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"Free-to-play" misleading advertising in Europe

"Free-to-play" misleading advertising in Europe

Thu 27 Feb 2014 9:12pm GMT / 4:12pm EST / 1:12pm PST
Legal

European Commission meets with devs to improve consumer protections, wants them to stop calling games free if they have in-app purchases

Complaints from consumers who unwittingly purchased in-game upgrades in free-to-play titles have become common enough that the European Commission is taking action on the matter. EC members are meeting with tech companies and national enforcement authorities today and tomorrow to go over concerns about consumer protections in the burgeoning market, the group announced today.

"Consumers and in particular children need better protection against unexpected costs from in-app purchases," consumer policy commissioner Neven Mimica said in a statement. "National enforcement authorities and the European Commission are discussing with industry how to address this issue which not only causes financial harm to consumers but can also put at stake the credibility of this very promising market. Coming up with concrete solutions as soon as possible will be a win-win for all."

The Consumer Protection Cooperation and EC member states have released a list of common positions on the subject, with misleading advertising at the top.

"The use of the word 'free' (or similar unequivocal terms) as such, and without any appropriate qualifications, should only be allowed for games which are indeed free in their entirety, or in other words which contain no possibility of making in-app purchases, not even on an optional basis," the group said.

Beyond that, the CPC and EC want developers to cut out any direct calls for purchasing in-game items (such as "Buy now!" or "Upgrade now!") in any title likely to appeal to children. On top of that, in-app purchases should not be made without the consumer's explicit consent, and all apps and app listings should prominently feature an e-mail address to which customers can direct questions before they decide to play or even download a title.

The EC has said the purpose of the meetings is to make sure there's a common understanding between authorities and game companies on these subjects, but said it will work with national consumer rights enforcement bodies to follow through with any action deemed necessary.

56 Comments

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
Popular Comment
"The use of the word 'free' (or similar unequivocal terms) as such, and without any appropriate qualifications, should only be allowed for games which are indeed free in their entirety, or in other words which contain no possibility of making in-app purchases, not even on an optional basis,"
This is just bullshit. A game is free to play if it's a game and you can play it for free. That fact has no connection to optional purchases whatever your personal feelings on the subject.

Or from a different angle, what should we call a game that's free to download, free to play on (in some way or other) and where the player is free to chose to spend money on it if they wish. I think the word free is dominant here, no?

There are a very lot of more important issues the EU should be working on right now and I absolutely resent my tax money being spent on such frippery.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 28th February 2014 12:00am

Posted:9 months ago

#1

Shane Sweeney Academic

401 418 1.0
Only the first hit is free. :P

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Shane Sweeney on 28th February 2014 12:23am

Posted:9 months ago

#2

Craig Page Programmer

386 220 0.6
LOLOL, from now on I think maps should start labeling Europe as "The Nanny Continent". Although North America isn't that far behind in its nanny-state beliefs...

Posted:9 months ago

#3

Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus

459 738 1.6
I don't even like F2P, especially the way it's put out (which is what's causing the EU to get involved in the first place), but I have to agree with Paul. The game is literally free to play. Yes, it's often set up in a predatory way that is meant to psychologically titillate the gamer and coerce them into paying money - not because they want to, but because they feel they *have* to, which brings about that famous compulsion loop - but that does not mean it's not free to play. I can play Puzzle and Dragons all I want... of course, before I run out of "energy", but whatever.

I've never been fond of legislation like this, which basically makes cigarette manufacturers have to put on their product "WARNING: THIS IS SOME SERIOUSLY BAD SHIT". At some point, the consumer has to be expected to do some policing and informing of their own.

Posted:9 months ago

#4

Paul Jace Merchandiser

946 1,434 1.5
What if they rename the games "free to play...until you buy additional completely optional content" . So "f2p...uybacoc" will be the first new video game buzz term for 2014.

Posted:9 months ago

#5

Todd Weidner Founder, Big Daddy Game Studio

420 1,000 2.4
Popular Comment
I kind of like the decision. I never liked the use of FREE in a product which free has limitations. Just have to try to find another Buzz word to lure people in I suppose.

