how uninformed veteran players are, is a bit astounding to me, most often when they support the very thing that goes against their interest. It is as if, they cave from peer pressure.


    Downloadable Content:


    For example there is the in game store, in the now increasingly popular, yet ten years old online game World of Warcraft. In this in game store, you can find things, that if you do a little research, connect the dots (thanks to datamining), find out that assets that were originally planned to be included in the latest expansion pack, is now allocated in the in game store. Now I know it is just cosmetic things, but these things are the most coveted items in the game by far (mounts/cosmetics). And what does the players get for free you ask? Oh a green version of that horse over there, that took a lot of effort, I am sure… or you could simply buy the awesome diamond tiger complete with armor and glowing eyes over there, your choice (and by free I mean buying the game and having a subscription of 20 dollars a month). This is not the first example of World of Warcraft taking immoderate amounts from their consumers for simple services.
    They take 25 dollars for something that is, very likely automated and fairly efficient, a character transfer between their servers (or realms if you will), the same amount of which you can buy a mount for. That’s about summarizes that game. Let’s take a look at other questionable consumer choices.


    Season passes:


    While technically DLC, they are pretty much the new version of the old school expansion packs.
    They are a nice way for the developers (and publishers) to stymie revenue loss from online games and keep their player base alive. They bundle several DLC into one neat package, with a very distinct price compared to buying all of these individually. It’s the kind of deal you see sometimes in real life stores, where you can buy 5, get 20 % off. It’s generally not that good of a deal, it’s just there to get the consumer to spend more than they intended.


    But as a result it also fractions player bases, where some people bought the limited edition, like in battlefield 3’s case included some refurbished maps from the previous game in the series, known as the DLC pack “Back to Karkand”. Where other players bought the normal games and don’t have access to that first one either, and is not willing to spend more, and then there’s the player who bought the whole package, premium (the season pass) and the base game. This leads players to believe that they have to spend double the money to get the whole experience, whilst in actuality, most DLC is developed afterwards a game is finished. With emphasis on most games, that is. That leads to the tricky part, games whose developers make DLC for the game before it is finished often gets heavily criticized, so that’s something positive in that situation for the consumer. However I doubt that this is a trend that’s getting less popular, which spells a troublesome future for players unless they start noticing. No doubt there will be more games that will be planned to have heavy focus on DLC as their business plan.


    Microtransactions:


    This is probably the most widely known source of publisher mischief.
    Small amounts of money become a big amount of money. It’s how lottery tickets work, except they don’t even have to hand out money every now and then. It’s simple. However, the real problem lies in the publishers masking the transactions, making the games look free while they really take small fees to do what you would normally do in a onetime buy kind of game for free, making paying mandatory, less you want to spend your precious time playing the game much longer than it’s probably intended to, designwise, to get to where your paying friends game progress. This kind of thing is fairly transparent and obvious, but none the less there will be people buying virtual things for upscale prices. It’s become known well enough that there are now laws to make the Smartphone marketplaces more transparent in Europe.


    False advertising:

    Most widely known for this kind of behavior as of right now is Ubisoft and Gearbox. Ubisoft for their Watch Dogs debacle, and Gearbox for their Aliens: Colonial Marines scandal. The latter was even sued for their remarkably different product post release to what was shown to public before release.


    As for watch dogs, which was a game announced before the announcing of the new generation of consoles, looked extremely good, almost too good to be true. But it kind of was. Turns out, the game which they had shown at E3 2012 was just that, a not very accurate representation of how the game would look on majority of systems, as it would turn out later that they still had the files in the game which allowed for the visuals of the E3 presentation. Not that many threw a fit over this fact, they do not care that this could happen to other games, and honestly this is one thing that concerns me greatly, games that are clearly running on devices that easily cost as much as three times what a brand new console does.

