Massively Overthinking: MMO monetization run amok

Over the last couple of weeks, the monetization of unreleased games has become a pervasive and uncomfortable theme for the MMO genre. Just in brief:

The frustrating bit is I could go on, and this is just for games that aren’t even formally launched yet. So for this week’s Massively Overthinking, I want to take the temperature of alarm regarding these types of business models for unlaunched games. Is this all par for the course, in line with what we expect from the new MMO market? Have they gone too far yet? If not, what’s too far? How do we feel about this type of pre-launch monetization run amok?

Don't besiege me bro.

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): For me, it’s gone too far. As various forms of entertainment are vying for our attention, I understand that things must change, including monetization. However, I don’t think sinking money into your hobby, especially when it’s still being created, should give you direct advantages, even if they can be destroyed/taken by other players.

King Mannus of Darkfall fame is a good example of how things can (and should) fairly play out: Mannus was a charismatic leader that knew his audience and won people over to support him. He actually didn’t play that much, but his cult of personality really left a mark on the game. He and his crew seemed to have fun, as did the rest of ‘the server. In fact, I actually bought into Darkfall because of players like Mannus. A good community sells your game as well as good will. I’m still disappointed that Darkfall didn’t succeed, but the multiple reboots have shown that it grew its community, just maybe didn’t monetize it well.

I thought SOE/Daybreak would be in better shape. For example, PlanetSide 2 and Landmark did sell boosts, and some abilities did give you quite an advantage, but I remember the skins a lot, especially the custom ones. As someone who’s paid for customization (so many League of Legends skins, so little time played!), I know there’s a strong lure there, but maybe outsourcing it to players didn’t work out. I’d like to see the numbers though.

That’s where flat play and customization lockboxes come into play. Maybe we don’t have time or patience to farm 10,000 ore like we did a few years ago. Maybe it’s why territory PvP games and survival seem to work better in older, more organized communities. But looking outside of traditional MMOs, I feel like we’ve seen that fronting “endgame” while focusing on customization as “progress” is valid, at least if your name is Blizzard or Nintendo. Even Grinding Gear Games (from an admitted outside perspective) seems to get this. We players love stuff.

I’m at the point where I barely look at MMO Kickstarters in my free time, not just because they may not make it to launch but because I’m tired of fighting the urge to throw money to skip boring content or get power. MMOs are huge time investments, so pay-to-win kills my motivation to even start the game, let alone want to see it succeed. Make MMOs more socially accessible, like The Elder Scrolls Online. Make them connect with potential real world goals, like Pokemon Go and getting outside the house. If you really can’t innovate, get some great artists and do customization lockboxes like Overwatch. Just stop enforcing the “time is money” idea and lure players in with thoughts of fun times.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): It’s been bizarre watching this happen to the MMO genre, that’s for sure. I remember when Bethsoft held back Oblivion horse armor for DLC and the positively massive backlash over that type of monetization. Some people bear grudges over that single event even today; it’s a permanent running joke when you want to talk about terrible, overt, no-shame-at-all monetization. But far worse examples have piled up and piled up and inured us to the ongoing damage over the last decade, whether we’re talking about early access single-player games or full-fledged eternal-development MMORPGs.

I understand that video games need funding and then need to make money. As always, I don’t begrudge them this. The problem isn’t any one model, either. There are good sub, B2P, and F2P models along with the bad; there are sustainable and reasonable models along with the odious. And you won’t find me bashing the concept of Kickstarter, as this website wouldn’t exist without it.

But we’ve reached the point that I’d rather have a smaller, poorer genre than continue to watch the monetization for unreleased games spiral out of control. Yes, I can refuse to participate in the $7000 castles and viral marketing and all the rest. But it’s distasteful. It’s tainted the genre. It’s gone too far. They think we’re suckers. Stop being suckers.

This is fine.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): On some level, I kind of respect the fact that several companies have realized that there’s a certain portion of the MMO audience who will now pay a lot of money for an idea. Because that’s what you’re paying for in all of these cases; if you’re dropping money on a ship that isn’t playable in any form or a palace you can’t use or anything else which is not actually a playable facet of the game, what you’re buying is an idea. You are paying money for an idea and a certain amount of hope. That strikes me as kind of a bad use of money, but then, it’s not my money, so any number of old P. T. Barnum sayings would seem to apply, right?

Except that in this case, these aren’t games really selling people on the concept of “pay for this idea/hope now and get it when we launch it, probably;” it’s presented as if it’s a sure thing. And this is kind of the problem that I have with crowdfunding and the like writ large, wherein crowdfunding becomes a mechanism for separating people from money without any actual assurances of producing anything at all.

I understand disliking aspects of the modern MMO business model, but this is something altogether different. You may dislike buying random items in Star Wars: The Old Republic, and I get that… but you’re buying an actual thing. This is buying nothing and hopefully, at some undisclosed point in the future, getting something. And while it’s not a scam – Shroud of the Avatar, for example, has quite obviously produced a playable game – it’s the sort of behavior that speaks to why publishers exist in the first place rather than making this look like a positive alternative.

As long as it keeps being seen as acceptable, it’s going to keep happening. As long as people act like Star Citizen is passing boundaries rather than milking money from its audience without finishing the core game, the studio is going to keep selling people ships that don’t exist beyond concept art. And it baffles me how many people will state their vitriolic distaste for random item packs as a concept while happily ignoring how much is being asked to fund something that isn’t even in a playable state.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Honestly? This is making me start to really miss the old days. Initially I was very much on board for MMOs being developed and funding out from under the thumb of a producer. Freedom! No meddling! But the neverending process of crowdfunding to push these games through development is wearing and has turned me off to many of these titles well before they’re ever launched.

What’s at stake here is reputation and perception. When an MMO isn’t even out yet and it is building a reputation not for what gameplay content it will have but for all sorts of money-grubbing techniques, that’s going to hurt it in the long run. Sure, you might get your castle money now, but if people aren’t going to play your game in a year because you’ve established yourself as a title that is more concerned with a player’s wallet than their interest and imagination, what’s the point? You’re giving people a real reason to shy away from ever trying your game.

And while many of these games are of personal interest to me, I feel that interest ebbing away the more I hear about how other players are positioning themselves to have huge advantages prior to launch by using their money alone. It creates a haves and have-nots tiered community prior to launch, with the latter feeling behind and possibly disenfranchised. Do I want to play Elyria, knowing that players have spent money to obtain land and titles before launch? Or to venture into the lands of Shroud of the Avatar only to see that the crowdfunding community has moved in and taken up all of the prime real estate? Probably not.

I know devs need money to make these games. The lesson that I think some of these titles are going to learn, painfully, is that just because they can make bank in some areas doesn’t mean that they always should. There are drawbacks to being too aggressive and too shady, and caution and prudence are needed.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Can I just ditto Justin’s remarks?

As long as people are going to keep paying and supporting this method of development, it is going to continue happening. Should it? That is a whole different ballgame. I love the idea that more games can be developed — games that might push the envelope a bit more, or do something more risky than investors would tend to want. But I don’t like when folks become seriously disadvantaged because they can’t or won’t fork over oodles and oodles of real cash. Some of us can’t, and that doesn’t make us any less of a player or community member.

Now I am not advocating for the “everything should be free” camp. On the contrary. I’m happy to pay a sub for a game I am deeply invested in, and I am happy to buy a game. I prefer these methods really. I just really don’t like that the fact that I am not wealthy means I will be missing out on some favorite parts of games because I can’t toss in fistfuls of money during crowdfunding. Parts of the games that would be my whole reason for playing, like housing. As much as I love many of the ideas and plans in Shroud of the Avatar, I know there is no way I can earn my way up to doing what I really want to because it involves needing specific housing in a specific kind of area — stuff you only get for some hefty pledges. I have no qualms about working hard in game to work up to that point, but not only might it be impossible in game mechanic terms but others will be set from the get go because they happen to have deeper pockets, making my efforts too late to matter.

Honestly, if crowdfunding was a single equal fee that everyone is in on (like Steam Early Access), I am much better with it. (And that’s even counting the games-never-seem-to-launch problem.) But giving severe advantages to folks in game because they can spend more — whether they are richer or just less responsible with their money — is not OK. In the virtual worlds of pixels your standing should be determined by your efforts, not by your real-world wallet. Life has enough of that.

Your turn!

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karrion_nightstalker

Actually i have had a few thoughts about these kick starter campaigns and crowdfunding in general.

It would seem to me that if a game studio or a wanna be game developer came to a crowdfunding site knowing that their end product would cost more then they are asking for, and knowingly accepted funds with foreknowledge that they would eventually have to ask for 2 or 3 times or more, then what they originally asked for and did not disclose this information along with the actual projected cost that this would be fraud.

For example if one was to come to kick starter and create a campaign saying they need $200,000 to develop this game, it implies to the donor that $200,000 is all they need to complete their game so as far as anyone donating to it knows the developers received any other funding they needed prior to coming to kick starter.

Now if the developers intention is to actually just get started for the $200k and then continue to garner further investments, weather it be from an in game cash shop, or further kick starter campaigns without having notified potential donors prior to accepting any of the original $200k this would not only be considered fraud and being as it would be across state lines this would be a federal offense at the very least. It would seem to me that it would also be actionable by any of the original donors as a breach of contract, and they could possibly not only ask for their original donation back but possibly a part of any funds raised in said cash shop. Being as it would be revenue from an uncompleted game vs if said cash shop was instituted following the completion of said game. It would further seem that said investors/donors would also be allowed to form a class action lawsuit which would not only have the possibility of derailing said project irrevocably, it could possibly bankrupt any entity or individuals involved in the fraudulent activity.