Posted:9 months ago

#6

Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design

84 225 2.7
@Todd
It entirely depends on the game. There are plenty of Free to play games which pretty much give you the entire game itself for free. The only things you can purchase are cosmetics and other little items to help you along in the game. This is actually the most popular type of free to play in MMORPGs.

I do agree however, that if the game is seriously limited unless you play, they really shouldn't tack on the term free to play.The term should be more like free trial for such games.

Posted:9 months ago

#7

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,163 1,232 1.1
How many "free" games do you really need to play to realize the term "free" is a BS marketing strategy? Even if you do know this, does it really stop you from playing one of those "free" games, as long as it is offering good value to you? Probably not. Do the statistics suggest there is something going on in the whale department which is morally on slippery ground? Probably yes.

For the rest of the f2p argument, I invoke the blogs of Ramin Shokrizade.

It is also no secret that regulatory bodies are often used by lobbies to dispose of unwanted competition. I can think of a few industries who target the psych profiles of whales, who now have an axe to grind with game publishers.

Posted:9 months ago

#8

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

837 671 0.8
Soon we'll see a "FREE TO PLAY GAME FOR ALL FAMILY" (recommendedonlytofalieswithsonsabove18yearsoldsomeconditionsmayapply).

I remember the same happening in Spain a few years back with some yoghourt that, due to a double fermentation, did not need to be on the fridge to last for months before going bad. Spanish government forced the company to remove the word "yoghourt" from the product name and adds since, technically, it was no longer a yoghourt and should not be advertised as such.

Same thing here but with a twist: not all, but some companies are directly targeting young kids INTENTIONALLY and that is unethical. If a company doesn't behave, they are put in place (Like happened with the dawn of violence in video-games in the early 90's)

Posted:9 months ago

#9

Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator

956 184 0.2
As much as F2P games has been swarmed in negativity because of crazily slowed down gameplay and gameplay imbalance, I have to agree with Paul. If the game is free to play, then it's free to play. I'm not even sure misleading is the correct term, but hey if you need to purchase things to speed up a building because it's going to take a day, then I'll just uninstall the game.

And as Klaus said it is just a big fat marketing strategy. When you browse through the games on the app markets and you see the term -free-, it's quite difficult these days to not pause and wonder if it's a 'pay to speed up' or a 'pay to win' game.

Posted:9 months ago

#10
Popular Comment
@Paul Fair points and I broadly agree that its not a huge problem for Govs to worry about, but it's not all black and white and I can see why they may have to go through the motions of doing something. 'Free' as consumers understand the word means 'free of charge', not 'free to choose to pay'. The game chart they appear in is not called "free to download", its called 'free'. And it's surely a corruption of English (or honesty) to suggest a game as littered with money requests and pay-walls like Clash Of Clans or Dungeon Keeper is intended to be free, and its the *intention* of the apps and producers of these games that makes governments look sideways at the idea of calling them free. They are merely beginning to see (like users are) that 'free' is just marketing spin and that the spirit of these games is to be the opposite of free, and so is abusing the term for consumers. But I wouldn't worry man - the spirit of governments is to do (a) very little, (b) nothing or (c) the opposite of what voters want, and in 2014 that means siding with business anywhere it can. We can be confident that any coming changes will be minor and cosmetic, and that we're all fairly safe from Government 'action'.

Posted:9 months ago

#11

Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments

310 403 1.3
Obligatory link to Jas Purewal's blog:

http://www.gamerlaw.co.uk/2014/eu-consultation-on-free-to-play-games-an-initial-analysis/

Sounds like it may be positive - standardised best practice across the EU could avoid something being legal in one country but not another.

Posted:9 months ago

#12

Samuel Verner Game Designer

131 243 1.9
I am VERY supprised by some of the comments here, because:

If this inititive of the EU is based on wrong assumptions, or a missunderstanding of the bussiness model and it's not true what their are claiming, then let them give out naming restrictions for the app store - it shouldn't inflict the revenue for the slightest... BUT if the revenue goes down after these games cannot be called "free" anymore, then THIS IS THE PROOF that F2P is a scam and the EU was right to regulate it to prevent the customers from harm.