    There have been rumors about publishers being pressured by console makers to make their game look the best on the console makers’ console, but there’s always the underdog, and in this case Microsoft, who have the lowest specifications of the two competing console systems, which ultimately leads to the publishers likely, if agreeing to make the game look good on the xbox, make the other versions look worse, to make the console game look more subpar with say, a high end PC… regrettable for all consumers needless to say.

    False advertising comes in other shapes, such as kickstarter projects, where the untested developers’ promises heaven and earth, and yes, people believe them, but this is kind of the basis of the phenomenon kickstarter itself, though. You can only see a concept, and what they’re aiming for. How humble they are, is ultimately up to you, as an investor. Unless they try to sneak the money into a swiss bank account, I do not think you should expect your money back from this. Godus is a good example of this. People seriously believe that Peter Molyneux is going to deliver on his promises? You think people ought to tread with caution before throwing their creditcard onto their monitor?

    I wonder how many people will get burnt before changes start happening. That being said, kickstarter is also a great way to get the games that players really want made. We also have early access is similar to kickstarter but differentiates on that you buy an unfinished product rather than you fund an unfinished game in form of a concept with an amount of money of your choosing.

    Early access opens up for a number of problems, one of them being total makeovers, where the developers suddenly just ditch all development and starting entirely anew, very unlike the product you thought you were going to get a slightly (degree of ‘polish’ varies greatly of course from product to product) more polished version of.

    Unfinished Games & Preorders:

    It’d probably surprise the average player how unfinished some games are if people actually pointed it out to them. Just like movies, some games run out of steam before they hit the shelf. Publishers can cut some of the losses by putting many resources on advertisement, it’s unclear how particularly this would work with say, movies, as the one time buy isn’t as high, making it easier for the consumers regret to get the better of them, thinking to themselves that they ought to play the game more to get ‘real’ value out of it, and that’s pretty much where the DLC comes in, and the constant multiplayer, trying to keep you hooked. It is also not uncommon for these kinds of games to have a leveling system of sorts. Coupled with the hype it’s common to have preorder deals that will only come from a certain retailer, enticing the consumer to buy because it is time limited. It’s pretty standard tactic for any seller to get the fans, say, behave like children, become ecstatic with joy and forget their concerns.

    Maybe it’s just me that is grumpy, very possible, but I seldomly feel that way about games anymore. I feel interested sure, but not ecstatic. I don’t think unfinished games have been a very coveted matter until now, I mean sure they’ve always been there, but it’s not that common that your trusted company with their triple A title is going to swindle you off your money, right? Until now it hasn’t been that common, but it’s easier to take liberties if people don’t vote with their wallets, this wouldn’t happen if that really was the case.

    Unfortunately, there’s those who have the utterly stupid rhetoric that you can’t judge something if you haven’t tried it. I can, and I will judge that game. I will not buy it and then call it shit because it won’t matter. At all. Once they have your money they will disregard your opinion, unless it really gets out of hand, and that really just takes a really bad game. If it’s mediocre, I wouldn’t bet on it. They will laugh all the way to the bank and no angry posts on the internet is going to change that, what will is; not buying the game. Not preordering, because why would you, do you not check twice before walking to the other side of the road, you don’t buy a house before checking if it’s real or not, if you like it or not. Now a game is not on the same level as a house of course, but you are giving the signal to the publishers that you don’t care how you spend your money, you don’t look twice. This here problem must be the single worst of all of these listed, and it applies to things that aren’t video games as well of course.

    I’d like to dedicate some text to the game Destiny, which fits many of the things I think is wrong with games, it has season pass, it generated a lot of attention by having a ludicrous amount of advertisement, it’s hype lived solely before release because it was developed by Bungie. Now I love Halo as much as the other geek, (even more than most probably), but honestly, they hadn’t shown anything special with that game, info was relatively sparse, probably because the game had so little content, as I’ve heard. That’s also one of the things you kind of have to do more as a consumer, listen more to the critics, I know there’s so many that claim that they are corrupt, but if you find a critic you trust it’s a lot easier to not get ripped off. And there are plenty of good reviewers, and ways to hear what they think about the games they review. We live in the information era, we should try to benefit from it, not listen blindly to what any one person or company says.
    Last edited by Heffladin; 2015-02-19 at 11:07 PM.
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  2. #2
    TL;DR: Businesses want to make money and do things in the interest of making money, regardless of consumer opinion.