So then what if the miscalculation of funds needed was an honest mistake? I’m not sure how it would apply, but in most states when a quote or estimate is given the person giving the quote most often is required to come within 10-20% before facing severe penalties.

In any case it will be interesting to see how the laws develop concerning crowdfunding projects in the future.

So i guess a good guideline to follow before investing in any of these crowdfunded MMO’s would be to first not fund anything on a site where they allow with drawls before 100% of the goal is achieved, secondly as my buddy Nathanial Downes suggests that it costs at least 10-30 mill to develop an MMO. You should treat anyone asking for considerably less then that amount as being most likely a scam and not donate to them. These two things would at the very least ensure for the most part that you don’t donate to a MMO project that will never come to fruition, and force those coming and asking for money from the gaming community to be truthful with their intent.

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

I used the term “Typically” for a good reason – it’s not a hard limit. And many Kickstarter campaigns purposefully list that the money raised is to fund a core, and that further fundraising will be used afterwards. Each campaign is unique, after all. Some state that all they need is a set amount, others that it’s the core to continuing fundraising and yet others say that they will be raising funds from other sources following the Kickstarter, such as from a Publisher or other investor.

As this all began in a discussion of Shroud of the Avatar, I pulled up the crowdfunding history of the title. Turns out that they were crowdfunding before they even went to Kickstarter, kept crowdfunding through a separate system alongside Kickstarter, and kept it up after the Kickstarter ended. As such, there is no reasonable expectation that the funds raised through Kickstarter were the only funds needed to develop the game. Through the updates, and website at that time, it was clear that they would need far more than just the Kickstarter funding to finish development, and were transparent about that need from day 1.

As ever, always read the specifics around each campaign. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

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karrion_nightstalker

This actually had nothing to do with shroud of the avatar. Actually has more to being clear and precise about what is needed, rather then some vague bottomless pit, that and if in fact you can’t be clear about what it’s going to actually take then perhaps it isn’t worth funding said project.

Because the way these campaigns are currently being run is akin to you bringing in a contractor to do an addition to a house, having him give you a quote for $30,000 just to have him come ask for another $20,000 before even getting half complete. It’s dishonest, it’s dirty.

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

Not even a close analogy. Instead it is akin to an investment. Investors have a level of expectation of knowledge for the risks beforehand. To proclaim one thing, when history shows another, shows only poor preparation on the part of the investor, poor research and planning. Investment is a risk, it always has been, it always will be. Cash, time, or emotion, it matters not, the risk, and payoff, remain. Kickstarter is no different from a publisher backing a project, or private investors, it is a risk. The advantage of Kickstarter is that for once, that opportunity is given to joe public, without the drawbacks of direct corporate investment. You are arguing that no Kickstarter should ever be completed if they require anything outside of the funds raised there, when those who do invest in it wish to see it completed, regardless of anything else. It is unfair to try and take that away from them.

If you feel it is unwise to back a kickstarter, then don’t do it, simple as that. I’ve backed multiple, gotten burned on a few, but got what I went in for with a lot more. And I plan to back more in the future. This is an exciting time for game developers, because it opens up opportunities for games which do not fit the traditional publisher model.

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karrion_nightstalker

Oh i was hoping you’d fall for the bait, you didn’t disappoint. Your analogy of an investor is quite wrong. I am so happy you tried that analogy.

Now in the real world, if you were to bring an idea to a corporation, venture capital firm, bank or other source for investment. These investors would require you to prove the viability of the product or business, this would include research into the marketability of the business/product they would also require a disclosure of actual costs to complete the project.

So in the case of you, essentially you are starting a small business gaming studio (this is assuming you plan on making a profit off the game), so you would be required by these people to calculate your costs, this would be the building, utilities, employee wages, then you would have to show that you have an actual design for a game, which would mean you’d have to sit down and have planned how everything is going to work (this does not mean a working prototype) and can be done on paper. After you have the design, you should have a good idea of the manpower and tools, number of employees, computers etc that you are going to need to complete the game. Which you’d then be required to figure out what it’s going to cost to actually produce said game.

Only then would you be ready to approach investors, they would go over the idea and all the data and costs that you put in front of them, and run them by their people to see if it’s an idea worth investment. Now if these investors were not satisfied by what they saw they may ask you for some more data or flat out turn you down. However if you did your work, and your idea was considered to be sound. These people would invest into your business. That money would not be free, it would go either one of two ways and be treated as either a loan where you would be required to pay the money back with interest, or you would sell them stocks in the company and if successful you would have to pay dividends, etc etc..

Now every investor knows there is going to be cost over runs, and pretty much expect you to come back and ask for more money, this is why banks will often set max amounts on loans (go in to apply for a $100k loan they might authorize you for a max loan of $250k).

Now, lets see what the SEC has to say about crowdfunding. https://www.sec.gov/rules/final/2015/33-9974.pdf

Now the important thing to look at for a small business is TITLE III of the jobs act. Important bullet points here are the max you can ask for in a years time is $1 million. Notice too that there is a max amount investors can make over all crowdfunding offerings, not just one particular one and that is 5% of their annual net worth or $2000 whichever is greater, or 10% if annual income or net worth is over $100,000. (So here you can see where you could run into a big problem, if a guy giving you $500, but previously gave $500 to 4 others in the same 12 month period, you just got money illegally.) Notice also that it says that the the exchange must be securities for the investment, this means stocks and bonds, things that can actually be exchanged for money, it also states that all transactions must be done through a single crowdfunding portal. Notice that it does not mention things like virtual little tidbits and glamour items, or any of the things for that matter that are being offered on kick starter as a reward for funding the project. There’s a whole bunch of other interesting stuff you might want to read in that link.

One thing to remember is that the title III rules did not take effect until May of 2016. So those of you who got money prior to this are not affected unless you got money after May of 2016.

Now let’s look at Kick Starter, first for it to be a crowdfunding portal for business it must be registered with the SEC or FINRA and as far as i can tell it is not. You know why? Because it’s not meant as a means for small business investment, in fact kick starter states “We built Kickstarter to help bring creative projects to life. ” Notice that it does not say we built kickstarter to help bring your small business to life.

What this means for these MMO projects is simple, if your intention is to create a game and bring it to life then give your contributors the game for free and never put the game up and run it as a business (this means no cash shop, no subscriptions, no one time fees) and that your full intention is to support it through volunteer donations which would mean the guy giving you no donations would have as much access to it as anyone else. Then your good to go no worries.

However what this also means is if you intend to have a cash shop, charge subscriptions, you know make a profit and run it as a business you are using the wrong crowd funding site and are in for a whole world of trouble if anyone lets the SEC know what you have done.

There is a reason the SEC puts rules into place, it’s to protect the uneducated investors, the whole existence of the SEC is to make sure those that have no clue what they are doing when investing are protected from predators.

Now your current use of the word of “Investment” and investor and investing is actually totally wrong. You would have us believe that it’s ok to go out and ask for a small portion of money to complete a project, then come back for more later, and come back for more later and to keep coming back for more.. and then not giving any return on investment for their “investment” and eventually having a business capable of making millions being set right in your lap at no cost to you… is ok.

Here’s the truth there is a type of person that will come to people that have no real knowledge of how to invest properly and use cleverly twisted words and never really let you know the full truth when they ask for money, then come back and say oh it wasn’t enough i need more, oh this happened i need even more… That person would be known as a con man and what he is doing is what is known as the long con.

Now that is not to say that I believe even for a second that you are a con man, I simply believe that your a guy that saw a way to make his dream job come true got really excited and didn’t do his due diligence.

What this also means, now that i did the research, i need to go take the time to find out when Richard Garriot’s last kickstarter ended.

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karrion_nightstalker

Well, Seems Richard beat the law being implemented, he’s now using the proper type of crowdfunding site.

Seems at this point Mr. Downes, unfortunately, you have two choices… Keep developing it as a 100% free to play game, and having it survive on donations like SWGEMU… which means you are going to have to be really careful and keep a strict accounting of funds, while your allowed to build up funds for future costs, your going to want to be really careful just how much you build up so it does not appear to be profits and you’ll have to only touch it to support the game. This would include paying yourself a wage.

Or return the funds to the contributors and restart your efforts by forming an actual business..

Either way, you really need to contact an attorney and see what your options are at this point.

Until you know for sure I would highly suggest you turn off donations on kick starter.

This is not what I actually intended to have happen. I was just having fun with a good intellectual debate with a fairly good opponent.

However I hope at the very least that i saved you from running into legal problems in the future.

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karrion_nightstalker

Ok well, looks like you closed down the kick starter in 2014, so fortunately you have the option of doing the same as Richard.

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Tinnis

On Crowfall:

Any elements in the store are cosmetic only or can only be used in the Eternal Kingdom player housing worlds (separate from the game campaign worlds)

Anything you can buy via the store you will also be able to build for free via in game resources.

See also statement with regards the high store prices from Creative director J Todd Coleman

“A few people will buy them, but not many. A handful of guilds, maybe.

Mostly, they’ll be crafted, which makes the numbers theoretical. When an eve battle results in “$150,000 worth of ships destroyed!” that is technically true, but most of it is virtual money. Do some people spend that kind of money? yes, but it’s exceedingly rare.

These are the biggest, most impressive strongholds in the game. If we want it to take a long time to build one (even for a large guild) then the resource cost has to be extreme. Multiply that out into theoretical dollars, and it’s big numbers.”

Strict stance against pay to win or free to play payment models and tactics:

the company doesn’t believe free-to-play, which “so easily turns into either pay-to-win or nagware,”

Coleman said that customers are tired of “slash and burn tactics of free-to-play where your goal is to get people in and to monetize the hell out of them for days or maybe weeks and then churn them out and replace them.”