Posted:9 months ago

#13

Jed Ashforth Senior Game Designer, Immersive Technology Group, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

112 201 1.8
The commision says in it's press release that these are the four most important issues raised by consumers. This is a call from the customers who have bought these games. Absolutely it should be raised, investigated, and debated.

I see this as a positive step myself, and I can't help but think any change that helps customers in the marketplace tell the difference between all the myriad types of apps lumped together as 'free' has got to be a good thing for any dev trying to operate on the 'fair' side of F2P. Transparency of actual likely cost to play those games is a thorny problem but something that's been needed for a long time, and if further segregating the 'free' category and providing extra information for consumers is what shakes out of this process, it's got to be a good thing.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Jed Ashforth on 28th February 2014 12:24pm

Posted:9 months ago

#14

Andrew Wafer CEO, Pixel Toys

22 29 1.3
Nothing is free.

Posted:9 months ago

#15

Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend

273 624 2.3
let them give out naming restrictions for the app store - it shouldn't inflict the revenue for the slightest... BUT if the revenue goes down after these games cannot be called "free" anymore, then THIS IS THE PROOF that F2P is a scam and the EU was right to regulate it to prevent the customers from harm.
Yea, they used to have similar logic for suspected witches back in the day; burn em and see what happens. :D

Seriously though, they should worry less about 'misleading' naming conventions and if they are really set on doing something, they should look at sorting out the horrible F2P tactics employed by certain companies. That is where the problem is IMO.

I am with Paul on the 'If a game can be played for free from start to finish without paying anything then it should be allowed to be called free, whether it has IAPs present or not'.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 28th February 2014 12:50pm

Posted:9 months ago

#16

Sandy Lobban Founder and Creative Director, Noise Me Up

315 208 0.7
Not sure if we will get a vote. Probably not, but I'm up for the words Demo and Full Game if we do.

Posted:9 months ago

#17

Brian Lewis Operations Manager, Aeria Games Europe

140 90 0.6
I see way too many caveats in the article, for anything productive to come out of it. The keys is in the details, and those seem to be very limiting. Overall it seems like some people are just very confused about the whole thing, and this is just a representation of the confusion.

We have to remember, 'Free' is not unique to games, and is commonly used in advertising for many products. It is a very common word used in marketing, and if it is believed to be misleading for one product... it is likely misleading for others. I dont see anyone making any rules that will have any effect, as this is too broad an issue.

Posted:9 months ago

#18

Tuomas Pirinen Head of Design, Remedy Entertainment

9 9 1.0
I urge everyone to read the actual EC press release:
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-187_en.htm
It will quickly reveal that EC is not going to "ban" free-to-play games (or paid apps with IAPs) but suggest best practices. This consultation with game companies taking place is a good thing. If you look a the guidelines UK created recently for f2p games (with help from TIGA), I think you will find these rules fair, balanced and clear, and they will keep App store still happily humming on while the really unethical apps will be forced to change their ways. EC is not going to destroy 1 million jobs , but they will hopefully make guidelines that allow consumers to trust any App they download.

Here is one of the choice quotes from the EC press release for those who wonder if they are going to see f2p devs dragged before a firing squad: Europe's "app economy" is booming. It employs over 1 million people and is expected to be worth 63bn in the next five years. According to the external app analytics platform Distimo, around 80% of the revenue estimated at over 10 billion EUR per year of one supplier comes from purchases made by consumers from within an application by which consumers access special content or features, commonly called "in-app" purchases. For the app economy to develop its full potential and continue innovating, consumers need to trust the products.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Tuomas Pirinen on 28th February 2014 2:58pm

Posted:9 months ago

#19
Popular Comment
just remove the word free and make it just a game with in game purchases. solved!
Alternatively, a relabel to Free to Pay is apropos indeed :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dr. Chee Ming Wong on 28th February 2014 4:46pm

Posted:9 months ago

#20

Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator

956 184 0.2
+1 Chee. ;)

But shame a lot of those F2P developers won't see that as a good promotion!