    I don't mean to be snarky, but it's kinda humorous when people talk as if they JUST NOW discovered the concept of "business".

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Heffladin View Post
    publisher mischief.
    I like this term.

    Most of what is going on is just good ole upselling, video games are kind of late to the party in that regard. I fucking hate microtransactions but I am all out of ranting for this.

    The only thing that really concerns me is the preorders + sketchy releases. You know we always had release bugs but they are taking it to the limit, so much so that basically there is no publisher from whom I will buy a new release. The only ones that seem to really have a standard today about release quality are indies...go figure. The big publishers seem to be happy to cash in on their rep balancing what I am calling metered anguish(will they really care enough for long enough).

    Preorders - not much to say really, they are selling you are dream 90% of the time. Aliens might be the finest example but really the entire industry suffers from movie trailer syndrome which *should* be good enough to ward off pre sales but it just doesn't. Basically every industry lacks consumer awareness. If you are someone who checks out what exactly your money is going toward it seems you are in a minority no matter where you stand.

  4. #4
    Field Marshal Heffladin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bovinity Divinity View Post
    I don't mean to be snarky, but it's kinda humorous when people talk as if they JUST NOW discovered the concept of "business".
    Of course that is the consensus of it all, just because I posted it doesn't mean I didn't understand it earlier. but evidently people do not realize that they're hurting their own interests, which was kind of my point. Usually they come with the "if you don't like it dont talk about it or complain", and it's so utterly stupid, and that's what people reply to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Afrospinach View Post
    Preorders - not much to say really, they are selling you are dream 90% of the time. Aliens might be the finest example but really the entire industry suffers from movie trailer syndrome which *should* be good enough to ward off pre sales but it just doesn't. Basically every industry lacks consumer awareness. If you are someone who checks out what exactly your money is going toward it seems you are in a minority no matter where you stand.
    Yep kind of sad how little consumer awareness there is. But I mean the big difference is, you can watch a movie and you've paid your share
    and that's all nice and all, but video games are so so expensive so its just a huge investment, and it's sad it is this way when you can much more easily see if a game is bad or not, gameplay wise. If they're avoiding showing gameplay then that's a big warning flag.
    Last edited by Heffladin; 2015-02-19 at 10:24 PM.
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Heffladin View Post
    Now I know it is just cosmetic things, but these things are the most coveted items in the game by far.
    The fuck you say?

    Show of hands, who here covets the sparkle-pony?

    Quote Originally Posted by Heffladin View Post
    And what does the players get for free you ask? Oh a green version of that horse over there, that took a lot of effort, I am sure…
    Are you referring to the bitchin' sweet flying zombie horse that my DK uses to the exclusion of all other mounts? 'Cause if that's not your style, I also have an impressive collection of firehawks, mammoths, birds, motorcycles, wolves, a half-dozen varieties of dragons in all the colors of the rainbow, rams, lions, tigers, bears (oh my), camels, dinosaurs, robots, birds of a different feather, gryphons, bugs, pigs, hippos, and yes, horses. So many horses. Normal horses, armored horses, angel horses, demon horses, ghost horses, zombie horses, unicorns, and a hearthsteed. Literally hundreds of mounts.

    Keep yer fuckin' crystal tiger. I've got six of them already.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simulatio View Post
    The fuck you say?


    Keep yer fuckin' crystal tiger. I've got six of them already.
    What I mean is that mounts/cosmetics are the most coveted items in the game, not that the store mounts are. would they be free I am certain they would be very sought after.