They dont want to “design the game around constantly hounding the players for money.”

“We’ve been very reluctant since the beginning to go the traditional fundraising route for our game, which is the big box publishers.

We philosophically like the idea of being answerable to our players first and foremost”

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karrion_nightstalker

Yea it’s getting out of control, especially with these indie games. But really the one that has ticked me off the most is Shroud of the avatar, here you have a game that got almost 2 million from it’s kick-starter campaign. Now up to over 11 million just through it’s in game shop. To me that seems like the development of the game has been paid for a few times over. Pretty good haul for an incomplete game that is not even out of alpha yet. Now i recently went to download the free trial that they had going for a limited time, and while it was downloading, i browsed through the online cash shop.. $80 for some emotes.. I quickly canceled the download and will never look at that title again. Just made me sick.

Maybe I’m too old school, but yea I’ll gladly buy a box game, and pay a monthly subscription but asking for anything more is just gouging the market and ruining the atmosphere of the game. You might say, it was only emotes and nothing in the cash shop was pay to win. However that depends on your point of view, if your a role-player then emotes is a pay to win. Cash shops just seem to spoil the fun of a game, leaves you with the ever present feeling of them trying to snake money out of peoples wallet that they just are not owed.

I’ll be honest here, I think these indie games need to disappear. Yea they get some good ideas, they come ask for money, but then most the time it’s proven they just don’t have the knowledge or ability to produce the game, a lot of them it just seems like some guy woke up one morning and said, “I used to program text based games on my old Atari 8 bit, i think i can make a modern day MMO.” They come asking for money, and we have no idea if they can pull it off… To me it’s like paying a guy to come in and do drywall, without checking references and such first, yea i know people do it all the time and i also know they end up having to call in another guy after the first one messes it up.

That being said, I know large studios seem to be shying away from the mmo market, my guess is primarily due to the fact that their wow clones are not panning out as well as they had hoped.. Also since the only other non-wow clone that was tried by a big name failed miserably, mostly due to unrealistic development cycles and corporate greed pushing it out the door with only 20 months of development time caused it to be nowhere near the hit that it had the potential to become. It becomes obvious to big studios that the mmo market just isn’t worth the risk of investment. Without some big name to sell it..and since there isn’t any…

Now what I would hope is that a big studio with the actual knowledge on how to pull off a unique and in-depth game would do is come to a crowdfunding site and lay out the game they want to develop and ask for investors as some other person suggested on here. Sure I’d gladly pay out $100 for a 0.001% interest in the game, if what they brought to the table was intriguing enough to grab my attention. At least then I’d know i wasn’t tossing money away on some wanna be developer with no clue how to get the job done.

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

MMO’s typically cost tens, to hundreds, of millions to develop usually. No, $11 million is not sufficiently funded many times over.

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karrion_nightstalker

Hmm lets see wow 2003 was $60m, vanguard 2007 was $35m.. Ever quest 1999 was $3m.. the fact that large studios will hit up investors for $50-$100 million to produce a title does not mean that’s what it actually cost, Wow was not much better of a game then EQ, the only difference really is the amount that someone is willing to put into the development so they can use the big name graphic artists and musical artists to create their game. Let’s see SWGEMU took 3 years to create at a cost of less then 2k a month, granted they worked for free and the client was already built they just had to pull it apart, still it shows what can be done on very little money..

Now fast forward to today where there is a plethora of server hosting services, many with the game engine provided as low as $99/month, so even if you figure 15 game programmers with a annual salary of between $40-$120k figure an average salary of $80k that’s 1.2 million a year, and that a lot of MMO’s these days because of said services can be produce in about 2 years instead of 4 years.. your looking at $2.5 million to actually produce and come up with a viable game. So the only real extra cost would be if you had teams of 200 or whatever…

Now i seem to remember, but i am too lazy to go check, that you said you were developing a game, of course you’d say it actually costs more, you don’t want to put a limit on the amount of money flowing into your pocket.

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

Been thinking, and I was being a bit boorish to you there, and I apologize for that. You have a point, so let’s explore that a bit. See, there is a title which proves your thinking, Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn. In 14 months, they, in effect, built a new MMORPG. The reason why they could is because they had the majority of the art assets already done – recycled from the original Final Fantasy XIV. Programming is not what takes the majority of time, which is why the SWG emulator was done so quickly as well – it didn’t need new art assets.

But, for the majority of games, they have to make art, the content of the game, and lots of it. Sure, you can purchase or license some, but what you can’t, you have to make, and that costs time and money, lots and lots of both. My own title, City of Titans, can purchase the majority of our worlds assets, only then needing someone to assemble them how we need them, but our character models have to be custom due to the extreme customization needed for our game design. We are all volunteer as well, so our costs are low, but the man-hours needed remain the same.

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

Content is the majority of the cost, and time, and ignoring those costs because you want to make a point does not help your argument.

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karrion_nightstalker

Ok, that’s fine I’ve had more time to research a reply and was hoping you’d respond again. Here goes you’ll notice that many studios today will launch like 5 games in 6 years, they will go as far as to claim each game cost $50 million to produce, however when you look at them closely you notice that all 5 of them use the same engine and are not really that much different from each other, usually there is a slight graphics upgrade through the 6 years, usually there is small variations in game play and more often then not they changed the UI around to fool you into thinking it’s a different game.

Now if you really want to know how they make those claims and support them, and why they do so you have to look at corporate accounting practices and the different type of investors out there. Now to understand the corporate accounting practices you have to know how corporations work, I’m going to use some random numbers which are by no means factual numbers to explain it.

Essentially, each corporation splits up into divisions each one has their own ledgers that they use to prove to corporate HQ that they are in fact a profitable and integral part of the company. So lets say there’s 5 divisions, here is basically how it works. Division 1 will need something from division 2, division 2 supplies it and charges $100k to division 1, step is repeated division 2 needs something from division 3 and is charged 100k, division 3 needs something from 4 and another 100k charge is produced, division 4 needs something from division 5 and another 100k charge, division 5 needs something from division 1 and another 100k charge is created.. So suddenly you got a cost $600k for making something when all these charges are added together that actually have nothing to do with the actual cost of keeping the lights on, paying employee benefits and renting the space.

So why would they do this sort of thing? Because of investors, most venture capital firms are not looking to loan a few million, they are looking to invest 30+ million, so these companies looking for investors actually have to get the 30+ million loans in order to get the money to build the game instead of what they actually need. That’s not saying some do not actually spend this money as they will outsource a lot of work to graphic design companies, etc etc… But those are foolish people, why outsource when you can just recruit a few extra people to do the job.

OK Since you want to bring up content as the highest cost, once the client and the server are created the tools are put in place to create content. Been there done that, helped with remaking a lot of content which usually ends up being a bunch of script files and a graphics patch to add it to the client. Do you think people are dumb? We have watched companies churn out content patches every 2 months without breaking a sweat.

Now as far as actual costs to produce a game i actually believe that the $3 million that is claimed with EQ is closer to reality and i suspect even that price is inflated a little bit. Here you had verant interactive near the start of this industry being sold to a larger company, no matter what it actually costs your going to bloat that price as much as you think you possibly can to get as much for your company as you can possibly get.

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karrion_nightstalker

Oh yes, i even forgot to mention there is a quote in the past few years where John Smedley himself states it would only cost him $2 million to make a game these days… should have saved the link.

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

It all comes down to how much you need to make. Code is not the lions share of cost in any MMO, it is the art. I recall one time I’d gotten ahold of an audio studio’s bill for an MMO I will not mention, but for a single voice actor’s work, it was near half a million in total, not counting the actor’s salary. That’s for the studio rental, staff, mastering, balance, and cleanup.

I am enjoying this conversation btw. It’s rare I run into someone who actually has given it thought beyond simply the numbers.

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karrion_nightstalker

Hmm i would think instead of wasting money on those voice actors you could go to the local high school and find plenty of people willing to talk into a microphone for you, and I’m sure there’s some A/V kid that would jump at the chance to make it sound really really good. I’ve actually been surprised at some of the stuff coming out of the local high school. This just goes to the aspect of throwing money away by outsourcing the job. I always look at every possible way to cut costs on stuff. I will squeeze that penny to make it scream. Essentially what your doing by contracting the outside companies is paying for someones bloated ego, you can always find good talent in the least likely of places.

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FreecczLaw

If any of the bigger developers actually made games that were different and something there is a chance I enjoy I would gladly not support the above mentioned money schemes.

However as it stands the ONLY way I have any chance of getting an mmorpg I want is if one of the above mentioned developers manages to deliver and because of that I am all for it.

I don’t like the monetization most popular games go with either nowadays and they don’t even have a chance of delivering an experience I want. Because of that I end up with a situation where I don’t think it is optimal, but if the alternative is no chance of a game for me, well then I say go nuts.

I would rather spend my money for a chance of something I like than an actual thing in a game I think is bad.

Vaeris
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Vaeris

If I knew back in 1997 what I knew now with respect to MMORPGs I would have played the games I was playing much more and gotten more fun out of then so that I could walk away happily forever in November 2005.

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Emmanuel Carabott

Personally I think crowd funding needs to move away from selling ingame items and simply sell equity / profit sharing. Its the only way this can work in the long term. We all know game development is expensive. Worst yet in there is no project plan that survives the real world. you can create the best plan ever but you can be sure something will not work out as anticipated incurring additional unforeseen costs. Worst yet crowd founding as is makes a developer try to be as conservative as possible when asking for funds because if they ask too much and they dont reach the target in many platforms they end up getting nothing. In turn that generally means they must continue raising funds during development which generally means selling in game stuff. Now lets face it, few people will spend good money buying cosmetics for a game that hasnt even released yet so devs have no choice but sell valuable stuff. How do you make digital items valuable ? well there is only two ways… make them unique or very hard to get. In turn this will end up having a negative effect on game design.