Posted:9 months ago

#21
There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Posted:9 months ago

#22

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
Nothing is free in life and the whole idea of free to play is ridiculouse. They are just games that are intentionally handicapped to make you pay money as you go. Ive been saying this for a long time that the best way to describe a game is a "pay as you play". We can call it PAP or something like that.

Posted:9 months ago

#23

Jason Avent VP, Studio Head, NaturalMotion

140 145 1.0
Fine. Just call it IAP instead of free. Customers will understand and quickly adapt. It won't make much difference. The games in the IAP chart without a price will be the ones customers download and play.

Posted:9 months ago

#24

Edward Buffery Pre-production Manager

149 96 0.6
I for one see a massive, fundamental difference between:
1. A game that is 100% accessible and does not have any way to spend money on it whatsoever. Perhaps it's supported by advertising and / or simply wasn't made with profit as a (direct) goal.
2. A game which can be played as much as you want and all content is eventually accessible, but includes the option to pay for cosmetic changes or temporary boosts that don't directly affect game performance (like League of Legends).
3. A game which can be downloaded and launched for free, but which is actually impossible to get beyond a certain progression point or play for more than a limited duration (whether x hours in total or x minutes per day) without being forced to pay money to continue.

In my opinion, the first and second categories can truly be said to be free to play, but the third is not. Free to try, free to sample, free to start, or as Rick says 'pay as you play' would all be more accurate and less likely to mislead consumers. Another article made a great analogy of likening some of these games to a taxi service which advertises free rides, but stops you halfway and says that you only get half a free trip per day, and you can either pay for the second half or wait till tomorrow before resuming the journey.

Frankly if that had been made clear then I might have chosen a different company that I pay for all the way but makes their tariff clear up front, or one that is genuinely free but either makes me listen to adverts the whole journey or has an optional but overpriced mini-bar and snack bar to tempt me along the way.

Lastly, this is not happening due to bored politicians looking for something to do but directly following a large number of complaints from consumers who feel misled. Regardless of MY personal experiences and feelings, I respect other people enough that if a lot of consumers strongly feel they have been misled, then it's worth looking into.

Posted:9 months ago

#25

Corentin Billemont Game Designer

5 1 0.2
I prefer the "Free to start" term used by Nintendo (and surely others) as they said in their latest financial report.
Of course, it might be better to keep using F2P with consumers.

Posted:9 months ago

#26

Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer

241 99 0.4
EU should stop meddling with stuff they have no clue about.. I'm pretty sure the reason why they start bitching about it, is because one of their kids bought a lot ingame...
free-to-play is a correct term for a game which you can play for free without having to pay, but you do have the option to advance quicker if you pay or have extra stuff.. but it's free-to-play...
Some people just won't take responsibility for their own faults..

Posted:9 months ago

#27

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,200 1,017 0.8
Popular Comment
The EU have plenty of staff, time and money to be looking into things asides from 'the big issues' what else do you think all the people in their respective fields in the European parliament (and associated organisations) should be doing? It's like those who said the UK government should focus on 'more important things' than gay marriage.

If the EU is going to look into advertising law then free-to-play in the video games industry and it's use as a device to sell content & services should not be a special case, immune from critique. This is the same 'meddling EU' that says people should have a right to do mostly whatever they want with games and software they own, including selling it through the preowned market. Few people moaned about that.

That being said, I personally do not see free to play as being particularly deceptive. The games ARE free to play. I can't say however that I know whether the use of this term for titles that do charge for any additional content or services may be deceptive according to the wording of law, or how this compares to similar products in other areas or industries.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 28th February 2014 11:10pm

Posted:9 months ago

#28

Curt Sampson Sofware Developer

596 360 0.6
I keep thinking that it's a good idea to better regulate the clearly problematic F2P side of the industry, and then stumbling over the details every time I think about how to do it.

