Smedley’s new game won’t have microtransactions

    
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John Smedley’s Twitter account continues to provide interesting food for thought related to his next project as well as the industry in general. The former SOE and Daybreak chief is apparently not a fan of the way microtransactions steer game development away from, well, game development.

“I am tired of having my conversations with players be about money. I want it to be 100 percent about the game,” Smedley tweeted. “Life is too short to spend a lot of time arguing about monetization. I’m done doing that,” he continued. “I’m done putting features in a game and having people wonder if they were put in to help monetize or make it more fun.”

Smedley says that his new game — which thus far is a mystery apart from some concept art — will be completely buy-to-play with a $20 price point. “F2P is a very tough business, but it’s tougher on game developers than you may realize,” Smedley explains. “No one wants to work on monetization.”

Source: Twitter
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LiamLightfoot
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LiamLightfoot

DDO is alive and well….there are tons of players paying a sub while others just bought the content. I HATE f2p but DDO did a pretty good job (although i prefer to pay a sub for games i enjoy)

carsont
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carsont

spider3 Except not everybody has the same possibility to do “x” in game, because in your model that requires a time commitment that some people (retirees, the rich, kids on school vacation etc.) have that others don’t.

There is going to be in equality in terms of opportunity no matter what the system is that is chosen. Offering alternative means to obtain non-gamebreaking items is more fair for more people.

GW2 is a great example – yes I could farm hours and hours for gold, but I don’t have hours and hours. So I buy gems and convert them to gold (don’t worry, I won’t be flooding the market any time soon, the conversion is very expensive). So, I don’t have the time that others have, yet I’m still afforded similar opportunities through other means.

I agree that you shouldn’t be able to buy your way to victory, but buying cosmetic items, or even max level characters (in the case of WoW and possibly other MMOs), seems innocuous and keeps the game relevant for those with differently constrained resources.

melissaheather
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melissaheather

My belief is that cash shops should only be about cosmetics.   But players LOVE cosmetics.   If you stock it full of clothing and accessories and such, people absolutely will buy, you absolutely will make absurd money on those pixel hats and shirts and pets, and nobody can complain that it’s “buy to win”.   So… cosmetic cash shop… this is a very good thing.   It’s what I would do if I were making a game.  You wouldn’t buy any buffs, weapons, items, or anything that would give you any sort of advantage – unless you mean the advantage of looking cool! 
Second Life makes plenty of cash from people who mostly buy cosmetics.  The few cosmetics seen in MMO stores are always popular.  I think this is the way you make good money, but don’t cheeze off the players.

Perfect Hero
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Perfect Hero

No APEX or PLEX or whatever. No cash shop. Harsh penalties for RMT like 1 strike you’re out. PLEASE

Psychochild
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Psychochild

jefreahard You said you’ve played almost every free-to-play MMO in existence, yet you turn down a personal invitation from an MMO developer to play one you have not.  I might think little of it, except I’ve had this exact discussion before; DDO certainly seems to engender some real disgust from people who are vocal about their hate for free-to-play titles.

As for people paying subscriptions and not playing, it’s the same business model as gym memberships.  https://www.google.com/search?q=sign+up+for+the+gym+but+never+go  Tip: this is also one reason why game companies offer discounts for longer subscriptions.  There are more design consequences from using the subscription model than people realize.  Meridian 59 when I ran it under NDS certainly had a lot of people who payed but never played; I don’t think I saved any of the data, so I can’t give you exact numbers, though.

Anyway, the offer still stands, and I appreciate the discussion.  It’s the big reason I visit this site frequently, because even the comments are more insightful than most of the articles other places. :)

jefreahard
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jefreahard

Psychochild Oh I totally get that the sub model influences design and has its own issues. It’s just that personally those issues are far less intrusive on my gameplay and my fun than F2P’s issues. F2P turns virtual worlds into virtual shopping malls. I don’t want to go shopping. I want to be immersed in a fantasy world. And I want to play with others who want to be immersed, not shoppers. I don’t want outside financial influences in the game at all other than the cost of admission.

I’ve played almost every major F2P MMO in existence. I have to for this job, sadly, haha. That’s why I say it’s not pre-conceived notions, it’s just personal preference based on experience.

As for the sub design issues, I loathe daily quests and really progression grinds of any sort, always did even when I was playing all the great sub MMOs from the 90s and 00s. But I enjoyed the one-price-for-everything and went my own way, doing progression when I needed to but largely making my own fun with the full game available to me for one consistent price. That’s much harder and much more expensive to do today thanks to F2P. 

I understand inflation, too, which is why I’d pay $30 bucks or more for an all-inclusive sub to a feature-rich virtual world. But no one wants to do that, I guess because it’s just easier to sell XP pots or charge $2.99 for a new cape color or whatever. 

In terms of people forgetting to cancel their subs, I mean, ok.  I’ve never once forgotten to cancel a sub in nearly 20 years of playing sub-based MMOs, so I have a hard time taking that seriously. Are there really that many people out there who can’t take basic personal responsibility for their budgets? Actually don’t answer that, I don’t want to know, lol. Out of curiosity, who has said that that’s a big revenue source? 

As for DDO, I’m sure it has changed for the better since launch, but the core things I didn’t like about it have not changed. I’m not putting it down at all, and I appreciate the invite, but there are too many other games that I like straight away to try and go back to an older title that I didn’t like because of its basic design. The business model has little to do with it; I only brought up DDO further up in the thread because it was the title that got the western F2P ball rolling (with apologies to Funcom, since AO’s older F2P didn’t catch on like DDO’s did).

SirMysk Needs (More) Coffee, Probably
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SirMysk Needs (More) Coffee, Probably

Buy to play at $20? Are you serious? And no microtransactions? That’s amazeballs, of course I’m going to buy it.

Psychochild
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Psychochild

jefreahard You do realize that 2006 was almost a decade ago, right?  How seriously would you take someone discussing WoW if they said, “I played it a couple months at launch.”

Seriously, give it a try now.  Yeah, it’s not open world, but take a look at the business model with an open mind.  Drop me an email, and I’ll even roll a character and run Korthos with you. :)

Psychochild
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Psychochild

jefreahard Well, you said free-to-play was a “non-starter” for you, so there are some pre-conceived notions there.  As I said, there are good examples and bad examples of all business models.

You should realize that the subscription business model absolutely influences design, but you’re used to it.  Why do you think daily quests exist in WoW and other subscription-based games?  Because they’re proven to keep people coming back and active over a longer period of time, increasing subscription revenue.  Subscription games also make a lot of their money off of people who essentially “forget’ about their subscription and don’t cancel it.  I’ve heard people say that about 25% of their income had come from people who hadn’t logged on in months.

As for “whales”, I would bet that this isn’t universally true.  Given how much Turbine pushes the subscription option and expansions in DDO, I suspect their income proportions looks nothing like a Zynga-style free-to-play game.  I’m sure they still get a few outliers that spend a lot, but I suspect their tail looks a lot fatter, with less “freeloaders” than your typical mobile free-to-play game.  But, I have no special knowledge here.

And, as I said, the DDO business model is perfect for the way I play it.  I’ve put a fair amount of money into the game, but it’s been because I wanted to instead of because I just had a subscription I didn’t cancel yet.

AaronTallman
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AaronTallman

quixadhal Theres a good chance that he did, but obviously SoE’s board was in control of practically everything.