Lets take star citizen for example. my biggest worry with star citizen is that the way it was financed will make it impossible to have a balanced game. let me explain. We’ve all seen the awesome multi crew video… nice juicy derelict, go in to salvage it, rival crew warps in, battle to the victor go the spoils. Exciting game play how is it going to work in truth? Can we expect to run into ships that so many people have paid 100s if not 1000s of dollars for? Dont think thats going to be the case no one wants to anger their best paying customers. But more over what will it mean for people who didnt spend 1000s to buy big ships with lifetime insurance? but lets forget the very big ship lets go with a constellation which i assume will be the most popular multi player ship… costs $330 or so to buy. How much will that cost in game? $330 is a lot of money they cant afford to make it cheap or once again best customers will be angry. then you have insurance. I’d say it probably will be 10% of ship price? reasonable assumption. So if for the sake of argument it would take say 3 months of grinding to afford a constellation insurance cost will be close to 1 week of play time. That means at best you can afford to loose 1 per week which is okey until you factor there are people who have the same class of ship with unlimited insurance and thus can afford to loose as many as they like, for them a lost ship means a few minutes to just move back in place. That in my opinion will end up killing the game. If I dont have unlimited insurance i need to steer clear of danger. would I risk going to try salvage a derelict knowing probably every ship with an LTI thats in range will also be there?Now to be fair there is a ton of assumptions here, i am sure they have clever super experienced game designers that might have found a solution to this problem but until such a design is provided I must say as a backer I worry. However on the other hand what choice do RSI have? they’re making one behemout of a game with a huge developer base… they cant afford to loose a steady income stream and who’d pay $300+ for a ship that you can easily earn in a week by playing the game? This obviously isnt an issue specific to RSI most companies need a stead stream to finish development so what choice do they have? well selling something thats valuable without effecting game design and thats equity.

Now I understand some devs go to crowd funding specifically to avoid giving away equity but developers like gamers need to understand there is no such thing as free lunch. Right now things are really getting crazy. Like sure its great when you get your players to finance your game for you and then you get to sell a subscription back them for the product they essentially developed (in terms of financing) in the first place not to mention you probably have to intentionally gimp your design so you get more financing.

Essentially right now with crowfunding Players who engage in it take a lot of risk. worst case they loose everything they invest. Best case scenario they get a game that in order to finance is less then the best it could have been and more likely then not they need to keep paying for it as well. Doesnt seem fair or balanced and certainly doesnt seem sustainable. At some point players will realize there is no win scenario and then everyone looses.

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

The problem here is that such equity crowdfunding is illegal in many cases. I know that, as a Washington corporation, we could never participate in such a setup due to our states financial laws.

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Emmanuel Carabott

I understand there are legal issues in some places. but thats not the point. The point is simple, people need to be incentivized to invest large sums of money into games. Either devs do that with digital carrots until players stop to biting and/or crowd funding gets the same reputation as f2p (business model ruins game play) or we find a different incentive and the other thing i can think of is the possibility of actually gaining money from your investment. thats the way to go imho for many reasons.

1. game design will not suffer
2. risk players take at least has a potential reward
3. whatever future costs game will levy (say subscription) it will not feel like you paid the developers money so that they can continuously charge you money in the future

besides while like I said I acknowledge there are legal issues for this, it seems workarounds have already been found since some games have already done this (crowfall and shroud of the avatar)

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Bullwraith

Don’t throw any money at a game that you cannot afford to lose, and even then with your mind wide open to the possibility that you may get NOTHING in return.

It’s a free market out there. Enjoy it with common sense.

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Shiro Madoushi

Your sentiments would have earned you a 7 day ban over on the ArcheAge forums. Can I interest you in a $360 gold car? Outrun pks and earn gold faster in style!

It’s not just before the game’s launch. Monetization is out of control at all stages of a game’s life now. Even if I don’t buy that $1000 space ship with free insurance, whatever game I am playing now has inserted some sort of roadblock that I can overcome with a large sum of cash money.

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Arktouros

Monetization in MMOs has been changing for a long time and Kickstarters are the next level of it. Investing into a game so deeply, let alone financially that early into their game creation is absurd and it won’t be until we see a few spectacular failures that people treat them the way they should. I mean Repopulation. Here we have a game, through what we’ll skeptically say was no fault of their own, blew up in their face. When you’re developing a project like that things can change, ideas can not work out, and what you were told you were going to buy can be completely different.

Now I’m all for being able to drop money on a game and if it’s a game I actually like and designed well I’m fairly generous and love convenience. But it boggles my mind that people are dropping that kinda money on the IDEA of a game rather then actual game itself. A $7000 castle raises a lot of questions but most important which what kinda impact does it have on the game? Before you answer “None” consider why anyone would buy a $7000 castle in the first place if it does nothing and more importantly how likely are they to listen to the people who dropped $7000 to make it do something over people who didn’t?

And lets be clear, this is pretty much all the future MMO games are because they’re all pretty much kickstarter titles. Their hands were out for development, do you honestly think they’re going to pull their hand back AFTER the game launches? Hahaha…

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karrion_nightstalker

Actually the Re-population is back, Ideafabrik/Heroengine acquired it from ABT.. But before you go running to dowload it again or god forbid buy it again. It’s been back up and running for 3 months with no updates, very little communication, too many bugs to expand on, crash to desktop so often that you think logging in is a feature of the game.

Also after extensive testing, i’ve discovered some very fatal flaws in it’s skill system. Basically you can afk macro several skills at a time to max, and to fix the flaws i am almost 100% positive they would have to gut and redesign the game from the ground up. This is a game people should just let die.

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ichi sakari

what a beautiful high horse we’re all on today

and me too, I see whales buying gamble boxes and throwing cash at assets that should be earnable in-game, and think ‘what fools’, because Homer

comment image

I’ve supported one game in particular because the devs have promised something that is substantially different from the rest of the crap out there right now, and I have hope that I’ll be rewarded for that support.

I’m doing that with eyes wide open, knowing full well that it might end up a smoldering heap. Sorry if I’m mucking it up for y’all, but I see one (and only one) game that has the potential to be primarily about gaming instead of being a way for a corporation to increase revenue.

In my mind that’s different than buying gamble boxes in the hope of getting an asset that I should have been able to earn in-game. I guess Schrodinger’s cat isn’t out of the box yet, so its too early to tell if I’m a fool ruining it for everyone else or a smart guy who made a good call and got into a good thing early.

capt_north
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capt_north

I think Garriott is on the right track, actually. We talk about player investment in the game being the key to retention, but literal investment? For literal returns? You’re creating player-owners who have a tangible stake in the success of the game.

I have no idea how it will pan out for SotA, but the concept resonates. Lord knows I wouldn’t mind getting long-term capital gains for the lifetime subs I’ve bought.

Dantos
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Dantos

Now that there is no more theoretical cap on the revenue per player per time, not trying to find the sweet spot of monitization just shy of driving away a large amount of players is leaving money on the table.

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Armsbend

Stop buying and, more importantly, stop promoting the games then. I know you need the news but if no one talked about them – then no one would talk about them.

Edit: If Sea of Thieves or New World are a bust I’m likely to walk away from the traditional MMORPG forever. They aren’t doing anything to even keep me interested in news. Every game that comes out is worse than the next.

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karrion_nightstalker

Oh i have to clap my hands for you! This is exactly part of the problem… if sites like this would stop promoting and not even mention these games until they were just about ready to launch, I’m quite sure you’d see a lot less of these beggar’s with their hands out.

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Jeremy Barnes

It’s not monetization! It’s letting players be part of the process! Right? Right guys?!

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squidgod2000

I miss sub games being the default. All the new funding and monetization schemes just feel…messy. With a sub game, developers have an incentive to focus on creating/maintaining fun games, adding additional content, etc. With cash shops, their focus shifts to creating repetitive or time-gated content and selling shortcuts in the cash shop (XP potions, for instance); or they spend their time on cosmetics, which, over time, tend to dilute the game world and immersion (contemporary clothing in asian imports, stupid pet or mount skins, like the grandfather clock pet in Everquest, among oh-so-many others).

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Mush V. Peets

I agree with the sentiment regarding cosmetics diluting the game world, but there’s no reason the cosmetics need to go that way. Within a game world you can have any number of awesome things to buy off the cash shop, without breaking your game world and putting in silly things like modern clothing or cheesy companions. This is purely the fault of the developers, not the strategy.

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Tithian

I can ignore the monetization and the desperate hype campaigns.

What annoys me the most is that perceptions about the genre have been scewed irrevocably. If you are a small-ish studio trying to deliver a game on your own funds, you are doomed to fail because nowdays even 10-man teams will promise people the stars in hopes of getting millions in funds. In comparison you will not even register on many people’s radar.

MMO players have turned into pure consumers, fueled 100% by hype. It’s the norm now, that you set up a tech demo that may or may not be playable, sit back, and collect the dough by building hype on people’s expectations. The key is to provide as little gameplay as possible, so that you can keep capitalizing on the hype for as long as possible.

People used to consider pre-orders shady, but now they pre-buy expansions and add-ons on unreleased games that they have also pre-bought, without even getting their hand on a demo. What the actual fuck.

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karrion_nightstalker

I still consider pre-orders shady… Get it live before you ask me to buy.