For example, World of Tanks doesn't fit in to any of the three categories proposed by Edward Buffery. It doesn't allow access to all content without paying cash. There are a couple of dozen "premium" tanks you can get only by purchasing them, and they are not just cosmetic by most standards, since they do play differently and have a feature that standard tanks don't have (the ability to use a crew trained for another tank of the same type without penalty). But the way this is implemented (including that premium tanks are almost invariably less powerful than a fully-upgraded "credit" tank of the same tier) means that, morally, the non-paying players lose little. The vast majority of tanks are credit, not premium tanks, and actually even those who pay can't get access to all the premium tanks since some are used only as prizes, giveaways, and the like. In the end, it's similar to losing a few side-quests from Skyrim; you're missing some content, but the game is still extremely enjoyable without it, you might not even notice unless you've got a list of it all, and nobody actually has time to play all the content, anyway. (Researching every credit tank in WoT, or even just every tank up to tier 8, is a huge endeavour, probably thousands of hours of play.)

Grinding experience and credits in WoT is similarly well balanced; while a premium (paid) account provides 1.5 times non-premium experience and credits, and premium tanks also can also provide similar gains, the game works just fine without a premium account as well, and going the non-premium route is a pretty reasonable option for those with more time than money. (I speak both from knowing people who have done this and from having spent several hundred hours myself grinding an entirely unpaid account.)

Is game progression limited if you're not paying player? If you're not a good player, in practice yes it is, in one sense. You'll consistently lose credits playing tier 9 (out of 10) and even tier 8 tanks, and have to go back and play several battles on a tier 5 tank to earn back the credits you lose playing the high-tier tanks. But in another sense, no, since a skilled player will lose little (or even make credits) in the higher tiers, and the low and mid tiers are a huge amount of fun anyway. (Enough that many players, including me, play significantly more mid-tier battles than high-tier ones even though we own plenty of high-tier tanks.) And given the nature of games, it's hard to see how demanding a reasonable level of skill to progress can be considered a bad thing.

The whole thing ends up coming down to subtleties of game balance, rather than any particular thing one can point to. That makes this sort of thing extremely hard, probably impossible to regulate.

We can see examples of how this works the other way around, too. For research purposes I spent some time with Candy Crush Saga recently, and as a non-paying player I'm effectively capped at level 30 because I don't have a Facebook account (nor any desire for one). Is demanding that I set one up and make a bunch of friends any less a coerced payment than demanding money? Personally, I don't think so.

I think the industry, and in particular academia and the gaming press (both professional and amateur), might be able to help a lot with this issue by starting to develop a taxonomy and system for analysis of payment (including non-financial payment) in games, what one gets for these payments, and ways of attempting to objectively describe how a game is balanced in regard to this. Who wants to take on that challenge?

Posted:8 months ago

#29

David Vink Game Designer

3 6 2.0
This sounds like nonsense coming from the EU. Games that you can play for free, no matter how limited their free content might be, are still games you can play for free. Calling them 'free to play' seems entirely logical to me from a plain English language point of view (admittedly my second language).

If children are being misled to purchase things in free to play games this would be a problem with the menus in the game not clearly communicating to the player what they are doing. Calling a game 'free to play' should not be a reason for a player not to understand when they are spending real money.

Posted:8 months ago

#30
Pay to progress might be more suitable as these are really not games in the normal sense...

Posted:8 months ago

#31

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
You mean they're not your idea of games?

Candy Crush has probably been played more times by more different people than every next gen console game in total, so this snobbery is getting a bit old now. CCS and its ilk are the new normal and the new mass market. Console gaming is the niche and has been for years.

Posted:8 months ago

#32

Jason Schroder Senior Programmer, Io Interactive

19 38 2.0
Time Sink Saga is the new norm, humanity is doomed.