    It's just sad how those things probably prevent those bat mounts from coming into our hands through other means, like if we could get one off of Gul'dans followers, as we can see them having the same mount. or the Rylaks, which probably would have been included otherwise.
    Last edited by Heffladin; 2015-02-19 at 11:05 PM.
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  7. #7
    Of course that is the consensus of it all, just because I posted it doesn't mean I didn't understand it earlier. but evidently people do not realize that they're hurting their own interests, which was kind of my point. Usually they come with the "if you don't like it dont talk about it or complain", and it's so utterly stupid, and that's what people reply to.
    This isn't national economic policy or something, people aren't "hurting their interests".

    People can vote with their wallet. If they want, "Call of Duty: World of Watch Dogs Destiny" more than they give a shit what nonsense the business behind it does, then they'll buy it. If not, they won't. It's really that simple. These are just games, not food or medicine or housing. You won't die if you don't buy it.

    It's just sad how those things probably prevent those bat mounts from coming into our hands through other means, like if we could get one off of Gul'dans followers, as we can see them having the same mount. or the Rylaks, which probably would have been included otherwise.
    I would actually greatly prefer if store mounts were separate from drop mounts.

  8. #8
    You remind me of when I used to do page long rants on MMO-C... in fact I was talking about the exact same thing you were. Too bad that the thread is probably deleted now. But basically everything you said is the same as my thoughts.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Metzen
    "As you can see the age of the whimsical panda sadly, is over."
    Amen!

  9. #9
    While I get where you are coming from OP sadly the video game market as it is now is here to stay unless more people (see: majority) actually start using their wallet to tell developers to fuck off. Ubisofts terrible launches one after another in 2014 hopefully will get people to pump the breaks on rushing out day one for stuff. But sadly it won't. In the end you have enough people that will pre-order, buy the DLC, buy the game, and buy everything else for said game on day one for developers to keep doing this stuff.

    I personally feel the constant microtransation/dlc/etc is hurting the game market as we're stuck with games that are buggy and broken on day one as well as lose out on content. Instead of being able to do things in game to earn skins or whatever we're just 'swiping our credit card' to get that stuff. There is little incentive to play a game again to unlock more things or see how different options play out today. Why? Because most games don't offer many rewards at the end (for future play throughs) and the majority of games have zero choices in them. It's freaking 2015 and games released in the 90s had more content. Again though developers figured out they could do this and they'll keep doing it till every consumer says enough.
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  10. #10
    Field Marshal Heffladin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bovinity Divinity View Post
    This isn't national economic policy or something, people aren't "hurting their interests".

    People can vote with their wallet. If they want, "Call of Duty: World of Watch Dogs Destiny" more than they give a shit what nonsense the business behind it does, then they'll buy it. If not, they won't. It's really that simple. These are just games, not food or medicine or housing. You won't die if you don't buy it.
    The interest, (or the most basic form of it) would be to any person, that they probably want to enjoy games for less of a price. Sure games are not necessities, they are entertainment, that doesn't mean you should downplay games kmportance. What I am trying to do is raise awareness. If you're a cynic then you really do not contribute, if you think it won't matter what you do because "the majority won't change". you are part of the people that buy, and so am I.


    Quote Originally Posted by Spraxle View Post
    It's freaking 2015 and games released in the 90s had more content. Again though developers figured out they could do this and they'll keep doing it till every consumer says enough.
    I've felt this decade has been the starting point of business' trying our limits, and I guess that point isn't quite reached yet, and it probably won't be if gaming grows as it does. We can refer to something like, a triple A game like World of Warcraft to a fine dining restaurant, and say a game like farmville to a fastfood joint. Both can arguably be percieved as better by the consumer, but farmville will test your limit by offering you quantity of things, while World of Warcraft will test your limits by upping the prices on the qualitative services they already, or easily could have just added for free for a pretty penny. However WoW is kind of unique, as it has practically a monopoly position in the MMO market. it's the only really stable one, save that new final fantasy game, I guess (can't really attest to that fact though).
    Last edited by Heffladin; 2015-02-20 at 02:12 PM.
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