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Tithian

A good rule to follow. One that almost no one pays any attention to any more, sadly.

cmdr_cotic
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cmdr_cotic

One of the things that made me laugh about Star Citizen is that there has been no official announcement about reaching $150 million. You would have thought that Chris Roberts could sit down long enough to pen a letter thanking the very people who made such a milestone possible but nope, he clearly doesn’t give a shit, all he cares about is that people keep throwing money at him…

The amount of pay to advance/pay to be lazy/pay to win has driven me away from games that I would otherwise enjoy, it has directly contributed to driving me away from MMORPGs in general, so much so that I have picked up some consoles and finding my fun in games like Persona 5, Breath of the Wild, Xenoblade Chronicles et al.

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karrion_nightstalker

Star citizen from the videos and everything i’ve seen looks like it’d be awesome to play… but… It’s another game that I’ll never bother to install. Because of the way it was monetized.

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Armsbend

I assume he doesn’t want the increase of funds well-known. Then he can take more of the money for himself. At this point he probably knows this won’t reach a large audience outside of the people already in. It will never become his Minecraft. The hype is truly dead on SC.

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squidgod2000

Or they’re realizing that their funding total has gotten so large that people are starting to ask where the game is and why SC needs more money, which could undercut future imaginary spaceship sales.

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Darkwalker75 .

Or maybe, just maybe he’s busy actually getting some work done with the game.
And I’m willing to bet that if he had done as you think he should someone would have found fault with that as well.

cmdr_cotic
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cmdr_cotic

Oh naff off with your defense and apologism. He could spend 8 hours coming up with his irrational diatribe in response to the Escapist stuff so I’m certain he could spend 15 minutes writing a post thanking the backers if he could be bothered.

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Reht

He is too busy laughing, while on his way to the bank, to do that…..

edangerous
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edangerous

I’m picturing Scrooge McDuck diving into all his gold.

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MesaSage

Yes! Thank you for this. I agree with pretty much everything expressed by the staff and can’t really add to what you’ve said. I hope that your article gets a wide read. Not that I think it will change the behavior of those who’ve created the problem, but maybe by getting enough counter-voice started, it will push these practices out of favor.

EDIT: Reads comments below, depression returns. This is not about lootboxes and cosmetic undies folks.

Nick Martin
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Nick Martin

The mix of Star Citizen and Camelot Unchained basically got me to pull my support from Ashes of Creation and decide that I don’t want to play this game any more. I looked at the money that was tucked away in those two games, and how they’re basically hand-waving and distracting instead of putting something out tells me that this is well into the “just scamming” territory.

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Armsbend

I dont think CU is a scam – they have just said they are unwilling to put in more than 40 hours per man per week. They basically had otusiders fund a dream job that never happens in software. The reason people have to work 60-80hours + in software is its the only way it gets done.

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

Indeed. I am actually glad to hear that the CU team is doing this on business hours, because the 80 hour workweek used to be the exception. Now it is the norm among AAA titles, and is a large reason why game developers are burning out.

Nick Martin
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Nick Martin

I actually work in software, as a developer, and I respect and appreciate the 40-hour week (my company believes in it too, which is rare). I’m completely on board with a developer setting goals based on that. I disagree with the only way it gets done part… that only applies if unrealistic goals or expectations are set.

Scam (for them at least… SC is entirely and totally a scam at this point and I’m never going to get my ship or the features I bought it for) may be a strong word for them. Overpromised, sure, and most certainly, two years late, underdelivered.

For CU, the problem I have as a developer is that this feels entirely like a team not working with constraints (time, money, whatever) and not aiming for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)… the “just good enough” to get it working and playable. Get an alpha or beta with some features out there to show, and then work to improve and iterate on that. Instead, what we are seeing is a team that both wants to make a “perfect” game, along with some scope creep.

To be fair to CU, the creep isn’t as bad as Star Citizen is. SC is entirely scope creep at this point. I backed the the game because of the promised Freelancer, Trade, and gathering systems. They’ve said basically nothing about it, instead working on everything but the initial game.

Ultimately, both of those games represent my disappointment with the alternate-funded MMOs at this point, and why I ultimately pulled the plug on my AoC pledge and have skipped out on most. I don’t mind paying in when there’s a product out there, even one that needs a lot of love (looking at you, Repopulation)… but at least there’s something to show for it.

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Mark Jacobs

Hey, thanks for walking the scam comment back a bit. Considering that I’m funding a lot of the development myself, if CU was a scam it would be the worst attempt ever. :)

In terms of scope/MVP, the problem has always been lack of enough engineers. We set an initial goal, during the KS, of having 12 programmers. We’ve been trying desperately to hit that number but until we opened the studio in Seattle, we weren’t even close to that number. Now that we are above that number, watch the progress we will make and compare that too what we were making before. Now, this doesn’t excuse the lateness, but it is the reason. Because we are the most transparent of any KS-backed MMO (and other game too I believe), our Backers see/meet the entire team, see weekly tests, our Backers know that this is the truth, no hand-waving involved.

And just to be clear, feature creep has had nothing to do with our delay. Everything was/is tied to not having enough of a team. Now we do, and even though it is costing me a lot of additional money, I’m willing to spend it and am doing so.

It’s going to be a very interesting summer of us. As I’ve said to our Backers, some of whom are seeing this during the tests, we have a lot of things coming online at the same time. Late? Yep, but there going in and now that I have a minimum of 3 full-time gameplay programmers, it will be going in faster than ever.

Thanks again for walking back the scam comment. I don’t mind people being angry for us being late, but because we are paying refunds and I’m using my own money to fund this, one of the things that we’re not is a scam.

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Erhan Altay

Hey there Mr Jacobs!

I was there on day 1 of DAOC and still love that game. I’m curious on your take on how/why development cycles have gotten so long recently. If I’m not mistaken, you guys whipped up DAOC in ~18 months with a $2.5m budget, with 25 devs. It seems to be an industry wide issue, not just isolated to you/your team. I have my own hunches (top quality talent being diverted to mobile/social media/fintech/etc) but nothing concrete.

If you’ve written on this topic before, I’d love a link to that! I’ve been following Camelot Unchained and will be sure to try it as soon as its released!

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

A large part has to do with expectations so far as I can see it. DAoC was colled a graphical MUD, but took 18 months while a traditional MUD can be done in 6 months. Similarly, look at the graphical fidelity demanded today vs 2001. It simply takes more time to develop such high fidelity assets. I know for my own game, based on previous experience, we expected our player model to be done back at the end of 2014. Instead, it was not finished until 2016, the added fidelity meant that shortcuts and tricks which were used in the past now looked horrible.

My own experiences only, and I too am curious for Mr.Jacobs insight.

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Sally Bowls

I could argue that CU is a scam; it’s just that the money flow is in the opposite direction than forum warriors think. :-)

KCCO GL HF

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Mark Jacobs

LOL. well said.

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

I know for CoT we aim to hit your level of transparency. You guys have set the standard we KS games should aim for.

And I still owe your seattle office a box of donuts

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Mark Jacobs

Thanks. And we’ll be getting even more transparent once we get into Beta. :)

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Armsbend

I was in software as well and while it does exist it is certainly rare. I wasn’t in anything artistic I was in enterprise – but I imagine it’s the same.

But yes if you don’t have deliverables – you do not deliver. The PM being too close with their team is also a problem. my 2 cents.

I’ve been saying it for years now. The traditional model for development is better in every way than this crap. This crap is a brain drain.

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

Feature creep is a problem for any software team, no matter how small. I know that my own kickstarted game has had its world side increase due to elements introduced within the Kickstarter itself. Fighting against feature creep is a challenge for every developer.

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Arktouros

Can confirm, I don’t do any game related software development and it can be a real struggle to keep yourself on track. Whether it be your users ideas or your own as you develop you ultimately gotta set a plan and stick with it.

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Rhime

I don’t agree with your SC comment. With the amount of info available, personnel working on the game, studios involved, current game available to play, art assets, hardware investment and time invested in testing that there’s no way it’s a “scam”. You are right about it being under delivered in a timeframe, but not overpromised when it comes to player’s desires. Like it or not, the game will launch as promised.

Line
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Line

There are some ridiculous things on the market, but I’m more worried about the general approach to money making in the MMO genre.

Lootboxes are obviously a pain in the butt, and gambling really, really shouldn’t appear in product played by kids. Or adults for that matter.
But they’re ubiquitous now, every game under the sun has them… and they’re only getting worse in GW2, ESO, etc with tons of unique items with ridiculously low chances to drop.
Maybe China’s new laws would help… but looking at Blizzard skirting around the issue… I don’t think we’ll avoid them. We’ll only get a question like “2+2=?” to make lootboxes appear as trivia tests like in Canada…

So many elements are made to create more cash… the old super slow levelling comes from that, same for the shitty enchantments with a chance to fail.
Nothing to do with games, just created for sub/cash shop opportunity.

And if I can add one that worries me a lot: level skipping and the like.
FFXIV finally added a way to avoid the level grind and main quest grind, they talked about that for years.
But the solution is… $50 worth of potions. And unlike competition like in WoW or GW2, it doesn’t come free (for one character…) with the expansion.
And nobody said a thing, hell, a lot of players just love it… and it’s getting me worried about the future. The grind was clearly mandatory here since day one. And now it isn’t if you pay. What will be the next thing that will be considered fair game in bigger games? What about gear (well that one was totes fine for the public in Rift before it became a scape goat… hated it then, still hate it today)? Maybe you’ll get cash shop options to avoid the daily dungeons or something…?

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Robert Mann

One thing with Rift at least, for the most part gear on the shop is either super outdated or only available for in game currency. So I don’t find it too terrible, as compared to so many other practices out there.