Posted:8 months ago

#33

Samuel Verner Game Designer

131 243 1.9
You mean they're not your idea of games?
i have to agree with him. these kind of games are in the most of the cases not really games. the mobile market is moving in the same direction like facebook has - a platform with timekiller apps for players who don't think about themselve as gamers. everyone who throws mobiles games, pc and console games in one pot and thinks of it as "the games market", has absolutly no clue at all about games.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Samuel Verner on 3rd March 2014 2:36pm

Posted:8 months ago

#34

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
One thing I wouldn't categorise as gaming is spoon fed interactive cutscenes held together by a plot thinner than a banknote.

My definition of "the games market" comes from where all the games players actually are, not from where I'd like them to be. Nor upon what those people label themselves as - because most don't need to label themselves at all. They're gamers if they play games, and the definition of what a game is is not down to you. I'd expect a much wider outlook from someone claiming to be a games designer.

Take a look in the console chart right now, what do you find there. Lego, Lego, Minecraft, Lego again, Car Game, Car Game, Lego. Are any of those "games" in your book? I'd then suggest a look in the top grossing mobile chart, but I think your head might explode.

Posted:8 months ago

#35

Samuel Verner Game Designer

131 243 1.9
They're gamers if they play games
not really. "gaming" is not the same as "playing games". the players we are talking about don't see themself as gamers and gamers also don't see them as gamers. only "bussines people" think about them as gamers. the same kind of people who claim the increasing demand of mobile games will replace the demand for pc and console games...

I'd expect a much wider outlook from someone claiming to be a games designer.
you mean you expect someone who has a deep insight into games to have the same opinion about games as you do, because you know the market so well? seems you need to adjust your perception :-)

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Samuel Verner on 3rd March 2014 6:04pm

Posted:8 months ago

#36
Interactive entertainment which is specifically designed to obstruct, hinder or obfuscate the progress of its participant isn't a thinly veiled game vehicle, whereby the words " would you like to pay more...to really play" or insert more coins...is the design mechanic. These are artificial monetization barriers, which are not entertaining in any way or form....

Posted:8 months ago

#37

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
you mean you expect someone who has a deep insight into games to have the same opinion about games as you do, because you know the market so well?
No. But I would expect a broader outlook as to what a game actually is. A professional game designer (this isn't targeted at you directly) should be able to make a game out of any random subject, tailored toward any target market, to monetise in any chosen way. If you can't do that, you're just a guy into games same as the rest of us.
...specifically designed to obstruct, hinder or obfuscate the progress of its participant...
Bullshit. The arcade industry was built on this foundation and was once the only way. We have returned to that because most people don't want to build a gamers library in their dens, but occasionally just want to play some games. When you ignore people trying to peddle the psychobabble and hate toward this model and just look at it for what it is, it's simply a return to origins. Level 10 on Arkanoid was a classic paywall. And it worked because PEOPLE LIKE a challenge and they're HAPPY TO SPEND on surmounting it.

This pay model is a lot easier to "fix" when you realise it's not broken.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 3rd March 2014 7:12pm

Posted:8 months ago

#38

Benjamin Crause Supervisor Central Support, Nintendo of Europe

86 44 0.5
I don't have much faith into those guys at the EU when it comes to modern technologies and the internet. Still I think the general idea is not bad. It often feels like the advertising is indeed abused or at least borderline to lure in customers. I don't mind paying for services or actual additional content. But almost the entire industry went crazy with F2P and DLC. When I sometimes look at what games offer me for DLC or the kind of unlocks I need to pay in F2P games I feel cheated.

But the industry is not the single problem. Another major factor to my experience are parents who are not taking care of the technology children use. If parents do not take care of it, take pre-cautions or where the children are able to steal and use the parents credit card then they are part of the problem too.

Indeed, the wording of "free to play" is arguable because nothing is for free. This business model got its place and I think its good for the industry and customers that it exists. But it must mature too, on both sides.