Rift certainly has plenty of things that are problematic, alongside Trion, but I always laughed at those claims because it was all old stuff any time I looked. It was like raiders in the third tier were somehow impacted by the change to buy world/dungeon gear. The drama didn’t match the issue at all.

The rest of this, very on target!

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Didn’t mobile games like Farmville start with the idea of paying not to play the ‘game’ as it were? You spend money to automate the very part of the game that made it a game.

Are mmo’s heading there?

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

Scarlet Blade actually offered features like this.

No joke, it was utterly ridiculous when I could have my character take themselves to the quest locations.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

I’ve see a few that do that, mostly Eastern mmos. Click the quest and you start running towards to the quest location.

*sigh

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karrion_nightstalker

aww don’t hate on auto-nav… lol.. I’ve only seen it in one game, laughed pretty hard at it too.

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Reht

The new WoW token: Instantly complete your emissary quest for $5!

Line
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Line

That is very present in mobile games, but for the most part it was the other way around.
Daily systems where you can’t do much of X activity after a while? Random chances to get the good stuff that you need? Becoming more powerful with your credit card instead of investing a lot of time (plain ubiquitous in the Asian market, especially in Korea…)?

Most of the worst mobile elements come from MMOs.
The bad part of MMOs.
And I fear that it’s only getting more common… the ever increasing automation of the genre is tightly linked to the cash shop (or the sub, look at ESO and their mat bag).

And what’s terrifying is that issues in a game are resolved with a new way to spend money.

We don’t have visual upgrades for a price yet, or better ping for the most wealthy… and then I think of console games that are sold again and again with a slight resolution and shadow upgrade for newer models like PS3>PS4 and Wii U>Switch and the slow death of net neutrality.
Maybe MMOs are just a symptom of a much larger problem.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Welcome to the future.
You will be folded, spindled, and mutilated.

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Dušan Frolkovič

As long as there will be people that are willing to buy, they will offer these kind of deals.
Supply and Demand.
If people stop buying them, they will disappear (either the offers if the game is real, or the developer if it is somehing shadier)

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Kathy Davis

I am one of those people that buy in game crap, a pink bow? a pink bow for my pet pig? Yes, please! I am a cash shop whore, I am old, I’ve worked a long time and I do spend money, BUT..
I do not buy blind boxes, I do not buy any kind of boost and I NEVER buy anything BEFORE it is a finished product.
**Sorry, I find this topic frustrating, why rush through a game? Why power level? Why give a company money for something you don’t even know what it looks like or how it plays?**
***Of course, there is also this.. why do people (me) buy so much digital stuff? Does it feed me? Does it keep me warm? Does it help me save for retirement? NOPE… But. it does make me happy.***
So I guess we all spend money on what makes us happy.

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karrion_nightstalker

Yea, i have a saying on those pink bows for pet pigs…. if it makes mama happy, it makes everyone happy… go ahead and buy it… I get the good boy pat on my head and the wife gets her pink bow for her pet pig.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

As much as I enjoyed ESO, I left in part because of its monetization practices.

Most mmos now I feel like I’m entering Mr Thenardiers inn not a virtual world where I might meet people I like to talk to and do stuff that might be fun.

“Residents are more than welcome
Bridal suite is occupied
Reasonable charges
Plus some little extras on the side!
Charge ’em for the lice
Extra for the mice
Two percent for looking in the mirror twice
Here a little slice
There a little cut
Three percent for sleeping with the window shut
When it comes to fixing prices
There are a lot of tricks he knows
How it all increases
All those bits and pieces
Jesus! It’s amazing how it grows!”

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Kickstarter Donor
Serrenity

Curious – what about ESO’s monetization don’t you like? I’ve considered it to be one of the better ones.

camren_rooke
Reader
camren_rooke

It was just one part of my dissatisfaction with ESO but I did not feel as a subscriber that I was valued very much. There was still pressure for me to buy lockboxes and spend more money even though I was already giving them money every month.

This pressure came from lockboxes and from the removal of items from the store, an arguably shady tactic from the sale of real world goods.

Why can’t I get the pumpkin spice cat anymore? Are they not breeding them anymore? Have they all been wiped out by the horrible Pumpkin Spice Cat Plague of year 578? Did the parts required for making pumpkin spice cats become prohibitively expensive?

Oh, someone switched the ‘for sale’ switch from on to off.

Oh. *shrugs*

You may not find the argument compelling but for me it, along with other things about the game, made me feel more like a ‘mark’ than a player.

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Kickstarter Donor
Serrenity

It doesn’t have to be compelling for me :-) It’s what you found distasteful. Most of the things you mentioned don’t bother me, but it also doesn’t bother that they bother you :-)

I was honestly just curious. The thing that’s the biggest draw to sub is the crafting bag … because inventory management is a NIGHTMARE otherwise

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Agreed. The crafting bag is like that first free hit of cocaine. Hard to stop once you start.

Once I realized that crafting, as it is in ESO, isn’t very fun I questioned why even bothering with the crafting bag. I mean, at higher levels, you click on the style you want to learn and wait 20 days IRL…. that’s like an idle game.

At that point, the crafting bag which was one of the biggest draws for the subscription, kinda lost value in my eyes.

And you are being way to accepting and accomodating….acting almost like an adult. On the internets no less. Quite honestly, it’s creeping me out.

/e squints eyes.

What’s yur angle mister or madam?

:D

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Robert Mann

*Pulls up with a van.* “Ice cream, free ice cream in the back! Just click this link that totally won’t compromise your computer and give us your bank account access!

No, Serrenity does a pretty solid job of debating and talking about points, which is cool! Most of the people here do better than average, at least! It’s nice most of the time!

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Stropp

While I like and play FTP games, I am always loath to spend money on items that give me an advantage. It just feels like cheating. Even on the insta-cap boosts (free or not) it just feels wrong, and that I’m missing out on the journey.

And most games these days have enough quests or content to outlevel that content, so there’s not even any need (for me) to use XP boosts. I have tons of them in my EQ2 characters bags.

Honestly, I kind of miss the old subscription only days. At least you knew that everyone was playing on a level playing field.

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Cypher

Meh! A fool and his/her money are easily parted.

Zander
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Zander

Eliot Lefebvre :

As long as people act like Star Citizen is passing boundaries rather than milking money from its audience without finishing the core game, the studio is going to keep selling people ships that don’t exist beyond concept art.

You kind of have to shake your head at comments like this when clearly making ships isn’t Star Citizen’s problem. 22 ships are flight ready in the alpha out of the 60 or so pledge ships that are known about. Finishing ships is what quells the audience and drives the funding. The problem with Star Citizen is and has been the scope change and the means to see that change through. The boundaries Elliott is referring to are technologies never attempted with such scale and realism in a video game before. Because the intent is to make sure it’s done right the first time, it’s going to make for a long development cycle.

Star Citizen is guilty of changing the scope of it’s project in the second year of pledge and misleading it’s initial backers because the revenue allowed for the scope of the game to change. We are 4 years past that time now. They are also $130 million dollars past that point as well. The vast majority of funding has come after the fact that scope change was going to happen. Refunds are available to those who were not satisfied.

I think the part that bothers me the most is that crowdfunding is such a wild card and people have been legitimately burned. The spirit and meaning of crowdfunding has changed and giving a pledge has gotten more risky. Star Citizen is a risk over 1.8 million backers are willing to make.

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Drainage

Zander – people say this game, the scope, has never been attempted.

Says who? Why? Sounds like marketing versus substance.

Zander
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Zander

Says the proof in the substance they’ve shown thus far. If you are paying attention to the games progress nothing has to be said.

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Darkwalker75 .

Star Citizen is guilty of changing the scope of it’s project in the second year of pledge and misleading it’s initial backers because the revenue allowed for the scope of the game to change

Sorry but this is just not true at all.
Nobody was mislead as you claim, the backers was asked with a poll if they wanted the funding to continue and expand on the scope of the game, and over 80% voted yes.
There was a second poll not long before they stopped the stretch goals asking if they should continue and even there the majority voted yes.

I know a lot of people think and truly believe that they have been mislead and that CIG is just stringing us along, but most of these beliefs are grounded in impatience, lack of understanding or willingness to understand what has and is being done and even misinformation and outright lies from individuals who seem to have an axe to grid with either CIG or Roberts himself.

I’m not saying I agree with everything they have done, there are things I think they could have done differently or better, but to say the initial backers was mislead is just blatantly false.
I’m not saying people should not criticize the work that’s being done either as long as its valid and constructive, but a lot of the “criticism” I see are just repetitive nonsense with no grounds in reality, completely invalid and seems to just be intended to stir up trouble.
Its easy for me to sit here and think that I know better how they should or should not have done based on my personal opinion of things, but as I’m not there working on or managing the project I have no way of knowing what is happening and what difficulties they may have with the development.

I also know there are people who have worked or do work in the industry who have a much better understanding of this than me, but they should also know better than me how each project is different and just how difficult it can be to track down and fix a problem, especially for a project like this where they are trying out a lot of new things.

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Tithian

The main issue was that it was heavily implied that the expanded scope would not impact the development of the core game, which always was Squadron 42 and the core simulation gameplay. That was the main attraction, compared to the other competing title, Elite Dangerous.

A few years later there has been a complete 180, SQ42 has been delayed multiple times and 90% of dev time is going into milking more cash from the suck… err whale…. err backers that were roped in by the marketing hype of the online component.

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Darkwalker75 .

You make it sound as if the delays are something new or only done for some nefarious purpose, and trying to exacerbate it by posting trumped up numbers.

Would you rather have a rushed half finished product like most publisher released games today(many of which are unplayable due to gamebreaking bugs), or do you want a game that’s properly done with as much polish and as few bugs as possible?

How and how much impact the increased scope has had on the development as well as the implications you are referring to, seems to be entirely subjective and varies widely from person to person.
Anyone who thought that the increased scope would not have any or minimal impact on the development, especially the time it would take, have been fooling themselves and have nobody but themselves to blame for that.

The biggest problem with a lot of people today is the complete lack of patience, they seem to want and expect to get everything they want when they want it and scream like spoiled children when they don’t get it.
And its not just when it comes to games, I see it everywhere else as well.

As for the competing title, Elite Dangerous, how much have they delivered of what they promised?
They delivered a game that’s a mile wide and an inch deep, and promised to add many of the features that SC will come with on release, yet after 2 years we have practically nothing.
The one DLC they have released so far, adds very little of the things they promised.
Not to mention they went back on their word of allowing private servers at the very last moment.

What I have never been able to understand is this obsession people have with trying to find fault with anything and everything the SC development.
They are only showing us what we normally don’t see because its done behind closed doors, its nothing new.
So what is it about SC that’s so different from other games development that they deserve this kind of flak for what they do, most of which is just the same stuff repeated ad infinitum with no foundation in reality from people who seem to have an axe to grind with CIG or CR for seemingly no reason at all?

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Tithian

Yes, initially I was willing to wait, but now I am convinced the intent is malicious.

“Would you rather have a rushed half finished product like most publisher released games today(many of which are unplayable due to gamebreaking bugs), or do you want a game that’s properly done with as much polish and as few bugs as possible?”

I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit. SQ42 could be done literally years ago, even with voice acting, and motion capture. And you’re really crediting 3+ years of development to bug fixing and polish? Studios half their size release POLISHED games at half the time.

And you really think release will not be a bug-ridden experience, with lag desyncs and crashes? Oh my sweet summer child.

“As for the competing title, Elite Dangerous, how much have they delivered of what they promised? They delivered a game that’s a mile wide and an inch deep, and promised to add many of the features that SC will come with on release, yet after 2 years we have practically nothing.”

ED is an actual product that released. You are comparing a hyped non-existent project, with an actual game. That was completed in a fraction of the time, funds and manpower. Never mind, go buy another ship concept.

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Rhime

If we are guaranteed a refund if the game is not completely released playable then what’s the harm? Showing progress within a fair amount of time also instills confidence in your backers. I feel like most of the “chicken littles” are not backers of such big projects and most likely the reason articles like this have to be written…

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Sally Bowls

If we are guaranteed a refund if the game is not completely released playable then what’s the harm?

Where do you think the money for refunds is coming from? Let’s take a real world example, recent SotA numbers. They took in 19 mill, 11 mill was Crowdfunding and they have 0.5 now. If their servers crashed and the backups hadn’t worked and they decide to shut it down, they would owe 11 mill in refunds, have 0.5 on hand. Where would the other 10.5 million come from? In two months, they are on track to be at zero, leaving 11 mill that would be owed. Besides, some of the other 8 mill might be secured debt and have priority in being paid off before refunds.

If EA or ATVI or Microsoft offer refunds, there are assets to pay them. If a KS company talks about it, it strikes me as a way to reassure gullible people in order to get more funding.

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Rhime

I said “if”…Ashes has promised full refunds from out of the main dev’s pocket. This to me is worth a small investment in a game with features I want to see.

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Robert Mann

Well then, seems to me that this is entirely a problem that some people have, and one that others consider needed (I remember all too well people arguing that they have way more money than time on here before!)

Which is why, yet again, I think we need some variety in games. I believe the bigger issue, is that we don’t have many games coming out which aren’t being pushed by investors for maximum profit, which means they will go with stupid cash shop themes that are disgusting to many of us… so even if we have a developer who would otherwise make a decently monetized game, often that is overridden by a publisher.

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Serrenity

A few years ago, I would have agreed with you. But the most egregious offenders in this particular instance are crowd funded. Star Citizen, Shroud (I think …) Crowfall, etc. They don’t have publishers behind them just crowd funding.

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Robert Mann

True. I think the problem with game developers and crowd funding there is largely one with developers used to the big gaming industry though… those who have been around it for a longer time seem to be the ones who crowdfund either “just because” while they have a ton of funds, or who offer items with stupid prices so people can buy their way to digitally being ‘better’ than others. Every one of these games seems to be people who either were on notable successes or flops in AAA studios… which somehow manage to show up in crowdfunding sometimes themselves.

There’s, well, a problem or two there for sure! I just don’t think it is as much about crowd funding, as it is about the people behind those projects and their business setups.

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Utakata

I’ll wait to see if these products get fully released…or if the proprietors said products fly off to their near “retirement” villas in Acapulco with players hard earned “donations” instead. And before I pass judgement if this was the right or wrong thing to do.

In the meantime, I personally don’t like it. It’s seems more of whaling competitions to fund alphas and reeks of skeeziness. And suffice to say, I won’t be supporting any of these games this way. However, if players who interested in these games and want to back it, I am not going to tell them what to do with their money. I sincerely hope for their sakes they are right about it though. :(

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Nascent Visions

The problem, as I see it, is the total imbalance between backer and developer. As a developer, I can crowd fund a game that promises the world and if I don’t deliver on your X dollar pledge well then tough luck pal. At least if you’re a legitimate venture capitalist you get a seat at the table, your voice counts for something, hell you can even negotiate the rights to certain assets in the event the business fails. In the scenario we have today, the offer is “Give us as much money as you want an in return we may give you something or we may not.” Donors really have zero leverage. Star citizen, as a game, does not even exist yet and if it were to never exist all the people who’d donated/pledged/etc… would have what recourse? Pretty much none. The best you could hope for in such a situation would be a lawsuit were you mightget your money back but how much are you willing to pay in legal fees to get it? Without some sort of mechanism for stakeholders to hold developers accountable, it only gets worse from here.

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Kickstarter Donor
Serrenity

I definitely agree with you here regarding somewhat of an imbalance of power. But I wouldn’t say in the event the game goes belly up that we have no recourse. At least when using platforms like Kickstarter, there’s some legal requirement to deliver on the backer rewards. Website based donations (like on Star Citizen’s website) are subject roughly to the whatever the terms are that you agreed to when you backed.

That being said, if Star Citizen suddenly decided they weren’t going to finish the game and just gave the MMO community a giant middle finger, there would be a class action lawsuit which is likely to get players most of their money back (because Star Citizen is coming from a pretty precarious position in that regard), and there would also guarantee to be resulting legislation to keep that kind of potential abuse from happening again.

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Jacobin GW

MMOs died as an artistic endeavor the moment studios realized they could cater to whales and make a quick profit. No point in trying to keep 10 people happy for $150 a month when one will pay $1000.

MMOs are pretty much in the same bin as mobile games reputation wise; derivative design and constantly trying to milk the playerbase. MMORPG = Online casino with a better GUI than a regular slot machine.

This is why nobody wants to make an MMORPG anymore. Most of the gaming market doesn’t see them as a quality product since they use business practices that are 10x worse than a AAA publisher pushing pre-orders.

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Robert Mann

Aye, although there are some beacons of hope, that is the majority.

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Fisty

A lot of people are saying F2P caused all of this mess. They’re probably right, but games went free to play because people stopped playing them. WoW set the sub model everyone followed, it eventually dried up for everyone but WoW. I don’t mind the lockboxes. They’re there for the whales or the occasional ignorant person (me a few times) to drop a little cash on something. If that’s the only way we get new games, and it probably will be for a while, then I’m fine with it. Locking out communities like Shroud or Elyria have done with backer rewards is no way to keep a game going. One day we’ll find a few good balances.

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Sally Bowls

I am not alarmed since I think about zero of these crowdfunded MMOs will be successful. I could be wrong, but that’s the way I would bet. So the specifics are just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. TBH, while I would prefer nobody to be bamboozled, if someone is going to be taken, I would rather it be the Old School and OWPK enthusiasts that the crowdfunding seems to attract. Maybe some natural selection will remove them from the potential market or at least forums of mainstream MMOs.

I am frustrated that all the people who rail about a $2 lockbox in SWTOR when that is a very venial sin compared to spending $400 on something that if it happens will likely be in four years. I am similarly frustrated with sanctimonious lectures on preordering an established game like Destiny, Fallout, ME, Diablo, Civ but backing amateurs with not much more than a marketing plan years in advance gets a pass?
To echo Bree’s point: it is not the monetization: I would trust playing a F2P game from a reputable game company than a B2P or Sub game from Zygna/AsianMobileAbuser.
Breathe in; Breathe out; move on. The amount of money spend on crowdfunded games is small. (/troll Activision-Blizzard spends twice as much on CEO salary than was spent on the 400 Kickstarter games last year.) Outside the echo chamber of fansites, do many people know [m]any of the Kickstarter-du-jour? There could be a surprise breakout hit, but I think it is as Macbeth said “a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”
P.S. today on the site I saw a sidebar link to a past Divergence Online article. I am surprised they are content to miss out on the crowdsourcing drama.

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Melissa McDonald

When we quit paying for subscriptions, we paved the road for this.
Games (good ones especially) simply can’t be made for free.

Line
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Line

Subs are also quite predatory.
Don’t pay: lose everything? That’s pretty extreme.

But more importantly, they also have cash shops.
If a random chinese F2P comes out with “skip the grind” as a $50 option? The comment section would explode.
But that’s now standard practice in WoW and FFXIV (and others). Players fucking love it. And they have a sub, an initial box price, expansions (that now cost more than before…) plus the cash shop.