Posted:8 months ago

#39

Samuel Verner Game Designer

131 243 1.9
No. But I would expect a broader outlook as to what a game actually is. A professional game designer (this isn't targeted at you directly) should be able to make a game out of any random subject, tailored toward any target market, to monetise in any chosen way. If you can't do that, you're just a guy into games same as the rest of us.
a game designer who is able to point out that something has low quallity, usally understands why it has low quallity and probably also knows how to create something better. that does not mean he is unable to create/reproduce something in the same low quality...

but... and here comes the funny part... someone who is not able to understand if and why something is of low quality is not capable to creating something of high quallity... at least not on purpose. :-)

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Samuel Verner on 3rd March 2014 9:59pm

Posted:8 months ago

#40

Private VIdeo Games

103 14 0.1
Someone has too much time on their hands.

Posted:8 months ago

#41

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
a game designer who is able to point out that something has low quallity, usally understands why it has low quallity and probably also knows how to create something better
I can accept that. So why not show us how it should be done? Show us why all the money in mobile is being spent wrongly. Educate us.
but... and here comes the funny part... someone who is not able to understand if and why something is of low quality, then he is not capable to creating something of high quallity... at least not on purpose. :-)
That doesn't stack at all. But you still seem to be missing the point that it's not you who's the judge anyway.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 3rd March 2014 10:17pm

Posted:8 months ago

#42

Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

455 443 1.0
I would like to be able to search for "actually free games" (most likely funded by ads) though, so regardless of whether we understand that "free" doesn't always mean free, the false advertising makes the search for free (as in free beer) titles really difficult and I think there is no good reason for deliberately making the process of finding actually free games difficult. Surely that is a reasonable desire.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 3rd March 2014 10:43pm

Posted:8 months ago

#43

Curt Sampson Sofware Developer

596 360 0.6
Paul Johnson writes,
My definition of "the games market" comes from where all the games players actually are, not from where I'd like them to be.
Yes, we have "the games market" in that sense just as we have "the television market." But it's not actually terribly useful to have a category so broad as to include both Boardwalk Empire and infomercials.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Curt Sampson on 4th March 2014 7:21am

Posted:8 months ago

#44

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

837 671 0.8
@Paul
"No. But I would expect a broader outlook as to what a game actually is. A professional game designer (this isn't targeted at you directly) should be able to make a game out of any random subject, tailored toward any target market, to monetise in any chosen way."
As soon as the game is story-driven, you also need skill in story writing. Look at Assassin's Creed III for example: The game design is correct but the pacing in the story is just a mess.

"Bullshit. The arcade industry was built on this foundation and was once the only way"

Untrue: In arcades you were getting better the more you played; that is were the reward was. games too hard or "Obstructing the player" were eventually see they players moving to another game.

"We have returned to that because most people don't want to build a gamers library in their dens, but occasionally just want to play some games"

Those are the "casual" gamers, people that were not gamers to begin with. Take somebody who is actually a game aficionado an look at his average STEAM library or console collection.

"Level 10 on Arkanoid was a classic paywall"

In the very moment we say that, the word "free" can be strongly argued.

Btw Paul: Some people will not like the F2P model and will never like it as long as it only offer those "return to the origins" simplistic games. You seem to go all mad each time somebody says he doesn't like that model. Well not everybody is going to love the concept; some people wants a deep experience that that market just doesn't offer (mainly because they don't want to) and some of the will hate the mode, for that. Period, no tragedy here, to each it's own.

Posted:8 months ago

#45

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
I also don't like the model, I'd prefer to pay for games up front. But I don't take that baggage with me when making decisions about what the punters want. They want F2P. And I don't argue that they're wrong, because it doesn't matter. Nor do I write off the massive majority of F2P playing gamers as "non gamers" because they're not interested in over-produced, over priced masterpieces. Said it before, "snobbery".

Posted:8 months ago

#46

Samuel Verner Game Designer

131 243 1.9
They want F2P.
no. you assume that they want f2p, because it makes money. thats not the same like knowing what the market wants. give them something better which is interresting for them and they will take it. problem is that most players currently assume they get something for free, just because it says "free". with other words, f2p kills the market. it will end probably like facebook in a while if nothing changes.
Nor do I write off the massive majority of F2P playing gamers as "non gamers"
no? because you like to think about these f2p games as real games instead of tricky monetization platforms? does this make you sleep better? :-)

Posted:8 months ago

#47
Look, there is F2P done well, and then there is F2P - with all sorts of barriers.
And god forbid, trueF2p, where you never ever have to pay any money because its free. really. there is no monetization from the player, because its REALLY free. period!