Games can’t be made for free.
The customers make the game. And if they’re fine with bad practices, well…

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Sally Bowls

I agree with both sides here. I want to point out this is not limited to gaming. IMO, the world of my youth where I spend $100ish/year each on a local paper, WSJ & NYT was better than today where most people get their news for free from Facebook. But because today is worse does not mean we can go back to the old ways.

I am old enough to remember when, after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a new version of an operating system, Microsoft and Apple actually charged people for it. Same for Spreadsheets and Wordprocessors, from Apple and Google at least.

You are right: Games (good ones especially) simply can’t be made for free. but in 2017, they probably need to figure out a method of monetization that does not involve a sub. 2022 may be different though.

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Robert Mann

Sray, while being a little brusque about it, brings out the big points here. Subscriptions are a decent value if, and only if, the company actually uses that money to produce a steady stream of content and upgrades to the game. Sadly, what really happened was the vast majority vanished into pockets instead of being reinvested. So the big promises of subscription weren’t delivered.

That said, I do think that with a little bit of work the model could be done very well. I personally lean toward a buy to play with no between patches of content (it’s all there, same next xpac!) but some things like bug fixes would be ideal, although box prices would probably need to be a little higher than normal. Either way, I believe that when a few developers reach out and make an attempt to engage with the trust of the consumers, and specifically talk about how they dislike shady monetization and want to earn the trust of the gaming community on their games… then we might see a shift back.

Without that, though, the broken promises probably leave a lot of people wary of any up front costs.

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Sray

That’s a very narrow point of view that assumes a “if you’re not for my thing, then you’re in favor of the other thing” which is just not true. I dislike them both: subscriptions are every bit as consumer unfriendly as abusive microtransaction models. Gamers just started to wise up to how moronic the sub model was when other online multiplayer games (non-MMOs) were able to offer just as much bug fixes, server access, and content per year at half the price.

The problem has nothing to do with people being “a bunch of cheapskates”; it has everything to do with the fundamental problem of content heavy online role playing games simply not being financially viable to run for extended periods, let alone in perpetuity. You can run a focused PVP oriented game like League of Legends for years on virtually no income and no updates; but a PVE game like World of Warcraft dies the moment you stop churning out new stuff; and the rate that players chew up PVE content makes that type of product unsustainable without resorting to charging $150-$180 per year (or an abusive MT model that extracts the same amount of revenue, usually just from fewer players) for the same amount of service and content that a “non-perpetual” game charges $80 to $100 for over the same period of time.

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Nascent Visions

And at some point, largely due to the success of WoW I suspect, the price of a sub locked in at about 15USD and has stayed largely that way for ten or so years without accounting for inflation. That’s fine if you’ve got Blizzard’s fanbase, but if your realistic estimate of number of paying subs is 1/10th of WoW gets, that math gets pretty rough.

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TomTurtle

As much as we like the idea of developers having so much freedom from the traditional publisher model, I think all these monetization tactics ground things in reality more than we’d like to admit. A stark reality for both players and developers alike.
Sidestepping the publisher involvement places the responsibility of what a publisher accomplishes onto the developers’ backs. And it’s evident many developers aren’t as experienced as many publishers and have to put out what they think would be best. I imagine it’s a real headache for the developers.
But of course, as we often see, players can suffer for it too. Crowdfunding fatigue has become a thing after all. Of the consumers who participate in a crowdfunding project, those who don’t relatively sink in more money may feel the sting in comparison to those who do. Highlighting players’ income disparities can feel icky.

Considering that even the older subscription-only MMOs had ways wealthy players could spend money, in-game or out, to get wealth and power says to me that such acts are nothing new. Only now are they presented in a more forward manner and sanctioned by developers. Smart of them really to take advantage of that fact. I can’t imagine many developers wouldn’t at least feel tempted to make more money. As much of a passion project an MMO can be, development teams do need and want to make more money.
As for the players, well, I don’t know how to approach treating them with them being both active participants in your game as well as a good part of your income. Should developers really take a step back from these pre-launch monetization practices because it may not feel fair? That’s hard to answer. Some of it comes down to opinion and preference, but the more influential part is from how players show they’re willing to buy in further supporting the practices in the first place.

Not that there’s any right answer here, but my response to crowdfunding has been to avoid it altogether. I think it’s totally a fine idea to do so if you object to such practices or you feel uncomfortable or not confident or whatever. And really, it doesn’t even have to be a definite stance. I think there are ways to make a more reasonable pitch than others. I just haven’t found any projects that held my interest enough I suppose.
It really will come down to what the market of consumers say over time. Maybe we’ll see less and less involvement and developers will be forced to move onto other methods. Who knows? It seems unlikely to me at the moment, but accurately predicting these trends has never worked out for me.
As of right now though, the market supports the idea well enough. It’s shrunk some sure, but it hasn’t show any sign of going away. I imagine at most it’ll change in various ways. Monetization will be become more polished and in tune with what players are comfortable enough with in order to part with their money. Heck, that’s already been been seen as the crowdfunding scene has matured over the years.

What I’d like to see is more informed and savvy consumers. Avoid getting caught up in the emotional aspects of marketing and try to suss out the details as best as possible. And at the very least, though this should go without saying, even if someone doesn’t put in the research, at least accept what outcome putting in your money has for a lot of these. Oftentimes, there is no guarantee.
As much as a project can seem to be a sure thing, so many factors come into play in so many different ways that can disrupt the outcome. That’s the unstable nature of crowdfunding. Instability is not new to game development, but I would say it’s much more noticeable here at the very least. Transparency and all that.

possum440 .
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possum440 .

Free to play is when this mess started. It turned devs and publishers lazy, made a new type of gamer that infests the gaming world today and has in turn created the pay as you go model as I pointed out years ago.

I said Free to play would end MMO’s as we knew them the very day the first posts about how they were the next great thing from all the lemmings, and ALL the game sites, including this one.

You can tell people the stove is on but the majority will still happily walk over and place their hand on the burner to make sure.

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Dread Quixadhal

It’s pretty simple to understand. The current crop of MMORPG’s are not very interesting. They all have issues, and very few of them even make a token effort to do anything outside the box. People are bored, but keep trying to bounce from one to another in the hopes of finding a game that’s actually fun to play AND has a less toxic community to interact with.

The result of that desperation is people being willing to pour good money after bad into any snake oil that’s sold with a flourish and a good song and dance. Star Citizen has really backed itself into a corner (no pun intended), by promising more than any sane person would consider possible, but collecting so much money that anything less will be considered an utter failure.

miol
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miol

Have they gone too far yet? If not, what’s too far?

df.gif
Zulika Mi-Nam
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Zulika Mi-Nam

All of the games mentioned in the front of the article, Crowfall, SotA, CoE, Star Citizen, & AoC are games I actually thought about backing.

However; after doing the basic research that is my habit before sticking money into something, I just could not bring myself to go in at any dollar amount.

I have no qualms about the money I have put into crowd-funded games up to this point. Many of those I feel I have already gotten my money’s worth out of even though they have yet to launch.

Alas, I have put more money into single player games vs mmos this year -something I have not done in over 15 years. I am not happy or proud about that at all.

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Panzerbjorne

They have gone too far but the players share the blame for enabling them.

shikarin
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Kickstarter Donor
shikarin

Well, it is what it is. Despairing over it isn’t going to change developers’ behavior. The vast majority will simply do what gets the most money.

Also, at this point all things considered, asking whether a game is P2W or not is pretty much meaningless. There’s a simpler question: is it possible to consistently spend more than $25 a month on the game (on one account)? The ones where you can’t should actually be in their own sub-genre.

I’m just glad I got in 6 years of FFXI.

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Kickstarter Donor
BalsBigBrother

I am just going to repeat a very perceptive comment made by diskonekted a while back:

“When innovations in extracting money from players surpasses innovation in game play and world mechanics this is what you get.”

Doesn’t really paint a very good picture of this genre in my view but it does sum up quite nicely my own thoughts on this subject /sigh

Solaris
Reader
Solaris

The way I see it, without crowdfunding, the MMO genre is pretty much dead. Large publishers seem to have zero to no interest in creating the next big thing. Some of the more recent crowdfunded MMOs seem very promising. So if the dev has to go the crowdfunding route to get their game on the market, so be it. Without this form of financing, I’m not sure we’d see another Western-centric MMO.

Lastly, some of these titles, because they are somewhat niche in scope, would only exist because of crowdfunding. Right now I’m playing Crowfall quite a bit. Becoming quite enamored with it really, and it’s just now starting to ‘feel’ like a game. Publishers won’t spend the resources on games like Crowfall. Again, crowd funding for games like CF seem to be the only method to get the game made. Maybe it’s a necessary evil, but I don’t have much problem with the majority of the funding mechanisms here. I also don’t really see the Pay 2 Win element of ‘most’ of the titles being discussed in this article. Of the titles mentioned, Elyria ‘might’ have some splaining to do, but jury is still out on that one for me. As it is, even a whale won’t ruin my enjoyment of a game. I do totally understand the criticisms. I’m just not sure as MMO gamers we’d have any choices without the finance model.

Reader
Robert Mann

Large publishers haven’t had any interest there for a long time. All they want is a cash cow, or a cash out. It’s been a problem with gaming developers outside MMOs since the 90s, so it was actually surprising to see it not be a problem in MMOs for so long.

Thus why the few developers that can self publish have a huge advantage (so long as they can justify the delays to their board.)

Nathaniel Downes
Reader
Nathaniel Downes

Never before have I felt that we made the right decision with CoT to avoid the continuing funding hamster wheel than I do right now.

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