So, honestly Who really wants F2P?
Are there proponents who really advocate F2P as a great deep engaging experience?

I can only think of Plants Vs Zombies 2 (original tm) as a great F2P, Real Racing 3 is great too.
Everything else seems to be a beancounter frustrate-o-moment

The crux of the matter is, are we making games for the love of making more money, or making it for entertainment and gamers, with money as a fringe benefit of critical acclaim?

Posted:8 months ago

#48

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
no. you assume that they want f2p, because it makes money. thats not the same like knowing what the market wants. give them something better which is interresting for them and they will take it
It's not an assumption. Making money is the ultimate judge unless you want to just sit there and "make art". If you can do even better than the current status quo then great, go right ahead - I've certainly not fared too well in this field yet and don't consider myself an expert at all.

Posted:8 months ago

#49

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
The crux of the matter is, are we making games for the love of making more money, or making it for entertainment and gamers, with money as a fringe benefit of critical acclaim?
It's not for the love of making money, it's for the requirement of making money. Most if not all people working in games do so because they love making games and would prefer that than driving a bus or whatever. But take the money away and you'll be listening to the sound of silence - people gotta put food on the table first and foremost.

But this it breaking down to the old "art vs profit" thing again and that's not what's being discussed.

Posted:8 months ago

#50

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
So, honestly Who really wants F2P?
The people spending millions/billions on it.
Are there proponents who really advocate F2P as a great deep engaging experience?
Probably not, certainly not I. But then again it's not written down anywhere that people should want that - you are projecting. You can tell what people really want by seeing what they spend their hard earned money on. It's just not rocket science.

Posted:8 months ago

#51

Curt Sampson Sofware Developer

596 360 0.6
F2P can indeed be a deep and engaging experience: just look at World of Tanks for an example. (Some of the subtleties of the gameplay there don't even start to become obvious until you've had a few thousand battles.)

What the argument above is really about is not F2P but "casual" versus "core" gaming, which are really two quite different markets, as I mentioned above.

Posted:8 months ago

#52

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

837 671 0.8
@Paul
"Said it before, "snobbery"

No, Paul... just no. It's absolutely not that way. Some people won't like it. Some people won't think like you. Some people are interested in another thing.
If the only definition you have for something as simple and old as art itself is calling it "snobbery" then I don't have anything else to discuss with you. Respect is a must in the industry and the "I am right and the rest is wrong" should stay in Kotaku and Gamespot, not here.

Posted:8 months ago

#53
soon there will be a F2P theocracy in the name of the Holy Order of ONLY F2P :)

Posted:8 months ago

#54

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
@Alfonso. The snobbery thing kicks in when those people who think different to "me" think "their" subject is more worthy than "mine". Especially when they have it the wrong way round... :)

Posted:8 months ago

#55

Kenneth Shaw JavaScript Developer

4 3 0.8
I view this as a pretty meddlesome and unnecessary decision. If some substantial aspect of the game is indeed free, then I think calling it free is a reasonable marketing tactic. I think App developers don't have it too easy. If you're a big publisher, you get featured on the App store. But if you're a small figure, you have a really hard time breaking through. And discoverability of new apps is an issue with hundreds of thousands of alternatives. Ads are hard to monetize an app with when you're giving away everything for free. You can use social media or the types of companies listed buyfacebooklikesreviews.com to get more traction on there, but that still takes a lot of time, and besides, most people won't check out a game if its not labeled as free. I agree there are some bad gaming companies out there, but I think restricting honest devs in this manner just makes it harder for new apps to emerge. The big publishers will be fine because they always get featured anyway, but the little guy gets screwed.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Kenneth Shaw on 6th March 2014 7:24pm

Posted:8 months ago

#56

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